Gandangara’s vision for Heathcote Ridge is one of environmental, social and economic sustainability.
This triple bottom-line approach underpins the careful balance of conservation and development outcomes.
A Sustainability Reference Group was established to ensure all possibilities for sustainability were canvassed. It has provided Gandangara with best practice advice to achieve sustainability at Heathcote Ridge.
The key features investigated as part of the process include:
Gandangara is committed to protecting the significant natural and cultural heritage of the site with a 566 hectare conservation park more than twice the size of Sydney’s Centennial Park.
Gandangara will set new benchmarks for environmental, social and economic sustainability.
Read about the Sustainability Reference Group.
The footprint of the Heathcote Ridge project has been reduced by 15%, with available housing now planned at 2400 dwellings and the employment lands expected to create 4700 jobs.
Reducing the size of the residential and employment lands has resulted in a significant reduction in traffic generation. The impact on key roads and intersections will be substantially lower than previously estimated.
Advice from Gandangara’s traffic experts is that the reduction in both the residential and employment footprint has resulted in an estimated 3,600 fewer peak hour trips when the site is fully developed than previous estimates. This is 600 fewer peak hour trips from the residential land and 3,000 fewer trips form the employment lands.
This is approximately 42% less trips compared to the previous plan.
Nonetheless around $100 million will be spent on transport and infrastructure improvements as part of the Heathcote Ridge project, including a critical east-west road link between Sutherland and Liverpool.
The Heathcote Ridge project will provide much needed local jobs for the people of Sydney’s south and south-west.
The Heathcote Ridge project will have benefits which extend well beyond the project boundaries.
Funds raised from the project will go towards projects that will improve the lives of Aboriginal people in areas of health, housing and education.
Learn more about Gandangara.
Fact sheets and further resources can be downloaded here.
Protecting ecological communities and threatened species is a key priority for Gandangara as final plans for Heathcote Ridge develop.
Over 560 hectares or two thirds the site will be set aside to protect threatened species and provide a vital green link between the Georges River National Park and the Woronora River.
Gandangara has undertaken detailed environmental studies to properly map the unique plants and animals present on the site. Gandangara’s approach will protect and enhance areas of high ecological value, manage water quality and remediate degraded and polluted parts of the site.
To provide positive, long term environmental outcomes for biodiversity, the proposed conservation park is planned to be managed under a conservation agreement.
This will outline the ownership, funding and management arrangements for the protected areas and any bushfire asset protection zones.
Management of the conservation lands will be based on several key principles:
- that a conservation park be established that connects with the adjoining national parks and other key areas and will protect important biodiversity in the area;
- that access to the natural green corridor will be managed but available for educational, scientific and some recreational purposes;
- it will provide consistency and continuity of management and will provide certainty for ongoing protection of biodiversity and cultural management; and
- it will undertake restoration and maintenance works within the corridor.
Gandangara is proud and excited about creating a conservation park which will open up the land to public use.
Funds generated from initiatives such as housing on parts of this site will allow Gandangara to ensure ongoing maintenance and protection of this park for future generations to enjoy.
Gandangara’s investigations indicate that sedimentation is currently the major issue for water quality management at the site.
This threat to water quality is caused by erosion as a result of the significant damage and degradation from the long term and illegal recreation use of the land, specifically four wheel drives and trail bikes.
Along with the remediation of the site, initiatives to improve and maintain water quality in the conservation area will include weed removal, bushland regeneration and riverside rehabilitation.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage
Naturally, the protection and management of known sites and potential areas that may contain Aboriginal cultural heritage is a key priority for the development of the proposed community at Heathcote Ridge.
Work so far has investigated and assessed 80 recorded sites, both within and in close proximity to the proposed project area. Of these, 41 were previously recorded, while 39 additional sites were identified during the survey.
The recorded sites are mostly rock shelters, some with some art and/or artifacts, with the remaining including several axe grinding grooves and two areas with artifact scatters.
The original project plan has been modified to protect the identified sites, and noting that further investigation is warranted in areas of potential sites prior to development being undertaken.
Illegal dumping is a major issue for bushland sites throughout the southern and western Sydney suburbs. Significant parts of the Gandangara site have been used as illegal dumping grounds over the last 50 years.
While Gandangara has employed some initiatives to clean up the site, dumps of tyres, asbestos contaminated soils, general building waste and unknown materials and liquids remain in the more accessible areas off Heathcote Road.
Gandangara will fully remediate contaminated areas and the overall project will ensure that dumping and other contamination stops once and for all.
It is an accepted fact that the world is consuming land, water and biodiversity resources at an unsustainable rate. This project can provide an example of how to balance economic, social and environmental issues including:
- Bushfire Management
- Sustainable Water
- Built Environment
Bushfire management is a key priority for Gandangara.
Proposed initiatives to reduce bushfire risk include:
- All residential areas will have a buffer of at least 60 metres between houses and bushland, forming a mandatory Asset Protection Zone (APZ);
- The employment area will have a buffer of 80 metres to bushland at the Holsworthy Defence lands;
- A new road network within the development will provide alternative exit routes from the area, in particular the new egress route to the east;
- There will be an additional and independent water supply along Heathcote Road, buried in the road reserve; and
- A new Rural Fire Service facility will be located within the project area.
In the residential and employment areas, Water Sensitive Urban Design will be critical to water quality maintenance. This will form part of an overall sustainable approach to Heathcote Ridge that will take Total Water Cycle Management into consideration.
This will investigate the coordination of:
- environmental flow requirements;
- the integration of water efficiency programs such as collecting and treating storm water and rainwater for reuse; and
- Water Sensitive Urban Design approaches such as rain gardens and streetscape swales.
