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Dear Friends, 

We would like to thank you for supporting our campaign to save the Nattai River Wildlife Corridor in Mittagong by signing this petition. We were able to present our petition (signed by nearly 3000 people) to the Commissioner, hearing the case of Winfred West Schools v Wingecarribee Shire Council in the Land and Environment Court, at the site visit held at Frensham school on 18 March 2022.

The court case was heard over several subsequent days with final submissions from both parties submitted by 20 May 2022. On that day the Commissioner formally reserved his judgment (to be handed down at a later date).

As a rule of thumb, most judgments will be handed down within 3 months of the date on which they were reserved. However, this can be more or less depending upon the complexity of the matter.

We will write to you again once the judgment has been handed down.

Thank you again for your support.

Gaye White

The Winfred West v Wingecarribee Shire Council court case in Land and Environment Court is set for 18 March (site visit) Court Case 22-24 March.  

The school has again lodged amended plan in January 2022 but still 249 trees will be felled and the asset protection zone clearing is still 4.2 ha.  A new concrete bridge and all-weather road to carry the weight of fully loaded fire trucks need to be constructed.  These are still to be built in a high-risk flood zone and will result is major excavation in a highly sensitive wildlife corridor.

Click on image to enlarge of revised plans.

On 8 October, Frensham moved to ‘vacate the dates’ of the 12/14th October for the hearing in the Winifred West Schools v Wingecarribee Shire Council case over the Frensham Bush Student Accommodation.  This means, in effect, that Frensham has deferred the court hearing.

Read more

WinZero Public Information Session

Frensham has refused all efforts by local conservation groups to discuss their choice of location for a controversial student bush accommodation. 

Winzero conducted a public zoom meeting to inform the community about the plans for this development and the consequences on a wildlife sanctuary, a critical ecological community, a primary habitat corridor and in and near a category 1 Riparian Zone of the Nattai River.

If you are an Frensham Old Girl, Please sign and share this petition.  Click here

What the Frensham Old Girls are saying

The Issue

In 2015 the area know as the “Lower Holt”, which is a heavily forested section of land in Mittagong that borders Range Road to the west, Colo Street to the north and Evans Street to the east, was designated as a “Land for Wildlife” area for rescue and protection of native animals.

Frensham now plans to build accommodation for 72 students in the Lower Holt, This development will require the removal of 4.2 hectares (over 11 acres) of forest, including 249 of the 515 trees, to make way for six accommodation huts, a large common room and two staff accommodation buildings. 

As concerned members of the Southern Highlands community we wish to support Wingecarribee Council’s resolution to defer determination of DA20/0747 by Frensham School due to significant community concern over the potentially devastating environmental impacts of the proposal and their requirement for the Applicant to meet with the community groups and refer the DA to the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). To our knowledge neither of these actions have taken place. In fact, the school have refused all community attempts to engage with the community since Council’s resolution. 

While we are not against Frensham School constructing an outward bound facility on their lands, we strongly request that the DA in its current form be refused.  This request is made on the basis of the serious and permanent environmental impacts that would result and that there are a number of viable alternative locations for the facility on the school properties, one being a cleared area immediately to the east of the current proposed project site which would avoid the destruction of 249 trees and numerous habitats for treasured wildlife.  

The Situation so far    

1.    23 December 2019 – Frensham submitted Development Application to the Wingecarribee Shire Council. DA Tracker 20/0747.

2.    22 January 2020 – Neighbour Notifications were sent with details of Frensham’s DA.

3.    9 September 2020 – the DA came before Council with a planning recommendation for approval.

4.    9 September 2020 – After public outcry the Council at an Ordinary Meeting voted to defer the DA and requested Frensham to consult with members of the community.

5.    21 September 2020 – Letter from community members to Frensham requesting a meeting and received NO response.

6.    23 April 2021 – Letter from community members to the new headmistress requesting a meeting to discuss the Lower Holt project.

7.    7 May 2021 – Frensham declined an invitation to discuss the matter with members of the community.

8.    28 May 2021 – Letter from Lawyers for the Council advising that Frensham had taken the matter to the Land and Environment Court to have the Councils decision to defer overturned.

9.    25 June 2021 – Hearing before the Land and Environment Court.

10.  29 June 2021 – the conciliation proceedings are now “terminated”, because the parties were not able to reach an agreement. 

11. 10 Sept 2021 – Frensham lodged Amended Plans with council  as part of the Land and Environment Court Appeal for Frensham DA 20/0747, case number 2021/00088697, Case title Winifred West Schools Ltd v Wingecarribee Shire Council. Submission to WSC close 11 October.

12. 16 Sep 2021 – Frensham School held “Information Sessions” for Old Girls, Current Parents and Community.  No one from the community was allowed to speak.  Questions were answered with very little detail. No plans of the site displayed.  

