SOLD: publicly owned cottage & public carpark gone to developers

Cowell Street cottage

10 Cowell St

Hunters Hill Council has sold the publicly owned Cowell Street cottage (pictured) and the open carpark site at Gladesville Shopping Village to Moch Pty Ltd.  The Mayor, Richard Quinn, signed the sale documents 2 weeks ago, but we have only just heard about it.

Moch Pty Ltd wants the land as part of its massive over-development of the Gladesville Shopping Village (GSV) that is set to cause huge damage to the community.

The community is still waiting to see Moch Pty Ltd’s final plans, but it is clear the Local Environment Plan (LEP) has been ignored.  This diagram shows the building heights that are currently allowed under the LEP and how they are dwarfed by what Moch Pty Ltd indicated they wanted in October 2015.  

Tower B would be 101m high (16 stories above a 46m high podium – the equivalent of 26 stories) creating massive over-shadowing, traffic chaos and infrastructure problems.

The sale effectively removes Council’s last ability to take any control of the redevelopment of the site, as Moch Pty Ltd pursues approval with the NSW State Government via the Gateway Process. 


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  1. Posted February 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    What a sad end to a once great institution.

    Council was advised by myself on more than one occasion that they had failed to adhere to the Dept Local Govts tendering guidelines.

    According to “Tendering Guidelines for NSW Local Government”, councils are encouraged to use the tendering process in the following circumstances…

     – Where the sale or purchase of land may be considered controversial, contentious or political. Acknowledging that the sale or purchase of land is specifically exempt under 55(3) of the Act, council should still consider using the tender process in such circumstances.

     – Where there is a risk that ‘would be’ tenders could claim that council has ‘preferential’ arrangements with a single supplier.

    What an utter disgrace this administration has been! Who, in this day and age, could possibly not consider putting the sale of public land out for public tender? Council has always defended the sale, saying it was necessary to revitalise the site, and in addition look at the great price!

    By all means, revitalise the site, stimulate growth, put it out to tender and then you KNOW you got the best price – “that’s market price”

  2. Posted February 23, 2016 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Again, there appears to be a great deal of mis-information and unwarranted innuendo, denigration and smearing of council in the Trusts publications.
    The sale of land at Gladesville was in response to the need to revitalise the Gladesville Village Commercial Precinct.
    This is and was a community driven objective in the Hunters Hill Strategic plan.
    (This is the plan that council uses to direct resources and money to the aims, needs and services the community has told us it wants).
    The revitalisation of the commercial precinct required re-zoning to encourage re-development. This process was undertaken in collaboration with expert planning advisors, the community, the Trust and the Conservation Advisory Panel.
    It was well recognised that the consolidation of the separate lots of land would be needed for re-development to go ahead, and the sale of council lands was long foreshadowed through this process.
    The sale was undertaken in accordance with independent expert advice on the manner in which to receive the best value for the properties on behalf of residents of the Municipality of Hunters Hill.
    This money is to be re-invested in the local community and it’s needs, as directed by the community through the strategic plan.
    The council, with the Gladesville, has recently developed a new set of guidelines to guide the development and the re-vitalisation of Gladesville and achieve the communities vision. The Trust, and Councils Conservation Advisory Panel also played an integral role in developing these plans.
    The council strives hard to ensure that any and all new developments in Gladesville conform to the plans. If they do not, council recommends refusal of the plans. The last plans submitted, did not conform to the vision in these plans and hence was withdrawn.
    I’m not sure what the underlying purpose is of the denigrating publications from the Trust – however I know that the councillors on the Hunters Hill Council, several of whom are Trust members – are always acting in good faith and in the best interests of the local community and preserving the heritage and character of Hunters Hill to the best of their ability.
    Cl Meredith Sheil
    Member Hunters Hill Trust

  3. Posted February 25, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink


    With a little bit of imagination, the revitalisation of Gladesville could easily have encompassed the inclusion of the heritage item at 10 Cowell St. With the developer now owning the whole site, Council has virtually no say in the end result, which will be determined by State Government agencies. Whatever effort has gone into framing the LEP and DCP controls will have been for nought.

    The “community driven response” to what has been proposed to date is that we don’t want a bar of it. It is preposterous to claim that the best value for the properties has been obtained when the end result is that the intrinsic value of so many surrounding privately owned properties is so severely diminished by the negative impact of the proposal on their amenity.

