Red Hill Preservation Society

by Michael Paine

Warringah is a local government area on Sydney's Northern Beaches

The Red Hill Preservation Society is active in the protection of
bushland and water catchments - particularly the Narrabeen Lagoon
catchment. Some of our current projects are:

In addition Michael Paine prepared a feature article on urban villages
for the Manly Daily (Saturday 26 June). A copy is available at

Urban villages are an important component of the residential strategy
which enabled Warringah to be exempted from dual occupancy laws. Michael
argues that urban villages are the least painfall way of achieving the
targets for more dwellings that all Sydney local governments are
required to meet. They enable suburban areas to absorb their share of
these extra dwellings in a controlled and well-planned manner - unlike
the notorious dual occupancy provisions. Much misinformation has
circulated about urban villages and the article attempts to address some
concerns expressed by residents (a job that should have been done by
Warringah Council).

Background on the Red Hill Preservation Society

In the late 1980s the NSW Government imposed Regional Environment Plan 21 on Warringah. REP21 rezoned bushland at Red Hill, Cromer and Oxford Heights to "residential" in the hope that the government would make a hansom profit.

A huge area of pristine bushland at Red Hill was under threat. The Red Hill Preservation Society was formed by local residents to fight the development. Two decades before these same residents had fought the destruction of Governor Phillip Lookout at Beacon Hill to make way for the multi-lane Warringah Road (notice how the road now weaves around the Lookout). Unfortunately the bureaucracy prevailed in the case of Red Hill. The development went ahead with larger blocks. A subsequent push by the state government for dual occupancy throughout Sydney meant that much of Red Hill now has huge duplex houses filling each block. There is little scope for substantial trees to grow and cover the unsightly development from surrounding suburbs (the older suburbs are hidden behind established trees).

It turned out the the debarcle over Red Hill was a factor in the downfall of the Greiner Government (Red Hill supporter Terry Metherill became an Independent and unpopular Local Government Minister David Hay lost the "safe" seat of Manly to Independent Peter MacDonald). The legacy of this folly can be seen in the unsightly developments on these prominent hillsides.

August 1999