Preserving Our Heritage since 1968

The Hunters Hill Trust

The Hunters Hill Trust

Preserving Our Heritage since 1968

Tree quotas for new developments?

You may remember in our December 2022 Journal that we highlighted the continuing loss of our trees and suggested ways in which Council could discourage deliberate vandalism and slow the alarming loss of tree canopy on private land.    Subsequently, we wrote to Council on 11 Jan 2023  suggesting several ways in which Council could strengthen its Tree and Vegetation Management Policy, particularly in ‘Complying Development’ areas, where knockdown and rebuild projects tend to build to the fence lines, removing all trees and vegetation.

Therefore we were very pleased to read in the Sydney Morning Herald of 30 July 2023 that Woollahra Council –  who have experienced similar problems with a spate of knockdown/rebuilds destroying established gardens and historic trees –  have now produced an ‘Urban Forest Strategy’ that clearly lays out their new greening rules to prevent over development at the expense of green space. Their very inclusive Council invites residents to provide feedback – an excellent initiative and a great example of what can be done.

We understand that our Council has completed a Street Tree Management Plan which is a good start but the greatest threat currently is from trees being removed, often illegally, from private land.  Therefore an initiative like Woollahra’s could help combat this problem.  The suggestion to implement something similar for Hunters Hill has been made to Council and we await their response.

2023-08-25T10:12:38+10:00August 19, 2023|

What’s the hold-up?

Now at the end of the sixth week of stopped work at Figtree Park, we are asking why Council has not been able to progress this job? With such a huge sum of money at their disposal, the community would rightly expect a fully resourced and well planned process.
So what’s the delay? There are many local families, dog walkers, office workers and elderly people who have been denied use of this park, who are very unhappy about the delay and the resulting extra time it will now take until this much-loved amenity is restored.
After enquiring why there has been no work for so long, one of our members finally received an email to say that “preliminary investigations are underway” and “work will re-commence in August”. After nearly 18 months of planning the question we are asking is, why would Council still be carrying out ‘preliminary investigations’?

2023-08-27T11:09:58+10:00August 19, 2023|

Come and see us at Moocooboola on Sunday 6 August!

Come and see us at this year’s Moocooboola Festival being held at Boronia Park Ovals, Cnr Park and Ryde Roads from 10am – 4pm. We’re on Stand No. D7 together with our friends, The Happy Hens.    Pop by and say hello and check out our beautiful high quality tea towels.
You can also pick up a copy of our stunning publication ‘The Heritage of Hunters Hill’ a perfect present for that hard-to-buy-for friend or relative!  

The Heritage of Hunters Hill   Edition 5

This book was first published in 1969 and is now printed in full colour.  It features detailed information on almost 500 buildings of Hunters Hill in their historical contexts and landscape settings.
Also available from the following local outlets:
 –  Hunters Hill Post Office, 32 Alexandra Street
 – Village Florist and Wishbone, Garibaldi Square, Hunters Hill
or to obtain a copy by post please email




2023-08-19T16:37:19+10:00August 3, 2023|

Hunters Hill Trust Journal July 2023

Vol 61, No. 1 July 2023

Another well-built home set in established gardens that give our suburb its character and charm – slated for demolition.

This edition covers the changing of the guard for the Trust with the retirement of our long term President, Alister Sharp, and the appointment of a staunch advocate for our heritage and environment, Karyn Raisin.   Also, instead of our usual ‘Hunters Hill Modern’ supplement, pages 3 & 4 feature an award-winning renovation and extension of a sandstone gem.

  • From the Retiring President and Introducing the Incoming President
  • So Who Are These NIMBYs?  – the pressure of development on heritage suburbs
  • In Tune with Heritage – a focus on an award winning renovation
  • Montefiore Planning Proposal
  • Update on Boronia Park
2023-07-21T10:52:09+10:00July 19, 2023|

Heritage and the latest push for development…..

