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Tama Gully Development Solution Divides Opinions

By Dan Hutton on April 20, 2011 in

Following a recent public meeting attended by 100 local residents, Waverley Council will be consulting the community to gauge support for the purchase of part or all of the two properties immediately adjoining the creek within Tamarama Park.

“We need to seek advice from the broader community about the possible purchases, on the understanding that there may be significant impacts on Council’s ability to deliver against the community’s current service expectations,” Mayor Betts said.

The proposed purchase was prompted by a development application for one of the properties, 362 Birrell Street. The application is to build two, two-storey dual occupancy homes on the front and rear lots of the property. The land at 362 Birrell Street is very steep as it lies across the top of Tamarama Gully. The site straddles the waterfall and sandstone boulders. Opponents say development on this property would destroy Tamarama Gully and Fletchers Glen Waterfall and have urged the council to buy the site, along with 364 Birrell Street. The public meeting emphasised the need for protection of the “heritage listed Fletchers Glen Waterfall, large boulders and watercourse”.

“The local residents were clear in their support for purchasing these properties so that the land could be incorporated into Tamarama Park,” said Paula Masselos, Bronte Precinct Secretary.

“Waverley councillors must realise that they are the custodians of our natural heritage and have a strong moral and legal obligation to protect these items in the public interest and for our future generations.”

The Council is also considering the purchase of 364 Birrell Street, the property located at the edge of the gully. It was built in the 1920s, and since its purchase only 12 months ago the original property has been renovated. The owner of 364, Dave Klaiber, is not in favour of the development at 362 and is very concerned that the Council may attempt to acquire his family home.

“When we purchased the property it had extensive termite damage and needed re-wiring. We spent months fixing it up, restoring it to its former glory to fit into the park,” Mr Klaiber said.

“Now people are trying to take our home away from us. We just want to keep our house.”

It was reported that Waverley Greens Councillor Prue Cancian urged the Council to purchase the property back in March 2010 when it came on the market. She said that “it represents a rare opportunity for Council to purchase 364 Birrell Street and incorporate it into Tamarama Park, which all councillors have indicated is important”.

Some councillors have said that purchasing the two properties is unnecessary and will be too expensive. They feel that it would be adequate to purchase part of 362 to protect the waterfall.

“The Labor team is perfectly happy with 364 Birrell Street, it has just been sensitively refurbished and the owners appear to respect the park and gully. Council only need to purchase part of 362 in order to protect the gully and the waterfall, and large boulders,” said Cr Strewe.

Tamarama Gully is identified in the Waverley Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study May 2009 as an area of ‘High Sensitivity’, with known or probable sites, and relatively undisturbed areas.

What are your thoughts on the proposed purchase and the potential development in the gully? Leave your comments below.