Ongoing work to preserve the character and heritage of Hunters Hill

logoIf the State Government pursues its plan for a merged LGA, the Trust will continue to fight for the preservation of the existing character and heritage of Hunters Hill Municipality to ensure that it is safeguarded for future generations and that the existing level of services provided by Hunters Hill Council are preserved and enhanced.

The Trust is not advancing the case for amalgamation, however in the event that this were to occur and given the Trust’s Aim in maintaining the unique and historical character of Hunters Hill, we believe we need to put our energies into advocating for the inclusion of those things we have set out in our submission in any new merged Local Government Area.

Within The Trust and the wider Hunters Hill community there is a range of differing views about the current council and about the proposed amalgamation.   As well there are differing levels of passion and enthusiasm for the anti-amalgamation fight.  We respect the fact that our members will have come to their own conclusions about this.

We urge members to make their own individual submissions and we hope that our Submission and the Rough Guide can be instructive and of assistance.   Submissions should be made before 5.00pm on Sunday 28 February 2016.  They can be made online here.  You can read the Hunters Hill Trust’s Submission to the Council Boundary Review here.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Phil Jenkyn
    Posted February 14, 2016 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    The Trust’s submission to the Boundary Review totally fails to argue for the continuation of Hunters Hill as a separate Municipality as it is clearly obliged to do under its constitution.
    The objectives of the Trust are very clear – to preserve and protect the character and heritage of Hunters Hill and to maintain its integrity as a separate Municipality.
    I urge all Trust members to pursue the Trust’s objectives, to stand up and fight for the retention of our historic Municipality and for the right to elect our own local representatives as we have been doing for 155 years.
    Phil Jenkyn

  2. Peter Ashley
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Dear Phil,

    I think your comments are a nasty twist on selective half truths. I just found a copy of the organisations constitution on the web site, and it appears you have skimmed past the part where the constitution outlines The Trust’s Aims before going on to discuss the Objectives…..

    The aim of The Trust is to maintain the unique and historical character of Hunter’s Hill. To fulfil this aim The Trust has the following objectives-
    i. to limit the spread of home units, high density, industrial and commercial development within the Municipality;
    ii. to preserve all features of Hunter’s Hill having beauty, architectural and historical value;
    iii. to ensure that any planning of Hunter’s Hill should pay full regard to protecting and improving the amenities enjoyed by residents; and without limiting the generality of the foregoing;
    iv. to encourage high architectural and aesthetic standards within the Municipality;
    v. to maintain the integrity of Hunter’s Hill as a separate Municipality;
    vi. to cause to be maintained a planning committee of the Hunter’s Hill Council responsible for conservation and policy matters, which includes nominees of the Hunter’s Hill Trust Committee and
    vii. to maintain the declaration of Hunter’s Hill as a protected historic area

    As you can see above, there is only one single aim of The Trust, and it endeavours to achieve this aim by pursuing a collection of objectives.

    I would gladly see The Trust continue to pursue this aim rather than die in a ditch fighting for an objective it can’t achieve.

    In retrospect of the conduct of Hunters Hill council over the most recent term, an interesting footnote would be to ask ones self how much integrity is actually left to maintain.

  3. David Gaunt
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Dear Phil
    No one could question your commitment to the Trust and its objectives and work over the decades. Allow me to say on behalf of the current Trust committee, that we too, have laboured long and hard for those objectives. There are decades of service to the Trust within our ranks as well. It is not an easily made, or taken, decision we made to decline to line up with the Save Hunters Hill Coalition, and the Council, and other organisations or individuals arguing strongly against amalgamation.

    I speak for my own position, not for the Committee, but it may go some way to explaining where this is coming from: I have served on the Trust Committee for 13 years, including stints as President (2004-2008), Secretary, and Treasurer. The most consistent feature of this commitment for me has been the almost total failure of Hunters Hill Council, at Executive and Representative level, to see the value of, or respond positively to the many, many endeavours the Trust has made “to preserve and protect the character and heritage of Hunters Hill”. In short, over more than a decade’s worth of bad, inadequate, or downright shameful decisions means I no longer faith in the future of Hunters Hill as a stand-alone Municipality.

    The Council’s “efforts” on behalf of Gladesville Shopping Village, and Boronia Park speak for themselves as testimony to this situation. I am well aware of our Constitutional obligations, and of the difference between the Aims and Objectives of the Trust. I believe those Aims can no longer be met by clinging to (at least one) Objective(s) which has failed us.

