Alienation of public land

Recently there was a matter finalised by Willoughby Council. It concerned the way that the Northern Suburbs Tennis Association had dealt with land leased from Council. Basically, the Association sub-leased the land to a third party (Love’n Duece). This situation had been ongoing for many years.

In West Ward there is at least one parcel of public land in a similar situation. This is the Tennis Courts at  52 Fullers. These courts are leased from Council but sub-leased to a tennis operator.

Another large parcel of public land that has been alienated for many years covers three holes of the Chatswood Golf Club in front of the O.H. Reid Reserve. Residents have been requesting reasonable access (at least around the perimeter of the course) for many years. These request have fallen on deaf ears.

Hopefully, when the lease is next reviewed the wider community good will be appropriately considered.

 

Acoustic Laboratory

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THE long-running saga over the National Acoustic Laboratory site could be resolved, with Willoughby Council and residents set to support the latest plans.

For the past seven years there has been debate over the redevelopment of the site at 126 Greville St, Chatswood with the council rejecting an original proposal of 14 residential flats with 230 units.

Two years ago, amended plans on the bushland setting that included 14 buildings again, but with 10 less units was also rejected by the council.

But the council and residents are set to support the latest plans for the site, which will be determined by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

The new plans cap the dwellings at 60, with the building heights to be two or three storeys.

Local resident Daniel Cumming said: “This compromise is the best deal that has been put forward.”

But residents wanted to ensure public access to open space was retained.

The council supports an “adaptive reuse” of the existing buildings on the site, but conceded the latest plans “represent an acceptable compromise”.

A council report also states the traffic created by the latest plans would be “considerably less” than previous proposals

NORTH SHORE TIMES

Council Mergers

1 plus 1Councils are being ‘urged to merge’. Proposals are to merge the 42 Sydney Councils into 10 or 15 larger Councils. There is evidence from other States that Council mergers can return significant benefits. In our area, Willoughby Council is being urged to merge with Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Mosman, and North Sydney. When Willoughby Council was first chartered it included the current area of Lane Cove Council. A large part of the council area was also known as North Sydney.

Currently, Willoughby Council is part of the Northern Regional Organisation of Councils. This includes: Willoughby, Hornsby, Ryde, Kur-ring-gai, Lane Cove Hunters Hill and North Sydney. For planning purposes, Willoughby is part of a regional group comprising Willoughby, Ryde, Lane Cove, Hunters Hill, North Sydney and Mosman.

At this stage, Council mergers are voluntary. However, in the future it is likely that Councils will be denied access to funds unless they merge.

Another issue with Council mergers is local representation (the number of Councillors). In the past many Councils have held referendums about the number of Councillors and Wards. Largely, people have voted to reduce numbers. Take for instance West Ward. There are only two of the three elected Councillors servicing the Ward.

The biggest issue with voluntary mergers is that both senior Council staff and Councillors would be concerned that they may ‘lose their job’.

It will be interesting to see how the State Government progresses this matter.

 

Conflict of Interest ?

Conflict of Interest

Willoughby Council recently agreed to ‘not oppose’ a proposal by Meriton to increase the size of previously approved buildings of 32 & 29 storeys to 37 & 47 storeys. The week before Council had moved to refuse the application. Why the change of heart? Meriton came back with an offer of $12 million Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA).

The issue was raised as to whether this constituted a Conflict of Interest for Councillors. Council’s General Manager said it did not.

Dealing a VPA is difficult for a Councillor Usually you are being asked to approve an application that is in excess of the regulations.

 

Local Projects

Working in your neighbourhood

Willoughby Council has earmarked funds for a number of projects within the West Ward. Some of these projects are shown in the map. These include:

  • $35,000 for upgrade of the half-sized oval in Greville St (west)
  • A Master Plan for the Youth Centre
  • $50,000 on the Lane Cove River Foreshore
  • $15,000 for O.H.Reid and Ferndale Park track upgrades
  • $130,000 for Kenneth Slessor Park

During my time on Council I found the allocation of project grants to be reasonably fair over a number of years. (Terry Fogarty)

 

If you have any comment about any of these projects, please leave your comment below.

Swimming Pools

Due to new legislation, pool owners are required to register their swimming pool on a State-wide register before 29 October 2013. The owner of a swimming pool will need to attest that their pool complies with the regulations.

After October 2013, Willoughby Council will commence a program of regular inspection of swimming pool barriers.

As of 29 April, 2014, all residential premises wit ha pool must have a Certificate of Compliance.

You can register your pool at: swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au before 29th October.

Penalties apply if pool is not registered.

Referendum on Local Government

REFERENDUM: CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

It is proposed to amend the Constitution to read: The Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State, or to any local government body formed by a law of a State, on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.”

Against case: The proposed changes are not a good idea as it will undermine the Authority of the States and will increase the Commonwealth’s power.

For case: In the recent past there have been two court cases where the Commonwealth’s ability to directly fund the delivery of a a myriad of social services by Local Government bodies (such as local Councils). Changing the Constitution as proposed will ensure many social services can continue.

Please consider the detailed information handed out on election day on this matter.

Free WiFi in Mall

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Willoughby Council is one of the first councils in Australia to provide free WiFi access to its community and visitors, with Chatswood Mall in the city’s CBD now wirelessly enabled.

The six month trial service provides 60 minutes of free WiFi at a time to users with a 200 MB download.

Willoughby Mayor, Pat Reilly said the service was aimed at providing support to local businesses within the Mall, and the large numbers of business people working and travelling through the area, as well as leisure visitors and shoppers.

“The free WiFi will be a great asset for Chatswood Mall and the Chatswood CBD in general. We hope it encourages people to come out of their offices to enjoy the mall and its surrounds,” Mayor Reilly said.

“Businesses people can check their emails while grabbing a coffee, or hold outdoor meetings. You can jump on facebook while waiting to meet up with friends, or you can surf on your ipad or laptop while enjoying lunch,” Mayor Reilly said.

The free service will be made available through unobtrusive advertising shown on screens as users log in. 

Changed waste services

Willoughby Council recently engaged a new waste contractor. There will not be any changes to weekly garbage collections.

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However there are changes to the quarterly rubbish pickups which most people will applaud.

The new arrangements are:

  • Three free bulk general rubbish pickups per annum.
  • One ‘on-call’ free bulk general rubbish pickup
  • Any number of paid ‘on-call’ cleanups

Full details are available at: Council Waste Services

Justice Denied

The Law Society of NSW has grave concerns about proposed new State Planning Laws.

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One of the biggest concerns they have is the loss of community right to challenge bad planning and development decisions, even in the case of legal error.

The new laws will also deny legal scrutiny of major Ministerial decisions (concerns about bad Ministerial decisions was a major impetus for reform in the first place). An example of this could be if a Minister made a decision to benefit a friend, that would not be subject to public scrutiny.