Preserving Our Heritage since 1968

The Hunters Hill Trust

The Hunters Hill Trust

Preserving Our Heritage since 1968

How is the $4.75m Grant for Figtree Park being spent…..?

In 2021 Council applied for $4.75m under the NSW Public Spaces Legacy Program for upgrading Figtree Park.  No explanation was given as to why the application was for this park only and the terms of the grant were that the money could only be spent on one location.
 
Although this sum was seemingly excessive for the scale of the park, it included $2.25m for the ​speculative acquisition of the adjoining property at 2 Ryde Road. Council subsequently discovered that this acquisition was not permitted under the grant and when questioned at the time, staff admitted that it was possible to return unused funds to the State.
 
This predictably has not happened so how is the huge sum of money being spent? On some upgrades the community asked for but also on removing trees ‘to improve sight lines’, creating an elaborate playground, an oversized Amenities block and a grandiose ‘plaza’ entrance that involves demolishing a Council owned revenue generating cottage! It is also apparently being spent on consultants and infrastructure embellishments which will further cover green space.
 
Read our Submission for DA20220104 Figtree Park Removal of Trees and have your say!
 
Email customerservice@huntershill.nsw.gov.au by Wednesday 6 July
 
In its grant application, Council committed to ‘increasing the green canopy of the park by a minimum 10%’ however this is now patently at odds with the DA for Figtree Park tree removal.
 
The Trust is concerned that the use of this grant​ may benefit Council’s previously stated aim of a  “re-development opportunity at 40-48 Gladesville Road”  in the rejected Draft Property Strategy  ​(not yet returned to the community for further consultation).   This is due to the Owner’s Consent document in the Figtree Park DA ​referring to stage 1 of a broader Council initiative to develop a community precinct within the heart of the Hunters Hill town centre…..’
 
There is a distinct lack of transparency around the following:
 
a)    The ‘Figtree Park Concept Report’ with all the final detailed plans and drawings of the upgrade, produced following the exhibition of the Concept Options.  The Options did not made clear how wide the walking/bike tracks were, how the buffer plantings would affect the existing green space or if trees would be lost.   The subsequent Concept Report, prepared on 11 March was signed off by Council on 21 March, with no opportunity for further community comment.
 
b)    There appears to be a  ‘Masterplan’ that only Council’s consultants, and not the community, has seen.
 
c)    The demolition of 48 Gladesville Road :
The DA notification for the demolition of the above states:  “The Council has received an application for approval of development on this property”.   The Applicant cited in the documentation is an entity called “Chapman Planning”.  However the real applicant is Hunters Hill Council. This leased Council property, in need of renovation, is revenue-generating.  For a financially struggling Council, why is demolishing this property to build a grandiose ‘plaza’ style entrance to the Park the best option?   The community needs to better understand the costs and benefits and whether alternate options could result in better outcomes.
 

DA2022 0104 Figtree Park – Removal of 37 trees and pruning of 7

A waterlogged park needs tree roots to soak up excess rain

Under the above DA, multiple trees that offer shade in summer and filtered sunlight in the winter are under threat.  The importance of natural shade and trees roots that absorb excess rainwater is obvious.
 
There is no doubt that judicious pruning is overdue for trees that have long been neglected and, while no-one would question the removal of trees for reasons of disease or public safety, it is essential to ascertain whether some are being removed simply to make way for future construction along Gladesville Road.
 
In addition, to destroy trees to ‘improve sightlines’ through to the croquet lawn is an act of vandalism.  If this was a homeowner doing the same to improve their view, Council would rightly be prosecuting them. 
 
The Figtree Park Plan of Management prepared by Council acknowledges that ‘Trees, shrub and flower planting as well as grass or turf space …. are the Park’s best feature, providing a respite from the built environment”.   The unwarranted cutting down of so many trees in a conservation area without adequate explanation, is unacceptable.
 

One of two highly valued Junipers being removed

We are now calling on Council to disclose the full details of how this publicly funded grant is being spent.  The community must be consulted on all aspects of the hard infrastructure design and layout before any work is carried out and before approval for the removal of any trees.