    If I, and indeed, the Trust Committee is wrong in making this distinction, then of course we should all resign, and a new Committee be elected. If this is what you and others believe, I encourage you to call a General Meeting and follow through. Members of this Committee have worked very hard, for years, on behalf of the principles of the Trust. The last thing we would like to see is its collapse. I am extremely disturbed by the tenor and thrust of series of emails from Councilor Sheil which suggest the Committee, and more particularly our President, Tony Coote, are acting without probity or moral principle in this.

    I believe we are acting with integrity, in “standing aside” while individual members make up their own minds and submissions on the question of Amalgamation. It’s an integrity sadly lacking in Council’s approach to understanding or acting on the principles of the Trust over a long period. I am not marching in the streets for amalgamation, I don’t relish much of what might happen as a result. I am saddened that I can’t summon the enthusiasm to stand up and fight for a stand-alone Municipality, but so be it.
    David Gaunt AM

  4. Meredith Bayfield
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Fighting to establish a local council with a strategic focus on preserving heritage and character, and then fighting to protect it’s independence., has been, and remains the single greatest investment by the members of the Trust, and the community of Hunters Hill, to ensure heritage and character protection.

    It is local councils that are responsible for maintaining heritage and character. It is councils that put in place, and police the policies that result in environmental and heritage protection. Without this – heritage and character is rapidly lost and replaced by massive insensitive over development.

    To fail to fight to protect the independence of our council against a mega merger in which Hunters Hill Residents will loose any effective representation and /or autonomy over council policy, risks undoing everything the members of the Trust have ever fought for.

    It is, in my opinion, a catastrophic failure of the Executive of the Trust, that betrays the enormous efforts of all past members of the Trust, and the local community who have fought for the establishment and protection of a local council that is unique among Sydney’s councils in that it has the preservation of heritage and character built into it’s very core – it’s policy, employment and governance structure.

    The “stand aside” policy position of the Trust and subsequent submission to the delegate, was never put to the members of the Trust at a general meeting, as is the requirement under the constitution. Instead it has been a policy position that has been adopted unilaterally and inflicted on members of the Trust by some of the dis-affected members of the executive, who have imposed their own individual opinion, without confirming that they were in alignment with, and had the support of the majority of the membership.

    As a member of the Trust – I reject the executives un-constitutional policy position, as do many others members of the Trust that I have spoken to.

    Here below are excerpts from my personal submission – which do what the Trust should have done – and identify the enormous risk posed to the conservation of the heritage and character of Hunters Hill should Hunters Hill Council be dissolved, and a mega-merger with Ryde and Lanecove Councils be forced in it’s place.

    I hope this will in some small way undo the failings of the Trust, and support all members of the Trust and Hunters Hill Community- past and present – who have fought to establish and protect an independent council for Hunters Hill, and who also reject the unconstitutional policy position the executive is publishing and purporting to represent the views of Trust members.

    Submission Dr Meredith L K Sheil MBBS FRACP PhD GAICD
    “Hunters Hill has very deep traditional values, and a very distinct community of interest. The two are intrinsically linked, and have evolved due to the relatively isolated peninsular location, and the history of the development of both the local community and the council which also has become intrinsically linked over 155 years since settlement.

    A detailed summary of this is provided by Beverley Sherry “History of Hunters Hill 2008”, and is attached, and hereby included in it’s entirety as part of this submission.

    In this report, Beverley documents the history of Hunters Hill and the people and seminal events that have shaped the development of it’s unique community of interest – including it’s geography and original inhabitants, the first land grants, early development as “a retreat from the city”, the “French settlement” the influence of “the Italians and the Irish” stonemasons and builders, the “birth of the Municipality 1861”, “change development and resistance”, “campaigns for preservation”, and finally “Hunters Hills Uniqueness”. In this report Beverley notes a particularly seminal event that occurred on the 7th of Feb 1968…

    “On 7 February 1968, over 500 residents, irate at the demolition of historic buildings and at the prospect of high density development, met at the Hunters Hill Town Hall. Following the example of the National Trust, they established the Hunters Hill Trust and put up a full board of candidates for the municipal elections in December 1968, the first time a civic trust had done this in Australia. All their candidates were elected. This turned the tide, arresting the demolition of historic buildings and halting the indiscriminate spread of home units. Since the 1960s, Hunters Hill has been in the vanguard of the Australian conservation Movement.”
    http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/hunters_hill

    This community activism, marked the beginning of a close and integral connection between the community and council. This evolved into a long history of strategic alignment with the development of council policy and planning directed towards the preservation of the heritage and character of Hunters Hill, that continues to this day. This has seen the preservation of many heritage buildings structures, the harbor foreshores and native bushland environments such that today 75% of Hunters Hill is declared a conservation area, and it has over 1,244 listed heritage items, including buildings, sub-divisions, bushland, stone walls and 223 places listed on the Register of the National Estate. It is a place of national significance – described by the National Trust as a “treasure” not just for Sydney, but for the Nation.

