March 5 - 11, 2023: Issue 574


From the Council Chamber - February 28, 2023

By Miranda Korzy, Pittwater Greens Councillor

Residents arriving for Council Meeting

Community comes out in support of Conservation Zones
Pittwater residents flooded the gallery at Northern Beaches Council’s Dee Why meeting last Tuesday, in support of a motion to retain all the area’s Conservation Zones (or C-Zones).  

Brandishing signs including “Protect our Tree Canopy” and “No more bulldozing Pittwater”, the community sent a strong message to councillors and staff that they value the former Pittwater Council area’s Conservation Zones.

I believe the motion, submitted by me and seconded by Curl Curl Greens Councillor Kristyn Glanville, was probably the most important on the agenda that night for Pittwater residents - and their numbers appeared to prove that. As Mona Vale resident Dave Murray pointed out in a speech at the meeting, discussing Pittwater’s future, it’s rare to see fellow community members prepared to make the 20km trek to Dee Why on a Tuesday night. 

Amongst the throng were former Pittwater Council General manager Angus Gordon, former Pittwater Councillor Sue Young, Jacqui Scruby, Independent candidate at the coming state election, and Labor candidate Jeffrey Quinn. Members of a variety of Pittwater community groups, including Pittwater Natural Heritage Association, Canopy Keepers, and Pittwater Environmental Heritage were also in the crowd.

To bring residents up to date, I explained to the meeting recent changes to the modelling published in the Draft Conservation Zones Review last year. Staff had clearly listened to the Pittwater community’s call for greater environmental protections, whose submissions made up 60 per cent of the 935 sent to the council concerning the review.  

In new modelling, staff have indicated we could increase the former Pittwater council area’s combined C3/C4 zones from the current 9,731 to 10,551 by introducing Foreshore Scenic Protection areas. That’s an improvement on the 7,457 proposed in the Draft Conservation Zones review. 

However, we’d still lose 1,734 properties from this zone.

Mr Gordon, who has a Civil Engineering degree and more than 50 years experience on both national and international coastal, flood and geotechnical engineering projects, highlighted the safety issues raised by the loss of properties from C-zones in an address to the meeting.

“In the old Pittwater LGA, around three-quarters of the properties are impacted by either/or a combination of bushfire, landslip, flooding and coastal erosion,” Mr Gordon said.

“The area is very different to the old Manly and Warringah LGAs. For example, there is an order of magnitude of more bushland, so subject to fire and threats to lives and properties. Where the other LGAs are based on sandstone formations, in Pittwater outcrops of sandstone can fool people into thinking it’s the same, but it isn’t. The sandstone in Pittwater is perched, often precariously, on clay and slate formations, both of which are quite unstable. That is why large boulders fall off headlands, or landslips threaten houses.”

Mr Gordon noted the Warriewood Valley had been badly flooded in the past, along with regions around Narrabeen Lagoon, and that Newport and Avalon villages are very flood prone because they’re built on old swamps. Meanwhile, at Bilgola Beach, houses collapsed into the surf in 1974 and Pittwater’s foreshores were prone to erosion, as was highlighted by current threats to houses at Mackerel Beach.   

The proposed changes in Conservation Zonings were based on technical studies, he said, but he found them wanting.

“It is apparent to me that during the course of all these studies, no-one has actually got their heads around the cumulative total impacts, nor their interdependence, nor the reasons behind the zones, and hence the magnitude of threat, given the significant impacts on the future of the community,” Mr Gordon said.

In another address to council, local resident and founder of the Pittwater Environmental Heritage group, Anna Maria Monticelli, urged councillors to support the motion to retain all Pittwater Conservation Zones or to develop a strong and separate LEP for Pittwater. 

“Not because the people of Pittwater are special but because the area is special,” Ms Monticelli told the meeting.

“And this uniqueness supports community well-being and the many small businesses that benefit from the hundreds of thousands of visitors that come to Pittwater each year.

“There must be a balance between environment and development.”