Read our full submission here: Submission for DA20220104 Figtree Park Removal of Trees
 
Have your say!  Email customerservice@huntershill.nsw.gov.au with your concerns by Wednesday 6 July
 

2022-07-04T09:11:58+11:00July 3, 2022|

VOTER BEWARE!

We recently highlighted the importance of knowing where Group preferences (ie their 2nd and 3rd choices) will be going in this Council election so here’s the link to the Electoral Commission website so you can check this out:

https://htvdisplay.elections.nsw.gov.au/app/lge/council/Hunters%20Hill

 

You will note that, while Groups are obviously free to direct preferences wherever they like, it is now apparent that the new “Independent” Groups with no history on Council, are preferencing a political party.   Residents voting to keep Hunters Hill independent need to be aware of this.

2021-11-26T13:10:21+11:00November 25, 2021|

Local Elections – What’s at Stake?

The Council election on 4 December is one of the most important since the Trust was formed over 50 years ago.  With the increasing pressures of losses and impacts on our built and natural heritage, our community needs Councillors who have integrity and transparency and are independent of party politics,  to ensure sustainable development outcomes that support everyone’s needs fairly. Early next year Council will be reviewing the Local Environment and Development Control Plans which could mean an increase in both the height and density of our suburbs. This is a critical time for our municipality.
 

A particular example of this is the Property Strategy containing Council’s blueprint for our municipality for the next 10 years.  Community feedback was strongly against the proposals for which no business case, needs analysis or financial risk assessment had been presented and our thanks go to Mayor Ross Williams and Councillors Sanderson, Krassoi and McLaughlin, who voted to further investigate options and financial modelling before adoption.
 

The Hunters Hill Trust was established to help protect our Municipality from inappropriate development.   We are proud of our role in advocating for our beautiful heritage and garden suburb to be preserved.    This has been even more important over the last term of Council (see Submissions) when we have pushed for sustainable and appropriate development outcomes, rather than just  ‘development’.    We have advocated for better facilities for our young families, particularly a reinstated playpark at Figtree Park, and supported many successful plans for adaptive re-use of local buildings.
 

We are fortunate to have access to magnificent parkland, harbour foreshores and bushland and need to protect what we value for present and future generations.   The ongoing trend to fell mature trees and build to the fence line is sadly affecting the whole community. We hope everyone will engage in respectful debate and support those candidates who are truly committed to our local community and its diverse needs and values.  Now we have a chance to vote for what we really want for the future!

2021-12-05T13:37:03+11:00November 19, 2021|

What are the Options?

Council’s recent email gave us two design Options for Figtree Park https://www.huntershill.nsw.gov.au/figtree  In both Options there are good improvements to play spaces and seating but as yet, it is not clear how the wide walking/bike tracks and buffer plantings will affect existing green space, or that trees will not be lost.

Council’s successful grant application to secure the $4.75m in funding stated their intention of “….. retaining the croquet club”. However this is not borne out by the design of Option 2 which completely removes the Croquet Green!   In addition the Consultation Report listing the top 3 comments from the Social Pinpoint Map (based on overall votes) excludes the following comment about the Croquet Club – which shoud have been No. 3!

 

“This is a lovely community hall that is used by a range of community groups and people. The croquet green is also used by the local high school for students to do croquet as a sporting activity. The croquet club covers the costs of preserving the natural green and it is a wonderful activity for all generations and should be further promoted.”        (94 combined votes, 87 Likes, 7 Dislikes)

Please respond to the survey and consider choosing Option 1, as removal of the Croquet Green and its historic Clubhouse would mean that this community asset, providing ‘all ages’ recreation would be lost.   In spite of the Property Strategy not yet returned for community consultation, Council’s plans for a knock down and rebuild development on the Gladesville Road sites appear to be further progressed, with the two design Options already showing the remaining four Gladesville Road buildings (with no. 48 removed to facilitate a new Park entry) assumed to be demolished, and replaced by the footprints of three development sites.  Council seems to indicate that the fate of these buildings, and of the low-scale, leafy entry to the village, is already a fait accompli!

 

2021-11-17T16:45:03+11:00November 5, 2021|

Groundhog day………!

Here we go again with yet another Development Application (DA20211185) for an inappropriate adaptive re-use of the iconic heritage building at 39 Alexandra Street, currently leased by The Lost & Found Department homewares outlet.
 

