The pressure is on Wollongong Council to acquire a parcel of land in Helensburgh that’s to be auctioned next month.
50 Otford Road has been divided up into 26 blocks of between 696 m2 and 1797 m2, with a price guide of a startlingly-low $66,000. Agent for the sale is Belle Property.
This area fits neatly between Helensburgh and the Royal National Park.
Historically, both Wollongong City Council and the State Government have expressed an interest in environmentally-sensitive land, with several privately owned parcels in the area, and it appears now is their chance to snap it up!
The land is currently zoned E3, with the sale notice on domain.com.au saying ‘Potential buyers should seek legal advice for this unique opportunity’.
Wollongong Council has been aware of the significance land in this area for many years, and has discussed acquisitions, however the stumbling block appears to be the land value, with some landholders preferring to hold out until the tight zoning controls were relaxed.
The recommendation to Council in 2016 was to provide landowners with an exit strategy, identifying the lots for Local Open Space Purposes, and that rates paid be considered when negotiating the buy-back price.
Representations have also been made to the Department of Environment and Conservation as far back as 2005 to have land in this area added to the Royal National Park.
The Department acknowledged the high conservation value of the forests in the upper Hacking Valley and their value as an important moist forest wildlife corridor between the Royal National Park and the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area.
“These forests include Blackbutt, tall open eucalyptus forests and warm temperate rainforests that provide important habitat for species including the Logrunner, Mountain Brushtail Possum and threatened species such as the Sooty and Powerful Owls and Grey-headed flying fox.”
The DEC says they were working on a number of fronts to protect these species, and acquisition relied upon the willingness of land owners to sell the freehold land.
“The DEC is however exploring options with Wollongong City Council as part of the Illawarra Escarpment Management planning process for Council to acquire high conservation value lands in this area.
“Top priority will be strengthening the corridor between the Royal National Park and the Illawarra Escarpment.