Ms Monticelli asked that council members: strengthen the Pittwater environmental planning principles in a new LEP/DCP (Local Environment Plan and Development Control Plan) with no loopholes; implement Pittwater’s DCP 60/40 rule, a foreshore scenic protection area and character statements in the new planning regime; identify real biodiversity corridors and protect tree canopy, and each be upgraded to a high environmental value to automatically qualify them for C-zones; and to retain all C4 zonings in Pittwater.

In my speech to council, I also called for a report into heritage features in Pittwater and for a report on the outcomes of the public exhibition of the Draft Conservation Zones Review to be publicly exhibited before the LEP is finalised and placed on public exhibition itself.

Finally, I noted there’s no legislation or ministerial directive requiring the council to have a single LEP. 

“So if it’s not possible in a “harmonised” LEP to provide the former Pittwater Council area with the protections the community expects, then let’s update and retain a separate Pittwater LEP,” I said.

In debate on the motion, Pittwater Liberal Councillor Rory Amon said he supported the intent of the motion but asked for confirmation of the number of properties in Conservation Zones in the Pittwater Ward and for the projected changes.

Staff repeated the figures I had mentioned for changes in C-zones, which would lead to an increase to 10,551 under the new modelling. They also said 827 more properties would move to Conservation Zones in Pittwater and 5,003 across the entire LGA. Meanwhile, the number of C4 properties changing to “likely” R2 (low density residential) in Pittwater would fall from 3,632 in the Draft Conservation Zones Review to 1,734 in the latest proposal.

Mr Amon then argued that the motion would result in fewer C-zones than under the recently proposed changes and concluded that: “If the motion was passed it (the number of properties in C-zones) would stay as is.”

In response to what I believe was obfuscation by Mr Amon, I asked staff to confirm the number of properties that would be lost in Pittwater from C-zones, and they confirmed it would be 1,734

I make two points in response to Mr Amon’s comments regarding the motion. I support staff’s improvements to the modelling, which do create more C-Zones than those proposed in the draft review and even the current situation. Nowhere does my motion say that the Foreshore Scenic Protection Area, that resulted in this change, should not be adopted.

Secondly, however, it is possible to have an overall increase, while losing properties from the existing C-Zones. As I told the meeting:

“It’s important we retain these as well as confront increasing environmental hazards, such as bushfire and sea level rise. So what I’m proposing on behalf of the community, is a further increase in numbers of C zones on those in the new modelling.

“The crux of the issue is that important criteria for C zones have still not been given sufficient weighting.  Because of their environmental function, wildlife corridors and tree canopy merit the same weighting as areas of significant biodiversity. Similarly, escarpments, steep slopes and Foreshore Scenic Protection areas, considering their scenic value and hazard potential, should qualify for C zones in their own right, rather than in combination with another feature.” 

It’s a technical argument, but it’s where the weakness of the Draft Conservation Zones Review and the latest modelling lies - where properties within the newly proposed Foreshore Scenic Protection Areas would currently also qualify for a C-zone only in combination with another criterion.

On the issue of heritage items, I was dismayed to hear the staff response to my call for a report on those currently listed in Pittwater’s planning documents (and in fact across the LGA), as well as those proposed but not acted on at the time of council amalgamations and identified since. A report would be prepared, staff said, however: “Given the extent of heritage items, my advice is not to include heritage items (in the LEP/DCP) because of (problems) with property owners.”

I believe this would be an abrogation of our responsibility as a council to protect local heritage if we took this approach.  

Curl Curl Liberal Councillor Dave Walton successfully proposed an amendment to the motion, that it be deferred to a briefing on Tuesday 7 March 2023.

I was opposed to this, because as I told the meeting, Pittwater residents want certainty - which this motion would offer. I developed it in consultation with a well-regarded and very experienced Environment and Planning Lawyer, James Ryan, who has also been a long-term Greens councillor in the Hunter Valley, and was confident of its legality. 

If, as staff said of one clause, it does not satisfy the terms of our strategic planning, that can be altered. 