    Hunters Hill Council manages heritage and conservation differently from every other council in the state. It has special heritage and character preservation policy and provisions embedded in it’s planning documents, a dedicated heritage officer and a Conservation Advisory Panel (CAP) that brings together council and the community in the oversight of development in the Municipality. CAP is manned by elected councilor representatives, councils planning manager and heritage advisor, as well as voluntary heritage architect, and heritage landscape specialists from the local community, a representative of the National Trust and the Hunters Hill Trust.

    There is therefore a close and long standing sense of “custodianship” – a nexus of heritage and character protections linking the council and the community. The community has invested heavily in the council in this respect over many years, hence is strongly motivated to protect it against amalgamation. This has seen the community launch vigorous oppositional campaigns when threatened with amalgamation, and seen the formation of strong activist groups such as “Save Hunters Hill and “Save Hunters Hill Municipality”. This opposition to amalgamation, and fierce independence, support for local grass roots democracy, and placing a high value on local representation is an intrinsic part of the local community of interest.

    Based on this, the community continues to elect councilors that support heritage preservation and conservation, and “no amalgamation” as their leading priorities to this day, and these locally elected representatives continue to support the heritage and conservation policies, procedures and planning controls of council.

    I am an example. I was first elected to Hunters Hill Council in 2008, and then again in 2012 – My key election commitments were to support: No amalgamation, heritage and character preservation, no insensitive over development, effective and ethical leadership and good governance. In the 2012 election I ran a Mayoral campaign, with Clr Richard Quinn, who similarly supported “No amalgamation” as a top priority. Between us we received over 90% of the primary vote (I received 45% and Richard 47% of the primary vote). Richard was elected Mayor, I was elected Deputy Mayor which I remained 2012-2015. I was elected Chair of the Conservation Advisory Panel in 2012.

    I am a long term resident of Hunters Hill. My father was a surgeon, my mother a General Practitioner who practiced in the area. We have deep ties to the community, and have joined many local campaigns including to save Kellys Bush, Protect the Harbour Foreshores, campaign against aircraft noise and to save Hunters Hill Council from Amalgamation.

    Here below are my own feelings regarding the current merger proposal: as delivered in a short speech at the Save Hunters Hill Rally in Feb this year.

    Speech, Save Hunters Hill Municipality Rally – Dr Meredith L K Sheil – elected councillor Hunters Hill Council 2008 – current.
    “I would like to talk about what a great privilege it has been for me to represent the community on our council. It has given me the opportunity to take on and carry forward the custodianship of this incredibly special and beautiful part of the world.
    In doing so – I am conscious that I am just a bit player in something long, strong and deep – a community spirit that is invested in the council – deeply embedded in it’s fibres, woven into it over time in a way that we now take for granted and no longer see.
    It’s in it’s history and minutes, it’s in it’s vision – it’s strategic intent, it’s in its policy and planning documents, it’s in it’s committees it’s in its people, it’s councillors, it’s volunteers and committee members, its staff – who just absorb it without even knowing it! You see that in their faces – when, after successfully fighting off the State Governments proposed new planning laws that allow rampant unsympathetic overdevelopment to spring up everywhere, they hear that they are back on the table again.

    I had a friend from primary school visit not long ago. He grew up in Hunters Hill but had not been back for many years. We walked down Madeline street. He said – “Wow, this place hasn’t changed a bit!” and I said “Yes, and you wouldn’t believe how hard we have to work to make it look like that!” I then pointed out that nearly every house in the street had undergone a significant renovation or restoration. All of these had come through the Conservation advisory panel (CAP).

