Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Hawkesbury – urban playground or developer’s dream?

Sydney’s breathing space or Sydney’s urban sprawl – what is the future for the Hawkesbury?

On Friday evening, February 26, the local community will put state and local politicians on the spot to explain their vision for the future of the rural lands surrounding the historic townships of Kurrajong, North Richmond, Pitt Town, Richmond, Wilberforce and Windsor.

“Hawkesbury residents are fed up with Council not supporting the wishes of the community,” local resident and spokesperson for the North Richmond & Districts Community Action Association, Dave Perry, said.

“Our major concern is to make sure any development within the Hawkesbury local government area is in keeping with the district’s heritage, and protects our farmlands and beautiful rural scenery.

“We have requested our political representatives actually come clean about what sort of development they see for our area and what infrastructure they feel will be needed here over the next five years.”

Mr Perry said the Hawkesbury’s history stretched back to the earliest days of the colony when Governor Macquarie personally located and named what are today still known as the five Macquarie towns.

“The fertile lands alongside the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system saved Sydney Town from starvation,” Mr Perry said.

“The Hawkesbury still feeds Sydney, and it’s still Sydney’s playground – just over an hour’s drive away. Here you can visit farms, buy local produce, go bushwalking, water-skiing, or just enjoy our beautiful rural scenery and historical buildings.”

The NSW Premier Kristina Keneally has been invited to attend the public meeting, and Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell will be represented by Hawkesbury MP Ray Williams.

Hawkesbury City Councillors will also attend, including representatives of the major parties.

A new umbrella community group will also be launched on the night.

“Local community groups will keep their autonomy, but if an issue is a community wide one, we’ll all band together to have strength in numbers,” Mr Perry said.

“We’re facing major problems like the prospect of a ‘superhighway’ through our mountain towns, daily traffic jams between Richmond and North Richmond, lack of infrastructure, medical facilities and river / water issues and poor public transport.

“Meanwhile our Council turns a deaf ear to the community and keeps on supporting urban sprawl over our rural lands.

“This will be the chance for politicians to be honest with the community. It promises to be a great night.”

The Hawkesbury Community Forum will be held at Panthers North Richmond, Beaumont Avenue, North Richmond, from 7pm sharp on Friday, February 26.

Media contact: Dave Perry, mobile 0421 985 162

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