I was pleased that Narrabeen Independent Councillor Vincent De Luca OAM commended the motion, saying: 

“It is clear that this is a significant issue that the people of Pittwater have serious and significant concerns about. Earlier, residents stated they would prefer for this matter to be dealt with tonight. 

“This has been democratically and legitimately put on the Agenda.

“In relation to Clause 2 (ie that Council ‘Retain all Conservation Zones from the Pittwater Local Environment Plan 2014 (LEP) in the Northern Beaches Council’s single Local Environment Plan, now under development’), if it is out of order, it can either be changed or reworded, and by delaying [this] it does give an unfortunate perception to the community that we are not dealing and responding urgently to the concerns that they have legitimately raised and that Councillor Korzy has raised.

“So therefore I would encourage all councillors to vote against the amendment of deferral as this means it will not come until the next council meeting, so there will be a month delay, and I think from what we’ve heard already, the issues that were outlined and supported by a majority of the Pittwater Ward are OK to proceed tonight. I don’t understand why we’re deferring it.’’

The next council meeting is scheduled for 28 March, after the State Election. Through being delayed the Motion may become one of the issues people will vote on at a state level rather than being resolved locally.

In the end, a majority of councillors voted for a deferment (including Your Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan, from Frenchs Forest Ward, and Pittwater YNB Councillor Michael Gencher), with only Mr De Luca and Mr Amon joining me to vote against. 

I’m grateful to Pittwater residents for their presence in the chamber on Tuesday night - and believe it showed councillors the strength of feeling about our Conservation Zones.

Finally, I note that in an extremely unusual and I believe curious intervention, CEO Ray Brownlee added a “Chief Executive Officer’s Report” to the end of my motion. In his note, Mr Brownlee gave a rundown on the development of strategic plans, the Draft Conservation Zones Review and other documents feeding into the LEP.  

He said that the review “outlined several measures Council is proposing in the new LEP and DCP in addition to land use zoning, that will protect the environment and strengthen the current controls in the 4 existing LEPs and DCPs”. He added:

“Other measures (not currently included in any of our Standard Instrument LEPs) but which we are investigating for inclusion are matters such as: Tree Canopy, including deep soil requirements and tree replenishment rates; Landscape Controls, Floor Space Ratios Controls which will aim to reduce building bulk (currently only applies to Manly LEP); and excavation controls.”

However, whilst the CEO considers this motion “premature”, I do not believe “investigating for inclusion” or the other non-committal language Mr Brownlee used in his report, such as talking about a “possible change” or “measures … we are investigating”, is what the Pittwater Community expects at this stage - especially after such intensive engagement in submissions to the Conservation Zones Review. 

In fact, at the November 27, 2018 meeting, the previous council voted to complete a new, single LEP for the Northern Beaches by June 2021 - nearly three years ago. Meanwhile, we have recently discovered that completion of the LEP will now be delayed once again until next year.

Resignation of CEO Ray Brownlee
Council formally acknowledged the resignation of CEO Mr Brownlee at Tuesday’s meeting, and his “significant contribution to the Northern Beaches community and this Council thanks him for his service”. Mr De Luca voted against this clause.

Most councillors followed up with tributes to Mr Brownlee, saying they were grateful for his guidance and integrity - and pulling the Northern Beaches Council into shape.

Mr Amon said that there had been a strong secession movement in Pittwater before Mr Brownlee’s arrival, “which has dissipated under his guidance”. None of Pittwater’s community groups supported that now, he said. 

This appears to have been a show of mutual admiration, with Mr Brownlee reported in a recent local media story as endorsing Mr Amon, not only as a candidate at the coming state election but also as a “a sensational local member and great advocate for the whole state when he gets his turn in a ministry, he’s that good”. Similarly, the story said Mr Brownlee had described Mr Regan as: “an amazing Mayor, he is community focussed and to pull the merger together the way he has is just amazing”. 

What other candidates, who are members of the Northern Beaches community and two of whom from Pittwater were at Tuesday night’s meeting, would have thought of these comments can only be guessed at. 

