No amalgamation

NoThe State Government has announced that the planned amalgamation between Willoughby. North Sydney and Mosman Councils will not proceed. One reason given was that it was considered inaapropriate to have elections and September then to have to sack Councils soon after.

The threat of amalgamation is now dormant, unlikely dead. It behooves Council to actively pursue collaborative endeavors with neighbouring Councils. There are better models than amalgamation to achieve benefits for the people of the region. Whatever Council does it should not be complacent but proactive. Do not wait to be blindsided. Take the high ground. The Prince and the Art of War should be mandatory reading for all aspiring candidates at the upcoming election.

Thanks Jim

Awards

Jim McCredie with Mayor Gail and President Kay

Last night saw CWWPA President Kay Freudensatein and Willoughby Mayor Gail -Giles Gidney recognise former CWWPA President Jim McCredie for his long service to the Willoughby and Chatswood communities.

IN APPRECIATION

 JIM McCREDIE

For many years of passionate and dedicated service to the residents of Chatswood West Ward including as President of the Chatswood West Ward Progress Association and the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations.

A technical expert with a high level of understanding and empathy of local issues you provided support to the citizens of the Chatswood West Ward on many matters associated with local government.

You became renowned as ‘the 14th Councillor’ for your regular attendance at meetings of the Willoughby City Council on behalf of your members.

Best wishes from your friends and residents of West Ward and Willoughby

Jim worked as a research engineer/scientist in the Department of Defence. From 1984 he spent a number of years working for Defence in the United State on the Defence Offsets programme including sourcing rotor blades for helicopters. He retired in 1989.

After the disastrous bushfires of 1994, Jim became involved in the local Community Fire Units. An activity he undertook until relatively recently.

Jim became President of the Chatswood West Ward Progress Association around 1998. He later became President of the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations, taking over from John Allom in 2002, a position he held to a couple of years ago.

Jim was also recognised in 2004 as the Willoughby Citizen of the year.

Some of the guests at last night’s appreciation ceremony.

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Vice President Charles

Jim McCredie

Jim & Vice president Cy

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Ian & Max

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the horses in

An application has been lodged with the Sydney North Planning Panel for the adaptive reuse of a heritage building and construction of a mixed use building consisting of seven (7) storeys, 118 residential apartments, commercial tenancies, carparking and associated works.

989 Pacific RosevilleThe application relates to the property at 989-1015 Pacific Highway, Roseville.

Prior to the construction of the Chatswood to Epping rail link this site was acquired by State Rail. The building near the corner of William St is heritage listed. It was once the Horseland Saddlery.

Refer DA-2017/181

New Ward powers?

Local planYesterday, the State Government announced that it is considering giving Ward Councillors (rather than full Council) the power to make Local Environmental Plans (LEPs)  for their Ward.

This was announced along with the news that the government would consult about stripping Councils of some of their powers for determining Development Applications.

Determining a DA is an operational activity. Councillors establish the rules then Council officers assess the DA and determine the vast majority of them.

Making a LEP is a strategic activity. The Local Government Act emphasises the role of Councillors to act strategically.

These moves have a distinct ‘rob Peter to pay Paul‘ flavour.

Fire levy hosed down

HouseFireFor many years NSW has had a Fire Levy to fund firefighting and emergency services (such as the SES). The levy has been collected by insurance companies as a component of home insurance policies. This meant that only people paying home insurance were funding the services that are free to all households.

In a move to a more equitable scheme, the State government introduced a new form of the levy that would apply to all properties in NSW. The levy was to be based on the land value of a property (not its resale value). However, due to protests about the cost of the new levy, the government has decided to scrap it.

As an example as to why people were protesting about the new levy one household fronting high risk bushland in Chatswood was paying $91 p.a added to their home insurance. Under the new levy they would be paying $332 – nearly four time more.

The government has claimed that under the insurance base levy, premiums paid covered 80% of the cost of the service with 20% being directly funded by the government. The new levy was to be ‘revenue neutral’ meaning 100% of the costs would be raised by the levy. Do the math.  The same household would expect to pay around $110. Yet the new levy was three times higher than that.

It is obvious that there were glaring flaws in the levy as it was legislated. However, the equity principle of charging all households, not just some, has merit as does the concept of a ‘revenue neutral’ levy (similar in fact to how our Council garbage collections are funded).

Let us hope that in any new legislation the government gets it right.

DA changes?

IHAPYesterday, after due consideration, the State government decided to defer mandating changes to how some DAs are determined. Instead it says that it will consult on the issue.

READ the story about the deferral

The way Development Applications (DAs) are assessed and determined may change. A recent report (SMH Tuesday 25 May 2017 p,1) suggests that the NSW Government is set to strip some planning powers from Councils by legislating that Councils use some form of Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (IHAP).

Currently, developments at Willoughby Council progress to determination in a number of ways:

  • Complying developments that are assessed as meeting the criteria set down and are typically approved by a Private Certifier without any consultation with residents
  • Development Applications that are assessed by Council officers who make a recommendation to Council who determine the Application. Residents can submit objections to the Council officer and address Councillors and Council.
  • Greater Sydney Commission Planning Panels (GSCPP) where large developments are determined. Council officers make an assessment and a recommendation to the panel. Residents can comment and address the panel. Each of the Sydney Planning Panels comprise five members: A Greater Sydney Commission District Commissioner – the Chair; Two state government appointed representatives and Two council appointed representatives
  • Other State Government processes for significant developments

There is existing legislation that allows Councils to divert some Development Applications to a panel of experts called an Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (IHAP) constituted under Regulation 23I of the Planning Act. 

A number of large Councils have been using IHAPs for some time. However, there seems great diversity in how individual IHAPs are structured and work. Councils seem to determine which applications will go to IHAP. Whilst the IHAPs were intended to consist of technical experts, some have community representatives.  Some IHAPs do their own assessment whilst for others Council Officers undertake the assessment. Some IHAPs can determine the application whilst others make a recommendation back to Council.

A major reason for the possible changes is Improved probity. Currently, developers can be elected to Council and vote on development applications. The same regulation was previously proposed with the draft overhaul of the planning opwers earlier in the year that was withdrawn by the government.

What does this mean?

Currently Willoughby Council consists of thirteen community elected people and can include a developer(s). The Councilors are Ward based. So typically a resident deals with their three Ward representatives. With a IHAP it is likely that there will be two community representatives in a five person panel with the other three being technical experts. This structure is not dissimilar to the recently disbanded Joint Regional Planning Panels (JRPP) who previously determined applications now going to the GSRPP.

The Mayor of Willoughby, Clr. Gail Giles-Gidney has made the following observation on IHAPs: “I support this move. A number of our neighboring Councils already have this. IHAP’s will still enable all to have a say but to an independent panel, not one that could potentially be influenced by getting votes or looking after mates. It will be important though to make sure the panel has local representation to ensure the local perspective is heard. It should also make the process quicker.”

It appears that these new measure will be considered by Cabinet this coming Thursday.