Then on Thursday, February 21, a Liberal Party spokesman claimed Mr Sidgreaves was misquoted by the District Reporter during a 7News report by Sean Berry that said overdevelopment and a lack of supporting infrastructure was slowing emergency services around Macarthur and could cost lives.
I’m not in a position to say which of Mr Sidgreaves statements are true but there is a better way to get a sense of his position on development by looking at his votes around development during his time at Camden Council.
The story his Camden Council votes suggests is that he does have a strong tendency to support new developments, particularly subdivisions of existing blocks to make smaller plots.
To come to this conclusion I looked at all Council votes around development and subdivisions since the 2016 election.
That left me with those votes around subdivisions and developments that were split down party lines.
Peter Sidgreaves has consistently supported subdivisions by small developers of existing lots across many parts of the electorate – not just the South West Growth Area.
His votes since the 2016 Council elections have seen him consistently support subdivisions of existing lots down to sizes of 125sqm in Leppington; 340sqm in Cobbitty; a strata subdivision with lot sizes of 124-250sqm in Currans Hill; a lot down to 293sqm in Gledswood Hills; a 253sqm lot in Oran Park; and a Gregory Hills subdivision that reduced a lot to 252sqm.
As recently as December 11, 2018, he supported rezoning of RU2 rural landscape at Scenic Hills to Low Density Residential (375sqm-700sm) and Large Lot Residential (400sqm-20,000sqm) despite protests from the neighboring Campbelltown Council.
But perhaps the most surprising support for subdivisions came when he voted against the wishes of Oran Park developer Greenfields and fellow Liberal Party member and then mayor Lara Symkowiak in support of a subdivision that, according to Greenfields, “went against the developer’s vision for the community [of Oran Park] and was part of a growing planning issue”. The vote of Lara Symkowiak meant the subdivision was knocked back despite his intent to let it through.
Mr Sidgreave’s argument in the majority of these cases has been simple and consistent. He regularly states that the Council cannot oppose compliant development, as they would likely lose the case if the decision was challenged in court.
He has also repeatedly said, “If councillors do not like those rules they actually should try to change them”.
Looking over the Camden Council minutes and business papers since the 2016 election, I cannot see one occasion where he has put forward a notice of motion to change these subdivision rules.
While I cannot say that Mr Sidgreaves has a develop-at-all-costs approach to our region, it would definitely be fair to say that when opinions are divided over whether developments or subdivisions should go ahead, he is generally more likely to support a developer.
As an aside, I am surprised that he has pulled back on his quoted statement around future development in the north of the Camden electorate around Badgery’s Creek. Considering business and transport are being concentrated in that region, it is perhaps one area where it makes sense – assuming the State Government first put in place the correct infrastructure.