Preserving Our Heritage since 1968

The Hunters Hill Trust

The Hunters Hill Trust

Preserving Our Heritage since 1968

Yet another 10 year Plan!

With the recent release of the Draft Community Strategic Plan for the next 10 years, originally issued in 2018 and already revised in 2020, we have yet another version from Council that appears to further weaken the objectives of the community’s expressed values relating to built heritage and the natural environment.
 

In 2018 the objectives in the Community Strategic Plan were clear and reflected residents’ wishes after very extensive consultation.  It identified priority service areas that needed improvement, the top three of which were:

  • Preservation of heritage and character
  • Council is open and transparent
  • Preserving the tree canopy (including street trees)

These are still relevant today, however the greater emphasis in the 2022 Draft Plan is now on promoting and enabling growth and streamlining redevelopment.  This can work against maintaining the unique garden suburb character of the Hunters Hill LGA.
 

Apart from the inaccuracies contained within the Draft Plan – as detailed in the Trust’s submission Draft Community Strategic Plan 2022 – of particular concern is the removal of the former key direction in 2018 to Maintain Character & Manage Growth Planning:

Hunters Hill  Council is a champion in heritage conservation.  The Hunters Hill local government area is preserved in history, heritage and character.  Residents feel strongly about maintaining the look and feel of Hunters Hill and are committed to retaining the existing visual amenity.  Our lifestyle is matched by our desire to retain the beauty of our garden suburb.

Now replaced by Places for People:

Neighbourhoods reflect local character, heritage and create a sense of belonging.
Urban environments attract business investment, economic activity and place making initiatives.
Development application, regulation and monitoring services are streamlined.
Parks, sports fields and playgrounds support inclusive and accessible Play.

 
The current Draft Plan needs more work on the substance which must continue to reflect the priority of sustaining the special qualities of native bushland, foreshore, mature trees, and streetscapes with low scale development, in order to engender Council’s much vaunted ‘sense of belonging’ for the community. Our thanks go to Councillor Jim Sanderson for the detail on the CSP contained in his Newsletter 29 May 2022

2022-06-24T02:19:56+11:00June 15, 2022|

Let’s get together!

It’s been a long time coming but we’re finally holding a Members’ get together on Thursday 23 June, combined with our Annual General Meeting, at the RSL Hall, corner Ady and Alexandra Streets from 6pm.
 

We’ve been awaiting a response from Council to our questions regarding community involvement in future strategies and have had an initial meeting with Mitchell Murphy, Council’s new General Manager, and he will be with us on the night to chat and mingle.
 

Our guest speaker will be Rev. Michael Armstrong, a staunch advocate for our irreplaceable heritage.
 

in addition, Councillor Ross Williams will be talking to us on some of the key issues detailed in his recent article in the TWT, which spells out how our involvement at this time is now more important than ever.
 

So come along for your chance to meet and mingle with our General Manager and enjoy some finger food, good wine and interesting conversation!
 

Please RSVP to huntershilltrust@gmail.com

2022-05-31T18:23:10+11:00May 31, 2022|

Time for a Town Hall meeting ……!

Several of our members have written to us to share their deep disappointment about the decision taken by Council at its meeting on Monday 21 March 2022 to adopt Plans of Management that contained many elements of an unadopted draft Property Strategy, in spite of written assurances by the Acting GM in 2021 and the recent verbal assurance from the Mayor, that the draft Property Strategy was still being revised and would not be brought to the 21 March meeting.
 

There had been considerable community opposition to the draft Property Strategy then known as the Community Infrastructure Plan, when it was first introduced in 2021 and many individuals and organisations had contributed heartfelt and considered submissions to Council’s meeting of 26 April 2021.  It was not adopted at that time and a motion was passed that ‘options and associated financial modelling be investigated’ prior to adoption. 

 
The community’s objection to demolition and re-development at Hunters Hill Village has been clearly expressed and documented, yet the adopted Plan of Management for Figtree Park/Gladesville Road Community Centre Reserve lays the foundation for exactly that.  (See HHT JOURNAL December 2020).
 

Neither a business case nor appropriate analysis of the long-term implications for the local community has been made available which makes this decision highly disturbing.  The lack of due process and transparency in this matter is alarming.  We had hoped for better leadership from our new Council.

