December 4 - 10, 2016: Issue 292

Mona Vale Rally regarding Place Plan brings together community residents

On Sunday November 27th at a rally called by the various Residential Associations in Pittwater  was opened by Mona Vale Residents Association speaker Marcia Rackham who thanked former Pittwater Councillors Sue Young, Bob Grace, Julie Hegarty and Alex McTaggart for attending the Mona Vale Rally.

Marcia then opened the speaking, stating, "We believe as a community that Mona Vale has a very strong sense of place and we don’t need to be told how our place should be. What we want in planning is a top down approach not this bottom to up style of planning which is really an American style of planning that doesn’t fit and is not suitable for here.

 We also want to see developments progressed that were promised to people in Warriewood – this refers to a community centre that was promised and seems to have gone on the backburner now that a very large auditorium has been slated for Mona Vale on the park here where we’re gathered today. Their Section 94 money was taken to build this facility but other than an announcement that plans are underway to make plans, nothing has progressed."

We do believe that we have a connection to Newport and Avalon and Palm Beach. In stating recently that these are not part of any plan and that they won’t touch Newport or Avalon the General Manager and Administrator seem to be trying to place a divide between the various community organisations and residents associations. 

Well we don’t believe they won’t touch these areas. We also don’t like the fact that they’re trying to create divisions within our community and the residents within our area. We find that the way this administration council is treating local associations, who have looked after their residents for decades, is quite shabby."

Once again the chasm between what was discussed at Mona Vale Place Plan consultation meetings in 2015 and what was touted as what people said was referred to. Widening footpaths was discussed, making laneways more viable and how important parks were – six and seven storey buildings, housing in the 5% of industrial area, which a few stated must remain as these are where young people have an opportunity for employment in Pittwater. 

The similarities between what is in the draft Mona Vale Place Plan and what the Greater Sydney Commissions has slated for Mona Vale, with councils in the North District ‘required to give effect to District Plans as soon as practicable after a District Plan is made’ was discussed.

The Greater Sydney Commission draft North District Mona Vale Proposed priorities, for which feedback is invited, are: 

  • protect and enhance the commercial and retail function of the centre to provide employment growth and maintain high job containment
  • ensure sufficient retail and commercial floor space is provided to meet future demand
  • leverage the Mona Vale B-Line stop to facilitate intensification of uses in the centre, with an emphasis on the provision of housing affordability to retain 18 to 35 year olds 
  • explore opportunities to increase residential diversification around the centre 
  • improve access and linkages to local destinations, such as Mona Vale Hospital, through priority pedestrian networks 
  • promote walking and cycling to the centre and within it 
  • retain and protect the industrial precinct to the north of the centre to serve the growing population 
  • investigate feasibility of existing planning provisions and controls as they relate to mixed-use and residential development within the centre 
  • prioritise place making initiatives to promote mixed-use activities, urban activation and more diverse housing, and improve connectivity and integration with existing networks.

Although Administrator Dick Persson initially stated in his Administrators M of Saturday, prior to the November 22 meeting at Dee Why, that the Mona Vale Place Plan would be set aside until elected representatives were in place, the announcement, as taped (minutes 35 to 43), from that meeting states as part of that that he hopes to have some part in moving the MVPP forward. This has been interpreted as the draft, as is, being reintroduced prior to local government elections for this area taking place. 

The Mona Vale Rally, which had been called originally to discuss options regarding this unpopular draft for Mona Vale developments, now served as a means to ask those attending to stay vigilant and look for opportunities to discuss further what is slated for Mona Vale and ask membership of their various Residents Associations to ensure they provide input on the document when it reappeared.

A few attendees were concerned the discussion was reviving anti-amalgamation issues as pushing through developments as the prime reason of the forced amalgamations was touted by opponents prior to May 12th 2016’s announcement, the same date the draft Mona Vale Place Plan was published. Opponents to any kind of amalgamation, forced or otherwise, envisioned no elected representatives in place as a form of local government, and a rush to move developments through while 'under administration'.