The new proposal is another attempt to over-develop this historic site with alterations and additions for shop-top housing with residential accommodation, a retail shop and a licensed restaurant seating 35-40 patrons operating from 7.00am to 10.00pm (in reality likely to be in operation around 18 hours per day).
 

If you feel that this iconic building deserves to remain the well-loved community asset it currently is, make your views known to Council at customerservice@huntershill.nsw.gov.au by 24 Sept 2021.  Read the Trust’s submission here Submission re 39 Alexandra St
 

It is difficult to think of a more inappropriate use of this property. Restaurants are not in short supply in Hunters Hill. In fact, there are 3 within 50m of this site, as well as 4 more in Woolwich, barely 1km away, the Hunters Hill Club a few hundred metres distant and a clutch of eating establishments on Ryde and Gladesville Roads near the Hunters Hill Hotel. The Trust considers the civic importance of this corner location unsuitable for this type of development for the following reasons:

1.    The Plan is for a 2 storey modern extension to the heritage building with increased height, no setback, inappropriate materials and lack of landscaping – particularly unsuitable for a site opposite The Garibaldi Inn, one of Hunters Hill’s few State Heritage Listed structures.
2.    There is no mention of protecting the building’s interior which boasts many outstanding heritage features.
3.    The proposed hours of operation (minimum) 15 hours per day are far too long for a quiet neighbourhood and twice those of its previous approval.
4.    There are no parking facilities available for the commercial portion of the building, which would mean a large number of patrons and staff trying to park in the surrounding area between 6.00am and midnight, seriously affecting residents in nearby streets and leading to traffic problems on already congested Alexandra and Ferry Streets.
5.    The question of pedestrian safety due to the increased foot traffic has not been addressed.  The premises are directly on a dangerous corner on a busy road where there have been previous pedestrian accidents, one of them fatal.
6.    There is no reference to the management of a licensed premises.  This will have particular relevance to the amenity of the adjoining historic landmark of All Saints Church and the potential effect on services such as funerals.
7.    There is no mention of sound attenuation for the surrounding community, particularly at night with footpath dining, when noise will carry throughout the quiet neighbourhood.
8.    There is not sufficient detail of the waste management provisions, critical for a restaurant of this size, located in a residential neighbourhood.
9.    There is no loading zone for the frequent deliveries, causing inevitable parking issues and disruption for neighbours and pedestrians.
10.  The proposal to remove 4 trees with the loss of habitat to wildlife and amenity to the neighbourhood is indefensible.

If you feel that this iconic building deserves to remain the well-loved community asset it currently is, please write a short submission quoting DA20211185 and make your views known to Council at customerservice@huntershill.nsw.gov.au by 24 September 2021.

2021-09-24T18:07:49+11:00September 20, 2021|

Boronia Park Sports & Community Facility – Too big and in the wrong location

Mature eucalypts due for removal

 

Hunters Hill Council has now lodged a Development Application DA20211184 for a Sports & Community Facility at Boronia Park. You may have received a flyer from the Boronia Park Action Group inviting you to have your say on this development within our heritage-listed parkland. Submissions close on Friday 17 September 2021 at 4pm and we encourage you to make your views known to Council at customerservice@huntershill.nsw.gov.au   The Trust’s submission is here Boronia Park

Council promotes this building as a ‘community facility’, although we know the Hunters Hill Rugby Club will have almost exclusive rights and access, at a nominal cost of $100 per annum!  Despite this, ratepayers are expected to cover an annual maintenance bill in excess of $38,000.

The need for better facilities in Boronia Park, such as female change rooms, storage, etc is clear, but amenities can be easily and more sustainably provided by restoring and extending the existing heritage grandstand, as intended by the original $1M State Government grant.  In fact, this site was identified in the 2015 Boronia Park Management Plan as being the most appropriate, reinforced in 2020 by Council’s independent consultant finding overwhelming support for the grandstand location, with 97 submissions in favour and only 6 opposed.

