From the Council Chamber
August 23, 2022
Conservation Zones review
One of the most important issues for this council term came up at this week’s Northern Beaches Council meeting: its review of Conservation Zones. Councillors voted for this draft review to go on public exhibition, giving everyone the chance to have their say. While there will be an overall increase in the number of conservation zonings on the Northern Beaches under this proposal, more than 2,000 properties in the former Pittwater Local Government Area will lose these zonings. Many sites formerly zoned E4 and now C4 (for land with special environmental value) will now become R2 (low density residential).
These zonings will feed into the upcoming, single Northern Beaches Local Environment Plan, which will regulate development for the whole council area. So for those wanting to protect our scenic bushland habitat, it will be important to read the multiple documents when they come on exhibition and let the council know what you think. Staff expect to place them on the council’s Your Say website in early September and they will remain open for eight weeks. You’ll also be able to access hard copies in local libraries.
Conservation zones, previously called Environmental zones in the former Pittwater LEP, “are used to protect and conserve areas with special environmental values or where there are known hazards eg bushfire, (and) coastal inundation”, planning staff noted in their motion to place the draft on exhibition.
The four conservation zones in the new LEP align with those identified by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and are as follows:
- C1 National Parks and Nature Reserves - existing and newly proposed national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas - as identified and agreed by the NSW government.
- C2 Environmental Conservation - for areas of high ecological, scientific or cultural values.
- C3 Environmental Management - Special ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic attributes or environmental hazards/processes.
- C4 Environmental Living - special environmental or scenic values; low impact residential development.
The challenge for staff has been that four LEPs are currently operational across the Northern Beaches Council area and the state government requires that they be harmonised. (ie Pittwater’s LEP; Manly’s; Warringah’s; and a second one in that former council area for land where zoning was never finalised by the NSW government.)
So for example, in Pittwater, the C4 zone currently allows low impact developments (generally single dwellings) in areas with special ecological, scientific or aesthetic value while in Manly, blocks of flats are allowed in the C4 zone.
Planners have told councillors they currently estimate that in the former Pittwater LGA, 3,613 properties will move from a C zone to an R (residential) zone, and 1,328 from an R zone to a C zone, resulting in an overall loss of 2,285 properties from C zones. That compares to an overall gain of 847 C zone properties across the LGA. The former Manly LGA will lose 54 properties from the C zone and former Warringah will lose 1.
In total, the former Pittwater would have 7,447 properties zoned C3 or C4 and 9,347 properties in residential zones. For Manly, that would be 884 and 3,706 respectively; and for Warringah, 2,817 and 30,583.
We already know the former Pittwater LGA is under increasing environmental pressure and I hope residents will look carefully at our former LEP and check that properties lying within the tree canopy and/or providing habitat to wildlife are not downgraded.
Once the review is online, residents will be able to use an interactive map to check the zoning of a property and also see maps for the whole area.
Unfortunately, due to Covid, some site inspections that staff had intended carrying out did not go ahead. Residents will be able to request zoning reviews with a site inspection, and the council will bear the cost for these.
Council CEO Ray Brownlee accepted that some of the proposed zonings might change. “We’re not going to get this right in the first go. That’s what this process is all about,” Mr Brownlee told Tuesday’s meeting.
However, Pittwater Liberal Councillor Rory Amon said he did not want to delay the process. “If we get a Labor government next year, what that means for locations like Mona Vale will be high rise as far as the eye can see,” Mr Amon said.
Staff expect the LEP will be ready to present to council in early 2023, before it goes to the NSW government for approval.
Church Point commuter wharf study to go on exhibition
Council’s vision for the new commuter wharf at Church Point will go on public exhibition for at least four weeks following Tuesday’s meeting. The draft feasibility study aims to reduce overcrowding at the current commuter wharf.
Staff say the current wharf, with 11 boat bays, is often overcrowded - with 300 permits allocated and 14 residents on the waiting list.
