March 28 - April 17, 2021: Issue 489


residents state Housing Strategy Illogical for A narrow peninsula with one road in one road out + ''rich with environmental heritage, this place must be protected for future generations'' 

Photo by Michael Mannington, Community Photography

On Sunday March 21st the organisers of a rally in Mona Vale Park to protest about plans to have Pittwater carry the burden of required increased housing targets was cancelled due to this week’s weather event. The organisers knew they had to turn up to the local village green anyway, to meet those who they could not get word to, and found around 100 people turned up, umbrellas in hand, anyway.

Discussions in the community over the targets proposed by Council through its Local Housing Strategy documents show residents think that Pittwater, along its original LGA boundaries from Narrabeen to Palm Beach, is being targeted to carry the bulk or burden of any required increases and that what has been proposed, high density for Mona Vale, and medium density for Newport and Avalon Beach, is out of step with the true value of these places and why they have persisted in being open green spaces aligned to the flow of their natural topography. 

At the recent Council Meeting, March 23rd, Mayor Regan stated it was only 1200 extra houses that will be required outside of those already within current DA projections – not the 12 thousand the documents state, or that are being ‘spoken about elsewhere’.

However, Pittwater residents are short on trust and long in memory around the subject and have the proof of recent 'urban developments' in Pittwater before their eyes to reiterate this.

The organisers of the rally, along with residents, point out why the proposal for Pittwater to be changed into a high and medium density housing would a disaster for the spit of land from Mona Vale to Palm Beach.

This was encapsulated as:

1. Because this policy will lead to an increase in traffic, congestion and chaos. It cannot be otherwise. We have the evidence: the last 5 years as more DA’s have been lodged, approved and constructed. This policy will make the last 5 years look like a trickle compared to the flood it will become. Every time an original house is demolished and 2/4/6 dwellings replace it, there are more cars parked on the street, more service vehicles, more congestion.  And remember, all this in an area where there is one road in, one road out.  However, the draft housing strategy makes no mention of this. The government, which is telling the council to impose this policy on us, should make an honest public statement to the effect: THIS POLICY WILL INCREASE TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN YOUR AREA

2. The second big effect of all this is the loss of tree/green cover in the peninsula from Mona Vale to Palm Beach. We know that Sydney is losing canopy cover and this policy must lead to a reduced canopy cover. The government should be honest about this too, and come out with a public statement that says: YES, THERE WILL BE A LOSS OF TREE COVER IN YOUR AREA.

3. The third big effect of all this is the loss of biodiversity in Pittwater. This will mean the loss of many of our small creatures, as more and more land is concreted over, more people, more cats and dogs. Our natural environment is very much at risk. This beautiful Sydney asset could be turned into an overcrowded, over developed Gold Coast if the options of the Draft Housing Strategy are implemented.  Again, An honest statement from the government: YES, THERE WILL BE A LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY IN PITTWATER

4. The third big effect for the peninsula from Mona Vale to Palm Beach is economic. We have a reputation for being one of the most attractive natural areas of the world.  Local ambiance and charm is made up of the local housing, vegetation and ocean beaches and Pittwater views. For some reason, the state government wants to trash this. This policy will have detrimental effect on Sydney as an international city.  An honest public statement from the government would be as follow: THE STANDING OF SYDNEY WILL BE DIMINISHED BY THE DEGRADATION OF PITTWATER. 

5. Word is out that developers are salivating at the chance to start building where ever they can. This is developer driven planning. Within 5 years this area could be devastated. To randomly extend building footprints adding to hard cover with more and more concrete in a geographically and physically restricted area like this between Mona Vale and Palm Beach is an act of environmental vandalism.

Due to the weather there was only one Address given at the rally, by Avalon resident David Poppleton. 

Mr. Poppleton is an Environmental Planner, Urban & Regional Planner, Past Medium Density Committee Member for the Urban Development Institute of Australia, former Member of the City West Regional Planning Team and City West Design Review Committee, Founder and National Director of Colliers Jardine Residential Project Marketing, Expert on Residential markets and maximising profitability from Residential developments. He has been and continues as a guest University lecturer on these topics.

David points out that the Pittwater Peninsula is a Unique coastal environment, one of the least changed, best protected areas of any urban area on the Australian coast. Avalon is a charming community Village, end of the line – one road in and out at the absolute extremity of the greater Sydney metropolitan area. A treasure, something to be actively protected and conserved for future generations, a place of enormous environmental Heritage.