Choosing a new CEO  
In closed session, councillors also voted to establish a selection panel to recruit a new Chief Executive Officer compromising the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, up to 4 other Councillors and a suitably qualified person independent of Council. The only person to oppose this motion was Pittwater’s YNB councillor Michael Gencher.

Members selected for the panel were: Mayor Michael Regan (Frenchs Forest, YNB); Deputy Mayor Sue Heins (Curl Curl, YNB); Councillor Ruth Robins (Narrabeen, YNB) ; Councillor Georgia Ryburn (Manly, Liberal); Councillor Dave Walton (Curl Curl, Liberal); and me (Pittwater, Green). Only Frenchs Forest YNB Councillor Jose Menano-Peres voted against this motion.

Ms Heins was unanimously elected convenor of the selection panel.

Soft Plastics - what can we do to recycle them? 
Congratulations to council’s environment division on a report at Tuesday’s meeting investigating a way forward on soft plastics recycling and reductions on the Northern Beaches.

With the collapse of REDcycle in November last year, it has become clear that not only are soft plastics an environmentally disastrous material but that there is a limited market for products produced from recycling them 

However, council staff have proposed “entering into negotiations with Plastic Forests (or each of Plasmar and Polyrok if negotiations with Plastic Forests are unsuccessful) to establish a small scale soft plastic collection and reprocessing trial for Northern Beaches residents, including buy back of suitable recycled soft plastic products by Council”. 

However, this comes with the rider, that even if terms can be agreed upon, the recycler must show that markets exist for their recycled products before a trial commences.  

Staff will also continue to monitor the market for recovered soft plastics “to assess whether there are future viable opportunities for Council to scale up collections and recycling and seek external funding should viable opportunities arise”. 

Most importantly, the council will write to NSW and federal environment ministers, calling for phasing out of unnecessary single use soft plastics. 

What does the Quarterly Budget Report say?
It looks like good news that the council’s quarterly budget update is forecasting an increase of $5.8 million to a surplus of $48.4 million for this financial year - including capital grants. Grants aside, the forecast increase is $800,000, taking the surplus from $6.6 million to $7.4 million.

Staff should be congratulated for securing a $9.1 million NSW government grant for road repair (in the Regional and Local Roads Repair program), of which they expect to spend $3.4 million this year. I’m particularly pleased about this, following my November motion calling on staff to report back to council on the number of potholes on local roads and funding needed to fix them.

As a result, staff expect capital expenditure to rise by $2.1 million to $108.2 million, largely due to the roads grant. 

Curl Curl Liberal Councillor Dave Walton welcomed the updated figures, saying it was an excellent result brought on by “slowing the growth of expenditure”. 

I had a different take on the $7.4 million surplus, however. The council report notes that employee benefits and costs were lower than expected due to staff vacancies, which included in environmental compliance. Pittwater residents are only too aware of the impact of this deficiency and its impact on investigations into environmental vandalism. Other shortages exist in the transport and corporate support, while I told the meeting I believe development compliance is also short of staff, given the problems in Pittwater.

Other challenges faced by the council will be an end to the Stronger Communities Funds - which the NSW government provided to councils, particularly in seats held by the Coalition - as amalgamation sweeteners. The report notes NBC has secured $33 million in total in these grants. The Quarterly update summarised these as including:

Mona Vale Surf Lifesaving Club $4.4 million
Long Reef Surf Lifesaving Club $3.23 million
Newport Surf Lifesaving Club $100,000
Netball courts $550,000
Mona Vale Performing Arts Centre $2.02 million
Barrenjoey Performing Arts Space $1.05 million
Currawong Cottages $3.081 million
Wakehurst Parkway $1.01 million

I noted at the meeting that when added together, the total for these grants spent on sports facilities ($8.28 million) far outweighs that spent on the arts (a total of $3.07 million) - despite a number of facilities such as community halls being in a degraded condition. Funding for - and as a result capacity at - the Mona Vale Performing Arts Centre was also cut back from the original plans for a 1,000 seat auditorium to 200 seats in 2019, despite the fact that Pittwater has no large theatre space. 