    In relation to the Conservation Advisory Panel – we supported the upgrade of No 10 Cowell St right from the original submission of Paul Davies’ report back in 2005 as has The Trust. Incidentally, you will remember that the original Master Plan for Victoria Rd had absolutely nothing about heritage and that it was only included after much lobbying from various groups including The Trust.

    Since its inception 48 years ago, The Trust has been involved in criticism of Council, as noted in our submission to the Council Boundary Review: “The Trust was formed by a group of concerned locals “at a time when the climate was ripe for residents’ protests against the bureaucratic indifference of the Council and the threat to the unique character of this suburb” (The Vision and the Struggle page 4)”.

    A number of Trust members have gone on to become Councillors and I’m sure Trust members appreciate their commitment to serving the community. However, The Trust recognises that, from time to time, the interests of Council may differ from those of The Trust. As a consequence no more than one officer (of the executive committee) shall be an elected member of the Hunters Hill Municipal Council or a State or Commonwealth Parliamentarian.

    You have accused The Trust and its publications of spreading “misinformation, unwarranted innuendo, denigration and smearing of Council”. Without any specifics it’s impossible to respond to this accusation.

    Tony Coote

  4. Posted February 25, 2016 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Revitalisation of Gladesville is going to be achieved through Ryde and Hunters Hill Councils’ LEP’s permitting mixed use developments of ground floor retail + 2-4 storeys (usually residential) above, all the way from Monash Rd to Punt Rd (save a few sites subject to heritage protection), on both sides of Victoria Rd.

    It is laughable to suggest that revitalisation requires 8 or 16 storey towers of units above the Gladesville Shopping Village site, expanding over the site where the heritage property stood. Retail and commercial development, with a modest addition of residential units – similar to the Hunters Hill overpass area – would achieve the revitalisation objective. That could have been the community driven objective of revitalisation. The other 5 storeys are just to fill Council’s coffers between successive operating deficits.

    Our publicly owned property at 10 Cowell Street was obviously identified as a source of cash to be used to create the impression of financial sustainability of Hunters Hill Council.

    To suggest that the plans were developed with community awareness because land sales were foreshadowed in the development of the Hunters Hill Strategic Plan, or was a community driven objective, is antagonistic to the nearly-300 submissions opposing the development which was little more an architecturally deficient expression of Council’s plans for Gladesville.

    In the fullness of time the reverse-Robin-Hood plan, and manner in which it was developed and executed, will come to symbolise what went wrong in this municipality. When Hunters Hill Council is amalgamated and no longer controls the message through the bulletins and leaflets paid for or printed on rate-payer funded equipment and delivered by Council staff in uniform, the remaining record will be the facts of these events and it will be with a sense of dismay that rational members of the community lament the demise of a Council that used to be ‘better than that’. But I’m not saying that anything Council did wasn’t legal, which is the new benchmark.

  5. Posted March 9, 2016 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Dear Tony

    You sent an open letter to councillors accusing council of all sorts of money grabbing deceit, hidden objectives, incompetence, and just about every other nasty insinuation you could come up with over the GSV commercial precinct re-development and the “sale” of Cowell Street.

    Rather than go through all these claims one by one – I thought I would simply put down a factual account of the objectives and process of council regarding this matter. This is the truth – open, transparent, clearly on the public record, and of which I have no doubt that you and the Trust executive are, or should be well aware – as you were, and remain an integral part of the process. However, in view of the unfounded accusations you have published- I feel an accurate and objective account should be provided to Trust members.

    The rezoning of Gladesville comercial precinct, and the Hunters Hill Shopping Village were undertaken as part of a STATE GOVERNMENT DIRECTIVE to increase housing by prescribed amounts along public transport corridors – (bus and train). All councils were required to submit new standardised LEPS that met the increased housing requirements. For this reason rezoning and redevelopment is occurring on public transport routes in every council area across Sydney – in most to a far greater extent than Hunters Hill (including Gladesville), where we were able to argue for lower requirements. The Trust is / should be well aware of this.

    The Trust executive may wish to blame Hunters Hill Council for this – and direct every single corruption / incompetence / deceit allegation they can think of towards it – but the truth is that role of Hunters Hill council in this setting is to identify areas that a) meet the transport route directive, and b) require revitalisation – and then – in consultation with the community – develop control plans (LEP and DCP) that try and ensure sensitive re-development to meet new housing requirements, while protecting neighbour amenity, and all within in the heritage and character setting of the local area.

