A FORMER sandstone quarry inside a Northmead nature reserve may be scrapped in favour of apartment blocks after the state government push to rezone the site.
The former Moxham quarry, abandoned in the '50s after quarrymen struck an aquifer and flooded the mine, could make way for medium- to high-density units after the Sydney West Joint Regional Planning Panel was appointed this month to handle the proposal.
Winston Hills tour guide Judith Dunn, who walks from Winston Hills to Old Toongabbie along the 1.4 hectare green corridor that contains the quarry, said the site held historical and environmental significance and development would affect threatened native flora and fauna and erase local history.
"It's remnant forest and it's social history," Mrs Dunn said.
Mrs Dunn said the disused quarry had been "reclaimed" by nature and had become a wetland used by threatened native species, while retaining evidence of the industrial activities of the past.
"You can see the sandstone walls of the quarry and old roads leading away from it that the wagons used . . . I've seen powerful owls in there and a pair of nesting tawny frogmouths."
She said the government was treating it as a "blank space they can fill in with more housing".
Questions to deputy premier Andrew Stoner, whose department of trade and investments was behind the initial proposal, were referred to NSW Crown Lands for response.
A Crown Lands spokesperson said the site was subject to "extensive investigation" and the current plan was to rezone it for housing development.
The spokesperson said the proposal included a 20-metre "environmental protection buffer" to separate new housing from Northmead Gully and the Quarry Branch Creek vegetation corridor".
"At this stage the focus is on working through the planning proposal over the former quarry and its access road," the spokesperson added.
"There are no plans to sell other Crown land within Moxham Reserve or in the vicinity of the reserve."
A Parramatta Council spokesman said the council opposed the rezoning as the site was not suitable for high-density housing as it was "inconsistent with the surrounding low-density housing character".