There’s been a never-ending stream of media coverage recently regarding the need for more housing and greater density, with many commentators apportioning blame as to who is responsible for the housing shortage.  Spoiler alert – apparently it’s the NIMBYs.
Could it be that the developer lobby is now so powerful it is able to skew the argument towards re-zoning and accessing precious Crown Land as being the only answer to increased housing?  But according to the latest census data, there were 1 million homes unoccupied on census night – 10 per cent of the total housing stock.
The latest incentives from Government to build new dwellings has been described as a ‘free for all’ for developers and there is every indication that suburbs like ours are in the firing line for not pulling our weight, even though we are expected to meet or exceed the dwelling targets set for our LGA. In this push for development there must also be an assessment of the ‘liveability’ of our cities and, in a changing climate, the natural environment that sustains us.
Sadly there appears to be no room in this discussion for considering the carrying capacity of our heritage suburbs, in order to preserve their charm and character for future generations.   Can we be really that short sighted that we are prepared to jeopardise layers of our history?
Some of the history we’ve already lost – modest well built single family homes set in established gardens – replaced by large single family homes built to the fence lines with little or no green space….

With regard to the claim that heritage is being used as a tool to block development, at our recent Members’ Evening & AGM, our presenter, Jane Alexander, The National Trust of NSW’s Advocacy Manager, debunked that particular myth with the fact that of the 3.5 million land parcels in New South Wales, less than 1% are listed heritage items!  As the National Trust presentation to the Heritage Act Review stated:

Our heritage places make a significant contribution to our identity, creating a sense of place and representing the State’s story, its people and its shared connections.  From buildings to landscapes, songlines to character areas, trees to shipwrecks – the heritage of NSW is important.

We were therefore disappointed to learn that Council was prepared to fast track the recent Planning Proposal from the Montefiore Home for rezoning their site, to allow increased building heights up to 28m and include ‘premium priced apartments’ – not residential aged care.  Council recommended to the Local Planning Panel that the Planning Proposal be forwarded to the Department of Planning and Environment for a Gateway Determination….’  thus pushing the Proposal through without proper consideration or adequate time to engage the community.
Thankfully the independent Local Planning Panel reflected community concerns and voted unanimously to reject Council’s recommendations and advised that more time was needed for assessment of the contextual understanding of impacts on similar aged care sites within the Municipality, and called for wider community consultation.
The unseemly haste by Council to get this Proposal for increased building heights approved before finalising the vital revision of the Local Environmental Plan, is very concerning.   It could set a dangerous precedent – but a Council open to increasing density may very well find that convenient.

2023-07-15T08:43:54+10:00July 11, 2023|

Special Members’ Evening – Wednesday 28 June!

Come and join us on Wednesday 28 June from 6pm at the RSL Hall, cnr Ady and Alexandra Sts, Hunters Hill, for another opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbours and like minded residents.  We’ll enjoy some good wine, finger food and great conversation!
After our AGM at 6.30pm, our guest speaker at 6.45pm will be Jane Alexander, Advocacy Manager for the National Trust (NSW).   Jane was instrumental in assisting us with an excellent and successful submission against overdevelopment of a local heritage home and will talk about the National Trust’s work preserving local history, heritage and the built and natural environment – and how the community can advocate for maintaining character and amenity.  She will follow her talk with a Q&A.
With the latest constant media coverage and the relentless push for higher density living particularly in suburbs like Hunters Hill, now more than ever we need strategies to advocate for our heritage and amenity and we’re keen to hear your views.
As recognised by the former State Government, our suburb is constricted by its size, heritage and topography – and dwelling approvals already in the pipeline are on track to meet targets for our LGA – so we are curious that our LGA appears to be considered a growth target in the current media frenzy about housing density and shortages. Why is this push happening now, and is more construction the answer?

A recent article by Dr David Hayward emeritus professor of public policy and the social economy at RMIT University questions that supply is the issue and maintains: “We have been building vastly more dwellings than are needed to match population growth for decades, yet real prices and rents keep growing, affordability keeps falling and ever-increasing government subsidies can’t keep up. We currently have 1 million more houses than households.”

