They lied to us!

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.”

The belated apology is another embarrassment for Mr Constance following the Ferry McFerryface saga and the poor performance of Sydney trains.

 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.”

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.

GirlGuidesWilloughby 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.


Meetings to be streamed

streamersCouncil meetings now live streamed

Thursday, February 8, 2018: Keep in touch with council meetings from anywhere in the world with our new live streaming service.

Starting February 12, 2018 council meetings will be broadcast live online, with the recordings available for download for two years after the meeting.

Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney said it will encourage further engagement with residents and improve accessibility for people who cannot attend the meetings.

“We want to encourage the community to become more involved with council meetings and decisions and let people know they’re welcome to attend in person or watch online,” Mayor Giles-Gidney said.

“It demonstrates council’s open and transparent approach and continued commitment to community engagement and input into council decisions,” she said.

Council meetings are held twice a month in the Council Chamber at Victor Street, Chatswood from 7pm. Agendas are available from 5pm on the Tuesday before the meeting. Minutes will be made available from 5pm on the Thursday after the meeting.

Watch the first live video stream from 7pm on February 12 here:



From Council Report

Planning panelWilloughby Council is in the process of establishing Local Planning Panels (formerly know as Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels). The panels will determine larger Development Applications (removing Councilors from the process).

That Council:

1. Note the appointment by the Minister of Abigail Goldberg as the Chair and
Garry West and Penny Holloway as Alternate Chairs for the Willoughby Local
Planning Panel;

2. Note the selection and ratify the appointment of Philippa Hayes, Robert Wilson,
Emma Brown and Robert Freestone as the Community Representatives for the
Willoughby Local Planning Panel;

3. Note the update on the process for selection of Expert Members for the
Willoughby Local Planning Panel;

4. Delegate authority to the General Manager to complete the process of
selection and appointment of the Expert Members and Alternate Members to
the Willoughby Local Planning Panel with the advice from the selection
committee which is to include the Mayor, the Planning and Infrastructure
Director and the Planning Manager and notify Council prior to the first meeting
of the Willoughby Local Planning Panel;

The community representative for West Ward is:

Ms Emma Booth (West)
Ms Booth has resided in West Chatswood for a number of years and has developed
close local associations through her children’s childcare and schooling, as well as
through her parents who also reside in Chatswood. Ms Booth has planning and
urban design qualifications and is currently employed as a strategic planner at
North Sydney Council.