 

So in line with election promises made by the Mayor to ‘ensure transparent decision making’, providebetter accountability and engagement with our community’ and ‘protect our heritage and built environment’, the Hunters Hill Trust has now requested that Council arrange a public Town Hall meeting to enable greater visibility on the decision.

 

We await Council’s response.
2022-03-30T06:44:18+11:00March 28, 2022|

Proposals for The Priory……

The Trust welcomes the possibility of restoring The Priory and finding a reliable means of funding the restoration and ensuring future maintenance.
 
We are particularly impressed by the Historical Summary included in the Conservation Management Plan which acknowledges the major state and local heritage importance of this highly significant building and its setting.  This gives the community some confidence that the proposed alterations will be implemented with due regard to their overall impact on the site.
 
However the Trust does hold concerns that the current proposal, seating over 400 people, would be an over-development of the site, in essence becoming a Function Centre (intended for mass bookings) rather than a restaurant (individual bookings).  Indeed, Council’s confidence in the proponent rests on their expertise with function centres elsewhere in Sydney.
 
Operating on such a large scale the proposal would inevitably create undue stress on the surrounding streets, the immediate environment and neighbours.  In particular the Trust is concerned at the increased scale of the cafe portion of the development which has grown from a modest offering to a large capacity venue, impacting the setting, trees and curtilage of the Priory.
 
The increase in the scale of the development at this location and justification given for such a large overall development rests on the assumptions of the Financial Viability report, which has not been made public.  The delay before profitability predicted by this report does not seem to justify the investment required.
 
See our full submission here: HHT submission re The Priory

2022-02-27T19:36:28+11:00February 26, 2022|

Our Modernist ‘Gems’

While renowned for its significant stock of fine nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings, Hunters Hill is also home to some modernist gems from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  With many of these more modestly sized, yet excellent buildings coming under threat from unsympathetic additions or demolition – notably the recently demolished 34 Barons Crescent – it’s time to consider the recognition that the more outstanding local examples of this style of architecture might warrant.
 

8 Ellesmere Avenue Architect Frank Kolos 1959 (Ross Heathcote, (c) Sydney Living Museums)

To start a conversation on the topic of “Hunters Hill Modern” the Trust is preparing an inventory of mid-century houses and buildings.  If you know of a building you consider might meet this criteria, we would welcome your input!  Email us at huntershilltrust@gmail.com
 

33 Bonnefin Road Hunters Hill Architect Sir Roy Grounds 1954

Although we have sadly lost some of these ‘gems’, we are very lucky to still have several examples of this classic style existing in Hunters Hill. One such example is 33 Bonnefin Road, designed by well-known Melbourne architect Sir Roy Grounds in 1954. Sir Roy designed it for his friend, the journalist Tilly Shelton-Smith, who was the first woman to report from a war zone in World War II.
 
Sir Roy is best known for the Victorian Art Gallery and was one of Australia’s leading 20th century Modernist architects. Originally the house was known as Tilly’s hat box house and was minute, with an area of only 55 square metres. It was subsequently sympathetically added to by our very own heritage architect (and former Trust president) Tony Coote. The house was heritage listed by Hunters Hill Council in the 1990s.
 

We are delighted to have enlisted the help of our local celebrity, author and advocate for mid-century architecture, Tim Ross, who will be assisting us in preparing an inventory of these classic gems.
 

Contributory Items

The Trust is also working with Council to reassess the heritage value of housing from the inter-war period, the so-called “contributory items” that, while not heritage-listed, contribute to the unique character of Hunters Hill.   As many of you will know, charming and sound bungalows from the 1920s and 1930s are being altered beyond recognition, or demolished, all over the municipality.
 

The LEP revision this year may be an opportunity to secure more protection for buildings in this category.  Stay tuned for more on this in the upcoming months!

2022-02-13T19:20:40+11:00February 13, 2022|

Caring for Crown Lands

Happy new year and we wish you a healthy and safe 2022!
 
We’re looking forward to the challenges of this new year and in particular we’re busy reviewing the three Draft Plans of Management (PoMs) for Crown Reserves, as listed below, which you may understandably have missed as they were released on 4 November the day before Council’s caretaker period commenced!  They can be viewed on Council’s website:

  • Henley Precinct Open Space (including Gladesville Reserve)
  • Figtree Park and Gladesville Community Centre Reserves
  • Small Crown Reserves

On your behalf, we have been examining these proposals. With regard to the Figtree Park and Gladesville Community Centre Reserves PoM, although there is proven overwhelming support for retaining the croquet club in situ, we are concerned about disturbing inclusions in Council’s draft which if not corrected, will adversely affect the future of Hunters Hill village.
 