So come and join us on Wednesday 28 June from 6pm at the RSL Hall, cnr Ady and Alexandra Sts.  New members and friends are always welcome.  Please RSVP for catering purposes to at the latest by Sunday 25 June.

2023-06-21T11:03:33+10:00June 17, 2023|

Figtree Park in Winter

A few photos of this little oasis in winter taken over just a couple of days – before works commence on the “upgrade”.
As always there are plenty of local residents using the park including a little boy practising his violin!  The addition of a play space, extra seating and low scale fencing along Ryde Road is welcome but the concern is that oversized infrastructure will be out of scale with the small area available.
The positioning of the toilet block away from services and alongside Ryde Road also appears inexplicable – or is because it then won’t interfere with Council’s as yet unacknowledged, Stage 2 plan to demolish the cottages at 40-48 Gladesville Road?

As Council’s DA to remove trees was rejected by the Local Planning Panel (see our 30th March post below) there must be minimal disruption to the vegetation.

And with the huge amount of public money at Council’s disposal, the community expects this project to be delivered to the highest standards of excellence and sustainability.

2023-06-21T10:07:09+10:00June 16, 2023|

Why the LEP/DCP must be strengthened…..

The opportunity to review of the Local Environment & Development Control Plans (LEP/DCP) must be fully utilised in order to address some of the poor outcomes that are clearly visible in our LGA.  There is a need for the terminology to be strengthened to mitigate the potential threats to our heritage and environment and to limit the damage that could be caused by Council’s failure to influence State Government’s planning reforms.
This means we need more than just a ‘housekeeping’ revision.  There is an urgent need for specific wording to avoid erosion of our garden suburb and to prevent loopholes, that would potentially further destroy our streetscapes, arising under the E1 Zoning reform.

The assault on heritage, landscape, stone walls, tree canopy and garden areas over time has detrimentally impacted local character and amenity and the current trend towards ‘knock-down / rebuild’ residential development is altering the streetscape of Hunters Hill with oversized buildings and loss of garden settings.  This LEP/DCP review needs to clearly articulate how critical it is that the unique layered history and values of our suburb be protected and enhanced.

In our letter to Council of 12 April regarding the Planning Reforms and LEP-DCP Review we documented all the issues that are at stake including the following:

  • There must be no move to diminish the extent of the existing Conservation Areas.  Any reduction would result in increased complying development leading to further loss of character.   Conservation Areas must be entirely retained within their current protected status and boundaries, with investigation to further include heritage items (as undertaken by Woollahra Council), particularly those buildings not yet listed but identified in our publication “The Heritage of Hunters Hill’.  The identification and role of ‘contributory’ buildings, from the early and mid-20th century, must also be fully acknowledged and valued.

  • A ‘C4 Environmental Living’ zone must be introduced to provide greater protection from development on land adjoining high value conservation areas and sensitive foreshore.This could help address the worst excesses in some areas currently under complying development where the clear-felling of mature gardens is rife.  The Trust has already suggested a process Letter to HHC re Tree Policies 11 Jan 2023 whereby staff could inspect complying development applications prior to approval to document mature trees and safeguard their preservation.

  • The current controls over Height, Floor Space Ratios, Landscape Area, Bulk, Scale and Proportions must be strengthened to be compatible with the existing character of our municipality, with particular attention to the tendency for development to fill the maximum permissible building envelope in height and scale which is detrimental to the streetscape and the historical values of our garden suburb.  The expectation that houses can be endlessly altered and enlarged is resulting in the cumulative loss of our built heritage and natural environment.  Capitalising on the economic value of property must be balanced with the broader community benefit in protecting the aesthetics, character and vital green lungs of the area.

  • Council must commit to ensuring that the requirement for 50%/60% landscaping is redefined to guarantee that hard surfaces, narrow paved setbacks, paths and swimming pools do not reduce the green planted area.  The concept must be “houses set in gardens”rather than “buildings surrounded by landscaping”.  The provision of substantial areas of deep and continuous soil for tree planting is also crucial to maintaining our tree canopy, a notable feature of Hunters Hill, and a major contribution to mitigating climate change.

