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Lendlease addressing koala concerns

Derek Rose
Lendlease says it has made changes to a community development in southwest Sydney to protect koalas

Lendlease executives say they're taking a local group's concerns seriously about how a planned new community might impact a rare local chlamydia-free koala colony in southwestern Sydney.

Chairman Michael Ullmer took the step of addressing the koala issue at the $11 billion company's annual general meeting in Sydney on Wednesday.

"It is a matter the board and CEO take very seriously," Mr Ullmer told shareholders, adding that they had visited the site to understand local concerns.

The Figtree Hill development near Campbelltown is expected to provide 1,700 new low-density homes on former farmland, but locals say the area is also home to NSW's only chlamydia-free koala colony, with an estimated 500 marsupials living in the broader Macarthur region.

After talking with stakeholder groups Lendlease says it has nearly doubled amount of land set aside on the site for protected koala habitat, to 220 hectares, which it expects will eventually become high-quality vegetation.

Lendlease has also offered to Roads and Maritime Services to build an overpass and a koala tunnel on Appin Road, where a number of koalas have been struck and killed, to protect koalas moving between the Georges and Nepean rivers.

Lendlease is upgrading the road as part of its work on Figtree Hill.

The community was originally called Gilead, in a nod to the historic Mount Gilead farming property it is located on, but was rebranded after the name created a stir online.

In the television show The Handmaid's Tale, the Republic of Gilead is a totalitarian theocratic state where women are subjugated.