Is this how it is now?

complyingA resident opines:

I have received a letter from a certifier indicating that the existing dwelling next door is to be demolished and replaced with a ‘new two storey dwelling’.

No details have been provided and the statement has been made in the letter ‘that the proposed works are classified as a complying development which means it meets all the standards provided by the State Environmental Planning Policy and it will be approved no sooner than 14 days from today.’

I have called the applicant and the advice I have been given is that the plans and other details will only be available AFTER approval.

This seems rather unusual in that if there were to be any significant impact on neighbouring properties, it would be too late to raise them once approved.

Is this the way such approvals are now processed?


Pokemon in Parks

PokemonThe Pokemon Go craze has wrought havoc on some Sydney Parks. At Rhodes, in two of the most traffic sites worldwide, not only have park surfaces been destroyed but emergency services have been disrupted attempting to access residential buildings.

Pokémon GO) is a location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. Making use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices, the game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. Players travel to real places, such as parks, to ‘capture’ the Pokemon.

At this stage, it appears that Willoughby parks are safe as the virtual locations within the Willoughby area are located in shopping centres.

Read about Rhode’s experience with Pokemon Go.




Metro South submissions

It has come our attention that it is possible that not all submissions from residents have been published on their website. This could be for a variety of reasons such as you nominated to keep your submission confidential or the Department of Planning has not received or processed your submission correctly.

You can check your submission has been processed.

If your submission has not been processed, please advise the Department of Planning.

Street Library

Street libraryDear Chatswood West Ward Progress Association,

I am writing to you to see if Chatswood West Ward Progress Association might be interested in installing a Street Library in your area. We’re writing to all members of Better Planning Networks as we reckon you’re the kind of people who might support a new idea and who care deeply about what happens in your local community.

What’s a Street Library?

Street libraries are little weather proof houses for books so anyone can ‘take a book or leave a book’. They provide significant social and cultural benefits, and encourage people to read, talk to their neighbours and share. This includes people that may not feel comfortable visiting a library or can’t afford to buy books. They also activate streets and provide a sense of place..

Around 20,000 street libraries are installed in America and around 100 in Australia.Street libraryX Councils that have installed street libraries or little free libraries include Canterbury, Randwick, Shoalhaven City, Cairns in Queensland, Wodonga in Victoria, and Banyule in Victoria.

My kids’ school, Australia Street Infants School in Newtown, recently installed a street library so its publicly accessible from the street and it’s been an instant success. The kids painted it and it’s the first street library to be installed in front of a school in Australia. Humans of Newtown Facebooked it and it received 1,500 likes and 120 comments in the first 24 hours alone! ABC’s Bookish program is doing a story on it on iView in a couple of weeks.

We founded Street Library Australia as a registered non-profit charity at the end of 2015 to support literacy and community. It’s goal is to facilitate the installation of 500 street libraries across Australia in the next three years.

If you like this simple idea, here are a few ways you might be able to support the project:

  • Purchase a street library from Street Libraries Australia ( for about $200 each, and install it yourself

  • Invite one of your members to a “Build your own street library ( held in Sydney once a month.

  • Download plans from our website and build your own street library, perhaps in conjunction with your local men’s shed or literacy volunteer group.

  • Approach your local council to financially support the installation of Street Libraries within your Local government area.

If this is something you are interested in, let’s talk further.

Call to consult – Greater Sydney Commission

GreaterSydneyCommissionThe Association is backing a call for the Greater Sydney Commission to consult with stakeholders prior to their release of the Draft District Plan in November.

The Greater Sydney Commission

The Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) was established by the NSW Government to develop a plan for growing Sydney.


There are six Sub-Regions covering Sydney prescribed by the Government. Willoughby is part of the Northern Sub-Region that also comprises: Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Ku-Ring-Gai, Lane Cove, Manly, Mosman, North Sydney, Pittwater, Ryde, Warringah.

This plan will be implemented by a series of District Plans. These plans will override Council’s Local Environmental Plans (LEPs).

The Commission talks about consultation, but to date this has been just rhetoric. So, along with other community groups from the sub-region we are calling in the Commission to meaningfully consult before releasing their draft plan.

Call to consult

Lucy Hughes Turnbull AO
Chief Commissioner
Greater Sydney Commission
PO Box 257, Parramatta NSW 2150

Dear Chief Commissioner

Re: Sydney Northern District Plan – community consultation

As established community groups with considerable knowledge of, and long-term engagement with, planning issues in our respective communities, we, the undersigned, write to you to ascertain the details of community consultation by the Greater Sydney Commission (the Commission) in the Sydney Northern District Region.

We understand that draft District Plans (the Plans) will be released by the Commission in November 2016 for community comment.  However, we are unaware of any plans for community engagement prior to the release of these draft Plans.

We note that one of the objectives of the Commission, under the Greater Sydney Commission Act 2015, is to ‘to provide increased opportunity for public involvement and participation in environmental planning and assessment in the Greater Sydney regions.’

Given the powers of the Commission to override Local Environmental Plans and assess rezoning proposals and the chaotic nature of current Council amalgamations, direct and comprehensive community consultation prior to the release of the draft Plans is essential.

We are aware that the Commission is considering the use of citizen juries as a means of engaging with communities. Whilst citizen juries have their place, these cannot replace broader consultation with experienced and knowledgeable representatives of local groups engaged in planning for their respective communities.

Specific questions we seek information on are outlined below:

  • What is the scope, nature and timing of community consultations planned by the Commission prior to the release of draft Plans in November 2016, including any consultation that has occurred to date?
  • How does the Commission propose to include our various community groups into this community consultation?
  • What will be the role of, and weight given to, community consultation conducted prior to the release of draft Plans?