The study proposes to build a new wharf at Rostrevor Reserve, Church Point, south of the general store (Option 2a in the draft study). It also proposes 24 hour time limits for tying up boats at the wharf and limiting the size of vessels that can use it. Funding for the project would have to be confirmed in the 2023/24 budget.
The motion also notes that the outcomes of the commuter wharf feasibility study might have an impact on a review of Church Point’s parking problems.
Study to review Church Point parking problems
Ongoing problems with parking at Church Point will be investigated in a “Parking Demand Strategy Review” for the area, voted on by councillors on Tuesday night. The review, with approximately $200,000 funding, will probably take place in the 2023/24 financial year and take about 12 months to complete.
Council staff said in the motion that construction of the new Church Point carpark in 2017 had increased parking by 120 spaces, yet both onshore and residents had been a concern for many years, “with demand exceeding the number of available parking spaces”.
However, Scotland Island Residents Association president Bill Gye, addressing the meeting earlier, said the total number of parking spaces at Church Point was now 456, compared to 545 in 1970, while the population had grown. He called for residents to be consulted on establishing the terms of reference for the study.
Jennifer Knox, of the West Pittwater Community Association, agreed that Church Point had lost parking and offered her conditional support to the review, ”subject to the inclusion of local stakeholders”.
“It’s really important that council provide a resident focused framework,” Ms Knox told the meeting. Residents have to come before profits.”
She called for a demand management strategy for the Pasadena restaurant and hotel, which included use of a shuttle bus.
The original motion also stated that: “The review scope will need to be wide ranging and take into account broad geographical constraints of parking options and the access points used by the offshore communities for parking, goods delivery and connection with public transport services in the areas where all weather wharf access is available.”
Mr Amon successfully moved an amendment that council staff consult with stakeholders on development of the Terms of Reference.
I proposed that the review consider providing reserved parking spaces for essential workers such as nurses who do shift work, at a reduced cost, so that they can always find a spot when returning home, whatever the time.
The outcome is likely to be affected by the rebuilding of the Church Point commuter wharf.
Avalon Community Library Funding
Avalon Community Library will receive $65,000 in funding during 2022-23 following a vote at Tuesday’s meeting. That compares to $24,000 for Seaforth Community Library; $26,000 for Terrey Hills Community Library; and $2,000 for the Booklovers Club Northern Beaches (see https://warringahbooklover.wixsite.com/booklover/about).
Funding for these libraries was reduced during Covid, and has now been returned to the pre-Covid level. However, I noted at the meeting that this will effectively be a cut in real terms to resources, given the rising level of inflation, expected to reach 7 per cent by late 2022. I hope this will be taken into account for next year’s allocations.
(Council-run library funding is included in NBC’s annual Operational Plan and Budget.)
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels charges will rise following a vote at the council meeting. Where previously a main meal cost $7.20, that will now increase to $7.50; a soup from $2.70 to $3; salad from $8.20 to $9; and dessert from$2.70 to $3. However, frozen meals will decrease from $7.20 to $5 this financial year.
I asked staff before the meeting to explain the rise in fees and for the benefit of anyone at the council meeting who might be concerned about the rise, I asked them to repeat this on Tuesday night.
Here is the written explanation:
“Until recently the cost of the Meals on Wheels (MoW) service was charged directly to all clients. The client is charged one fee for the meal and delivery, which covers the majority of the actual cost of the meal (currently $7.50 for a main meal). Council also receives a lump sum grant to cover the delivery of the meal, including management (ie: staffing etc) of the service. Please note that MoW fees are set in line with the National Guide to setting fees and benchmarked against other MoW services in Northern Sydney.
Introduction of CHSP funding
“The introduction of Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) packages allows clients to choose to subsidise the cost of their meals through using an external aged care provider. When clients choose to use this option effectively the aged care provider is charged the full delivery component of the meals delivered ($8) as they receive funding to cover this service. The client will then be charged a reduced fee of $4, instead of the current adopted fee of $7.50 for a main meal.''
