THE Hills Council has defended a proposal to rezone Bella Vista Farm.
Residents are concerned the proposal, which sees the park being rezoned from recreation zone to B7 business park zone, may open the way for the heritage park to become an extension of Norwest Business Park.
Bella Vista Farm is on the NSW State Heritage Register and includes a two-storey homestead, originally circa 1840s.
At a press conference last week, Michael Edgar, the council’s group manager strategic planning, said the council was concerned about ‘‘scare-mongering’’ in the community around the proposal to rezone the 18.5-hectare park off Norwest Boulevarde.
B7 permits, with consent, structures such as heliports, but this idea was already put to and rejected by the council in 2007, Mr Edgar said.
‘‘This isn’t about getting rid of Bella Vista Farm and it’s not like we can go open slather and do anything,’’ Mr Edgar said.
In June, Planning Minister Brad Hazzard approved the proposal subject to conditions, including demonstrating consistency, or justifying inconsistency, with the heritage conservation section of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Friends of Bella Vista Farm president Keith Bensley said the zoning name ‘‘business park’’ was bound to raise concerns about potential future uses of the park.
Macarthur Ridge Community Association, a 14-property residential consortium with homes backing onto the park, opposes the rezoning.
It looks after Macarthur Ridge and a small parcel of land at the end of Ridgemark Place which it has converted into a park. It is concerned it may be turned into an access road into Bella Vista Farm.
A draft conservation management plan prepared by Worley Parsons and yet to be endorsed by the Office of Environment and Heritage, says rezoning is necessary for the property to become ‘‘financially independent’’ from its owner, The Hills Council.
The consultants noted if the heritage buildings on the site are to survive, they need to be given a ‘‘viable use’’ which would, in turn, create an income stream for the site’s preservation and maintenance.
But Mr Bensley said he’d been advised by a local government consultant the council could increase its commercial activities at the farm without rezoning.
The Friends are considering establishing a trust and donations scheme. They will meet today to discuss their concerns including whether to ask the council to extend the submission period for the proposal. It will close on December 20.
The council has awarded a tender to Auscorp Corporations to build a covered amphitheatre at the farm, subject to council heritage approval.