Currey Park Update

Hi Dominic,

Thanks for your reply.

Firstly let me say that I understand it is never easy for Council to balance Community needs with Developers (commercial) requirements.

It can be a thankless task trying to keep all parties happy.

However (and there is usually an however attached to such statements) in the case of Currey Park it is abundantly clear that there has been, and still remains, a severe imbalance in favour of the Developer (Westfield) and at the expense of Community land and public space.

This imbalance is one of both fact and of perception.

The reclassification of land from Community to Operational was no small step.

Council may claim that procedure was followed as far as public notice was concerned, but the fact remains that it was lost on most members of the public at the time due to limited exposure and difficulty in understanding any potential future impacts and repercussions.

Even now, on reading the documents you provided, it is far from easy deciphering what is actually proposed.

There was certainly no mention or explanation of the negative impact and repercussions the reclassification of this parcel of land would have on significant public parkland and amenity (Currey Park).

As far as I can determine the felling of irreplaceable 40ft+ high mature, healthy Gums that provided a home for birds and native wildlife – and the canopy of which provided shade, screening and visual amenity – was not even mentioned at the time of issue of these documents.

Council’s Arborist subsequently classified these particular trees as of ‘high retention value.’

It was not only the axing of the trees that has proven damaging. The culling of smaller trees and disturbance to associated greenery, gardens and landscaping has further impacted adversely on native birds and animals, such as the brush turkey who had made the park his home and who has not been sighted since the felling of the trees and the erection of fencing.

Nearby residents only became aware of some of the implications of this part of the development as a result of the belated letterbox drop from Scentre Group on August 12 (dated July 29) and an online petition.

Regrettably both Council and Westfield have failed to consider the more recent protestations of concerned residents and the Community at large – including the parents of children at the Devonshire Street day care centre.

Representations to Willoughby Council and Scentre Group through letters, emails, the petition with many individual comments (presented to Council at the most recent meeting), together with continuing coverage through traditional and social  media appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

As have approaches from MP’s, progress associations and community leaders.

This lack of concern, community consultation and response from both Council and Westfield provides the strongest possible indication that both parties are determined to push this part of the Development through, no matter the cost or consequences.

To the present, and we now have the untenable situation of a large section of Currey Park off limits to the public – divided down the middle by tens of metres of fencing , gates, padlocks, chains and Keep Out signs.

Until your response was received on Wednesday September 2, there was no indication or notification that the Park is to become a construction / works zone for Westfield for a protracted period.

In fact, the vast majority of people remain unaware of this.

The response that “Westfield have applied for and been granted a permit to conduct (the) works from July 1 2015 to December 31 2015(because) there was no other way they could actually do the works …. (due to) current slab heights” is astounding in its depiction of Council’s willingness to grant the Developer whatever they request.

Westfield have a carpark with, at present, 2,880 spaces over a large area of land.

It is up to Westfield, with their vast resources, to solve this problem for their own development rather than using Community land (resulting in a substantial loss of public amenity) to solve it for them.

It appears that they do not want to impact on any of their parking space in the lead up to Christmas trading.

How they were ever granted “Temporary Access Over Community Land” in the first place beggars belief, as they fail to meet most of the criteria before they even start.

There is already damage to existing trees (outside the rezoned operational land), vehicle movements across the land (which will only multiply), and severe detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the land through the aforementioned fencing, gates, locks, chains, signs, etc).

In fact the affected area looks like a destruction zone.

Of further concern is the area incorporating the pathway between Devonshire Street and Currey Park.

This area has also had fences and signs erected and is currently off limits.

As far as I am aware, this area is Community Land well away from the proposed work zone or development area.

Why is this area fenced off?

And is there to be any further felling of mature trees in this or any other area of Community Land?

On behalf of many concerned residents and members of the Community, I respectfully ask that Council revisit this area of the Development and reconsider the impacts on the park, neighbourhood, community and public, by putting a stop to the protracted use of such a significant area of community land in Currey Park  for private development.

It is not too late and there is too much Community concern – with the impact and loss of amenity too great – for this to be ignored any longer.

Awaiting your response.

Sincerely

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