However the Plan adopted by Council, under pressure from the sporting lobby, instead locates a new 50 metre long, 8 metre high, two-storey facility between Ovals 1 & 2.  This oversized structure will act as a wall between the two ovals, destroying views across Boronia Park to bushland and compromising the expansive sense of open space.  It will require a lift to reach the viewing platform, adding to maintenance costs and energy use, and will be lit up until 11pm at night, disrupting nocturnal wildlife and local residents.  The removal of 3 or 4 healthy mature eucalypts is indefensible and the casual acceptance of their loss reflects poorly on Council and is a further blow to the community.

It is evidence of fiscal imprudence that Council, as the development’s applicant, has not guaranteed that the funds required to construct this facility are yet in hand.  There is also a well founded concern that, should the Rugby Club fall short of its fundraising target, Council and ratepayers will be under pressure to foot the bill even further.  Please be sure to have your say at customerservice@huntershill.nsw.gov.au quoting DA 20211184.

2021-09-16T17:06:18+11:00September 8, 2021|

Figtree Park ‘Consultation’

The Trust welcomes Council’s interest in Figtree Park now they have to spend the huge Public Spaces Legacy Grant they inexplicably applied for, for just this one small space!  We are puzzled as to why muliple smaller Grants were not sought to cover the needs of other parks in the municipality that were eligible under the guidelines.  Counci now has $4.75 million to spend on this small park (the rules do not allow the money to be allocated elsewhere) although they have confirmed that unspent funds can be handed back to the State.

Council is requesting our ‘Participation’ in an online survey for Figtree Park.  We know from past experience particularly at the time of the Draft Community Infrastructure Plan when one interest group was able to stack responses, that this type of survey is an unreliable indicator of community views.

We have therefore prepared our own Submission for Figtree Park Consultation and urge you to email the General Manager tobinn@huntershill.nsw.gov.au and Councillors directly with your own views on what you do and don’t want to see in the Park.  Closing date for submissiions is 21 August 2021.

Your email can be very brief, eg supporting a small play area in its previous location, more seating, fencing along Ryde Road, no loss of existing green space, trees etc.  Or you may want to question the appropriateness of Council’s wider plans for public art; an elaborate ‘Changing Places’ amenity block; Infrastructure for events and car parking; paved areas; increased lighting and Smart City Integration etc…..

2021-08-30T15:22:01+11:00August 19, 2021|

Another twist in the saga……

What next for Figtree Park?

Following on from our post below – we have now received a reply from the General Manager Letter from HHC GM in response to our query as to why elements of the unadopted Property Strategy appear in the draft Figtree Park Plan of Management.  As you will see, he acknowledges that this has occured, but under section 8 ‘Future Uses’

In response to our request that any comments or suggestions in the Ideas Map not pertaining to the open space of the Park will be excluded from the Survey responses, the General Manager goes on to confirm that ‘All comments recorded during the consultation period will be included in the summary of feedback but as detailed earlier only those items which are permissible under the Figtree Reserve Plan of Management will consider [sic].’  We will be holding him to his word.
 

At its March meeting, Council approved a Plan of Management for Figtree Plan to be sent to the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment for review.  It has not yet been placed on public exhibition but we have been sufficiently dismayed by its content to approach the Minister Figtree dPoM letter to Rob Stokes 16 July 2021

Our concerns are that the Plan of Management appears to deliberately conflate the modest updates required for the Park with elements of Council’s controversial draft Property Strategy, which was not adopted due to wide opposition from the community – and residents are still awaiting the promised revisions.  Also by calling it the Plan of Management 2021 ‘Figtree Park and Gladesville Community Centre reserves – Part of the ‘Village Green Hub, it appears to be a contrived attempt by Council to entrench its development-driven proposals for the existing village into the Plan.

To confuse matters further, the first stage of the online Figtree Park consultation includes not just a ‘Survey’ but an ‘Ideas Map’ for the surrounding area.  Rather than simply obtaining community views on Figtree Park’s open space, this again misleadingly inserts the draft Property Strategy into the Plan.  The Ideas Map already has comments and suggestions that are well beyond the scope of the grant conditions and are completely irrelevant to “Reimagining Figtree Park”.

 

We have approached Council for an explanation as to how the proposals in the draft Property Strategy came to be included in the PoM for Figtree Park plus an assurance that any comments or suggestions in the Ideas Map not pertaining to the open space of the Park will be excluded from the Survey responses.

2021-08-19T16:06:18+11:00July 21, 2021|

Yet another threat to our heritage…..?