Meanwhile, I told the meeting, Pittwater needs spending on basic infrastructure such as dangerously uneven and unsightly footpaths in Avalon and Mona Vale villages, and rock pools that are falling apart.

I don’t see that $7.4 million surplus going far, and with the likelihood that a new government will be less generous with grants, we will be looking at either budget cuts or rate rises - at a time when residents are crying out for better services.

Meeting Overrun
Given the unexpected resignation of the CEO, Tuesday’s meeting spent a significant amount of time in closed session dealing with issues related to his replacement. I was grateful that councillors voted to bring forward the Conservation Zones motion, so that residents in the gallery did not have to wait till almost the end of the meeting for it to be dealt with. 

Unfortunately, due to the size of the agenda, a number of staff reports and no other motions were dealt with - meaning that 10 items from the agenda will be carried over to the next meeting in March. That was despite the meeting running until 11.04pm. 

I believe this is also a reflection of the fact that the council does not schedule a meeting in January, so that we have a backlog of reports and councillors’ motions to catch up on in February. 

Pittwater Residents Addresses to Council in the Public Forum – February 2023 Meeting

Mark Horton
On behalf of Friends of Mona Vale addressed Council on provisions for Art Displays in Mona Vale

I’m speaking on behalf of the Friends of Mona Vale. We’d like to see more permanent displays of art in the Mona Vale village or along the beachfront. These permanent art displays should be located in busy areas, frequented by the public, not some out of the way headland that is only visited by a few.

In 2014 I participated in the Enliven Pittwater program put on by the former Pittwater Council. The objective of the program was to enliven Pittwater villages through, among other things, displays of public art and cultural events.

One piece of art placed on display by Pittwater Council was a wordplay sculpture with the word ‘imagine’ but with the second ’i’ missing. It stood for a number of years outside the Mona Vale library.

Public art such as this was explained was explained as ‘great to bring to life out walkways, laneways and public domains, to spark the imagination and create commuunity conversations’.  

I also wish to remind council of a promise made some time back that a permanent creative art space would be established in Mona Vale. There is currently a temporary art space located in Park street beside the Mona Vale library. It comprises a number of rooms that are rented out to artists to display and sell their art works. The upstairs room in Park street has been used for a number of recent exhibitions but to the best of my knowledge this space is only made available at the artist’s expense. 

Last week I spoke to a local artist who had been appointed to a working group, tasked with determining the appropriate place for a Moan Vale art space. He said nothing had progressed beyond making available the temporary space I’ve already mentioned. 

The working group identified the upstairs council offices and rooms in Park street as being the best option for a permanent gallery, art space and workshop. I believe the council customers service centre, which occupies that space, could be more appropriately placed at the street level in Park street where it would be more accessible to the public. I call on council to consider such an arrangement. 

Without appropriate displays of art our community is a boring, sterile and colourless place.

Pittwater Council failed to deliver art into Mona Vale despite promises made through the Enliven Pittwater program but I’m hoping this Council will deliver. 

Thank you very much.

[Addendum; in March 2016 newly named Pittwater Woman of the Year Lorrie Morgan explained the Pittwater Council had settled on using the café adjacent to the library as a gallery and council buildings as a ‘home for art’ studios and workshops in Mona Vale.]

Mayor Regan explained that a Creative Space for Mona Vale was now part of the whole discussion and plan for the Mona Vale Place Plan.

Dave Murray
On predicting the future of Pittwater

Thanks very much – looks like I chose the right night to bring a prop (holding a cup/mug)

I was cleaning out the kitchen cupboard recently and I came across this old teacup, which hasn’t been washed since 2016. Back when the catchcry’s like ‘Fit for the Future’ or ‘scale and capacity’ were all the rage. 

Well I don’t fancy myself much as a fortune teller but I thought I might have a go at reading the tea leaves as to what they said as to how Pittwater might change post-amalgamation. Turns out tea leaves are a whole lot easier to understand than our new council logo.  