In 2015 John Illingsworth published ‘Pittwater, Going…gone’ in which a Newport Residents Association member stated just this. 

Some recalled what Harvey Rose OAM was speaking of retiring from Council representation we spoke to him asking ‘why?’ to which he replied ‘because it’s all going to be driven by politics, it’s going to get mean and messy’. 

The level of residual anger, indicative of a growing distrust of having not been told the full story once too often in the view of many attending, bought forth other topics - more than one person expressing the misconception being perpetuated that the six to seven storeys slated in the draft Mona Vale Place Plan had been brought forward by Pittwater Council - in fact the bulk of Pittwater Councillors first saw this draft days before they were sacked and prior to any Pittwater Council Meeting on the matter taking place. 

Yellow balloon flown shows height of proposed buildings

A Church Point resident spoke, asking people to become aware that, at their Community Meeting, held just prior to the meeting on the MVPP, it was suggested by the administrator the new carpark at Church Point will have an extra storey added on so that 400 car parking spaces becomes 800 - and to fill in the beach area so this too could provide more parking. This was suggested on top of, as the speaker described it 'the cement mausoleum round the corner from this that has finally got up after 30 years of discussions'. In closing the speaker asked everyone to share this news with others as she thought people may not be aware of as this meeting, too, was not widely publicised and short notice was given, so that many offshore residents could not attend.

Another and another raised a query of where had the community centre for Warriewood gone,as prefaced by Marcia Rackham in her opening statements - as the draft Ingleside plan has two slated for south and north Ingleside, that may answer that query in part, although this is a GSC State government led proposal, not that slated for 500k of 'developing plans' currently slated, and previously outlined, by Pittwater Council, and for Warriewood. 

Ex-Manly Councillor Hugh Burns reminded attendees that per the Local Government Act Section 214A ' you need only 26 thousand signatures on a petition to start a Boundary Commission review', or 20%  of the electors in a municipal area were required to begin a review of a council area - of course they must have the Minister for Local Government's support and directive to the Board to carry out this review.

Mr. Burns closed by stating that Mona Vale is not Manly or Chatswood, but unless people spoke up that's what will eventuate.

Also attending was Mosman Councillor and Save Our Councils NSW spokesperson Carolyn Corrigan and Hunter's Hill advocate and Save Our Councils NSW spokesperson Phil Jenkyns - Ms. Corrigan stated that when the subject of amalgamations was first introduced Pittwater was looked to as the standard for what could be and what must be maintained. Councillor Corrigan commiserated with the residents over what had then occurred stating it was unfortunate the bid of some former Pittwater Councillors to fight in court to save Pittwater was undermined in the days leading up to the May 12th announcement, and that if Mosman had not fought it too would be gone. 

She urged everyone to keep doing what they could in the meantime and they had the 100% support of SOCC.

Phil Jenkyns also spoke strongly against accepting what had been imposed on the community, citing the recent by-elections in Orange as a taste of what is to come in state politics and urging attendees to make those responsible accountable and ensure, if they did have to wait for the next state election to begin the process of reversing being subsumed then to bear in mind SOCC had received an undertaking from the current opposition political parties that they would reverse the amalgamations and people should hold them to that.

Pre-election promises are worth little to many in Pittwater now though.

Speaker after speaker called for a proper community driven Master Plan, a ‘well written, thoroughly researched, community based’ Master Plan. People don’t want to play with colourful post-its and crayons, they aren’t interested in hearing spiels spoken smoothly but empty of detail,  that can be scrutinised, meaning or not based on a community’s aspirations.  

As per the Greater Sydney Commissions requirements for councils the next round of what is stated and what residents may provide feedback on prior to it taking place may not be too far away - modifications, genuine consultation and for elected representatives at a local government level to be reinstated prior to any advancement of such plans are what were called for last Sunday

In thanking everyone for attending orgainsers stated those gathered, under what were then darkening skies, may be interested in a new John Illingsworth film 'Perfect Storm

Report and photos by A J Guesdon, 2016.