At the moment the Federal and State Governments are elected at different times. This means getting an effective Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) is problematic. Often when COAG is convened on a specific topic, a Minster(s) from the Sate Governments might not be available due to a State election. Having both Federal and State Governments being elected on the same day would alleviate this situation, Plus one less visit to the polls.
For many years, litigants from 9 Talus Street, Naremburn have been battling Willoughby Council to reopen the Talus Street Reserve for Public Recreation.
The reserve is Crown Land that had been dedicated for Public Recreation but in recent years Council had leased the Reserve and it has been used as a privately run tennis facility.
In the latest Orders handed down by the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of NSW, Willoughby Council has been directed to “take all practical steps to cause the Reserve to be and remain available for public recreation, including to ensure that access to tennis courts on the Reserve is open to all members of the public and is not dependent on membership of any club”
Is that the end of this matter. Can we proceed to heal the rift between the local residents and Council? The decision that Willoughby Council now faces is how does it interpret and meet the order.
The orders also anticipate that the tennis courts might remain within the Reserve. However, it is unclear what ‘opens to all members of the public‘ means. For instance, not all members of the public might have the where-with-all to pay to use the courts. So will access to the courts be free? The orders also anticipate that the courts may be leased by directing that “any net profit derived by the Talus Trustee in leasing or licencing the Reserve is applied to the reserved purpose of public recreation of the Reserve“. Does all the area have to be made available to the public? Can all or some of the courts still be leased to a private organisation? Is a ‘time-sharing’ approach applicable? Time will tell!
There may be wider implications of the court decision. How many other portions of Crown Land reserved for public recreation within NSW (and Willoughby) have been alienated to private interests? There are caravan parks, golf courses and probably a plethora of other private occupations on Crown Land. Will it take local residents near these facilities to take legal action to unearth the facts or will Willoughby Council proactively review their Crown Reserves and take the appropriate action?
Update: 22 February, 2018. Due to swift community action, the demolition of the two storey mansion has been stopped for now. Whilst the property was not heritage listed there have been various heritage assessments that recommended it be listed. After recently purchasing the property, the new owners submitted a Complying Development Notice to Willoughby Council to demolish the house. However, he did not wait the required two weeks before starting demolition.
Acting on community outrage, the Council was able to get an Interim Heritage Order (IHO) placed on the property. Because the owner had breach conditions and the property has the order on it, Council was able to take action to get the owner to secure and weather proof the property. This took a few days but Council kept on the case to it was achieved.
The IHO will be valid for one year(?). In the interim, there will be further heritage assessment and the matter will be determined as whether to list the property as a local heritage item. Even if this occurs, the owner can still apply to demolish the property.
Please stand ready to respond when requested on this matter in the future.
Soon there will be no point contacting your local Councillor when you have a concern with a Development Application. From 1 March, DAs will be determined by a special panel, NOT Councilors.
This has been a long time coming.
The majority of residents have said that they want developers to ‘stick to the rules’. However, when it came to Councillor decisions, the Councillors often threw the rule book out and imposed their own view of what should be approved or acceded to the demands of potential voters at the next election.
Naturally, the developers cried foul to the State Government.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has issued an apology after misleading the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, about a controversial land sale.
The “incorrect advice” given to the premier’s office led Ms Berejiklian, the member for Willoughby, to write a letter to the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations in August 2017 which said there were “no plans or proposal” to sell 1-5 Railway Street in Chatswood.
Yet the property was sold the following month for $38 million to Barana Properties (No. 8) Pty Ltd.
A spokeswoman for Mr Constance said: “Incorrect advice was given to the Premier’s office, for which we apologise.”
But it may not appease Penny Hackett, the secretary of the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations, who likened information coming from the transport minister and his bureaucrats to an episode of Yes, Minister or Utopia.
“The process for the sale of this site has been anything but transparent,” Ms Hackett said. “It appears that our community and the Premier was given inaccurate information by Transport for NSW and we believe this should be fully investigated.”
A spokeswoman for Ms Berejiklian said: “It is understood this advice was incorrect, and the minister’s office has apologised. The premier will continue to follow this up with the minister’s office to ensure her constituents get the correct information.”
The sale of 1-5 Railway Street is also controversial because it appears to have proceeded against the advice of Willoughby City Council and the Greater Sydney Commission.
Mr Constance’s spokeswoman said: “Transport for NSW has advised the site is not suitable for providing additional bus layover facilities.”
But it was identified in a 2016 council report as a potential site to expand the existing bus interchange.
The Chatswood CBD Draft Planning and Urban Design Strategy also provided an illustrative concept for a new bus interchange under 1-5 Railway St.
“The site at 1-5 Railway St has the opportunity to contribute to the pedestrian and transport objectives for this space,” the report said.
The site, also known as Chatswood Central, is on the western side of the T1 North Shore Train Line.
A council spokeswoman said 1-5 Railway Street had been identified as key to improving Chatswood’s overcrowded bus interchange.
“When council became aware of the sale, representations were made by council officers, together with officers of the Greater Sydney Commission (including the North District Commissioner), to Transport for NSW highlighting the need for expansion of the bus interchange and the role this site plays,” she said.
Council officers told transport bureaucrats in August 2017 that the availability of 1-5 Railway Street for bus interchange improvements was “vital”, she said.
“The existing arrangement where buses use Railway St bus stops reflects that the existing bus interchange has reached capacity,” she said.
Chatswood is expected to become even busier once transport projects such as the north-west metro line and new residential developments in Frenchs Forest and the Northern Beaches are completed.
But the council spokeswoman said any expansion of the bus interchange had been complicated by the sale.
“While the property was in state government control, negotiations for improvements to the existing bus interchange would have been more straightforward,” she said. “Negotiations are likely to be more complex with a private owner.”
A Transport for NSW spokesman said in a statement that redeveloping the site at 1-5 Railway Street was not an “appropriate” use of taxpayer funds.
“As it was not possible to provide any additional bus layover facilities at this location without demolishing the existing buildings, this property was considered surplus to our needs,” he said.
Willoughby Council has re-negotiated with Girl Guides NSWACT for the use of the hall/land in Anglo St, Chatswood. Not only are they charging us $525/yr rent now, they have backdated the first invoice for 2016, despite the contract being signed in 2017. I’m not even sure that’s legal, but alas, they owe $1108.41.
The Guides charge less than $5 per girl per meeting, and cannot afford this.
Please spread the word to the other neighbours to reach out to Councillors and tell them to waive the fee. If Guides is forced to pay this, we may go under, and if we go defunct again, no one will be using the hall, no girls will get leadership skills, learn to love the outdoors, build teamwork, or any of the wonderful benefits Guides offers.
Also, if we don’t get this waived, we will be forced to charge groups like the bushcare group a fee. I know you barely use the hall, but either do we – 3 hours a week during school terms, and yet we pay 100% of the electricity ($300/quarter) and water.
The exacerbating thing is thatCouncil Rangers use the hall for lunch breaks, use water, electricity and toilet paper (and often leave the bathrooms dirty). Yet they have no way of tracking them.
Can you please invoke all your neighbourly powers and set things right.