Update on Willow Grove 16 July 2021

The Supreme Court of NSW today upheld the decision to allow the NSW Government to demolish the 140-year-old locally heritage listed ‘Willow Grove’ in Parramatta.  The North Parramatta Residents Action Group (NPRAG) challenged the planning approval on the basis that the environmental assessment failed to meet essential requirements designed to protect Parramatta’s heritage.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said: “Today’s decision is a tough one for the campaign to save Willow Grove but the fight is far from over and the Green ban remains in place. So much of Parramatta’s heritage has already been destroyed by overdevelopment that saving Willow Grove is now even more important.  The Berejiklian government now needs to explain to the community how knocking down Willow Grove is ‘essential’ work during a lockdown.

Regardless of today’s judgment the Green Ban remains in place and the community fight to save Willow Grove continues with the strong support of the union movement and local campaigners.  Thank goodness Parramatta has staunch supporters like the North Parramatta Residents Action group, which has saved Willow Grove so far and continues to stand strong against these threats of destruction.  Parramatta should not have to choose between having a world-class museum and retaining its precious heritage – it deserves both and that’s our goal in this campaign,”  Mr Shoebridge said.

Review of the NSW Heritage Act 1977

There is grave concern that the current Parliamentary Review of the NSW Heritage Act 1977 is an attempt to water down protections for heritage across our State perhaps prompted by the long running battle to save historic Willow Grove Villa on the Parramatta Powerhouse site. The 130-year-old heritage building is set to be relocated for the construction of the Museum (on the site of a floodplain), in spite of the government’s Environmental Impact Statement attracting over 1600 submissions, more than 90% of which argued against its removal.  Heritage experts and architects have expressed doubt as to whether it can be dismantled and reassembled, given the age of its materials.

We are concerned that the current Parliamentary Review may propose amendments that further erode the protection and conservation of our heritage places.

The National Trust (NSW) www.nationaltrust.org.au/initiatives/heritage-act-review-2021 notes the Act is the single most important instrument in our state that identifies, protects and conserves our heritage. The Trust’s submission is here HHT submission Review of NSW Heritage Act

The North Parramatta Residents Action Group has been fighting against the proposed demolition of Willow Grove for over a year and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) enacted a Green Ban on Willow Grove in June 2020.  Very reminiscent of the inspiring battle for Kelly’s Bush 50 years ago this year but why are we still fighting to protect heritage against ‘development at any cost’?

On 16 June 2021, the Land and Environment Court ruled in favour of Infrastructure NSW, giving the government permission to relocate Willow Grove to an as yet undecided site and on 21 June 2021 – 7 minutes after the undertaking for no works to be carried out had expired (at 9am) – Infrastructure NSW gave the order for  non unionised contractors HAUS Building Services to commence works!  Many residents joined the hundreds of CFMEU reps blocking all three gates to the entire site and the combined efforts of the community and the union successfully blocked further work.  Judgement on its fate is currently before the Supreme Court.

2021-07-20T08:41:02+11:00July 2, 2021|

Hunters Hill Trust AGM 2021 (now to be held via Zoom) & Information Evening (postponed)

Due to the new COVID-19 restrictions for Greater Sydney we cannot go ahead with our planned in-person event at the RSL Hall.  We have no alternative but to postpone the Information Evening to a later date when this outbreak is under control (and before the Council elections) and hold the AGM  by Zoom.  A disappointing outcome for our meeting but looking forward to rescheduling as soon as possible – so watch this space!

 

Hunters Hill Trust Logo

When:  Thursday 24 June 2021 6.30pm for 7pm

Where:  RSL Hall, corner Ady and Alexandra Streets, Hunters Hill

RSVP:  members@huntershilltrust.org.au

We invite members to come along at 6.30pm for a long overdue get-together over drinks and nibbles!  After a short AGM at 7pm and a break to refresh our glasses, at 7.30pm, our guest speaker Mayor Ross Williams will talk to us about the latest proposals and consultation regarding Council’s Property Strategy and newly released plans for Figtree Park.  These plans are in the Agenda for Council’s meeting on 21 June under Item 6 Public Spaces Legacy Project at Figtree Park

2021-06-24T19:11:30+11:00June 21, 2021|
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