We are therefore requesting that Council’s General Manager withdraw the Figtree Park PoM from community consultation for further revision.
 
As we already pointed out to Council in July 2021, the first release of the Figtree Park PoM was misleading as it conflated the management of the Reserves with the re-development of the properties along Gladesville Road. The Acting General Manager’s reply at the time stated:
 
“I can assure you there is no intention to imbed the Draft Community Infrastructure Plan/Property Strategy into the Plans of Management for Figtree Park and Gladesville Community Reserve as detailed above, no such changes can occur without the exhibition of revised documents. 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 [be] considered.”
 
In spite of the above assurance, we now find that the current Plan released in October 2021 is once again strongly influenced by Council’s Draft Property Strategy!
 
Due to community opposition, Council resolved at its meeting on 26 April 2021 that “options and associated financial modelling be investigated” prior to adoption of the Draft Strategy. It is not acceptable that this unaltered and unadopted Draft now informs the intent of a potentially binding PoM. References to the Strategy appear throughout the document including:
 

7.9 Action Plan – Table 14 Objectives and performance targets – 3.2 Infrastructure and Facilities (p74)
“Plan for well-designed buildings and facilities to maximise usage through co-location, shared, flexible and multipurpose design that can accommodate changing needs overtime”.
This is a blanket statement that blatantly conflates the intent of the unadopted Property Strategy with the Figtree Park PoM.

 

8.2 Potential Future Development (p76)
This whole section which details the proposals in the Draft Property Strategy including the creation of residential, commercial and retail development must be deleted. Council has discussed, but has NOT “provided guidance for potential future development with corresponding intensity of use, at Figtree Park and Gladesville Community Centre reserves as an outcome in the draft Property Strategy”.
The Figtree Park PoM should not be utilised as an enabler for future developer driven goals.

 
Submissions close on 14 January 2022 and we’d ask you to please send a short email stating the concerns as above, to the Acting General Manager at tobinn@huntershill.nsw.gov.au requesting an acknowledgement. Thank you for all that you do. The Trust’s submissions are here:

HHT submission re Figtree Park Plan of Management

HHT submission re Henley precinct Open Space Plan of Management

HHT Submission re Miscellaneous Crown Reserves Plan of Management

2022-01-14T12:43:28+11:00January 13, 2022|

Unsustainable Synthetic Turf for Gladesville Reserve???

Hunters Hill Council has $2m funding from NSW government to spend on upgrading the Gladesville Reserve playing fields.  Council has proposed a fenced-off field with an artificial surface.  Sporting interests, mainly soccer, want a synthetic turf replacement but many in the local community are urging an improved natural turf surface to ensure this valued Crown Land remains accessible to all.

Council is required to consult widely prior to making a decision and you can learn more and get involved by signing the petition provided by the newly formed Sustaining Gladesville Reserve group at:

https://sustaininggr.org.au   

Their email address is SustainingGR@gmail.com if you would like to contact them directly.

A fenced off plastic surface will restrict activities other than sports and close off a shared community resource currently much used and enjoyed by all.  Synthetic turf is opposed for its many environmental disadvantages, particularly in a changing climate.  Microplastics migrate to waterways and bushland, vital natural processes are disrupted and native wildlife impacted.  Disposal of the plastic surface every decade or so remains very problematic.   Watch this YouTube showing the very successful natural turf upgrade at Middle Head Oval.

 

The Trust supports use of the funds to upgrade Gladesville Reserve’s facilities that benefit the whole community and the natural environment through proven techniques that provide a sustainable fit-for-purpose grassed surface. 

2021-11-10T14:14:14+11:00October 18, 2021|

Where are we up to with the Gladesville Master Plan?

Hunters Hill Council has prepared a revised Gladeville Master Plan whose stated aim is to provide an integrated plan for Gladesville Town Centre – but the main intent is to amend Hunters Hill Local Environment Plan 2012 (HHLEP) to enable greater development density!

