A CONTROVERSIAL 404-lot housing development was approved last night for West Wallsend, angering hundreds of residents who opposed the plan.
Four community groups and several residents spoke against the plan at a meeting last night, but a state-appointed planning panel dismissed their concerns and approved the development.
Residents were concerned the Hammersmith Management plan would detract from the area’s heritage and remove a large bush buffer.
Other concerns were the loss of an old tram line and damage to an area sacred to Aborigines and known as the butterfly caves.
Resident Brian Adamthwaite spoke about his desire to protect ‘‘wrens dancing in the garden and black cockatoos’’.
‘‘This development will remove trees that provide habitat for those birds,’’ Mr Adamthwaite said.
He said the quote of the night was when a development consultant said it was more efficient to flatten trees, than build houses among trees.
Hammersmith said 38 hectares of the site would be developed and 32 hectares conserved and new trees would grow on the site to form a canopy.
The panel included a condition for one canopy tree to remain on each lot to ‘‘help break up the building mass’’.
Hammersmith development manager Wes van der Gardner said the development would help tackle the ‘‘housing supply shortage in the Lower Hunter’’.
West Wallsend Action Group spokesman Philip Cooke criticised Lake Macquarie City Council staff for asserting the plan would benefit the area.
Mr Cooke said the developer was seeking a ‘‘$150million prize at the expense of the community and its much-loved natural environment’’.