On Monday 9 December 2013, the following presentations were made to Hunters Hill Council, during the Council Meeting (in order of presentation);
Presentation by Justin Parry-Okeden
In 2002 Hunters Hill Council conducted an extensive heritage restoration project on the building known as “10 Cowell St”.
The then General Manager (Barry Smith) and the Councillors at the time (including the now Mayor Richard Quinn) rejected any criticism of the project, and boasted about the success of this undertaking, and indeed held it up as an example of what can be achieved in heritage conservation.
I quote the then General Manager Barry Smith; “The completed building is a tribute to the Council staff and contractors who undertook the work and Council can now justifiably point to its own work as an example of what can be achieved in heritage and conservation building works. Any criticism of our performance in this project is unwarranted and misinformed.”
I must say, that not only I, but other members of the community are both amazed and extremely concerned that a council that has the same General Manager as well as one previous council member who now holds the position of mayor, now chooses to turn their back on the investment made by the rate payers of our community to preserve the cultural heritage for the future generations yet to come.
It would be a true travesty to see the previous dedication and hard work of all the professionals involved in the restoration project simply go to waste due to what can only be perceived as a change in priorities by the current administration.
I implore all Councillors to look inside themselves and reject the assertion that 10 Cowell Street is simply “an UNDERPERFORMING ASSET” – as described by the General Managers sweeping statement of all Cowell Street properties in the council minutes dated 13th May this year. Instead we must acknowledge its true value to the community as an important piece of our cultural heritage.
Presentation by Russell Young
Over the past few months we’ve learned that Council had received recommendations from credible experts to upgrade the Heritage listing of 10 Cowell Street, and exhibited the draft 2012 LEP on that basis, but failed to make the decision to accept or reject the recommendations prior to adoption of the 2012 LEP.
We have learned that the Council contractually committed itself to sell this property to a developer, so that a shopping centre may be extended across the property where the building sits.
Of most concern is the order of these two events, that the Council allowed itself to become contractually bound to sell the property to a developer before deciding whether or not the asset had Heritage value and should be protected – when it had received recommendation from multiple experts, that it deserved protection.
When the topic of council amalgamation was raised in March this year, Mayor Quinn was quoted in the Northern District Times as saying “Because of its historical, heritage value, Hunters Hill should remain independent''. I believe his comments were consistent with the expectation of those who have actively fought to ensure this independence in the past.
As Council goes into recess until the new-year, I ask that the Councillors reflect on whether what we have learned about the Management of Hunters Hill Council in recent years does deliver against that mandate, to protect history and heritage. Should we believe that Hunters Hill Council is in a weaker position or a stronger position to defend against the next call for amalgamation, given the events we've come to understand?
It is possible that, in years ahead, this period of time will be looked back upon as being definitive in determining the future of the municipality. The Council's financial deficits of the last 5 years, and for the 10 years forward from last year's T-Corp report on sustainability, caused T-Corp to call the Council's long-term sustainability into question. We pay high rates, and the Council does not break-even.
The $5.6M backlog of infrastructure works to bring assets up to an acceptable standard does not help paint a picture of a Municipality in good shape.
The evolution of the 2010 DCP for the Gladesville Key Site could, at kindest, be described as highly confusing. The DCP was called a “flawed instrument” by the Hunters Hill Trust, and has been shown to be out of touch with community expectations.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to defend Hunters Hill as an independent municipality.
The failure to decide on the Heritage listing of 10 Cowell Street is an act of denying protection to an asset of Heritage value. Given the claim of the legitimacy of Hunters Hill as an independent municipality, based on protection of history and heritage, such a refusal must be well considered and defendable.
To have committed the asset to a legal situation in which it is available for sale at the will of a Developer who will extend the shopping centre across where it stands, without having satisfactorily resolved against expert opinion on the Heritage value of the property, falls short against the Council's mandate.