  • Council needs to strengthen the link between the LEP and DCP.  There is a significant disconnect between the existing planning controls for new development, including additions, in the LEP and those in the DCP, the latter having very targeted goals and detailed requirements to conserve our character, heritage, gardens and landscapes.

  • Council must commit to tightening controls that limit the extent of demolitions and the increasingly excessive amounts of geological excavation causing irrevocable damage to the unique natural topography.

  • There must be stronger controls around garages and carports to both street and laneway addresses to preserve the existing streetscape – a major component of the DCP objectives.

  • Consideration must be given as to how sustainability measures, eg solar panels, can be appropriately integrated within conservation areas.

  • Local hydrology must be strategically managed to ensure storm water is captured as a resource where appropriate while also effectively structured to avoid flooding.

The intention at the 15 March public meeting for Council to include a commitment to adhering to the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development within the revised LEP/DCP, is a good start.  These established principles must guide and strengthen the objectives to take account of environmental and sustainability imperatives in local planning and development.

The community is expecting a thorough Review of the LEP/DCP to further strengthen our controls – not a tick box exercise. Residents will be closely watching the outcome.

2023-05-25T13:47:50+10:00May 25, 2023|

Council Missing In Action….

Following the Town Hall meeting on 15 March, we now know there are imminent zoning changes coming into place in Hunters Hill on 26 April under the State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) legislated by the State Government.
These are E1 (Employment) zonings which will permit increased commercial development and expanded land uses and potentially open the way for significant changes in the areas that have been included, such as the Garibaldi heritage precinct, Woolwich Corner Village and Boronia Park.
The strength of community feeling about the lack of communication on these zoning reforms was clearly demonstrated at the Town Hall meeting and consequently the LEP/DCP Status Report was added as a ‘Late Agenda Item’ to Council’s meeting on Monday 27 March. Late-agenda-of-Ordinary-meeting-27-March-2023
The question was raised as to when Councillors were told of the new zoning proposals, and the explanation seemed to be that the General Manager in the role at the time, rather than formally briefing Council, added an item to the Councillor Weekly Bulletin on 1 April 2021, which was buried near the end of a very long bulletin and consequently missed by Councillors.

However it is no excuse for the GM and Mayor to say that it is the responsibility of the NSW Department of Planning to communicate zoning changes to the public. NSW Planning has confirmed that this would be impossible for them to do, so they rely on Councils to disseminate new planning information to their residents. This seems absolutely reasonable and achievable via websites, newsletters and other communications as a minimum.
Other neighbouring councils successfully involved their community particularly during the public exhibition period from 31 May 2022 to 12 July 2022, which has resulted in significant improvements for safeguarding their heritage from the excesses of the zoning expansion, so why not Hunters Hill?
NSW Department of Planning have also confirmed that they corresponded with Council on this subject many times, twice in 2021 and on 9 other occasions in 2022. Council itself communicated with the Planning Department on 5 occasions in 2022, the last one being in November 2022 prior to the December legislative changes. So, why didn’t Council hold a briefing or inform the community about these important reforms when they had many opportunities to do so?

The community feels seriously let down by these oversights and it has been suggested that residents are making a bigger issue of these planning changes than is warranted, because the current height restrictions are not changing under the zoning reforms.
However, our expert advice suggests the risk of the current LEP/DCP being undermined in the face of zoning changes to be implemented on 26 April, is very real indeed. Significant areas such as the Garibaldi precinct, Woolwich Corner Village and the residential area at 63-67 High Street Boronia Park, patently inappropriate for the new employment zoning, are vulnerable.
After several residents had expressed their concerns at Council’s meeting, Councillor Williams’ amended motion was successfully passed:
1. Receive and note the 4.17 agenda item report with the need to acknowledge that:

(a) the community meeting of 15th March clearly stated the importance of our tree canopy and garden settings
(b) the reference to the ‘Property Strategy and Community Infrastructure Plan’ clearly be identified as draft reports
2. Resolve to formally request the State Government to defer the implementation of the Governments Employment Zones Reforms to enable Council to adequately consult with its community
3. Planning processes be reviewed and reported back to the council to ensure that any future State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is reported formally to the council and allows for adequate community consultation
4. To make available to the public all non confidential documentation and correspondence relating to the communication to the department and other relevant bodies.