''The Pittwater peninsula is one of Sydney’s most popular day drive destinations to enjoy the quality of the coastal village, the natural environment.''

''Local action groups have been campaigning for better environmental outcomes in the Pittwater area for over 25 years. The hard work has seen some improvements, but over time we have seen many aspects of the natural environment, especially tree cover and green space on residential lots, slowly decline. 

There is nothing in the Draft Northern Beaches Local Housing Strategy to address this decline. Only plans to exacerbate it.'' Mr. Poppleton stated

''At the heart of this strategy is the State Government’s decree that Northern Beaches Council facilitate increased housing density and population in the Northern Beaches local government area, in apparent disregard of the environmental effects.''

''It is ridiculous to apply a statewide concept of allowing increased densities in a 1 klm. radius to an environmentally sensitive peninsula which from the sands of Avalon Beach direct to the sands of Clareville beach on Pittwater is only 1.7klms. This standard usually applies to a “major regional centre” usually featuring rail infrastructure, multiple road systems and surrounded by a wide and diverse range of suburban development in all directions. 1klm Is most of Avalon and Newport. This would represent the greatest proportion of any 1 place in NSW.  And in an environmentally sensitive area. Its incredulous that this would be considered.'' Mr. Poppleton stated

''In council’s own words-  “What we need to consider is more townhouses, terraces and shared housing in our strategic centres, within the 1km radius of those transport and employment hubs.’ AVALON ISNT AN EMPLOYMENT HUB OR A TRANSPORT HUB – we have a small community Village and a regular bus stop. 

''The whole concept of the 1klm radius for development is not applicable to a narrow peninsula like Pittwater. PITTWATER MUST BE EXEMPT from this norm.

''It is not a “major centre” it’s a small coastal village - Any development should be focused in and around the Village proportionate to the size of the village and the surrounding, restricted environment.

''There’s only one road in and out. It’s a peninsula. It’s not a typical retail centre where housing – suburbs span out concentrically in all directions, providing a wide and diverse catchment from further out, to move closer to transport and facilities.

''Council MUST consider the market dynamics of the strategy and ensure that development doesn’t price the community out of the area or degrade the natural environment, and totally disrupt what is currently a harmonious safe and beautiful environment and community.

Mr. Poppleton pointed out that one size does not fit all ;– 

''Urban consolidation principles to focus greater populations closer to existing infrastructure, transport networks – bring people closer to the city or to “major regional centres” does not, will not, should not apply to a small local coastal environmentally unique village at the very outskirts of the Sydney region. It totally goes against urban consolidation principals to increase densities at the Cities extremities.

''New development will only be quickly snapped up by more affluent people from other areas rather than being a “provision of housing needs” for the local population. To believe otherwise is totally ignorant of market dynamics and what actually occurs. Then with more people in, comes more need to accommodate for their needs, and so the cycle accelerates.

''Pittwater does not have a transit system – changing a blue bus to a yellow bus (in Mona Vale) does not make a transport system – they are newer and yellow, but that’s about all. Masquerading this as an excuse to allow greater densities is a complete farce.

''Pittwater being a narrow peninsula – 1.7klms from Avalon to Clareville beaches – means wherever you are your only a max of .85 of a Klm from water. There aren’t “affordable” options where we can provide cheaper accommodation a little further away. Current more affordable options are Warriewood, Mona Vale, Newport where there are existing stocks of older apartments that aren’t attractive to wealthier people making their tree/sea change move to the Peninsula. This is the same for Mosman, nothing affordable on their peninsula, affordable (relatively) are Cammeray, St Leonards, Wollstonecraft etc where there are stocks of older apartments. I’d assume same for Manly Peninsula where more “affordable” property is found further away from the beach, Manly Vale, Balgowlah, Brookvale, Allambie Heights etc.

''However, the older housing stock on the Pittwater Peninsula has always been one of the most affordable housing options of any near coastal area in Sydney, because of its distance from the city and long commutes. PLEASE RECOGNISE that by allowing zoning most of Avalon and Newport to Medium Density options will make our old housing stock far more expensive as they become a development site and will price that current “affordable” house option well out of locals reach. IT DOESN’T WORK. Its contrary to the supposed intention of the plan.'' Mr. Poppleton stated

Mr. Poppleton also spoke about Seniors Living, stating, ''The statistics that drive the perceived requirement for “seniors living” relies on the aging population of the Pittwater area. What the plan doesn’t consider is that the statistics don’t reflect the community needs. The current seniors SEPP (which is outdated and needs to be revised) proposes that being 55yrs qualifies you as a senior. We retire at 65 or older.