The Heathcote Ridge project will release land for 2400 dwellings alleviating the local housing shortage and contributing to housing affordability in the Sutherland Shire.
The Heathcote Ridge project will deliver a range of lot sizes and dwelling types that can contribute to a diverse community. It will also provide a variety of housing that responds to changes in life cycle and work requirements.
Gandangara is also committed to providing sustainable housing and is exploring opportunities for energy and water efficiency and best practice sustainable housing design.
Gandangara is committed to best practice in sustainable housing and exploring initiatives which make improvements to the wider environment.
There have been many improvements to sustainability measures in the built environment recently. This includes the BASIX rating for residential development as well as improvements in water cycle management and more environmentally friendly power generation.
The initiatives under investigation as part of the sustainable built environment at Heathcote Ridge include:
- energy rated buildings that exceed current best practice;
- water efficiency programs such as collecting and treating storm water and rainwater for reuse within the buildings and for irrigation of urban open space;
- opportunities for locality based tri-generation energy supply; and
- Water Sensitive Urban Design including rain gardens.
3. Traffic and Transport
Around $100 million will be spent on transport and traffic improvements as part of the Heathcote Ridge project.
This major investment will deliver:
- Better links to existing major road networks for future and existing residents in the Sutherland Shire;
- Significantly shorter journey times;
- Environmentally friendly alternatives to car transport and reduced car dependency;
- More efficient transport for new and existing Sutherland Shire residents;
- An easing of existing congestion; and
- Better access to public transport.
The project’s transport plan takes into account existing needs as well as the future demand that will be generated by the creation of new residential and commercial areas.
A new east-west road link between the Bangor Bypass and Heathcote Road is planned that will provide direct access to and from the development.
The need for the east west road link has been flagged since at least the 1980s and will cut approximately 7.5 kilometres from the current journey around New Illawarra Road and Heathcote Road.
Heathcote Ridge is located between Sutherland and Holsworthy rail stations. This presents an opportunity for the introduction of a bus service to link the development with these major transport nodes, significantly improving the opportunity to use public transport.
In other initiatives to reduce car dependency, initiatives being investigated include:
- Rental car schemes
- Car share schemes
- Car pooling
- Bicycle hire stations.
Walking and Cycling
A key objective of the project is to ensure the residential and employment precincts are designed with priority for walking and cycling.
A pedestrian and cyclist strategy has been a key consideration in the design of the proposed road network and development footprint and closely aligns with the road hierarchy and open space and parkland plans.
This ensures that the future Heathcote Ridge community will be an active residential environment that provides direct, comfortable and convenient access and connectivity between and within the residential neighbourhoods, urban centres, public transport stops and parklands.
The residential and business land components of the Heathcote Ridge project will deliver the infrastructure needed to create significant benefits for residents, workers and the broader regional community.
Local facilities including primary schools and community facilities are part of the proposal. Open space will be provided through a series of local neighbourhood parks and a large central town park.
Investigations have found that Sydney Water systems have capacity to service the development, that power is available to the site and the National Broadband Network will be installed there. Opportunities to extend gas services to the area are also being pursued.
Creation of an employment hub of around 55 hectares and up to 4700 local jobs is considered by Gandangara to be an integral part of a balanced, community outcome for the project.
Almost two thirds of Sutherland Shire LGA residents work outside of the Sutherland Shire. This means more than 50,000 people a day travel considerable distances for work with the resultant pressures on roads and public transport.
The vision for Heathcote Ridge will provide innovative local opportunities for the integration of education, training and employment and enable people to work closer to home.
The project supports the NSW Government’s Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036 which projects anticipated job growth for the Sydney South Sub Region of 52,000.
Opportunities being investigated include:
- delivery of a range of employment opportunities;
- improved employment containment by increasing the number of jobs for residents of the Shire, with consequential reduction in trip generation out of the area;
- a diversity of job opportunities due to the size and location of the employment lands;
- support for the futures of young people in the region;
- providing a means of addressing social disadvantage among young and Indigenous people; and
- partnerships with construction industry to provide training and employment opportunities.
5. Community Benefits and Infrastructure
Gandangara’s project at Heathocte Ridge will not only benefit future residents but will also contribute to the broader community.
Community benefits include:
- public access to the Heathcote Ridge conservation park;
- maintenance of green corridor links in the region;
- improved water quality in the catchment through remediation of degraded areas, sedimentation control and Water Sensitive Urban Design;
- improved bushfire protection through the establishment and ongoing management of buffer zones;
- best practice housing, water and energy solutions;
- increased housing supply;
- housing diversity and affordability ;
- improved access to the area including road upgrades;
- reductions in car dependency through transport plans to increase the use of public transport, walking and cycling;
- a wide range of potential education opportunities including childcare, schools, TAFE and University campuses;
- a range of local and regional community and cultural facilities including an Aboriginal cultural centre; and
- a major increase in employment opportunities in the local area.
Gandangara will be working closely with stakeholders and the Sustainability Reference Group to ensure that the best possible plan is developed to work with the needs of the southern Sydney region.
Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council is a not-for-profit organisation and as such will approach the Heathcote Ridge project in a different way to a profit driven corporate developer.
- is not driven by shareholders and profit margins;
- has a connection to land and environment;
- has a vision to achieve self sufficiency and independence for Aboriginal people without welfare and government dependency;
- will retain ownership over much of the Heathcote Ridge site and be involved well after any development is complete;
- can contribute more funds to social and environmental action than other developers;
- will use funds raised by the Heathcote Ridge project to provide health, education, training, housing and transport programs to Aboriginal people; and
- is committed to ensuring the Heathcote Ridge project sets new benchmarks in sustainability and design, providing a model for other Aboriginal communities across Australia.