New super panel

The state government is appointing 100 technical experts to consider and make recommendations on the appropriateness of state significant development proposals. It is hoped that this will assist the planning minister to make better decision then he has in the past.

It will be interesting to note of this newest initiate will make any real difference. There have numerous unsuccessful attempts to address this issue in the past.

Less is more?

The state government has reminded Councils that now is the time to consider their best structure going forward.

Under section 16 of the Local Government Act 1993, a council must obtain the approval of its electors at a constitutional referendum to do each of the following:

  • divide a council area into wards or abolish wards
  • change the number of councillors
  • change the method of electing the mayor
  • change the method of election for councillors where the council’s area is divided into wards.

Chatswood schools

NEXT STEPS

■ Detailed design consultation is continuing with staff and
students at both schools.
■ Installation of demountables on the High School cricket
nets, sports court, staff car park and near the Bush
Campus will continue throughout Term 4 2020 and the
summer holidays.
■ Construction of the new Building R will start in late
2020 following receipt of the complying development
certificate.
■ Construction of the main works will not start until
the outcome of the State Significant Development
application is known.

Developer influence over Council?

After learning that developers paid for a number of technical studies relating to Council’s CBD Strategy CWWPA asked Council a number of questions. See their responses below:

Who made the decision to accept money from developers on matters where they will likely submit applications for approval by Council? What process was used to assure the highest levels if transparency? How was this transparency enacted and publicly communicated?

Answer: The approach taken was in response to DPIE concerns with the CBD Strategy contained in a letter to Council dated 9 August 2019 and the return of 8 Planning Proposals involving four proponents. No money was accepted from developers.

Officers from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), Transport for NSW and Council agreed on the scope of investigations to address DPIE’s concerns with parts of the CDB Strategy.

DPIE, TFNSW and Council guided and reviewed the consultants’ work ensuring that it satisfactorily addressed DPIE’s concerns. DPIE’s support and oversight was required to enable the CBD Strategy to progress to finalising the outstanding matters.

·Why wasn’t the fact that Council had accepted funding from developer’s likely to submit development proposals within the CBD disclosed in the initial report that went to Council given that transparency is a core Willoughby community value as expressed in Council’s CIty strategy outcome: “5.1 – be honest, transparent and accountable in all that we do”?

Answer: It is considered that the Council has been consistent with the City Strategy Outcome “5.1 – Be honest, transparent and accountable in all that we do”. No funding was accepted from developers. Instead, work was carried out by the proponents at no cost to Council.

The initial report to Council where endorsement was sought and given was on 26 June 2017, which predated the DPIE concerns and the subsequent approach taken.  

The 14 September 2020 Council report, and in particular Attachment 1 ‘Budget/Financial’, detailed the work required and stated that “with agreement from the DPIE, funding of additional work was not at Council’s expense and all work scrutinised by both Council and DPIE prior to any decision making.”

How can the community be assured that these developers will not have an influence on decisions in the areas they funded?

Answer: There has always been concern to ensure that the review work carried out would be credible and satisfactory to the Council, community and the State Government.

ARUP were engaged by the proponents to prepare documentation addressing transport issues and to meet the requirements of DPIE and TfNSW.

Council Officers and Transport for NSW supervised the work and the proponents paid for the work.

The peer review on transport was undertaken by Transport for NSW.

GMU were engaged by the proponents to prepare documentation addressing urban design issues in those parts of the CBD adjoining Heritage Conservation Areas and to meet the requirements of DPIE.

Council Officers supervised and proponents paid for the work.

The Peer Review on urban design was undertaken by the DPIE Urban Design Team.

Weir Phillips Heritage and Planning were engaged by the proponents to prepare documentation addressing heritage issues and to meet the requirements of DPIE.

Council Officers supervised and the proponents paid for the work.

The Peer Review on heritage was undertaken by the DPIE Urban Design Team.

Did council, without any influence from external sources, select and instruct the consultants independently and at the end hand the bill over and the developers paid the bill no question asked?

Who were the Developers involved and how much did each pay?

Are the consultant involved part of an industry association which has an appropriate ethics code covering such situations?

Did the developers have any influence over the management of the consultants?

 Answer: The proponents selected and engaged the consultants, who are each recognized companies in their respective fields.

As agreed with DPIE, payments for the GMU study on urban design issues, the ARUP study on transport issues and the Weir Phillips study on heritage issues were made by the proponents directly to the respective consultancies. Council staff are not aware of the cost of the studies, nor the proportions paid by the individual proponents.

