Today the NSW Minister for Planning, the Hon. Frank Sartor, officially turned the first sod at Bingara Gorge – marking the commencement of construction works on a $1 billion landmark residential development in Sydney’s south-west. The Minister was joined by Delfin Lend Lease CEO Rod Fehring, Bradcorp CEO Peter Brennan, and Wollondilly Mayor Phil Costa, for the ceremony.

Mr Fehring said Delfin Lend Lease and Bradcorp were delighted Mr Sartor attended the milestone event, which marked the beginning of works after many years of planning. He said the new community would deliver a high standard of urban design, landscaping, infrastructure, housing and facilities, which would complement the traditional country character of the Wollondilly Shire.

Bingara Gorge will include 1,165 residential lots, a country club and 18-hole Championship golf course designed by one of the world’s top ranked golfers, Ernie Els. The first blocks are expected to go on sale early 2007.

“Bingara Gorge will provide a benchmark for future residential developments on Sydney’s fringe in terms of quality, sustainability and lifestyle. It will also provide a diverse range of quality housing choices to support the NSW Government’s Metro Strategy south western growth corridor, which will see a city the size of Canberra established on Sydney’s south western region within 30 years,” Mr Fehring said.

Minister Sartor and Mr Fehring also announced the new name ‘Bingara Gorge’ for the project, which was previously known as the Wilton Parklands site. Mr Fehring said the word Bingara has historical significance to the land’s original name and the gorges are an existing natural feature of the property.

Delfin Lend Lease and Bradcorp are developing the 450 ha community at Wilton – 60 minutes south-west of Sydney, at the gateway to the Southern Highlands. The development will create 300 permanent jobs and 450 construction jobs over the next five years. Bingara Gorge will be the Wollondilly Shire’s first masterplanned community and is expected to be home to more than 3,500 residents by 2014. The masterplan is based on a philosophy to ensure Sydney’s south-west has housing options that appeal to a wide variety of buyers, including professionals and those working in the service and knowledge sectors.

Mr Brennan said “Bingara Gorge will be a place that people are proud to call home. It will be a model project for growth outside the Sydney metropolitan area in that it reflects the best of city and modern country living. After many years of meticulous planning it is very pleasing to see our initial vision turn into reality”.

Initial construction work would focus on the development of key infrastructure for the community.

Mr Fehring said works would begin with construction of the golf course, the first 215 residential lots, the Sales and Information Centre and the Display Village. The Sales and Information Centre will open early next year and the Bingara Gorge Display Village will be unveiled in mid 2007. “Our research shows there is strong demand from homebuyers looking for better quality land close to retail, commercial, service and education facilities,” he said.

Developers Delfin Lend Lease and landowners Bradcorp finalised the development agreement for the project late last year. Under a State Development Agreement (SDA), finalised with the Planning Minister, the developers will meet the costs of providing regional infrastructure such as roadworks, a primary school and funding for other State services.

Mr Fehring said Delfin Lend Lease and Bradcorp shared a common vision of creating quality lifestyle communities that are sustainable in every facet, economically, environmentally and socially. Both Delfin Lend Lease and Bradcorp are committed to building a strong and progressive community at Bingara Gorge, complete with a school, childcare centre, village centre with shops and commercial uses, 18km of paths and trails and high quality sporting facilities through the creation of eight hectares of sporting fields, including upgrading the existing Wilton Oval.

Mr Fehring said, “Bingara Gorge has been designed to maximise views of open space and the golf course, in order to enhance its natural setting. About 80% of the blocks will be more than 800 sqm, and half will have either golf, park or bushland frontage.”

An Environmental Trust, which was initially conceived by Bradcorp, will be established to conserve 120ha of bushland – almost 30% of the site. The Environmental Trust lands include Aboriginal archaeological sites and Tharawal Land Council has been engaged in the preparation of a protection plan of such items. Tharawal Land Council will be invited to be a Founding Member of the Trust.

The developer’s environmental approach includes a total site integrated water management strategy, which will save 50 percent of potable water – a 10 percent improvement on Government requirements.

Mr Fehring said the creation of Bingara Gorge will provide a range of spin-off benefits to the residents of the existing town of Wilton, which will become a community big enough to sustain a public school, village centre, medical services, public transport and a regional social and cultural hub.

Bradcorp and Delfin Lend Lease have undertaken extensive community consultation through the Wilton Park Reference Panel, the Wilton Progress Association and the Wollondilly Council, which will continue as Bingara Gorge comes to life. Wilton Progress Association president Paul Spencer said: “There has been constant communication between Bradcorp and the community over a five year period, as we worked towards a solution that would accommodate both the interests of the developer and that of the community. It has been a highly effective process as we resolved any concerns to achieve a sustainable solution for the good of the region, through a series of open forums, on-site information days and ongoing consultation. We are looking forward to continuing this process with Delfin Lend Lease to ensure a positive integration of the new and existing communities, as this is vital to its success.”

Mr Brennan concluded, “With the turning of the sod today, Bingara Gorge has become a reality, with immeasurable benefits to the broader community.”