Why we have added this additional Fee & Charge
“Since the introduction of the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) packages more clients are choosing to subsidise the cost of meals provided through use of aged care providers. This increase has made it necessary to separate the different components. It is important to note that overall the client experiences a reduction in out of pocket expenses when they choose to use an aged care provider to access the MoW service.”
Support for World Pride Activities
The Northern Beaches will investigate ways of attracting tourists visiting Sydney for next year’s World Pride 2023 festival. The festival, billed as a “mega Mardi Gras”, will take place from February 17 to March 5, and as its centrepiece will include a human rights conference focusing on LGBTQIA+ rights across the Asia Pacific region.
A number of councillors together submitted a motion calling for staff to liaise with local groups such as Fusion Pride, Lifesavers with Pride as well as chambers of commerce, and suggested writing to the NSW government to explore dressing up the Manly ferries and B1 buses during the festival. Other suggestions include helping businesses that would like to organise events and setting up rainbow pedestrian crossings and flags.
Curl Curl Greens Councillor Kristyn Glanville told the meeting that WorldPride would be the biggest event since the 2000 Olympics, with an estimated 78,000 visitors to Sydney expected to spend more than $100 million. Official inner city events were selling out rapidly and the Northern Beaches, which had “an appetite for events”, could benefit from visitors making day trips, in search of alternative or cheaper options.
The motion - submitted by Ms Glanville, Narrabeen Independent Councillor Vince De Luca, Manly’s Good For Manly Councillor Candy Bingham, Frenchs Forest Liberal Councillor Stuart Sprott and Narrabeen Your Northern Beaches Councillor Ruth Robins - received unanimous support.
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks
Local supporters of the Nobel-prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) approached me in the lead up to the 77th anniversary this month of the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to put forward a motion calling for the council to support the international ban on these weapons.
Since January 22, 2021 nuclear weapons have been outlawed by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 70 per cent of Australians would like our federal government to sign the treaty but it has not yet done so. ICAN is therefore encouraging local councils around the world to sign up to the Cities Appeal supporting the ban. More than 30 councils around Australia have have passed motions calling on the federal government to make this important commitment, including Sydney, Waverley, Randwick and Inner West Councils.
Pittwater resident Min Bonwick addressed the council on Tuesday night, saying we are closer to a nuclear catastrophe now than ever before.
“The problem is, these weapons are targeted at cities like Sydney, and it is the local councils who will have to address issues like burial, sanitation, hygiene, local sewerage, infrastructure, etcetera, in the unthinkable event of a nuclear strike or accident,” Ms Bonwick told the meeting.
“Now, because of these responsibilities, councillors around the world have signed the Cities Appeal set up by ICAN, which calls on all nine nuclear weapons states to eliminate their nuclear weapons, not unilaterally, but as part of a mutual process in a fully monitored way.”
My motion also called on the council to refrain from investing in any company that produces nuclear weapons or purchasing products from them. This could potentially have had a significant impact on the council’s investment strategy, as we have seen with the Stop Adani movement.
I was disappointed that only Ms Glanville supported the motion, with Pittwater Councillor Michael Gencher leaving the chamber due to a conflict of interest and Councillor Amon refraining from speaking.
Mayor Michael Regan said he supported the intent of the motion and proposed referring it to the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee. However, I did not support this because it would have undermined its intent. I believe if we are to divest from nuclear weapons manufacturers (as with fossil fuel producers), the point is to find a financially viable way to do so rather than focus on the risks.
Curl Curl Liberal David Walton, also supported the intent of the motion, but said that: “this is so far out of our remit that it’s ridiculous”. His Frenchs Forest colleague, Stuart Sprott, noted that nuclear war was “a concern for a lot of people on the Northern Beaches”, and would have been happy to support the motion with deferral of the clause recommending revision of council’s investment policy to ARIC.
A postscript to this item is that I was able to ask new Mackellar MP Sophie Scamps, visiting a Palm Beach and Whale Beach Association meeting on Thursday morning, if she would agree to take up the issue of federal government support for the nuclear weapons ban. Ms Scamps agreed without hesitation!