No proponent benefitted from the adoption of the studies, and in fact two proponents of Planning Proposals across three sites had their development potential reduced. 

Proponents involved are:

·      DPG Project 23 Pty Ltd (Develotek)

·      Ellis Street Development Pty Limited (Central Element)

·      H and J Vakili Pty Ltd

·      Goldfields Chatswood No. 1 Pty Ltd

ARUP, GMU and Weir Phillips contain members of the Planning Institute of Australia. Architects from GMU and Weir Phillips are registered under the relevant legislation.

Further information on the consultants is available here:

https://www.arup.com/offices/australia/sydney

http://gmu.com.au/

https://www.weirphillipsheritage.com.au/

It is Council’s understanding the reports were prepared on an independent basis. This was further checked via peer reviews and in meeting the requirements of DPIE.

I hope this information assists with your enquiry and by all means let me know if you have further questions or require any clarification.

Revised rating system

Message from the Minsiter:

As councils continue to face the challenges of raising the revenue needed to provide for their local communities, and households face increasing costs of living, the Government is committed to ensuring a fair and equitable rating system.
 
In June the Government released its final response to IPART’s review of the rating system, committing to implementing key reforms to ensure councils have a stable and reliable revenue base so they can plan and deliver services for their communities into the future.
 
The Government is currently preparing a Bill to give effect to each element of its response.
 
The Bill will provide greater flexibility for councils in managing the overall rating burden within their community.
 
It will assist new councils created in 2016 by allowing them to gradually harmonise rates.
 
We are also proposing to give councils greater flexibility through the creation of rating subcategories for residential, farmland and business as well as a new category for environmental land.
 
It is my intention to release an Exposure Draft of the Bill before the end of the year to obtain essential feedback from councils, local communities and other interested individuals and organisations.
 
It is planned to introduce legislation into the NSW Parliament early next year.
 
The Government is also standing by our commitment to align rating income growth with population growth to help councils provide for growing communities and protect residents from excessive or sudden rate rises.
 
We will issue terms of reference to IPART to develop a methodology – in consultation with the local government sector – for population growth to be taken into account when it sets the annual rate peg to provide relief for those councils suffering growing pains.
 
Some councils, particularly in Sydney’s growth corridors, have faced a substantial increase in population while their rating bases have come under significant pressure with higher demand for new or upgraded local infrastructure and services.
 
That’s why the Government will ask the independent regulator to develop a model for ensuring population growth is taken into account in setting the annual rate peg.

Not so VIVID

New events program proposed for 2021

Proposal to:

  • Endorse a pilot Chatswood cultural and creative events program running January to June 2021 using the existing budget of $580,000 currently allocated to CBD Special Event (Vivid).
  • Receive a review of the pilot Chatswood cultural and creative events program by October 2021.
  • Endorse that Chatswood not participate in the August 2021 Vivid Sydney festival.

COVID recovery plans

COVID-19 has, and will continue to, have an impact on our local community and economy.

The Willoughby Community Recovery Plan and the Willoughby Economic Recovery Plan are

based on the current available data indicating the areas of highest concern. The Willoughby Community Recovery Plan concentrates on the first focus areas of Health and Wellbeing, Mental Health, Isolation, and Impact on Under 35s with the last area of Economic Impacts covered by the Willoughby Economic Recovery Plan.

Resources This matter does not require additional resources. Actions outlined in this report can be undertaken within current staffing and budgetary resources. The actions are within existing approved budgets.

The closure of Council services and facilities has led to significant revenue losses that have put pressure on Council’s financial position. The forecasted loss of revenue for 2020/21 is $10.1M as detailed in Figure 1. This impact is $3M higher than the $7.1M revenue loss initially forecast.

Homelessness

As in most cities in the world, Willoughby has a number of homeless people. Both government and community-based agencies in Willoughby engage homeless people in a way that tries to maintain their dignity whilst pursuing community expectations.

We raised this issue with Council at the start of the year. Their response is included in the Appendix. We are proposing to ask Council for an update. Recently the Mayor of the City of announced some interim initiatives to attempt to address at least part of this problem. This includes on an interim basis using carparks for overnight crisis accommodation.

Move that CWWPA write to the Mayor and CEO requesting:

  • What new initiatives has Council taken on this matter during 2020?

What further initiatives (similar to those taken by the Mayor of Perth) could Council take going forward?