The commercial zone along Victoria Rd from Junction St to Pittwater Rd is within a heritage conservation area and the Trust is opposed to the relocation or removal of the belatedly heritage listed Schedule 5 item at 10 Cowell Street, which was also sold to the developer but not adequately protected at the time.  The timber cottage can provide a low-key transition from the commercial to the residential zone which should act to inform and shape the redevelopment of the GSV site.  The issues are:

  • The form of the Block Studies (referred to as Blocks 1, 2 & 3) used for public exhibition are not sufficiently defined to comprehend the proposed redevelopment for these sections of the Master Plan. The three options outlined for Block 4 (Gladesville Shopping Centre/Key site) are called Concept Plans and are all relying on amendment to the HHLEP to build to greater heights and accommodate much larger numbers of units – up to 19 storeys in height!
  • The history of selling off Council land, now described as Block 4, in 2012 – without consultation with the community and adequate planning controls to guarantee public benefit – has left a legacy of mistrust.  Council amended the LEP to increase Floor Space Ratio (FSR) of 2.3 to 2.7. This allows greater bulk and permits building height of 34 metres – 180 residential units up to 8-10 storeys.  See the Trust’s submission here HHT Submission for Gladesville Master Plan
  • Council’s proposed further amendment from the existing FSR* 2.7 to 3.1 would permit greater density and height and obviously greater profit to the land owner.  But it would disadvantage local residents, shoppers and visitors.  Towers up to 19 storeys in height on the Shopping Village site situated along the Gladesville ridgeline will over-shadow surrounding residential streets, remove privacy from households and disrupt local amenity.
  • The draft Master Plan shows no improvement from the 2013 Development Application which attempted to trade off increased open space and ‘design excellence’ for greater density and imposition on the local community.  That DA was comprehensively rejected and fortunately later refused by the NSW Planning Department.
  • Traffic and parking are increasingly problematic and both need far more rigorous assessment and solutions presented within the Master Plan.  It is not clear from the Block Studies and the Concept Plan how traffic flow and density will be managed as a result of such major development.

Council has targeted Gladesville Town Centre, particularly the GSV site, to provide for the NSW government’s housing projections for Hunters Hill LGA in its Local Housing Strategy.  Opposition to this was expressed during the Strategy’s consultation process as it places unreasonable and inequitable over-development impacts on Gladesville residents and will be detrimental to heritage values.

The community has not been assisted in this review process by having no models and relevant visuals presented, such as at the main Shopping Centre.  It is hard to visualise how a ‘town square’ could be accommodated within either of the three options for Block 4, given the shared right-of-way requirements for vehicles and future increased pedestrian users of the site.

It is also vital that the existing car park at 3A Cowell Street remains as such within the LEP and continues to provide much-needed public car parking to serve residents’ needs as well as keeping small local businesses viable.

Hunters Hill and City of Ryde Councils need to liaise on creating a more cohesive approach to development within the precinct. Consideration must also be given to greater linkage across Victoria Road by strategically connecting Trim Place to the core of the retail and Post Office shopping strip.  There is an opportunity to apply sustainability principles to urban renewal at Gladesville’s Town Centre and take account of climate change mitigation and improved liveability.

The HHLEP must not be amended to allow any increase to the existing FSR of 2.7.

 *FSR refers to Floor Space Ratio, the measure for bulk. More FSR means more flats (and/or commercial space, but most of this development is about building more flats).

2021-10-06T17:18:47+11:00October 6, 2021|

Hunters Hill Trust Journal June 2021

This month’s HHT Journal June 2021 provides an update on the plans for Figtree Park in light of the $4.75 Public Spaces Legacy Grant.  Details of the Grant Application submitted by Hunters Hill Council were not released to the community.  The Trust was therefore obliged to request them under the Freedom of Information (GIPA) Act and the relevant information is below:

Summary Grant Application HHC and Draft Budget attachment to Grant Application HHC  and Unique Visits Figtree Park Grant Application HHC 

 

This edition includes:

  • From the President’s Desktop
  • The 50th celebration of the Battle for Kelly’s Bush
  • What’s happening at Figtree Park and the $4.75M Public Spaces Legacy Grant
  • The deferred Property Strategy 2021
  • The cautionary tale of 61 Downing Place
  • Tony Coote – a celebration of 50 years’ dedication to the heritage of Hunters Hill
  • Review of the NSW Heritage Act 1977
  • Date of Council Elections 2021

 

2021-07-12T10:38:29+11:00July 6, 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|
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