Outside the chamber
The southern end of Newport Beach has been particularly hard hit by heavy weather this year, with storms resulting in rock falls and a landslide that blocked access to the rockpool. In recent weeks, big seas eroded sand dunes and washed away garden walls. No homes were threatened in the latest events, however, council staff report they issued emergency orders requiring affected residents to carry out work to ensure public safety on their land. The work involved removing storm-battered materials (eg sandstone blocks) from the dunes and protecting the site with geotech bags filled with sand.
Staff have told me they expect the beach to recover in coming months, at which point they will issue another order for the sandbags to be removed. Residents will then have 30 days to do so.
“Once sand volumes increase, Council will progress with beach scraping to accelerate the movement of sand back onto the beach,” staff said in a report to councillors.
They also expect access to the pool to return to normal once the sand returns.
However, residents at a Pittwater Community Meeting on Wednesday night were not so sanguine about the situation, telling the gathering at Newport Community Centre that the letters they had received from council were not emergency orders and that they are preparing legal action against the council.
Other points mentioned to councillors by staff include:
What NBC proposes for the future
Council is currently progressing updates to its existing Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) for Bilgola Beach, Mona Vale Beach and Collaroy-Narrabeen Beach (our local “hot spots”) to convert them to Coastal Management Programs (CMPs) - a requirement from the NSW Government if Council is to retain access to relevant grant funding for its coastal projects. Once these are completed, Council will proceed with a CMP for its open coast beaches, including Newport.
NBC attitude to major beach nourishment
Council is very supportive of beach nourishment and has a history of advocating for this management option. It is also a key action in our existing plans and strategies. As noted in the supplied information, while Council is supportive of this option it does require significant intervention from the NSW Government which to date has not been forthcoming.
How active is NBC with the Sydney Coastal Council Group (SCCG)
Council is an active member of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group, and meets regularly with member Councils and the Secretariat in its capacity as a member of its Executive Committee, its General Manager Forum, its Technical Committee and its Sand Nourishment Working Group.
(I am NBC’s councillor rep on the SCCG.)
Environmental report into off leash dog trial proposal - submissions open until September 9
Remember the environmental study into the council’s proposed off leash dog trial at Palm Beach (North) and Mona Vale (South) is on public exhibition until September 9.
The council is holding drop-in sessions at both beaches for community members to talk about the REF and ask questions. They’ll be at Palm Beach (North) and Mona Vale Beach (South) for weekday and weekend afternoon and morning sessions. You can find these on the council’s Have Your Say website: https://yoursay.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/proposed-dog-off-leash-areas
I have concerns about the reliability of the Review of Environmental Factors (REF), given that dogs were present on both beaches at the time surveys were carried out - on four days last December and January.
To help those who don’t want dogs running loose on these beaches, I’ve chosen a few issues from the REF that you might like to consider when writing a submission - which only needs to be a few sentences long.
Available in: Do You Want Pittwater Leashed? Let The Council Know Why!
Councillor Miranda Korzy
Residents Addresses this Month: Mona Vale Police Station the perfect site for a Community Garden
Two Pittwater residents spoke to the Meeting via the Public Forum, their Addresses run below.
THE FUTURE OF MONA VALE POLICE STATION (Reprise)
The State Government has sold out the Mona Vale community on several occasions in recent years. We lost our Council, lost our public hospital and then our public buses were privatised.
So, when bureaucrats were spotted milling around MV police station in late 2019, it was no wonder locals were concerned. Was the site to be sold off to the highest bidder?
In November 2019 I made a plea to Council to assist MV residents in determining what was planned for our police station. If it was truly seen as superfluous to the police, I asked Council to go in hard to acquire the land for open space and community purposes.
Like Byron Shire Council who bought the former Mullumbimby and Byron Bay hospital sites from the State Government for $1 each.
Surprisingly, at the very next meeting a Mayoral Minute popped up endorsing affordable and key worker housing on the site. The Minute was made on the premise that the police could be moved, and the land developed for housing. But it made no reference to the acquisition of any community open space that I had spoken about.