''There are no other government or social reference to, or benefits, or allowances for people of 55 yrs as they’re not regarded as “seniors” so why does the 55 qualify as “seniors living” in a planning instrument? The SEPP is a defunct relic from the 80’s when apartment developments were almost on hold while the EPA act was being rolled out. There was very little being developed, and the SEPP was a stop gap in the supply. The Australian apartment market has since become a very significant part of the overall supply of properties and apartment living has a broad market across multiple demographics.

''The average age of people moving to active retirement Villages is 79.

''People wish to live in their homes for as long as they possibly can, and the great majority go from home to a care facility when they can no longer do this at home. Pittwater residents don’t become sea-changers at 55, sell up and move to the beach….. - they already live here. 

''Yes, there’s a huge demand from over 55s for property and apartments in the area but it’s not locals. The over 55s market / buyers on the peninsula are wealthy downsizers, sea-changers, people from other areas buying into Avalon. There have never been “affordable” seniors living offered on the Peninsula, its always Luxury seniors living – large 3 bed apartments or townhouses. It DOES NOT satisfy any local need or change in needs of the community.'' Mr. Poppleton said, and;

''We request that Council seek exemptions to seniors SEPP, or to change the entry age to at least 65 – acknowledging local people don’t move from their homes here till much later and 55s apartments are only creating further supply for wealthier purchasers from the rest of Sydney, not providing diversity and choice for locals. 

And that there should be ...''To limit where they can occur, ie within 500 - 600 meters of the Avalon Village. Real seniors don’t walk more than that.''

David Poppleton at the anti- LHS Rally - photo by Michael Mannington

Mona Vale resident David Murray also addressed the Council Meeting through the Public Forum, giving a humorous objection, which he has kindly forwarded as requested;

The Very Versatile B-Line

A few weeks back my wife Lisa and I were finalising our submissions for the Northern Beaches Local Housing Strategy.  “Complete guff” is what she said to describe Council’s 147-page discussion paper.  “It’s solely about the B-line and just a series of circles on the map”.

Well that got me thinking, wow, a housing strategy entirely justified by a bus service.  Maybe Council is right after all and maybe the B-Line is the solution.  Not at all a Trojan horse for over-development as some have said.  Rather, a bus service able to deal with all the inevitable and adverse consequences of continued population growth on a narrow peninsula.

No need to plan for new schools or endure the school-run traffic nightmare.  Just put the kids on the big yellow demountable.  The mobile school that comes to your door then delivers lessons each day during endless loops to Wynyard.

No need to be cut-off from medical attention by flood water.  Just hop on the bus with a big red cross on the side.  Cut finger stitched by Narrabeen, appendix out by Dee Why, open-heart surgery completed by the Spit.

No need to worry about over-crowded sports fields.  Who needs them?  Just keep a lookout for the green buses with the seats removed for endless indoor soccer fun.

And those buses with the red and blue flashing lights will be a welcome sight once Mona Vale Police Station has been closed and replaced with housing.

Want a brief escape from future life on an overcrowded peninsula.  No problem.  Just have a few buses permanently parked up at Palm Beach or North Head for a weekend sleep-over, a sort of Air B n B line.

In fact, lets deck out a B-line bus with all this audio visual gear, put everyone here on board, drive up north once a fortnight and park outside Mona Vale Hall.  Perfect.  Regular and accessible Council meetings, just like Pittwater people previously enjoyed.

Seriously, what really surprises me is the manner in which this Council has acquiesced to the State Government’s plans for a greater population in our area.  How you’ve put the cart before the horse and the B-line before everything else.

Mona Vale has done its fair share in taking on extra population in recent years. Much of the zone around the B-line is already town houses, units or dual occupancies.

So it will be very interesting to see how the results of 560 public submissions on this matter are spun, because the word on the streets of Mona Vale is that our existing infrastructure is struggling to cope, and quite simply, we don’t want any more medium or high-density housing.

Attendees at the rained on at the NO to the Overdevelopment of Pittwater Rally - photo by Michael Mannington