Lendlease Australia responds: Figtree Hill
- 21 Oct 2021
We’re embarking on this project because not only will it deliver a much-needed new community for families in the Campbelltown/Macarthur region, it will also enable immediate and real action to protect and grow the local Campbelltown koala population.
By committing to Figtree Hill at Gilead, we’re committing to a $35m koala conservation plan, the only fully funded plan that will deliver the necessary environmental infrastructure and local research to help local koalas thrive.
The Campbelltown koala population is one of the only populations expanding. By following recommendations identified by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, our project can double the koala carrying capacity of the site. This is key to further growing Campbelltown’s koala colony.
We welcome any journalist or media outlet to join us on site, to see the area firsthand, and to hear from the team about our real plans for conservation.
The facts about Figtree Hill
Figtree Hill will be located within the Gilead Estate, which is comprised of:
- State Heritage listed Mount Gilead Homestead (privately owned)
- Figtree Hill (Stage 1 zoned for 1,700 homes to be delivered by Lendlease)
- Gilead (Stage 2 under option subject to rezoning, estimated 4,000 homes to be delivered by Lendlease).
The Nepean River is located west of the Estate, and the Georges River to the east.
The new Figtree Hill community will be developed in an area of the Estate that is comprised of cleared farmland that’s been used for grazing since the 1880s.
More than 53 per cent of the Gilead Estate will remain bushland, heritage homestead or parkland, a total of 473 hectares of greenspace. To put this in perspective, Sydney Olympic Park is just 430 hectares.
There will be more core koala habitat as a result of Figtree Hill
If the Gilead site remains an agricultural enterprise, as it currently is, the remnant vegetation on site has no effective legislative protection and will continue to decline in quantity and quality.
We’ve undertaken over 1,700 hours of onsite ecological studies which has assessed the quality of the existing bushland – it’s generally fragmented, poor quality (weed infested), and accessible to livestock for grazing.
Our project will enable conservation and rehabilitation of existing habitat that will improve its overall quality, doubling the koala carrying capacity of the site.
We’ve registered 20ha of new bio-banks, and more than 240 ha of restored koala habitat will be protected in perpetuity by the Biodiversity Conservation Fund.
At no time during project delivery will there be less core habitat available to the local koala population than they have today.
We’ll fund underpasses to reduce car strikes on Appin Road
For koalas to access the Nepean and Georges Rivers, they must cross Appin Road, a known black spot for motorists and animals.
We’ve proposed to the State Government that we’ll fund and build two underpasses, one at Noorumba Reserve (northern boundary of the Estate), and another at Beulah Reserve (southern boundary) to provide koalas with a safe crossing. We’re waiting for approval to build these.
We’re not aware of any other funded plans by community groups, council, government or industry, to build these underpasses.
Exclusion fencing will protect koalas from existing threat of predators and car strikes
To allow koalas to roam free without straying onto roads, and excluding dogs from entering their area, we’ll construct 25km of exclusion fencing along the perimeter of the urban zone.
We’ll also fund $2m in ongoing management plans for predator control, koala monitoring and research.
Without this environmental infrastructure, koalas will still be at risk from predators and vehicle strikes.
We’ll reinstate habitat links between the two rivers for the first time in 100 years
Corridors in this region are not only vital to connecting koala habitat from east to west, they can also provide koalas with quality habitat to occupy and breed in.
Our project is the only funded proposal that offers a re-instatement of the habitat links. If accepted, this will give koalas a safe passage between the rivers for the first time in more than a century.
Our proposed corridors are an average width of approximately 400m. This meets the NSW Chief Scientist’s advice regarding corridor widths, and will facilitate long term koala occupation, helping to increase the local population.
Environmental works are well underway: we’ve already fenced and registered 20 hectares of new bio-banks. The bushland rehabilitation process has begun with the planting of thousands of new trees – future habitat preferred by local koalas.
We intend to commence works in early 2022, completing a new intersection on Appin Road with the first 330 residential lots.
A local park and community facilities are planned as part of the first stage.
We’re looking forward to delivering this new community for the Macarthur Region, and the opportunity this project has presented to help protect Campbelltown’s koala colony for future generations.
For more detailed information about our plans at Figtree Hill, including a drone video of the area and artist impression of the underpasses, click here