In the midst of current concerns, we didn’t want to forget to take a moment to celebrate the recent flowering of our local trees and pay homage to the joy and colour that makes our garden suburb so special!
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:
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.
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!
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!
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@
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@
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 email@example.com 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…..
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.
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.
You may have already seen the good news that, for the first time since 2015, Council has opened the Significant Tree Register (STR). You can now nominate your favourite tree/s or even a whole street or group of significant trees for assessment! This is such an important tool to protect our green canopy as, now more than ever, we are losing so many of our mature specimens. For example during just one month in November last year, Council approved individual DAs that in total allowed the removal of around 20 trees!
Access to the form is only open until 26 February so we would urge you to nominate your favourite trees ASAP. Here is the link to click through to the Nomination Form and where you can view the current list https://www.huntershill.nsw.gov.au/development/plans-policies-and-controls/significant-tree-register/
Email your form to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘New Nomination for STR’ in the subject line and include your contact details or post to: General Manager, Hunters Hill Council, 22 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW 2110.
This is our chance to help protect our irreplaceable green heritage which is continually under threat!
In case you missed it, the most recent episode of ABC Radio National’s Money Program reported on the measurable economic value of street trees (link here) which save government millions of dollars. To learn more about trees, come to a talk this weekend:
FREE TALK: THE IMPORTANCE OF TREES
Speaker: Jeff Angel, Exec Director Total Environment Centre (more…)
The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act is set to fast-track land-clearing approvals in response to pressure from big agribusiness and a minority of landholders.
Before the election, Premier Baird committed to “enhancing the state’s biodiversity to benefit current and future generations” but the government is now weakening our nature protection laws.
You can add your name to the petition to NSW Government calling for key changes to the Biodiversity Conservation Bill: Stand up for Nature petition
Without urgent action, many our species of native wildlife, including the koala, will become extinct within our lifetime. Without better approaches to land management, farmers will find it even harder to provide food and fibre sustainably in a hotter, drier climate.
A street protest will be held to call on the Prime Minister to intervene.
10:00am Monday 14th March, outside Malcolm Turnbull’s electoral office, corner of New South Head and Edgecliff Roads, Edgecliff.