    CAP – is a special committee – instituted at the behest of the Hunters Hill community over 60 years ago. It’s manned by councilors and heritage architect volunteers who give their time – from the community and the Trust – It is probably very hard for people who don’t sit on CAP to understand just how important this committee is to the shape of Hunters Hill. Every meeting plans come in – some are great, but many are over-scale, out of character, or otherwise inappropriate – they pass through the skilled eyes of CAP – get rejected, or re-worked, shaped and finessed – and finally come out the other end to be what we see eventuate. This is a nexus – between council and community – a contract if you like – built in to the way council functions. Hundreds of developments – big and small, the length and breadth of Hunters Hill. For every “failure” (and there are some) there are hundreds of successes.
    No other council has this. No other council is shaped like this.

    So people often think of councils as rates, rubbish and roads – but that’s just the day to day stuff. The single most important role of a council is to be our “keeper of place”. And over the long years – contributing to it’s evolution, fighting to protect it – with all the investment of people here today and people come and gone before us – our blood sweat and tears have shaped this council and made it our own.
    It’s strategic focus is heritage and preservation, keeping of character in the setting of a rapidly evolving and growing city of Sydney and all the pressures and challenges that come against us. And there are some – none more so than now.
    The State Government wants rapid growth and development, 50,000 new dwellings every year to deliver 6 billion dollars to the economy. It wants this fast, and unencumbered by the restrictions that councils like ours require – It has an urban growth taskforce that is rapidly identifying “under-utilised” land and selling it off for massive urban redevelopment projects – lands like the heritage precinct in Parramatta – long rows of 100 year old trees in Randwick, the Hurlstone agricultural college. And when you go to the NSW Governments Metro strategy and look at what they plan to do with heritage and conservation through-out Sydney – what do you find? Let me read it to you –
    “Assess the potential for additional housing to be located in heritage conservation areas in Sydney, without compromising the protection of heritage significance”
    The NSW Government wants big liberal party aligned councils, with their liberal party endorsed candidates running for office, who will facilitate and promote their Liberal party growth and housing development objectives and priorities- rather than the objectives and priorities of the local community. They don’t want small community driven councils that get in the way of their big plans. That’s why they’re coming for us.
    But here’s the thing – our council – not just this individual council here today – but the long-one, the one that is the long-term investment and property of the community of Hunters Hill Municipality – It is one of our biggest and deepest assets, and one of our largest investments. It has our blood sweat and tears in it.
    And so – when they come to try and take it away – I am proud to line up and fight to keep it, – and If they do take it away – you will find me lined up for the fight to get it back again.
    -end speech-

    I think perhaps this sums up best the “traditional values of the local area”, the “community of interest”, and the “likely impact of the proposed merger” on the community of interest.

    Of even more concern is that the heritage and conservation focus of Hunters Hill Council, is polar opposed to that of neighbouring Ryde Council, which will dominate the proposed mega-merger.

    The Mayor of Ryde – recently put foreword a proposal to review Ryde Councils 2010 heritage policy, which states historic houses can only be listed at the request of the owners. Rydes Mayor noted “Our valuable heritage homes deserve the same protection as Hunters Hill yet they don’t get it. We don’t have a heritage policy like Hunters Hill”. He was voted down by Ryde’s majority Liberal Councillors who noted the community was opposed to “delays due to heritage” and who saw the mayors plan to review the policy as a threat to “stuff over” Ryde and deprive people of their rights not to have their historic homes listed if they didn’t want it. This 2010 Ryde policy position has seen, and continues to see the remorseless destruction of Ryde’s heritage and character with the ongoing demolition and loss of over 3 historic homes every year.
    https://savehuntershill.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/shhmc-heritage-at-risk-in-ryde-twt-2-march-16.jpg

    Due to the huge disparity in size and population, under the Governments merger proposal the Hunters Hill community will loose effective representation, it will loose local autonomy over conservation and heritage planning policy, and lose any effective say over the conservation of the heritage and character of Hunters Hill.

    Indeed, the strategic priorities of the new council will be focused predominantly on those of the people of Ryde, who will form it’s major population base, which, with regard to heritage and conservation in particular, are currently polar opposed to those of the Hunters Hill Community.

    There is absolutely no doubt, that should the proposal go ahead, the dissolution of Hunters Hll Council and loss of effective local representation wlll have serious negative social impacts affecting the community of Hunters Hill. This will have implications for the success of the merger, and even more importantly – it will have serious negative impacts on the preservation of the heritage and character of Hunters Hill, and put under threat this unique and highly valuable National asset.

    With Regards
    Meredith Bayfield
    Member Hunters Hill Trust

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