Friends of Malabar Headland. Photo: supplied.

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BY JADE MORELLINI

Randwick Council is opposing a new development proposal in Little Bay for 45 new residential apartments due to the devastating impact this could have on the environment and health of endangered species.

Owners of 11 Jennifer St, Little Bay are hoping for court approval for the development of a three-storey residential flat building, along with 45 units and basement level parking for 67 cars. However, with the Council and many community groups against it, it may not be looking good for them.

Treasurer & Bush Care leader from local community group Friends of Malabar Headland, Claire Bettington said, “We are totally against this development, so of course we support Randwick Council’s recommendations.”

Although this proposal will provide more housing for new and local residents, many can’t see past the implications this may cause for the environment. The site is approximately 1.161 ha and is home to the critically endangered flora, eastern suburbs banksia scrub in the Sydney Basin Bioregion.

According to the NSW Scientific Committee, “The Critically Endangered Ecological Community (CEEC) has been reported from areas of sand depots in the local government areas of Botany, Manly, Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra. Threats to the survival of the community include fragmentation, development, invasion by exotic plants and erosion from use of bicycles, motorcycles and excessive pedestrian use.”

“Development will remove critically endangered eastern suburbs banksia scrub which is supposed to be protected under both Commonwealth and Sate legislation,” Bettington said. “Building this development would open up a massive 60m break between the remaining bush and this patch to the north. How can it ever recover if people keep destroying portions of it?”

The loss of a CEEC will have a domino effect on the environment, as many fauna depend on it for habitat and food.

“Removal causes commensurate loss of animals and birds in numbers and diversity and diminishes the genetic diversity of both the CEEC and the dependent fauna,” Bettington said.

Such a large development would add other stresses to this patch of bush, with what may seem like small problems creating a large negative impact on surrounding nature.

“Overshadowing of some of the bush at certain times of the year would have a huge effect, as this plant community thrives in full sun; night noise and lights from the units would disturb the fauna causing effective loss of habitat/foraging area. The eastern suburbs banksia scrub will die out from “the death of a thousand cuts” if we continue to allow developers to nibble at the edges,” Bettington said.

The site has previously issued development applications which have either been withdrawn or refused consent and so a Land & Environment Court appeal has been lodged in relation to the development on the basis of ‘deemed refusal’.

According to Randwick Council’s website, “Council has filed contentions in support for the refusal of the application on the grounds that the proposed development will have an unacceptable impact on the eastern suburbs banksia shrub and that the proposed development has a built form that is unsuitable for the site.”

Despite the development application being in process, Bettington hopes more will be done to care for the environment and endangered species which exist in the Eastern Suburbs.

“This patch of banksia shrub should be cared for, weeded, the rubbish cleared up and the bush brought back to good condition, then added to the Jennifer St section, which it adjoins. And it should be fenced off to deter dumping and weeded on a regular basis to maintain its integrity,” Bettington said.

The matter is listed for a conciliation conference that will commence on site on 18 September 2018 and Council lawyers will contact residents who have made submissions prior and may want to speak.

“Development on this site is completely incompatible with maintaining and conserving the natural values of the critically endangered ESBS on this site. Such development should be built elsewhere,” Bettington said.

Randwick Council declined to comment.