The LEP/DCP must be strengthened to protect the character and heritage of our unique suburb. The community needs transparency and assurances that current and future DAs will not exploit loopholes that the new zoning may provide, while this is done.
The existing conservation areas need to be maintained and protections strengthened. Those referred to in the public meeting must not be removed from their current status. Changes to address the erosion of landscape and garden areas, extent of demolitions, increasingly excessive amounts of excavation, wall heights and setbacks, resulting in residential development that is at odds with the character of the conservation areas, must be made.

There should now be an opportunity to participate in shaping the zoning reforms and residents expect Council to do everything in its power to protect our heritage and environment. We urge you to write to the General Manager, Mayor and Councillors at:;;;;;;;

to express your concerns and to seek assurances that any development applications for commercial uses in the new employment zones lodged prior to the finalisation of the new LEP and DCP, will be subject to rigorous scrutiny to ensure they do not breach current LEP standards.

2023-04-01T20:48:21+11:00March 31, 2023|

Figtree Park – a win for the trees!

The independent Local Planning Panel (LPP) has rejected Hunters Hill Council’s Development Application to remove trees in Figtree Park for the second time! This is a significant win for community action and we are delighted that common sense and environmental concerns have prevailed.
The LPP who delivered its ruling on 17 March were unanimous in their decision that the DA was not in the public interest but also had other objections – see their ruling here Local Planning Panel LPP Refusal 170323
In spite of this, at its meeting on 27 March, Council voted 5 to 2 to adopt an amended proposal that would enable them to ‘proceed with the project based on a revised design that does not require the removal of any prescribed vegetation’.
Option 1, which was to return the grant money to the State was rejected.   An amendment by Councillor Williams that included a motion to come back to the community with their changed proposals, was also rejected.
The Local Planning Panel were unhappy at being asked to make piecemeal decisions and were well aware of the strategic significance of the Park to the unacknowledged redevelopment of 40-48 Gladesville Rd, particularly as this was already detailed in Figtree Park’s Plan of Management.
Their issues were ones the Trust has been raising since the proposal for the Park was put forward (see previous posts) and the lack of transparency by Council in not acknowledging that Stage 2 of the redevelopment plan for Hunters Hill Village rejected by the community but still on the table, is disturbing.
When the Trust raised this issue at the meeting we were surprised at the General Manager’s insistence that a Master plan for the area does not exist, in spite of multiple references in consultants’ reports and Council’s own documents!  Our president followed up with an email to the GM the next morning correcting this assertion.
With an alternative access point to the park available for upgrade, the Trust also questioned the decision to provide a ‘grand entrance’ to the Park by demolishing the house that Council owns at 48 Gladesville Rd.   Having been left empty for many months, this decision has already deprived ratepayers of thousands of dollars of rental income.

The issue for those who value this unique park in our garden suburb is over-development, with bulky and badly positioned infrastructure, use of unsustainable materials and the lack of design flair to complement this special site.

Every voice is important if we want to protect our special Municipality so if you’d also like to have your say, write a brief note to the GM at requesting copies to Councillors, raising concerns such as:
– Lack of transparency about Stage 2 redevelopment plans, already rejected by the community.
– The demolition of Council’s revenue generating asset at 48 Gladesville Road to provide a ‘grand entrance’ to the park.
– No opportunity for the community to comment on the proposed infrastructure as Council’s DAs were only for the trees.
– The lack of expert review of the design to ensure sustainability and a high level of excellence.
With such a huge sum at their disposal, Council has no excuse for not producing a sustainable and high level upgrade with quality materials and trees finally cared for after years of neglect.

2023-04-01T20:47:24+11:00March 30, 2023|
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