    That is what HH Council did, through developing new LEPs and DCPs for Hunters Hill Shopping Village and Gladesville commercial precincts – in consultation with expert advisors, the community, CAP and the Trust.. This is the single open, transparent objective of any and all redevelopment at Gladesville, and the reason for the highly community consultative process that Council pursued and is continuing to pursue in developing the new plans and re-zonings for the site.

    The Trust is and was well aware of this objective when it contributed to the extensive community consultation process that was under taken by council to draw up the new LEP and DCP to guide re-development / re-vitalisation of the site. Tony – as you noted yourself – the Trust lobbied for inclusion of the conservation zones within the precinct, and for the listing of 10 Cowell street, amongst other things – and this input has been accepted by council and is now embedded in the development control plans. Any claim that council has “hidden it’s objectives”, or acted with “deceit” is clearly untrue.

    In Hunters Hill Shopping village, the process is now well advanced. The Trust would be well aware of the high level of commitment of council in terms of time, skill, resourcing, to ensuring that the re-development is sensitive to desired outcomes. That is – development either contributes to restoration and maintenance of signficant buildings – such as the HHH, the stone and timber cottages and the Casey Building, and / or pays deference to them through use of set backs, materials, height limits and landscaping. In addition, significant urban design has gone into the challenge of re-defining the site from a traffic dominated urban wasteland at the “western edge” of “the peninsular”, as it was previously perceived, into a community village hub, at the “heart” of Hunters Hill, with the intent of “reconnecting” the two halves of Hunters Hill split by Burns Bay Rd. This has included the use of stone walling, signage, trees, greenery, timber fence posting, as well as reduced traffic speed, and improved crossings and footpaths to improve pedestrian amenity, and safety. I am sure that the Trust is well aware of the effort that has gone into all this – through contributing to the development of the LEP and DCP, urban design schemes, traffic and pedestrian management schemes and strategic priorities for the area, and through sitting on CAP, and overseeing all the modifications to development applications that have come in. The Trust would also no doubt be well aware – that it is often a long complex process, from the submission of an original DA (often grossly out of character and over-scale) to a final approved outcome (within character and scale) for any significant development within a rezoned area..

    Of note – all this redevelopment is “west” of the overpass and quite clearly lays rubbish to claims that HHC does not care for heritage “west of the overpass”. In fact quite the reverse – preserving heritage and character west of the overpass, under the intense pressures and challenges set by the State Government, is one of our councils key strategic focuses at present.

    The same process, and strategic focus is underway in Gladesville. Under the State Governments increased housing directive, our council is seeking to ensure that re-development is sensitive and results in revitalisation of the commercial precinct, without impacting on surrounding residential streets. Our council is seeking to ensure that redevelopment meets the communities directive of “green” engaging” “social” and “heritage” and ends up with great public open spaces, inviting cafes and shopping and built forms that pay respect to heritage and character and are buffered to minimise neighbour impacts, as is evident within the LEP and DCP documents.

    In Gladesville, the process has been delayed by the fact that it required consolidation of several land sites before a development application was viable to go ahead. The scale of allowed development in Gladesville is greater than in the Hunters Hill Shopping Village – not because it has been “abandonned” – but because it is a higher level commercial centre. The GSV site is much larger than the commercial sites in the Hunters Hill Village, more costly to purchase and more costly to re-develop. The LEP controls were developed based on independent expert advice regarding minimal heights and FSRs that would constitute a viable development.

    The sale of council lands was required to allow development to go ahead. This was well recognised and forecast through-out the rezoning process.. Without it, the site would remain as it has done for the past 8 years. I accept that people may believe that council should have held onto the sites to sterilize it from re-development. This is their right. However this is a difference of opinion – not an excuse to claim that council is money grabbing, incompetent, under-hand or deceitful.

    Council took the decision that re-development should go ahead – to encourage re-vitlisation, as it has occurred at the overpass, and as was anticipated by the passing of the LEPs and DCPs for the Gladesville site.

    This does not mean that council will support or approve insensitive over-development. Council is working, and will continue to work as hard as it has with the re-development at the overpass, to ensure that any and all developments meet the standards set down with in the LEP and DCP and result in the vision set out by the community for green, public open spaces, engaging cafes and shopping, improved urban design, community facilites and amenity, and a built form that uses stone, timber, and natural products and finishes, and respects the character and heritage of the precinct.

