Urgent need to prevent degradation of Hunters Hill’s riverscapes

Hunters Hill Trust member Gillian Coote has been urging Council to enforce development conditions and prevent further degradation of the riverscape along the foreshore below Bonnefin Road.

“No. 35 Bonnefin Road, is now vacant and will be sold, I understand, by the bank which owns the mortgage.  

Council must commit to informing the bank and their buyers of the ongoing DA conditions on the property as a matter of urgency so that those areas which are within the l5m Foreshore Building Line are not mown, chopped, sawn down, dug up, landscaped and replanted with exotic species, as has happened with monotonous regularity elsewhere along the foreshore.  

The house at No. 35 is built almost to the l5m Foreshore Building Line, the first half of which is currently a beautiful wild meadow of native species including Lomandra longifolia, Imperata cylindrica (blady grass), Microlaena stipoides, Commelina cyanea, Dianella caerula and Entolasia.

Since the property was first developed, Council has not bothered to insist on the DA conditions ie the ongoing maintenance of this native meadow.  This means that exotics such as Paspalum dilatatum, Salpichroa origanifolia, Setaria parviflora, Bidens pilosa and Conyza have appeared.

Below this meadow, the land slopes towards the river with a variety of indigenous trees, including Breynia, Glochidion ferdinandi, Pittospoprum undulutumn, Polyscias sambucifolia, Kunzea and Angophora.

As you can imagine, these habitats attract a wide range of wildlife, including birds, lizards and insects.” 

39 BONNEFIN MAR 10 WIDE JPG - Version 2No 35 is on the right of the yellow house with the existing bushland remnant in front of the house.  The foreshore in front of No 37 is also at risk – it is currently also for sale.  Council has not responded to Gillian’s previous email:

I am writing to you because of my concern for the viability of our remaining natural riverscapes in the Municipality.  As you know, the River to River Wildlife Corridor, a three-year grant funded by the NSW Environmental Trust with the City of Ryde and Hunters Hill Council, highlighted the importance of such riverscapes.

The bushland of Boronia Park continues in a thin strip – the l5m Foreshore Building Line – along the foreshores of the Lane Cover River to the Figtree Bridge, nevertheless, with every sale on the river-side of Bonnefin Road, with every small house demolished to make way for something much grander, native vegetation and natural sandstone formations within this l5m Foreshore Building Line (FBL) are destroyed.  Currently, Hunters Hill Council awaits the restoration of the foreshore at No. 19 Bonnefin Road after the current owner/builder’s unapproved “improvements”, for which I understand Council has fined him ‘the limp slap on the wrist’ sum of $750.00.

Approximately twelve years ago, a property at 35 Bonnefin Road was developed with a DA condition that its FBL bushland be professionally maintained in perpetuity, however there has been no follow-through on this condition since the house was first built, when a professional bush regenerator eliminated bamboo, Ochna, Privet, Lantana, exotic grasses etc.  Over the ensuing years, what had been clean native FBL bushland has been invaded by weeds yet again.

Ten years ago, Lane Cove Council offered a package to people who lived adjacent to bushland and/or the Lane Cover River (see list of publications (1) below) and this was given to people who moved into such properties.  At the same time, HHC was offering a smaller package of publications (see below (2)) but only if and when people asked for it.

Over the last year, LCC has employed a bushland liaison officer whose task it is to educate these people about their responsibilities to the bushland and river.  This face-to-face liaison work is proving very effective.

While the few HHC Bushcare officers that Council employs do excellent work, Council must show it means business in regard to the FBL and remaining bushland, in accordance with the River to River Wildlife Corridor grant.  Council must take a proactive position on its natural heritage.  At the very least, Council should oversee any DA conditions that it has imposed, just as swimming pool fencing is now being checked, and certainly provide more intensive education on the FBL with relevant households and offer people both a coherent manual and visits from Bushland Officers.  And, as a matter of course, when foreshore properties change hands, new owners should be sent an appropriate manual, with follow-up visits by Bushland Officers.

Unless Council matches its green rhetoric with decisive action, this area of foreshore will very soon replicate so much else along the rivers of Hunters Hill – riverscapes where all native vegetation has been removed to be replaced by massive landscaping, manicured lawns, swimming pools and exotic trees and the natural sandstone formations obliterated.

Finally, I would appreciate some indication of Council’s intentions to act swiftly regarding #35 Bonnefin Road, as detailed above.

Let’s make 2014 a year of positive action for the environment and encourage householders adjacent to indigenous bushland that they will be strongly supported by Council in their efforts to maintain this treasure of biodiversity for future generations.

Yours sincerely,

Gillian Coote”

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2 Comments

  1. Posted February 14, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    On February 11, I received a heartening response to my emails to Richard Quinn regarding the slow degradation of indigenous bushland along the foreshore of the Lane Cove River. In it, Mayor Richard Quinn said he would ask Council to investigate the landscaping provisions of 35 Bonnefin Road and request that the property’s new owners will be given a copy of the Development Consent and Bushland Plan of Management so they are aware of conditions imposed by Council on 27 January l998. – Gillian Coote

  2. Posted August 25, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Good on you Gillian.
    It’s unbelievable that the Rural Fire Service has managed to convince the State Government to allow the wholesale destruction of indigenous bushland across the Sydney metropolitan area, including large slabs of Hunters Hill’s foreshores. Lets hope the Council together with the other harbour side councils can convince the government to remove this ill conceived and hasty piece of legislation.

    Tony Coote

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