According to the leaves, a larger council would require significantly more funding to secure a seat at your table; in other words, amalgamation would favour candidates backed by political parties or other vested interests. 

Indeed the leaves predicted the successful election campaign for council would be well out of the reach of many fine outstanding citizens – Mr. Mark Horton for example. 

Over here the leaves predicted the amalgamated council could be reduced to a training ground for political aspirants seeking higher office; there’s a lot of tea leaves there, must have been a double strength brew.

Seriously, with all the rhetoric about ‘scale and capacity’  what was disappointing about the creation of this council was that Warringah already had the scale and capacity to dominate the two adjoining councils.  Warringah had the scale and capacity to spend money on a campaign promoting a position which it favoured. And seven years on, the larger population at the centre of the peninsula has he scale and capacity to determine the agenda of this council. 

Pittwater has seen a weakening of our local representation and a dilution of our community involvement we previously enjoyed in our own reference groups, our own youth groups, and our own development of plans and visions for our area. 

Pittwater residents continue to travel further to council meetings and then sit through lengthy and often quarrelsome debate about issues affecting the far end of the LGA. There is considerable less of the agenda and precious meeting time devoted to Pittwater’s local issues. 

It’s a far cry from what we enjoyed with our own 9 councillors in the Mona Vale Hall. 

Calls for more meetings or meetings at Mona Vale, or even Pittwater Mayoral portraits on the wall have fallen on deaf ears. 

I’ll finish by saying I recently swathe Mayor remind us that all this change equates to  a supposed saving of 29.9 million dollars per year. Do the maths. For a population of 264,000 people that equates to $2.14 cents per person per week, which is less than a cup of tea every fortnight.

Thank you.  

Angus Gordon OAM:
Speaking in support of Item 15.6 Notice of Motion – Conservation Zones

Many of you will know me as the past General Manager of Pittwater Council, some will be aware I have a Civil Engineering degree, and for over 50 years have been involved both National and Internationally in Coastal, Flood and Geo Technical engineering projects.

For many people the word ‘conservation’ brings forward warm feelings about native animals and vegetation. Unfortunately for me, as an engineer, it brings hard professional concerns regarding the conservation of lives and property. 

In the old Pittwater LGA around three-quarters of the properties are impacted by either or a combination of bushfire, landslip, flooding and coastal erosion. The area is very different to the old Manly and Warringah LGAs. For example, there is an order of magnitude of more bushland, so subject to fire and threats to lives and properties. Where the other LGA’s are based on sandstone formations, in Pittwater outcrops of sandstone can fool people into thinking it’s the same, but it isn’t. the sandstone in Pittwater is perched, often precariously, on clay and slate formations, both of which are quite unstable. That is why large boulders fall off headlands, or landslips threaten houses. Historically, Warriewood valley, which has just been discussed, has been badly flooded, and the villages of Newport and Avalon are very flood prone, they’re actually built on old swamps, and that’s not to mention the regions around Narrabeen Lagoon.

In 1974 houses at Bilgola collapsed into the surf and of course all the foreshores of Pittwater are prone to erosion, as highlighted by the current threats to houses at Mackerel Beach. Recently the Premier said we could no longer afford to build in vulnerable areas and yet that is exactly what our inept State Planning system delivers. There are still thousands of people up north suffering from floods that happened over a year ago and on the South Coast we forget that there are still people who have not yet recovered the bushfires that occurred prior to this and occurred a lot longer ago. 

The problem is the Planning system does not appropriately recognise these threats. The Residential Zones simply call for ‘consideration of hazards’ which is, in practice, easy to sweep aside. That just leaves the Conservation Zone classification to enable appropriately managed development. 

I am aware that the proposed changes in Conservation Zoning are based on technical studies. I’m sorry, but I find them wanting. It is apparent to me that during the course of all these studies no one has actually got their heads around the cumulative total impacts, nor their interdependence, nor the reasons behind the zones, and hence the magnitude of threat, given the significant impacts on the future of the community. 

I believe the overall compounded impacts of these threats definitely needs revisiting. Thank you.

