Jamie Durie’s dream of building a $3m waterfront mansion for his family has experienced yet another setback, this time because of a colony of tiny bats.
The celebrity garden guru and former Backyard Blitz host’s plans to knock down a 1960s cottage and replace it with a sprawling mansion for his family had already met local opposition over a proposal to remove 17 native trees.
Northern Beaches Council has now questioned a report by an ecologist employed by Durie that caves near the proposed development where micro-bats could roost will be not be impacted, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The ecologist’s environmental assessment report claims colonies of large-eared pie bats and the little bentwing bats are located 1.3km east of Durie’s Riverview Road waterfront property at Careel Bay.
It also claimed the caves are ‘degraded to the point that the species is unlikely to use’ them.
The council described the report as ‘inaccurate’ and insisted the bat habitat be retained.
Jamie Durie (pictured with fiancee Ameka) has denied his proposed home development at Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches will impact colonies of micro-bats, the latest setback to befall the project
A large-eared pie bat, one of the species of ‘micro-bats’ an environmental assessment said won’t be impacted by Jamie Durie’s proposed home development. Northern Beaches Council said the report was ‘inaccurate’
‘I have never seen them there but they are welcome,’ Durie said of the micro-bats, claiming his development would not impact the species.
The TV star had earlier copped backlash over plans to transform the waterfront lot at Avalon Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches into a six storey ‘family home’.
Durie’s development application included a proposal to remove 17 native trees, sparking a series of community objections to the local council.
He subsequently changed the plan to include the removal of only one tree and was in the process of resubmitting the plan to council.
Durie had earlier defended his plans in several television interviews, claiming an arborist’s report missing from the submission to council sparked a misunderstanding.
The council had issued a ‘landscape referral response’ ordering Durie submit an alternative layout and building design.
The council report recommended 13 of the 26 trees stay, including six which have ‘moderate value’.
The DA will be referred to the Local Planning Panel.
‘Council considers issues raised in public submissions regarding development applications in the assessment of each matter and advice from specialist officers is sought as part of the assessment process,’ council chief executive Ray Brownlee told Daily Mail Australia in a statement.
‘This DA will be referred to the LPP for determination when the assessment of the application has been completed.
‘At this stage we do not have a time frame in which it will go to the LPP.’
Durie’s six storey proposal consists of six bedrooms, swimming pool, two-car garage, music studio and media room, a lift down to the kids’ play area and yoga gym.
BEFORE: Jamie Durie hopes to knock down the original 1960s cottage (pictured) to build a six storey dream family home
…AFTER: Jamie Durie’s plans to redevelop his the beach property into this multi-level, sprawling facility attracted more than 30 objections from the community
Durie claimed those who opposed the proposal haven’t read the arborist’s report which had been missing from the council submission, which stated the number of trees that would be removed had been reduced from 17 to nine.
Despite revising the redevelopment plans, he said some of the unhealthy trees on the property had to be knocked down due to termite infestation.
‘There’s been a group of new environmentalists standing in front of the house and protecting noxious weeds,’ Durie told the A Current Affair.
‘I was mortified when I read some of the submissions.’
‘I think if some of the new environmentalists that were standing out on the street knew that they were actually standing here preventing environmental weeds from being taken down that had now turned into trees, they’d be a little embarrassed.’
The former Manpower stripper, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, said he wants the community to be just as proud of the redeveloped home as he will be.
The council received at least 32 objections to the proposal, with residents expressing concerns the development will set a precedent that would gradually see most native trees in the area chopped down.
Northern Beaches Council has recommended the garden guru amend the proposal to keep some of the native trees earmarked for demolition
Durie proposes to knock down the ramshackle existing cottage on block he purchased for $2.3m five years ago
‘We’re going to end up like the eastern suburbs with mini RSLs and concrete everywhere,’ resident Miranda Korzy told the program.
‘I don’t want to make an example of Jamie Durie … I think people are, because they come in, they don’t know what the area was like before, they don’t realise how much we’re losing.’
Kylie Hebts, who lives across the road from Durie’s property, said: ‘It’s a little bit of LA and Double Bay combined to be honest.
‘The thought of so many trees coming out, it really feels like we should be planning for a funeral.’
Durie had described the saga as a ‘unfortunate chain of events’ and has sent letters to neighbours to clarify the situation
‘People have assumed that I’m pulling out a lot of native trees when, actually, some of these are weeds,’ he told Today Extra.
Jamie Durie proposes to cut down nine native trees on his property (pictured on Monday)
Miranda Korzy is among dozens of local residents who have objected to the proposal
‘They’re actually noxious weeds, they’re privet, some of them are affected with termites, some of them have bora, some of them have die-back.
‘When you read the tree report, you’ll understand that some of these trees have actually been marked for removal without our home being built.’
He added 1518 native and endemic species have been planted on and around the property.
‘We’ve rectified the issue and I have sent a letter to all the neighbours and the council explaining what happening and so hopefully they will see with our new plans,’ Durie said.
‘I hear them loud and clear and rest assured, we’ll be putting plenty of plants into the ground.’
BEFORE: This is the old cottage in Avalon Durie wants to demolish to build a sprawling $3million ‘family home’…
Neighbour John Sheehan, a former acting judge of the Land and Environment Court, described the proposal as ‘fatally flawed’ and is concerned it would have ‘serious and irreversible impacts on biodiversity values’.
Another neighbour said the proposed dwelling was out of character with the adjoining dwellings which respect the topography and the vegetation of their sites.
‘It is a gross overdevelopment in this location given the character of the area and the adjoining properties,’ their submission stated.
‘It must be redesigned by an architect to reduce its site coverage, to retain all the significant trees, to pull back from the waterfront in order to stay well within the foreshore building line, and to reduce its excessive size.’
Another expressed grave concerns the development will set an alarming precedent for future development in the area if approved.
Local heritage and preservation bodies also objected to the development with concerns that it’s out of character for the area, will threaten wildlife and ‘would overwhelm its environmentally sensitive block’.
Pittwater Natural Heritage Association said the proposal would have a detrimental effect on the movement of wildlife in the vicinity and doesn’t reflect the ecological and aesthetic values of the area.
‘Council should take into consideration the cumulative effect that developments such as this would have on the canopy trees which are critical to the character of the Avalon area,’ their submission states.
‘If this and other such developments are allowed to continue then, over time, the tree canopy which gives Avalon its character will disappear.’
The Avalon Preservation Association added: ‘The current trend of proposing very large dwellings on environmentally sensitive blocks and consequently destroying much of the native vegetation on the block while a small effect taken individually, constitutes ‘death by a thousand cuts’ when taken as the new norm.’
Locals say the proposal submitted by Jamie Durie (pictured with fiancee Ameka) is flawed and out of character for the area
Durie had already submitted a revised development application for the block, which he purchased for $2.3m five years ago, that included the removal of only nine trees.
‘After strong consideration of your comments we have decided to amend our current DA as we are flexible in our approach,’ the horticulturalist wrote.
‘The amendments to the design reduce the footprint and preserve additional native trees.’
Durie and fiancée Ameka Foster welcomed their first child together, a daughter named Beau in July.
He has another daughter Taylor, 26, from a previous relationship.
Celebrity gardener and National Tree Day ambassador Jamie Durie (pictured) has revised tree removal plans in the development application