I suspect that Covid has put any State Government plans for the Police and the land on the backburner.
So tonight, I ask Council to assist the community in pursuing a new, win-win scenario. Keep the Police station on the site and obtain the northern half of the land for the MV community.
The Mona Vale police land is ideally located for community purposes, opposite the bowling club, the skate park, Kitchener Park and the bushland block known as Lot 3 (which I have previously spoken about).
Best of all, there is at least 1500 square m of land at the rear which is a perfect location for a community garden in Mona Vale.
An existing compound for impounded or wrecked cars and boats doesn’t need to be in MV on that site. The compound pavement appears in good condition, and it would make a perfect carpark for 20 or 30 cars, immediately adjacent to our new community garden.
Rotary members and Mona Vale residents who I have spoken to have indicated their strong support for a community garden on the Police land. I suspect that you will hear more from them soon.
The adjacent section of Pittwater Road is busy and dangerous and has seen pedestrian fatalities in the past. An overhead pedestrian bridge at that location would open up both sides of the roadway as premier community space. The gateway to Mona Vale.
We are on the eve of a new round of master planning for MV. Now is the time to get as much Community land in the bank as we can.
So, I appeal to Council to push the State Government and acquire the northern half of the Mona Vale Police site for open space including a community garden.
Mona Vale Police Station Land
Good evening councillors. I am here to seek Council’s support in making better use of local Crown Land for community purposes.
Tonight I will be taking about the Mona Vale Police Station site.
I am asking that Council approach the New South Wales Government to make available part of the land on the Mona Vale Police Station site for community use. The Police station is located on Crown Land between Turrimetta and Vineyard Streets in Mona Vale. The site comprises five building blocks which include the police station and a holding yard for vehicles which have been involved in serious accidents. There is also a large shed on the site of the holding yard.
Adjacent to the holding yard is a large area of land, probably around 1500 m², which which I believe would be the perfect site for a community garden.
I am asking Council to approach the New South Wales government to seek the transfer of the site to Council for a peppercorn amount of one dollar. The precedent exists as some years back the Byron Council paid the State Government, I believe one dollar each for the former Mullumbimby and Byron Hospital sites. A similar arrangement could be struck to acquire the land beside the Mona Vale Police station.
I understand that local Rotary is interested in supporting a community garden project and this would be of great benefit of the community if adopted. I am also suggesting that the vehicle holding yard be acquired as part of this arrangement so that the hard surface storage area could be used as a carpark for those using the community garden. Surely the holding yard could be located on government land in an area like Ingleside rather than where it is presently located. In addition it would be worthwhile pursuing the availability of the large shed on the site for use as a men’s shed. If supported this would be a big win for the local community and make good use of land that is basically sitting idle and unproductive. On examination of the site by myself and Dave Murray it was clear that the vacant ground is perfect for a community garden with rich and moist soil available. If onsite parking was made available it would ensure that on street parking would not be an issue to nearby residents.
With community support I am sure that the cost to Council and ratepayers would be minimal. Note that there are two senior’s complexes within a few hundred metres walking distance of the land and those residents would likely benefit from involvement in community garden or men’s shed activities.
A number of years back I also raised the question with our local member Rob Stokes about the construction of a pedestrian footbridge from this site across Pittwater Road to the large recreational area which includes Kitchener Park. He dismissed the ideas a being too costly and unlikely to be supported by the RMS. I disagree as a footbridge would provide safe pedestrian access not only to Kitchener Park, the Guide and Scout Halls, the bowling club, the tennis courts, skate park, golf course, the bowling club and also to Mona Vale Beach. Yes a footbridge would be a costly project but would benefit the community in the long run as well as probably save the lives of pedestrians.
I believe that these are worthwhile ideas and I ask the Council consider the benefits to the community in making better use of unproductive Crown Land.
The current NSW Government owes the local community a lot after having closed an effective and much needed local public hospital with emergency and surgical services and having sold off our public bus service to private sector interests.