    The Trust will be well aware of the effort that has already gone into this space – to preserve the Doctors Surgery building, and ensure effective landscaping / buffering to preserve the character of Massey Street, and also on Victoria Rd – to ensure setbacks, buffering and built form changes for new developments to pay respect to neighbouring heritage buildings and residential streets.

    With regard to the sale of council held lands – The sale process was undertaken with independent expert opinion and advice regarding optimising the sale price on behalf of the community. Tendering was not recommended a being optimal in this particular situation.

    The contract was drawn up to maintain independence of Council from the developer. i.e. to ensure that the sale was not linked to the developer achieving a successful DA. Were it done otherwise, it may have been perceived that council had a motive to support a future DA to ensure the sale. Where-as, as noted above – Council will only support a DA that meets the development control guidelines / objectives set out in the LEP and DCP.

    With regard to 10 Cowell St – The building was recognised as significant in the original draft LEP, and has subsequently been listed in the current document. Heritage / character preservation considerations were always required for this site and remain so. The developer will be required to meet the requirements for any listed or significant building. Heritage consideration options for any listed site include 1: retaining the building and developing around it 2: moving the building to another location or elsewhere on the site – (this option is available regardless of whether a property is listed with or with out its curtilage, particularly so in a case, where the documented features of heritage significance are confined to the fabric of the building (as is the case of 10 Cowell Street) , and / or the curtilage of a building is already curtaiied – (as is also the case for 10 Cowell street).

    Again – people may believe that council should have held on to the property to ensure its protection and / or to sterilize the site from re-development. This is their right. However, as noted above, Council took the view, that redevelopment / revitalisation should go ahead, as anticipated by the LEP and DCP, and that the heritage considerations for 10 Cowell St should be assessed through the statutory development process, as would / will be the case for any and all other listed or significant properties in the precinct, and as has occurred with listed / significant buildings within the Hunters Hill Shopping Village.

    Again – In the setting that people have a difference of opinion, it should be recognised as such, rather than used as an excuse to hurl all sorts of insults at council claiming council is money grabbing, incompetent and / or deceitful and / or incapable of managing developments and heritage.

    I well understand the fear that change engenders and that this can drive emotive responses. However, Council is not the driver of this change. The State and Federal Governments are – due to immigration policy, growth policy and increased housing directives – all imposed on communities (and councils) across the state in the absence of effective strategies for managing health, education, traffic, transport and infrastructure needs for the growing populations they are creating.

    Hunters Hill Council, more than any other, acts to deliver on these directives while also acting to preserve heritage, character and community amenity. No development proposal for the GSV site has yet met the objectives set down in HH Councils planning documents – therefore none has yet met with council, nor the communities support, and none has yet been approved.
    How well our council does or does not manage building developments and heritage protection should perhaps best be based on the building developments that have been approved, rather than the ones that haven’t.

    Clearly the single most productive way for Council, The Trust and the community to move forward is to work together with respect, to ensure that any and all new developments meet the standards and aspirations set down in our mutually developed planning documents for the GSV site.

    I do not for one minute see the positive outcome in hurling emotive insults and accusations at council and claiming that a merger mega-council (without the same strategic focus or level of community representation) would do any better.

    Ryde elected councillors will dominate a proposed merged council – Have you evidence that Ryde council is capable of protecting the heritage and character of Hunters Hill better than Hunters Hill Council?
    Here is the latest update on heritage policy at Ryde Council – and I quote
    “A Mayoral minute to scrap the 2010 council heritage policy (that says properties can only be listed at the owners request) and give Council protection to another 50 threatened local historic homes was defeated with the Rye Liberals voting against it.”Ryde is still losing more than 3 historic homes every year”, Mayor Jarome Laxale said “The 2010 policy has been a spectacular failure – nothing exists to protect our heritage buildings” … However Rydes Liberal leader Blll Pickering said the mayors proposed changes to the 2010 policy were “an ideologically driven attempt to “stuff over” Ryde and deprive rate payers of their freedom of choice not to list their historic homes if they don’t want them listed”… “in 2010 we had an outcry regarding hold ups due to heritage – I believe in peoples freedom of choice” said Bill Pickering

    I seriously encourage the Trust executive to re-appraise their position and to endeavour to be more objective.

    I also will ask again that the executive cease publishing misguided emotive, one-sided, inaccurate misrepresentations of our Council on behalf of Trust members.

    This does more damage than it does good to anything, but most importantly it does nothing to promote the preservation of the heritage and character of Hunters Hill.

    With regards
    Meredith Bayfield
    Member Hunters Hill Trust

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