Bigger & Better ?

high riseLatest projected population figures predict Sydney’s population is likely to reach 9.2 million by 2031.

What does this mean for Willoughby?

Willoughby’s 2011 population was 71,650. The projected 2031 population is 91,700. This is a whopping 28% increase over the next twenty years. Where will they live?

The composition of the population is also changing. The number of under 15s will increase by nearly 40% (will we have enough schools?). The 15-24 age group will have a modest increase of just over 20% (relatively less workers paying taxes). It is the over 65s that will see the biggest increase -nearly 50%.

Another interesting aspect of these changes for Willoughby is that the underlying impetus will come from overseas migration (increased cultural diversity?).

38 Albert Avenue


Councillor Saville moved: That, having regard to the advice of the Environmental Services Director by email to Councillors dated 22 July 2013, in regard to sustainability features of the building, no submission need be made to the JRPP on this matter.

Acoustic Laboratory


THE long-running saga over the National Acoustic Laboratory site could be resolved, with Willoughby Council and residents set to support the latest plans.

For the past seven years there has been debate over the redevelopment of the site at 126 Greville St, Chatswood with the council rejecting an original proposal of 14 residential flats with 230 units.

Two years ago, amended plans on the bushland setting that included 14 buildings again, but with 10 less units was also rejected by the council.

But the council and residents are set to support the latest plans for the site, which will be determined by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

The new plans cap the dwellings at 60, with the building heights to be two or three storeys.

Local resident Daniel Cumming said: “This compromise is the best deal that has been put forward.”

But residents wanted to ensure public access to open space was retained.

The council supports an “adaptive reuse” of the existing buildings on the site, but conceded the latest plans “represent an acceptable compromise”.

A council report also states the traffic created by the latest plans would be “considerably less” than previous proposals


Conflict of Interest ?

Conflict of Interest

Willoughby Council recently agreed to ‘not oppose’ a proposal by Meriton to increase the size of previously approved buildings of 32 & 29 storeys to 37 & 47 storeys. The week before Council had moved to refuse the application. Why the change of heart? Meriton came back with an offer of $12 million Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA).

The issue was raised as to whether this constituted a Conflict of Interest for Councillors. Council’s General Manager said it did not.

Dealing a VPA is difficult for a Councillor Usually you are being asked to approve an application that is in excess of the regulations.


Justice Denied

The Law Society of NSW has grave concerns about proposed new State Planning Laws.


One of the biggest concerns they have is the loss of community right to challenge bad planning and development decisions, even in the case of legal error.

The new laws will also deny legal scrutiny of major Ministerial decisions (concerns about bad Ministerial decisions was a major impetus for reform in the first place). An example of this could be if a Minister made a decision to benefit a friend, that would not be subject to public scrutiny.

Above Ground Tunnels?


The State Government is considering allowing more buildings above railway lines. Planning Minister Hazzard said this would invigorate the Sydney landscape. He called on developers to ‘knock on Sydney’s door”.

The idea would be to construct high-rise residential towers built over railway lines. In one report, St Leonards and Chatswood were mentioned. A key advocate of the current suggestion is Chris Johnson, former State Architect. Johnson was also behind the design of the towers being constructed around Chatswood Station. Johnson is now the CEO of the Urban Taskforce, a key developer lobby group with considerable sway within the government.

Such proposals are likely to result in seventy story towers near heritage buildings

Voluntary Agreement


A Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) is a contract between Council and a Developer that the Developer will provide a bucket of cash to Council when its Planing Proposal is approved. The Developer is not required by law to enter into such an agreement, it is optional.

If this all sounds incredible, it is. Typically, a VPA seems to be discussed when the Developer is seeking conditions over and above the standards.

A recent example of a VPA relates to the Meriton development in Albert Avenue on the old car park site. Meriton proposed to upgrade two approved towers of 32 and 29 storeys to 37 and 47 storeys. To “sweeten” the deal the offered Council a $12 million dollar incentive. When this offer was made the majority of Council who had previously voted to refuse the application changed their minds.

The VPA includes wording such as:

It is agreed that the total Monetary Contribution will be expended at the discretion of Willoughby City Council for the following Public Benefit Works including but not limited to:

1.     Upgrade of Chatswood Oval and surrounds including new playing surface, upgrading of grandstands and change rooms, provision of a gym for both general community use and sporting club use, walking paths, regional playground, community garden and childcare.

2.     Upgrade of the Chatswood High Oval to a synthetic surface and redevelopment of the abandoned tennis courts for multi-purpose activities.

3.       Upgrade of playing surface at Beauchamp Oval, including drainage improvements and change room upgrades.

4.       CBD streetscape improvements where required, it being noted that the works may vary as planning and costing’s for these are further developed.

Timing of the Monetary Contribution

The total monetary contribution shall be payable upon issue of the First Occupation Certificate in relation to the residential or serviced apartment lots but excluding any public car parking. If an Occupation Certificate is not issued within 4 Years of this agreement, then the monetary contribution shall be indexed in accordance with CPI.