When you read the cliché about the “leafy suburbs” of Sydney’s North Shore, it means places like the State seat of Ku-ring-gai which embraces Gordon, Killara, Lindfield, Normanhurst, Pymble, Roseville and parts of Turramurra and Wahroonga.

The local MP since 1995 is Barry O’Farrell, the State Opposition Leader and former state director of the NSW Liberal Party.

For reasons that are baffling and almost incomprehensible, the Labor Government is moving on Ku-ring-gai with a new Town Centre Plan that is going to blitz the area’s “leafy” environment, over-develop it, over-populate it, turn it into a traffic nightmare and generally remove the comfortable quality of life of its well-heeled residents.

Tomorrow the Planning Department’s handpicked Planning Panel — a bureaucratic invention of the former Planning Minister Frank Sartor — will hold its first public meeting in Lindfield to hear what the locals think.

Panel members had better bring ear muffs. The locals, gathered under an umbrella organization called Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment (FOKE) will be out in force to demand that the plan be frozen until a comprehensive local environmental study is conducted.

Upper House MP Catherine Cusack, shadow minister for climate change and environmental sustainability, has concluded that the department’s plan is a wrecking ball.

“I have never seen anything so inappropriate and politically vindictive. If it proceeds, the strategy will be the greatest act of urban vandalism since the demolition of the Sydney Rocks,” she said.

“Building densities will be greater than many inner city suburbs and Ku-ring-gai’s iconic tree canopy that connects through to the National Parks will be shredded like waste paper.”

Asked why the neatly trimmed, garden-friendly citizens of Ku-ring-gai were being targeted for such a provocative planning makeover, a Labor Government adviser replied: “It will set a fire under O’Farrell’s a-se and keep him busy for a while.”

Has policy-making become this corrupted in NSW? Surely not.

Peter Fray

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