I ask that our Councillors reflect on whether they expect the Council to retain the trust and confidence of the community, after what we've all learned about the treatment of 10 Cowell Street, and other adjacent issues. I ask that the Councillors consider what implications this will have on the ability to defend the Municipality from amalgamation in the future.
On Monday 14 October 2013, the following presentations were made to Hunters Hill Council, during the Council Meeting (in order of presentation);
The Development Application (DA) for Gladesville Shopping Village (GSV) was not on the agenda but the motion that we be permitted to address Council was proposed and passed unanimously. Deputy Mayor Sheil (Chairing the meeting in the absence of Mayor Quinn) and Councillor Bird spoke favourably of the possibility of passing a motion to allow us to present. The motion was raised and seconded by Councillors Bennett and McLaughlin (respectively), and supported by all Councillors present.
The specific details of the Development Application were not to be included in presentations, because the DA was not an agenda item and the Applicant was not present, and would therefore not be able to reply. Accordingly, the presentations below are best recollections of what was said, but may differ slightly due to the last-minute adjustments to remove specific references to the details of the DA.
We thank the Councillors of Hunters Hill for permitting us to make the presentations, below.
Richard Li (resident of Massey Street) regarding Parking
1) The Gladesville Shopping Village Development Application is the most expensive to date for Hunters Hill and will set a construction & design precedence for the suburb. We believe that this is an opportunity for the council to influence the design & outcome of this DA & we are imploring the Hunters Hill Council to work with & take on-board community feedback; especially when residents are extremely concerned with design proposals that do not fit the character of Hunters Hill.
2) Parking is a major concern for the residents especially given the cumulative impact of all the development proposals taking place along the Victoria Rd corridor in Gladesville exasperated by the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) desire to remove parking on major arterial roads. The GSV development & others along the Victoria Road corridor MUST provide sufficient parking to be self-contained for residents, visitors and employees. Building proposals with inadequate parking will only increase the amount of parking on streets around the GSV which are already full & compound existing problems whereby residents are blocked from accessing their own drive ways. We implore that the council works with the community to ensure that any building proposals provide adequate parking solutions to reduce the impact of parking on streets.
Justin Parry-Okeden (resident of Cowell Street) regarding Heritage in Hunters Hill, and the status of 10 Cowell Street particularly
[Added] I would like to thank Cr Bennet and Cr McLaughlin for the opportunity to address the council.
This evening I wish to talk about number 10 Cowell St and the importance of heritage to the residents of Hunters Hill council.
Hunters Hill council has a proud and unique history of supporting heritage in the community, a proud tradition that goes back to the formulation of the Hunters Hill Trust to oppose development back in the late 60s.
In Aug 2000 the National Trust (NSW Branch) and the NSW Heritage council acknowledged the heritage importance of 10 Cowell St, and the council recognised the responses of these bodies. This is well documented in the council minutes.
In 2005 Hunters Hill council commissioned the services of renowned heritage expert Paul Davies to identify items of historical and heritage importance to the people of the Hunters Hill municipality. Paul Davies identified 10 Cowell St as a key heritage item of “significant phase in the evolution of residential development in Gladesville”. Paul recommended that 10 Cowell St be upgraded from contributory heritage listing to its own individual listing.
Despite these recommendations and those of the Hunters Hill Trust, the final LEP as published by the DPI failed to include 10 Cowell St as an item of Local Heritage significance, even though it was included in the draft LEP 2012 submitted to the DPI under section 64, as well as also being included on the Hunters Hill council Heritage Inventory list. The question of how this heritage status was removed remains unanswered, as I continue to research the chronology around how and why 10 Cowell St lost its heritage listing.
Heritage is about honouring and respecting the memory of those who have gone before us. It is about our responsibility to act as custodians to preserve these memories whilst we live in our community. It is about being ready to hand this heritage on to those who may purchase our homes, or to be ready to hand this heritage on to our children when they go onto to raise their families in the Hunters Hill municipality.
I call on Hunters Hill council to honour this heritage and respect the recommendations of Paul Davies, and the observations of The National Trust and The NSW Heritage Council.
