Chatswood Interchange

A local resident has made the following observations:

Re Sydney metro: I have made submissions on the trams (light rail) in the Sydney CBD. Their answers have been a total avoidance of my questions. Mostly my queries have been through my local Member Gladys Berejiklian to the Minister for Transport.  Not made public is the fact that only 25% of passengers will get a seat, as opposed to buses where 75% have a seat. With 75% standing, there will be a lot of injuries in an emergency stop or a collision. For the infirm, so many standing is really unacceptable.

The Sydney Metro has similar seating, with only 25% seated. For the NW Metro, journeys of over an hour will be common. It’s too late to change this, but putting in a different rail system from the rest of the rail network is about a sensible as the decision years ago to have different rail gauges in each State. We haven’t learnt a thing since.

Recently, I have had discussions with Willoughby Council and State Transport about the lack of a directory board at the Chatswood Interchange for the different bus routes leaving there. Both have denied responsibility for providing such a display. Transport advised that work will be done on the Interchange at some point in the future, but the nature of the work was not specified. In other words, a non-answer.

Each bus stand has a timetable displayed for buses leaving from there, but there is no overall display advising where each bus stand is located. The black columns in the area point to Bus Stand A, B, etc. but do not advise where the bus to, say, Manly leaves from.  Some stands are in the area adjacent to the rail station, but others are on Victoria Avenue, between the rail and Pacific Highway. I have had to wander from bus stand to bus stand trying to find the correct one. I have tried to find a bus driver to ask but this is often difficult.

A comparison can be made with the Interchange at Bondi Junction. It is totally under cover, has lots of seats and a very good overhead board advising which bus leaves from which door and the time of the next bus.

Perhaps this subject can be discussed at a future meeting.

I guess I had better join if I keep sending notes like this one to West Ward association.



R.I.P Democracy

democracyA recent decision by some Willoughby Councilors reflects poorly on them. They voted to limit the community’s access to the democratic process by disposing of two major Committees and possibly reducing the number of council meetings to maybe ten per year plus having more’secret’ briefings (meetings) excluding the public.

The Council Committees were specifically created to give the community the opportunity and more time to talk to Councillors outside of the formal Council Chamber (referred to as the bear pit due to the shenanigans that occur). The rule in the Chamber is that you have three minutes to address the Council. It is reported that the General Manager (Debra Just) argued that many matters from Committees were ultimately referred to full Council. That was the point of Committees, listen to electors, have the discussion and if the matter is still difficult to resolve, refer to Council (where the time taken to reach a decision usually is shorter when a contentious issue is at hand). These Committees have now gone.

At Willoughby, whilst Councilors are elected at the Ward level, under the Local Government Act they are required to represent all electors. Even at Ward  level, a Councilor can be elected with just 1/3 of the Ward vote. Councilors cannot claim to have a mandate. They need to continuously consult with electors across the City and listen to multiple viewpoints, perspectives and debate before casting their vote. My observation over the past 20 years is that this seldom (if ever for some) happened. We are the worse for it.

An option open to the public now is to address the Council, if they wish, on any (and perhaps every) matter they wish. If everyone did this, the new, less than perfect system would grind to a halt. Perhaps then the errant Councillors would get some common sense and rescind their decision.

688 Pacific Highway

688 Pacific HighwayLocal residents are concerned about a proposed development next to Chatswood Primary School. The development contravenes Council’s planning regulations. This matter will be discussed at the next meeting of the Chatswood West Ward Progress Association on the 18th February at 7 PM in the Dougherty Centre, 7 Victor St, Chatswood. All welcome to attend.

Details of resident’s concerns are available at 688-692PacificHwy-DmentCommunityNotice-Aqualand-February2016 

Boundaries for new Council

The following viewpoint has been express by a Delegate to the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations:

Additional LGA boundary setting rules and changes to a “North Shore” (Willoughby-North Sydney) LGA boundaries

Ku-ring-gai and Lane Cove councils have ‘dumped’ development (apartments) on their boundaries with Willoughby City Council without reference to a co-ordinated plan. It has resulted in Boundary St and Mowbray Road have apartment development on one side only. Lane Cove has also zoned land in its quarter of St Leonards, off the Pacific Hwy, for high rise apartments without regard to the St Leonards masterplan under development.

Harbours, rivers and creeks make the best boundaries as development on opposite sides is generally a distance away, or, in the case of creeks, development should be low scale for environmental and access reasons.

Post codes were set using community of interest criteria and post code boundaries often follow harbours, rivers and creeks.

Areas within walking distance of a major CBD have community of interest with the CBD and should be in the same LGA as the CBD.

The additional rules would minimise the development interface between councils. It would mean neighbouring councils mainly cooperate on bush and water care programs along rivers and creeks – activities whose governance is a low use of Councillor time relative to development issues.

