Preserving Our Heritage since 1968

The Hunters Hill Trust

The Hunters Hill Trust

Preserving Our Heritage since 1968

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|

LEP/DCP Review – the community calls for meaningful input

The review of our Local Environment Plan (LEP) and associated Development Control Plan (DCP) is happening now and there’s a lot at stake in terms of what can happen to the character and density of our suburbs and the future height of built structures.


A public meeting will be held in the Town Hall at 7pm on Wednesday 15 March so come along to show strong community engagement with this review.   Register to attend at

The Trust has already stressed to Council the need for the community to be given the opportunity for meaningful input into the outcome of the review – rather than the public meeting being used as a ‘housekeeping’ exercise – and genuine consideration must be given to community feedback.


It has been revealed that some changes to the LEP have already been prepared by Hunters Hill Council planners and that the Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has signed off on the State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (Land Use Zones) 2022 that becomes Legislation on 26 April 2023.  Changes involve alterations to categories of zoning but we do not yet know if the zones themselves have changed, which could have far reaching implications…..


The President of Local Government NSW has expressed grave concerns about rezonings occurring behind the closed doors of the Planning Dept stating:
”Sidelining councils and the community from this critical role will only benefit the commercial interests of developers and further degrades the community from having any say about what developments occur in their areas.”

We are concerned at the continuing push by developers for increased heights and densities in our suburbs, particularly in light of some major developments being proposed. So come along and ask questions. Register to attend at

2023-03-10T12:11:33+11:00March 10, 2023|

Residents need to be heard ….!

Two very pertinent letters appeared in the local paper The Weekly Times this week with very relevant comments on hot button issues for the community. 
Entitled ‘Grants for projects ….’ and ‘Council’s in denial….’  these reference Council’s about turn in granting ratepayer funds to the building of the Sports Facility at Boronia Park and its refusal to accept the decision by the Local Planning Panel regarding the removal of trees at Figtree Park.

2023-03-10T11:39:58+11:00March 10, 2023|

Council’s DA for the removal of 21 trees at Figtree Park rejected!

We’re delighted that the independent Local Planning Panel, which met on 19 December to consider Council’s Amended DA for the removal of 21 trees at Figtree Park, resolved to refuse the application.  Their reasons were:

  • Insufficient details of proposed infrastructure works have been provided to justify removal of the trees as listed.
  • Insufficient detail has been provided in relation to any necessary removal of garden bed concrete edging within the structural root zones of retained trees.
  • Insufficient detail of the location and type of proposed fencing has been provided.
  • No detail has been provided for any work required to address the current drainage issues in the Park.
  • The proposal in its current form, is not considered to be in the public interest.

We are pleased that commonsense has prevailed and the LPP has agreed that there is not enough detail to justify why so many trees are being removed or to understand the extent and location of all the proposed infrastructure.
The Trust has been requesting full disclosure of Council’s Master plan, referred to in their DA and consultant documentation, in order that the purpose of this project can be fully understood by the community.
Council openly states this is just “stage 1 of a broader Council initiative to develop a community precinct within the heart of the Hunters Hill town centre.  The removal of trees is consistent with the master plan for the above mentioned works”.    So where and what is Stage 2?
So far Council has denied the existence of a Master plan implying that it is the consultant’s ‘Concept’ plan, but we believe this is because the Master plan involves the development of Gladesville Road, as detailed in the Property Strategy already rejected by the community. Disclosure about the extent of this publicly funded project is now essential if Council’s professed transparency is to be believed.

2023-01-12T21:11:28+11:00January 12, 2023|

HHT Journal December 2022

Beautiful Jacarandas around every corner

Our latest HHT JOURNAL December 2022 is here for you to enjoy.  We again cover the continued loss of our trees and the main reasons why this is happening.   Page 3 & 4 is a special supplement featuring another two modernist mid-century homes built by notable architects, which we hope will add to the ‘register’ of these important local houses.

This edition includes:

    • From the President’s Desktop
    • The Continuing Loss of our Trees
    • Hunters Hill Modern
    • Figtree Park Amended DA
    • Montefiore Site
    • Barangaroo
    • Vale Carl Ryves
2022-12-29T12:04:38+11:00December 29, 2022|

What a fun party…..!

It was exciting to be able to finally have an ‘in person’ Christmas Party and a leisurely twilight river cruise onboard the vintage ferry Royale!  Over 80 of our members booked to go on the 3 hour cruise which gave us plenty of time to enjoy some wonderful sights, a delicious spread, plenty of wine and excellent company!
We had lots to catch up on, and cruising past our lovely local foreshore and beyond, under the Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House and into Darling Harbour proved a wonderful backdrop, especially with Christmas and celebration in the air!   The images below say it all! One of our members kindly summed it up beautifully:

How spoilt we all felt to be out on the water on such a magic evening! Everyone I spoke to loved the venue and as we said it is not often we see the sights so comprehensively from the water at close range. Wonderful organisation and wonderful company!

Our very best wishes to all our members for a happy festive season and a healthy and peaceful 2023!

2022-12-29T11:58:00+11:00December 11, 2022|

Amended Plans for Figtree Park: A missed opportunity…..

It is extremely disappointing that with a total of $4.75m of public money being invested in this project, this amended DA20220104 for Figtree Park is for the removal, rather than the care, of our valuable park trees.
Little attempt has been made to maximise the retention of significant native and exotic deciduous trees that give this public land its particular character and amenity.
Council have opted to make only a modest reduction in tree removals in a nod to community pressure (see our August posts below…)   A few of the more iconic trees in this unique park have been saved, but there are still 27 (not 21) individual trees to be removed and some trees not originally under threat, have now been added to the ‘destroy’ list!
With so much money at its disposal, Council could have dramatically improved the condition of all the existing trees so as to retain as much as possible of the natural tree cover.  This would be both beneficial to the environment and improve usage of the park.
However many of the trees in the picture below are to be removed – reducing a huge area of shade just where new seating is planned! WHY?

The 11m Willow Gum (in the foreground) endangered in its natural state and in dire need of pruning, was originally given a “Consider for Retention” status by the Arborists. This is now to be cut down, together with the Willow Gum behind it, the Native Daphne on the right and most of the middle storey trees in this photo!

Some healthy trees such as the Broad leafed Paperbark and Queensland Firewheel pictured below, will be cut down to make way for footpaths!  Some trees that in the previous DA were only going to be pruned, are now being removed.  And a tree that was deemed by Arborists to be ‘Priority for Removal’ is now saved!   What’s going on?
Ensuring existing trees have the best of attention by being pruned and tended in order to extend their life as much as possible should be a given and removing any but the most seriously damaged, could be considered vandalism!
Residents expect Council to lead the community in ‘best practice’ and set a high standard in terms of tree conservation and management, particularly in light of our declining tree canopy and continued tree destruction.

The decisions made in this DA appear conflicting and random and it is a missed opportunity which does little to instil confidence that there is any concern from Council to minimise tree loss.
See the Trust’s submission here Submission for DA20220104 Figtree Park Removal of 21 Trees 031222
Address submissions to by 5pm Tuesday 6 December.

2022-12-08T18:56:18+11:00December 4, 2022|
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