Russell Young (resident of Cowell Street) regarding Streetscape, Character, and Design Quality
My name is Russell Young and I lived on Cowell Street in 2003 when the community ran a campaign against amalgamation with Ryde. I remember seeing balloons tied to the fronts of houses, by residents who trusted Hunters Hill Council to look after this community better than Ryde would. People fought for the preservation of Hunters Hill Municipality and its Council, because of the expectation that this Council would preserve the character of the area, throughout the entire municipality.
Here in 2013 we have a Council with an acknowledged Conflict of Interest, being the related sale of land to the developer - creating a monetary gain for Council. The Council, and the rest of the municipality, also stand to benefit from this redevelopment providing 180 of the required 520 additional dwellings, which must be built within this Local Government Area.
Clause 1.2 of the Hunters Hill Council Local Environment Plan 2012 states that the aims of this plan are, amongst others, "to maintain and enhance the character and identity of established neighbourhoods in Hunters Hill by regulating the use and development of land". I take that aim to apply through the entire Hunters Hill Municipality, not just the post code. It is with great disappointment and concern that I have learned how close to permissible some of the more undesirable elements of this building are, under the Development Control Plans of 2010 and 2013 as they permit development on this site [red font not spoken due to restriction not to discuss specifics of DA] - most significantly relating to setbacks (or the lack thereof), removal of an asset of heritage value and replacement with 14m sheer walls. Without an integrated study having been performed on the correct basis (excluding the North West Metro which was proposed at the time the Gladesville Master Plan was being developed) the impact of this development on the Traffic and Parking amenity not just of residents in the immediate precinct, but also those who live farther afield but use and appreciate the Gladesville of today, cannot be ensured.
After the loyalty shown to the Hunters Hill Council in 2003, we have a right to expect the same standards of development and building design as would be expected elsewhere in the municipality, to be demanded on this site. Mayor Quinn standing aside from his position on the JRPP, and the appointment of Architectus to undertake the review of the Development Application, are moves in the right direction but insufficient in themselves, to adequately deal with the Conflict of Interest. The community of Gladesville expect transparency from Hunters Hill Council. We need to know the scope and terms of the Architectus engagement. We need to know whether their report will go directly to the JRPP or whether Council will have the opportunity to choose which findings to include in the submission to JRPP, and which to leave out. As residents who are interested in understanding this development and how it complies with the DCP, the LEP, and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, we deserve access to the findings of the review of the DA, early in the process. It is us rate-payers who are paying their fees, we deserve access to their work, and should not have to undertake amateur assessment of the DA while the skilled professionals we're paying are doing so to a standard which we cannot match.
The people of Gladesville stood up to protect Hunters Hill Council from amalgamation in 2003. We deserve buildings approved for our neighbourhood to be of the same quality of design as would be demanded elsewhere. We deserve transparency in the passage of this DA through to the JRPP, including the scope and terms of Architectus' engagement as well as access to their assessment of the DA against planning instruments as quickly as possible - ahead of the closing date for Council submissions so that we may use the facts uncovered, for which we are paying, in our own submissions. We deserve to be treated with respect by Hunters Hill Council, not to have this development rushed through without the opportunity for us to participate properly in the Planning Approval Process.
Barry Smith replied by email to Russell Young on Tuesday 15 October, the contents of which may be seen below.
Judi Partland (Principal of Gladesville Primary School) on the cumulative impact of developments on local infrastructure, and other concerns
Judi Partland presented to Council on the strain that the significant development currently in progress and planned for Gladesville, will have on Gladesville Public School. The developments in both Ryde and Hunters Hill Local Government Areas (LGA's) cannot be considered on a 'stand-alone' basis, but rather on a cumulative basis. The impact is not simply on demand for enrolments, but also the practical considerations of traffic and parking for parents who drop-off and pick-up their children.
Judi has drafted her Submission to Council on this Development Application, and this will be made available on this website, soon.
