Access to subdivision of historic Macquarie at the centre of council dispute

RIGHT OF WAY: Paul and Bonny Hennessy at the entrance to historic Macquarie, off O'Connell Road. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK
RIGHT OF WAY: Paul and Bonny Hennessy at the entrance to historic Macquarie, off O'Connell Road. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

THE owner of an historic homestead at O’Connell is in dispute with Bathurst Regional Council over an access road to a subdivision on the property.

Paul and Bonny Hennessy became just the third owners of Macquarie, the former 1820s home of Blue Mountains explorer William Lawson, when they bought it in 2012 with a commitment to restore it to its former glory.

Australia’s oldest inland convict barracks, built by convict labour, stand beside the homestead.

Mr Hennessy has since applied to subdivide the 1000-hectare property on which the homestead sits into 10 lots and Oberon Council granted conditional approval for the development.

Now, however, the Hennessys are at loggerheads with Bathurst Regional Council over an access road from O’Connell Road to the new subdivision that stands within the Bathurst council area.

The road is currently a private access route built and maintained by the Hennessys but Bathurst planning rules do not allow more than four lots to share a private road.

Council’s solution is to convert the access road to public ownership but Mr Hennessy fears that would impact on security at Macquarie.

“We know this is the oldest farm over the Blue Mountains and we’re confident it is also the oldest continuing residence over the Mountains,” Mr Hennessy said.

“Because of the historic nature of the property we already have a trespass problem from people coming up to have a look at the homestead and barracks, or people coming onto private land to fish in the Fish River.

“It gives us a lack of security and a lack of privacy that would only get worse if the access road was made a public road.”

A report to Wednesday night’s council meeting by acting environmental planning and building services director Janet Bingham recommends councillors reject Mr Hennessy’s request to vary planning rules to allow the access route for nine lots instead of four.