The Local Planning Panel has approved the demolition of the Council-owned house at 48 Gladesville Road.
Although the reason given for this DA is to provide an entry to Figtree Park, the community can be forgiven for being cynical about this demolition, as 48 Gladesville Road is one of the row of five buildings long-considered a ‘redevelopment opportunity’ by Council as part of their Draft Property Strategy.
This Strategy was rejected by the community last year and therefore not adopted by Council, but this DA with its Notification Plan and drawings marked as HUNTERS HILL NEW COUNCIL CHAMBERS, PARK & COMMUNITY CENTRE now appears to progress this redevelopment agenda.
This is hardly the transparency that Council has promised ratepayers, who should be given the courtesy of full disclosure of its real intentions.
The Trust’s concerns are:
1. The work does not comply with the $4.75M Public Spaces Legacy Grant
- This demolition conflicts with Council’s Grant application which stated that Council would: “Maintain the character of Hunters Hill and manage growth by protecting heritage cottages on Gladesville Road”
- The guidelines for the Grant specifically exclude work on privately owned land – 48 Gladesville Road is privately owned by Council. Also the Grant rules do not support using funds for demolition “unless council has documented and published evidence of an existing deficiency in open space” which is clearly not the case here.
2. Existing access points not utilised
- There is already an existing access point to the park, which could have been upgraded and improved to provide a wide walkway at a fraction of the cost and with the least amount of disruption. To demolish a revenue-generating property simply to create a huge entrance to a small park is an irresponsible waste of resources.
3. Loss of rental revenue of approximately $35,000 per annum
- There has been no explanation to ratepayers as to how Council will mitigate the loss of ongoing rental revenue from this property and no discussion about alternative income-generating options that the building could have provided.
4. Council’s Conservation Advisory Panel does not support the demolition of this property
- The expert panel advised that this house makes an important contribution to the conservation area and the streetscape, whilst providing a low key backdrop to the park. They recommended that the existing access to the park be re-animated and options for adaptive re-use of the house as an asset to the park should be considered thoroughly prior to deciding on demolition.
5. Local Planning Panel approval may not align with Council’s recently approved Figtree Park Plan of Management
- Item 8.3 of the Plan of Management states: “Council-owned adjacent land at 48 Gladesville Rd could contribute to the proposal either as seniors living accommodation land / age in place / over 55s, or as community land to contribute to the local government, community or open space outcomes as best suits final designs.”
- The Local Planning Panel has approved the demolition on the basis that this site would be used for creating an entry to the park. However as Council has expressed a potential longer-term use as above, the approval does not align with the site being used as part of a development.