In the interest of transparency, and given there are only 4 months left until the release of the draft Plans, we would appreciate receiving an answer to the above queries by 12 August 2016.

Should you wish to clarify any aspect of this letter, please contact Mr Doug Stuart, Lane Cove Bushland and Conservation Society Committee Member, on 9428 2527.

We look forward to your response.

Yours Sincerely

It’s back!! – 3P

With little (or no) fanfare, Westfield, Chatswood has re-instated 3 hours FREE PARKING3hrsparking.

Good on you Westfield.

Good on you Chatswood Chase who stuck with 3 hrs free and presumably has been instrumental in the Westfield ‘about turn’.

Good on those parkers who regularly validated their parking ticket as they entered the store. Hopefully this skewed data in favour of a return to 3 hours FREE PARKING.


Council community initiatives

EnvironemntalInitiativeWilloughby Council is still very active promoting environmental initiatives.

In the Chatswood Mall this week is an interactive display on environmental issues concerning plastic products. Council became involved with such issues many decades ago via its involvement with the now defunct Lane Cove River Catchment Management Committee.

Also, if you look closely at the concrete ‘seating’ inStormwaterManagement the mall you may notice the following initiative.The water flowing in the Mall is captured by the garden beds, filtered through the soil then released as ‘cleaned’ water into Scott’s Creek.

Over the next six months Council has planned a variety of community activities as outline below:

Food Swap 5-Aug
End of Solar Bonus Scheme 10-Aug
Harold Reid Mid Week Walk 11-Aug
Intro to Organic Gardening 13-Aug
Bicycle Maintenance 18-Aug
Windowsill Gardening with Microgreens 20-Aug
Preschooler walk – Explosives Reserve 24-Aug
Dream Home w Caroline Pidcock 24-Aug
Energy Expert 28-Aug
Food Swap 2-Sep
Live Well Lane at Street Fair 3-Sep
Preschooler scramble 7-Sep
Intro to climate watch 8-Sep
Sustainable House Day 11-Sep
Bushcare major day out 11-Sep
Bicycle Maintenance 15-Sep
natural Cleaning pop up in the mall 16-Sep
Spring Fest Explosives Wildflower Walk 18-Sep
Declutter 22-Sep
Spotlight walk – Explosives/ Emerge Fest 23-Sep
Bike Belles for Bike Week 24-Sep
School Holiday Bushland Adventures (5 – 12yrs) 28-Sep
School Holiday Bushland Adventures (5 – 12yrs) 29-Sep
cycling skills – Kick the Wheels 28-Sep
cycling skills – Ride Safe 28-Sep
cycling skills – Ride High 29 sept and 30 Sept
Composting and wormfarming for kids – pop up in chatswood mall – 12 noon 29-Sep
Composting and wormfarming for kids – pop up in chatswood mall – 2 -3pm  
Gardening for kids  12-1 30-Sep
Gardening for kids 2-3pm 30-Sep
Upcycling for kids – 12 noon 6-Oct
Upcycling for kids – 2pm  
Food Swap 7-Oct
Bush Foods for backyards 8-Oct
Blacktown Bushcare Exchange 9-Oct
Preschoolers Walk Warners 12-Oct
Ride to work 12-Oct
Bird Week Birdcount walk 15-Oct
Heirloom Vegetable Gardening 15-Oct
Solar and battery 19-Oct
Chemical Cleanout 22-Oct
Chemical Cleanout 23-Oct
Dream home w Caroline Pidcock 26-Oct
Spotlight Artarmon 28-Oct
Energy Expert 30-Oct
Food Swap 4-Nov
Native pollinators 5-Nov
Preschoolers Walk 9-Nov
Clothes Swap 10-Nov
Native plants 12-Nov
Fix it & BBQ 13-Nov
Bike Maintenance 17-Nov
Frog Spotlight OH Reid 18-Nov
Chillin in the Mall 24-Nov
Food Swap 2-Dec
Creatures of the night Spotlight Walk – Warners 9-Dec
Building Better Raised Garden Beds 10-Dec
Bush Christmas Artarmon 14-Dec
Chillin in the Mall 15-Dec



Council Profit?

WilloughbyWaratahCouncil recently advised that it had achieved:

  • A budget surplus of $1.409M
  • Annual rates in line with the Special Rate Variation
  • A reduction in commercial waste collection fees of $74 from $812 to $738 based on an Australian Tax Office GST ruling
  • Domestic Waste Service charge to remain at the 2015/2016 level of $515 per annum
  • Fees and Charges to increase, where appropriate, by a minimum of 2.5%
  • Spend of $26.323M on project and capital works
  • Working Funds remaining at a minimum level of $1M (last reported in March 2016 as a projected $3.431M at 30 June 2016)
  • The estimated Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employee number at 1 July 2016 is 409.7 (down 19.7 FTE or 4.5% on the FTE number of 429.4 on 1 July 2015)

We might be inclined to shout ‘hurrah’, Council has made money. However, Council’s are not in the business of making money. They are in the business of efficiently and effectively spending the money the raise on behalf of residents and ratepayers. This is in the form of services provided to their residents and ratepayers.

It is pretty clear where most of the budget surplus has been derived – a reduction of staff by 20 officers. The Council has mentioned that these were mainly ‘middle management’ positions and that services provided will not suffer.

We (and Council) need to be vigilant on two fronts:

  1. Ensuring the budget ‘surplus’ is appropriately spent.
  2. Ensuring services provided by Council are not eroded

If you know of any instance where a Council services has been withdrawn or downgraded, please leave a comment or contact the Editor at