Figtree Park – a win for the trees!
The independent Local Planning Panel (LPP) has rejected Hunters Hill Council’s Development Application to remove trees in Figtree Park for the second time! This is a significant win for community action and we are delighted that common sense and environmental concerns have prevailed.
The LPP who delivered its ruling on 17 March were unanimous in their decision that the DA was not in the public interest but also had other objections – see their ruling here Local Planning Panel LPP Refusal 170323
In spite of this, at its meeting on 27 March, Council voted 5 to 2 to adopt an amended proposal that would enable them to ‘proceed with the project based on a revised design that does not require the removal of any prescribed vegetation’.
Option 1, which was to return the grant money to the State was rejected. An amendment by Councillor Williams that included a motion to come back to the community with their changed proposals, was also rejected.
The Local Planning Panel were unhappy at being asked to make piecemeal decisions and were well aware of the strategic significance of the Park to the unacknowledged redevelopment of 40-48 Gladesville Rd, particularly as this was already detailed in Figtree Park’s Plan of Management.
Their issues were ones the Trust has been raising since the proposal for the Park was put forward (see previous posts) and the lack of transparency by Council in not acknowledging that Stage 2 of the redevelopment plan for Hunters Hill Village rejected by the community but still on the table, is disturbing.
When the Trust raised this issue at the meeting we were surprised at the General Manager’s insistence that a Master plan for the area does not exist, in spite of multiple references in consultants’ reports and Council’s own documents! Our president followed up with an email to the GM the next morning correcting this assertion.
With an alternative access point to the park available for upgrade, the Trust also questioned the decision to provide a ‘grand entrance’ to the Park by demolishing the house that Council owns at 48 Gladesville Rd. Having been left empty for many months, this decision has already deprived ratepayers of thousands of dollars of rental income.
The issue for those who value this unique park in our garden suburb is over-development, with bulky and badly positioned infrastructure, use of unsustainable materials and the lack of design flair to complement this special site.
Every voice is important if we want to protect our special Municipality so if you’d also like to have your say, write a brief note to the GM at firstname.lastname@example.org requesting copies to Councillors, raising concerns such as:
– Lack of transparency about Stage 2 redevelopment plans, already rejected by the community.
– The demolition of Council’s revenue generating asset at 48 Gladesville Road to provide a ‘grand entrance’ to the park.
– No opportunity for the community to comment on the proposed infrastructure as Council’s DAs were only for the trees.
– The lack of expert review of the design to ensure sustainability and a high level of excellence.
With the huge sum at their disposal, Council has no excuse for not producing a sustainable and high level upgrade with quality materials and trees finally cared for after years of neglect.