Alhadeff makes case for new cemetery

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff. Photo: Noel Kessel

A NEW cemetery at Varroville in Sydney’s south-west is “the only viable option” to avoid the Jewish community from running out of burial space in five years.

That is what NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff told a public meeting late last month as the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) deliberates whether to allow the development, which is being contested due to heritage concerns, to go ahead.

“The NSW Jewish community faces a critical shortage of burial space in Sydney,” Alhadeff told the panel.

“The Jewish community seeks the right to continue to bury its dead in a lawful and dignified manner in accordance with Jewish religious law and practice. Varroville is the only viable option on the horizon. 

“On present estimates, without approval of this development application, by approximately 2024 – just five years away – there will be no available graves for sale for Jewish burial at any of the cemeteries where land is currently consecrated for Jewish burial.”

Addressing the heritage concerns surrounding the property, which dates back to 1810, Alhadeff acknowledged the importance of protecting the site’s historical significance. 

“There is no incompatibility between approving the cemetery proposal and protecting the homestead outbuildings, dams, vineyards and original driveway, and the historic value of Varroville House,” he said. 

“The Jewish community appreciates the heritage concerns, but urgently seeks the right to bury at Varroville. We seek a sensible balance between heritage concerns and the right to bury.”

The panel is also considering an additional development application (DA) for a cemetery at Wallacia, near Penrith. 

The two DAs are being considered simultaneously after NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts took them out of the hands of Campbelltown and Penrith Councils and handed them over to the IPC in mid-2018.

A source told The AJN that the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust asked the minister to intervene due to delays in the councils’ deliberations.

The AJN understands the IPC will make its determinations in four to six weeks, upon which it will pass on its findings to the Sydney Western City Planning Panel, who are expected to follow its recommendations.

GARETH NARUNSKY