Thus additional local government boundary setting rules are needed to ensure community of interest is fully reflected in LGA boundaries and undesirable development outcomes minimised. An additional rule should be:

Local government boundaries should follow the centreline of harbours, rivers and creeks in preference to roads. Where a creek has been piped into a stormwater drain under a road, the boundary should be parallel to the street between property boundaries and not run along the street.

— Local government boundaries should include in the same area as a major CBD, areas within walking distance of the CBD.

In establishing, or changing local government boundaries, regard should be given to post code boundaries.

The Willoughby-North Sydney amalgamation information document called North Sydney a “global city”. With a high-rise CBD planned for St Leonards, the “global city” will, in practice, be ‘positioned’ as a city of three CBDs (North Sydney, St Leonards and Chatswood) on the ridge between Middle Harbour and the Lane Cove River with a frontage on the north shore of Sydney Harbour and on Middle Harbour. It will include a major industrial area, well positioned for innovative businesses on the east side of the Pacific Hwy at Artarmon.

The Pacific Hwy runs along the ridge and is the primary road linking the three CBDs. Both sides of the Pacific Hwy, up to the boundary with Ku-ring-gai Council, should be in the “North Shore” city council area due to the role the road plays, similar to that of the North Shore Rail Line, in strengthening community of interest.

In making the boundary changes proposed below, Lane Cove-Hunters Hill-Ryde LGA will gain greater control over the lower Lane Cove River valley.

The following changes should be made to the boundaries of a “North Shore City Council” to strengthen community of interest:

A))) The Roseville post code area should be transferred to a “North Shore” LGA as Roseville looks to Chatswood as its regional centre, and due to the conflicting development along Boundary St. Governance of the large population of Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai LGA and “North Shore” is improved by the boundary shift;

B))) The Lindfield post code area, east of Sugarbag Creek, should be transferred to a “North Shore” LGA as Lindfield also looks to Chatswood as its regional centre, but it is a weaker case than for Roseville;

C))) Transfer full control of St Leonards post code area and the Pacific Hwy to a “North Shore” council by transferring to “North Shore”:

1)) the Lane Cove LGA quarter of the St Leonards post code area;

2)) the portion of the Greenwich post code area north of River Rd as it looks to St Leonards as its CBD and has a frontage on the Pacific Hwy.

3)) the portion of Greenwich south of River Rd as it is close to the major CBDs of St Leonards and North Sydney

3)) the properties fronting the western side of the Pacific Hwy between Osbourne Rd and Longueville Rd;

4)) Lane Cove North post code area east of Roslyn St, Stringybark Creek, and the footpath from Stringybark Creek to Longueville Rd.

D))) To compensate Lane Cove Council, and to resolve the development conflict on Mowbray Rd, the Willoughby portion of the Lane Cove North post code area could be transferred to Lane Cove Council.

E))) Spofforth St and Macpherson St are presently a boundary between North Sydney and Mosman councils. The properties on both sides of these streets should be in the one council area, or the other.

654-666 Pacific Highway

This development covers the block between Freeman & Oliver Roads. It was previously considered by Willoughby Council. Details about the proposal can be viewed here.

The latest development is that the proposal is now going forward to the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) who are the determining body (not Willoughby Council).

Further details are available on Council’s DA Online Enquiry. The DA number is DA-2016/18.

The closing date for comments is 25 February 2016. Comments can be sent to citing the DA number.

Amalgamation Concerns

The proposed amalgamation of North Sydney and Willoughby Councils has unearthed a number of aspects of each Council’s operations that might prove problematic for a merged entity.

The new Council will be faced with deciding how they can provide a range of services to a combined population in an equitable manner. As can be seen below, there is often quite a divergence in current services. In an amalgamated environment will everyone move to the highest level of service or will the lower level be the common denominator? (Time will tell).

Whilst both Councils are of similar size (71K NS c.f 74K W) the population density is quite different (68per ha NS c.f 33 per ha W). This is also reflected in the housing type. North Sydney has twice the number of people living in medium and high density and one third the number living in separate houses.

Willoughby has 211 km of roads c.f North Sydney with 152 kms.

One of the biggest difference is that North Sydney has a single library (Stanton) compared to Willoughby that has the central library at Chatswood plus 6 satellite libraries. Similarly, Willoughby has twice the number of public halls to North Sydney (including The Concourse).

Of concern to North Sydney residents is that curently have their verges mown by Council. Not so in Willoughby. North Sydney also prides itself on its ‘Precinct Sytem’ they fund and the fact that they have Committeeswith Citizen Representation. Most of Willoughby’s Committees with citizen representation are advisory only. North Sydney also claims to have an Open Government Policy (and says Willoughby doesn’t).

When it comes to Residential Rates the average in North Sydney is $513 pa c.f $829 pa in Willoughby. Similarly, Willoughby’s fees for domestic rates are nearly twice that of North Sydney (yet North Sydney can provide 25 free clean-up collections compared to Willoughby’s four).