13. 12-14 October set as the hearing date in the Land and Environment Court.  Winifred West Schools v Wingecarribee Shire Council.

14. 8 October  Frensham Defers Land and Environment Court Case.  It is unclear how long this delay will last

Frensham last week moved to ‘vacate the dates’ of the 12/14th October for the hearing in the Winifred West Schools v Wingecarribee Shire Council case over the Frensham Bush Student Accommodation.  This means, in effect, that Frensham has deferred the court hearing.

15. 9 November 2021 New hearing dates set for Land and Environment case. 18 March 2022 site visit, 21-23 March 2022 court hearing.

16. Site Visit at Frensham School 18 March 2022.  5 objectors from the community spoke against allowing the development.

17.  21-23 March 2022 – Wingecarribee Shire Council ats Winifred West Schools Ltd – LEC Proceedings No. 88697 of 2021 

18. Court hearing extended by April 14 2022 WSC to provide Frensham with its conditions – in case of approval.  Frensham to respond by April 22. Final adjustments and agreement in court Wed April 27 2022.

19. Final submissions from both parties submitted by 20 May 2022.  On that day the Commissioner formally reserved his judgment (to be handed down at a later date).

Wildlife to be removed

11 acres of the habitat corridor is to be cleared to create an Asset Protection Zone (APZ) as the building site is in a Flame Zone. 

The wombats who were released in this area, with the full support from Frensham, and other wildlife are to be “moved”.  

This is despite the NSW Department of Environment warning. “A relocated wombat will most likely be killed by predators or other wombats protecting their territory”. 

For more information on the type of injuries wildlife carers have managed when called to rescue relocated wombats. Click here

Lower Holt Species List

Prepared by Tania Clancy

Conservationist, Citizen Scientist, Educator and registered Wildlife Carer. Open Species List


Community environment experts and group leaders in the Southern Highlands are calling on the Frensham Board of Governors to abandon its DA for bush cabins to be positioned in the critically endangered ecological community in the Lower Holt.  

Representative of Australian Wildlife Society, Wildlife carers, Bushcare groups, Wombatised, Birdlife Southern Highlands, WinZero and Australian Native Plants Society,  amongst others. signed an Open Letter addressed to the Frensham Board of Governors.

Open Letter to Frensham Board of Governors

In the News

TV Interview - Win News Illawarra

Radio Interview - ABC Illawarra

Interview with ABC Illawarra, Lindsay McDougall and Frensham Old Girl, Sarah Cains.

Radio Interview - 2ST

Listen to a horticulturalist and Frensham Old girl, Sarah Cains, interview with Radio 2ST

Donate to help us spread the word

Letter for public to write to the Frensham Board

Click here  to download a sample letter to edit and send to

Ms Elizabeth Stuart,
Chair, Frensham Schools


Ms Sarah McGarry
Head, Frensham Schools

Please bcc: so we have a paper record to present to the school if necessary.

Amended plans lodged September 2021
Green rectangle shows Lower Holt is part of the Primary Biodiversity Corridor
Frensham plans to clear 4.2ha of the habitat corridor for "bush cabins"
Green triangle shows Lower Holt is Category 1 Riparian Zone

In the News

Private NSW girls school seeks court ruling over controversial bush cabin proposal
Frensham Bush Cabins

21 March 2022

Local community concerned about environmental impact of Frensham’s development, including on southern highlands koala habitats.

Read full article.

10 October

Land and environment court case for controversial development application deferred

A controversial development application that was set to appear in the Land and Environment Court on October 14 has been deferred. The hearing for Winifred West Schools v Wingecarribee Shire Council over the bush accommodation in the Lower Holt area was delayed by Frensham Schools.

22 September, 2021

‘Frensham girls will be standing in front of the bulldozer’

26 August, 2021

One of the country’s most prestigious girls schools, Frensham, is at war with its influential alumni over multi-million-dollar plans to build a bush campus modelled partly on Geelong Grammar’s ­famous Timbertop property.

The NSW Southern Highlands institution – which counts Lucy Turnbull, Cathy Whitlam and Kim Wran among its former students – has accentuated the environmental credentials of its $7.6m project. Critics, however, claim the development will destroy 10 ancient wombat burrows.
Known as the Holt Bush Accommodation, the project would be used to house 72 students during their time in year 9, similar to the Geelong Grammar campus near Mansfield, Victoria, and The Scots College’s Glengarry property in NSW’s Kangaroo Valley.
But the plans have led to a backlash from Frensham alumni, led by Jane Stanham, from the area’s prominent Macarthur family of pastoralists.


In a letter to Frensham principal Sarah MacGarry, Ms Stanham – whose daughter, mother and grandmother also attended the school – writes the project is “a cheap copy of the Glengarry/Timbertop approach”.

Read More

An opponent of a new educational facility at Frensham in Mittagong says the school’s founder Winnifred West would be turning in her grave if she knew about the proposal.

Read more