Alison Bird (resident of Cowell Street) regarding Traffic and Pedestrian Safety
Concerns regarding a Future Gladesville Shopping Village
At present the traffic in the streets surrounding Gladesville Shopping Village is problematic. The residential streets have become ‘short cuts’ to the shops and traffic has increased well above the originally intended capacity. In addition there are daily instances of traffic going the wrong way on both Massey and Cowell Streets. This is not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. There have been many instances of road rage and residents consider the streets unsafe.
A new shopping centre with an increase in population would only exacerbate these problems. Cowell Street is proposed as the main through road to the shopping centre and it is not built to be a major traffic run. Residents are concerned for themselves and their children. Safety is a huge issue as is the increase in noise.
The traffic study that was completed for the related LEP needs to be updated to include all future developments on and around Victoria Road. Traffic is sure to increase exponentially. Traffic movement around the centre needs careful attention to ensure pedestrians are safe, residents are safe in and around their own homes, and movement of cars is efficient and effective.
The Traffic Study alone will require further time and it is my request that the submission deadline be delayed to enable the results of a traffic study to be completed.
Gladesville Shopping Village as it stands is a pedestrian nightmare with semi trailers and people competing for entry to the shops. With a 3yr old son myself I can say it is a truly horrendous experience to try and dodge a semi trailer backing and cars coming in and out of the carparks while trying to get onto a ‘path’ to the shops. It is unsafe. The new centre must consider the rite of way and pedestrian access and ensure that the 2 are separated by distance and boundaries. Pedestrian access needs to be clearly laid out with access being direct and safe.
Reply from Barry Smith to Russell Young, by email on 15 October
t is obvious that there is some lack of understanding/clarity about the process and we will provide a document and flowchart to assist with this as soon as possible.
The terms of engagement and brief to Architectus will be provided. I think we will also put them on our web site.
To ensure transparency, probity and good governance Council resolved to appoint an independent assessor before the DA was even submitted to Council (see minutes of meeting 13.08.12).
The Architectus report DOES NOT go directly to the JRPP. The report is provided to Council for information only and for Council to then forward the report to the JRPP with any other relevant documentation.
COUNCIL CANNOT ALTER OR AMEND the report, or its findings. Council may choose to provide a separate submission which is then sent with the report to the JRPP for their consideration and determination.
Neither the Council or Architectus can provide the community with a copy of the assessment report before the close of submissions, as all submissions must be considered and addressed in the independent assessment.
Do not worry! You will see that the Architectus brief provides that they will undertake at least one consultation meeting with the applicant and objectors prior to completion of their report. I will suggest to Steve Kourepis tomorrow that this is discussed with Architectus so that perhaps this meeting could occur prior to the close of submissions, to assist residents. I will also suggest that he discuss with them that they hold a further consultation after submissions close. This further meeting could be in the form of a conciliation meeting where the applicant and objectors seek to resolve issues and concerns in a less formal manner. (This is a very common practice in most Councils and if agreements can be reached it can often clarify issues and reduce the likelihood of expensive legal action). This would also be before their report is completed.
The community will have access to the report as soon as practicable before it is placed on the Council meeting agenda. The community will have the opportunity to address Council at the meeting.
The community will also have the opportunity to attend the JRPP meeting and to address their meeting.
This application WILL NOT be rushed through, but it must be dealt with in a timely manner in accordance with Councils statutory responsibilities.
Separate contact names and details for Architectus representatives will be available tomorrow, and they will be attending tomorrow night’s meeting as observers.
No Council staff are involved in the assessment process and queries and concerns about the application should be referred to Architectus.
While all submissions are to be addressed to the General Manager I do not see them or deal with them. Council has a statutory responsibility under the State Records Management Act and the EPA Act to register submissions. Following registration they will all be forwarded to Architectus.
While neither myself or Steve can be involved in the assessment of the application it is our responsibility to manage the process, so are available to assist residents in this regard.
I hope these comments are of assistance.
Page added 19 October 2013
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