Cr. De Luca OAM asked Mr. Gordon to outline why he thought the studies were wanting and what the cumulative and compounded impacts would be, that were not included. 

Mr. Gordon replied that that would take much more time than that available tonight and he’s quite happy to do so in consultation with the CEO.

Anna Maria Monticelli
Also speaking in support of Cr. Korzy’s Motion 

I implore the Council to support Councillor Korzy’s motion and listen to the community who want:

1. To strengthen the Pittwater environmental planning principles in a new LEP/DCP  - with no loop holes.

2. To implement Pittwater’s DCP 60/40 rule, a scenic protection area  and character statements.

3. Create real Biodiversity Corridors and Protect Tree Canopy, each be upgraded to a High Environmental Value Criteria.

4. To retain all C4 zonings in Pittwater.

I urge councillors to support Councillor Korsy’s motion to retain All Pittwater Conservation Zones OR a  strong and separate LEP for Pittwater. 

Not because the people of Pittwater are special but because the AREA is special. And this uniqueness supports community well-being and the many small businesses that benefit from the hundreds of thousands of visitors that come to Pittwater each year. 

There must be a balance between environment and development. 

Unfortunately, under this council there seems none. And  Pittwater is critically close to environmental collapse.

A prime example is the  Proposed Conservation Zones Review where 3,613 properties have been mapped to be rezoned from C4 to Residential. Whereas Manly have only 54 and Warringah 1. 

Prompting Mayor Reagan to say - “I think we got the balance right”. The question is for WHO? Calling it a Conservation proposal is blatant greenwashing - it is a Developers road map not an environmental one.

But even if the rezoning review is completely scrapped, as it should be, there is the problem of enforcing proper codes and regulations and closing the loopholes in the current LEP that have made a mockery of the DA approval system.

I, like many residents  spend  many hours trying to police scandalous DA’s – organizing forums, distributing pamphlets door knocking,  getting petitions signed. And we are tired of doing Council’s job!

For instance -  In February 2022 I took Louise Kerr (Head of Planning), Councillors Michael Gencher and Miranda Korzy on a tour of  preposterous DA approved building sites in PB &WB - where entire cliffs were  removed and not a single tree or blade of grass left, they were all zoned environmentally sensitive.  

I asked Louise Kerr “how did these DA’s get through ?’ I was eventually given the answer - ‘through merit”.

Please explain the environmental merit in obliterating the entire site and calling it ‘Merit’?  I challenge all the Councillors to visit these sites and confirm these monsters should have been approved on “Merit.” 

All this proves the current system doesn’t work.

The council blames the state government for this development madness.

Yet, I’ve been told by a lawyer that there is no legislation that requires one LEP to cover multiple areas or any ministerial directive to that effect.

Which begs the question why is this rezoning proposed on such a biodiversity fragile Peninsula? And why is the current LEP not enforced? 

My group - Pittwater Environment Heritage believes Pittwater deserves an environmental heritage protection statute  - as it has astonishingly natural beauty and historic significance unlike anywhere else in Sydney. 

And it needs urgent Forward-thinking protection. 

If the rules and building codes in place are specific and non-negotiable and adhered to - there would be no need for residents to spend time fighting with Council. 

And no need to stand here and ‘have your say’.

Canopy Keepers, one of the groups who had representatives at Tuesday's council meeting has stated;

"​Like so many residents Canopy Keepers is concerned that the amalgamation across our LGA of all the Northern Beaches LEPs and DCPs, and prior to this happening the modification of the Conservation Zoning will leave Pittwater substantially worse off in environmental protections. 

We believe the methodology used to assess individual properties has not given enough weight to the importance of our interconnected tree canopy as vital wildlife corridors, nor has it considered that each property does not exist in isolation, but as part of an ecological community.

We have a once in 10 year opportunity right now to influence these critical planning tools, and we encourage all residents to stand up for what they love and treasure about this incredibly rich and unique ecosystem, before it really is too late.

Be informed. Speak up. Our shared future needs your input ."

Image supplied