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Court blocks Catherine Hill and Gwandalan plans

A NSW Government decision to approve a 600 dwelling development in Catherine Hill has been ruled invalid by the Land and Environment Court today.  The decision also applies to a project application for another 187 dwelling development at nearby Gwandalan.

Approval was given by the former Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, to allow Rose Group to build 600 dwellings at Catherine Hill Bay and 187 dwellings at Gwandalan.

Under a deal with the NSW Government, Rose Group had agreed to hand over approximately 300 hectares of land for a national park in return for development rights on 60 hectares.

There were concerns the proposal would impact upon two vulnerable species of native flora, the black-eyed susan shrub and the leafless-tongue orchid, and the development was referred to Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who found that there "will be no significant impact on the species I am responsible for".

The Gwandalan Summerland Point Action Group took legal action over the approval of the Rose Group’s plans, the basis of the challenge being that there was bias on the part of the Minister.  The court found Planning Minister Frank Sartor's decision was affected by a reasonable apprehension of bias.

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