August 13 - 19, 2017: Issue 325

Pasadena Park: To Be or not to be?

Funding To Return Pasadena Site To Public Ownership

9 August 2017
Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes today announced the NSW Government has agreed to provide financial support to Northern Beaches Council to assist with its resolution to purchase the former Pasadena site at Church Point.
The NSW Government has previously provided financial assistance to Council’s ongoing car parking, boardwalk and pedestrian improvements currently being introduced around the Church Point precinct.
Returning the Pasadena site to public ownership would further enable Northern Beaches Council to provide a key community precinct that preserves the area’s unique character and natural beauty.
“Church Point is one of our most iconic community precincts,” Rob Stokes said today.
“Council is currently introducing generational improvements throughout the precinct and there’s now an important opportunity for the NSW Government to further contribute to this project.
“It’s vital that the low-key character of Church Point is maintained and its historic purpose as a community and commuter precinct continues.
“Despite millions currently being invested in community infrastructure improvements at Church Point – the former Pasadena site is literally the missing piece in the puzzle.
“Its location in the centre of the community precinct is prohibitive in enabling Council to proceed with broader landscaping, recreational and community infrastructure improvements.
“I’m pleased the NSW Government is able to continue supporting Council in pursuing improvements at Church Point,” Rob Stokes said.
NBC Media Release on the Pasadena: Wednesday, 9 August 2017
In a major win for the Northern Beaches, the derelict ‘Pasadena’ property at Church Point will be turned into predominantly public open space for all of the community to enjoy.

Northern Beaches Council Administrator Dick Persson AM and Pittwater MP Rob Stokes have announced the NSW Government and Council will partner to purchase the rundown eyesore.

“When I saw the state of this site during visits to Council’s capital works upgrade at Church Point, and after listening to locals, it was obvious what an eyesore ‘Pasadena’ is and the fact that it will soon be significantly at odds with the rejuvenated character of the area. It was very obvious that something needed to be done and that is why we have acted.

“With the strong backing and drive from Minister Stokes, we have agreed that the State Government will put forward an amount of funds towards Council’s acquisition of this site.

“I am very pleased that with the strong voice of the Northern Beaches Council, the NSW Government has agreed to work with us to benefit the local community.   

“This is a highly valued piece of the Pittwater foreshore which could potentially deliver a wide range of recreation benefits for the local and broader community,” Mr Persson said.

This is the last parcel of land there which is in freehold ownership. Council staff will begin negotiations with the owner to purchase the site. Should that not succeed, Council would proceed with the process of compulsory acquisition.

Planning for the future use of the site would then commence with a view to the majority of the site being converted to an open space recreation area and associated infrastructure. 
The owners of the Pasadena, Biagio Abignano and Paul Peterkin, were unaware of the above plans for acquisition of their property. The Administrators Minute of Tuesday's (August 8th, 2017) was the first they heard of the matter. 

In 2016 their plans for refurbishment and establishment of a day spa were refused. This followed a December 2014 refusal of their plans and a fight that went to the Land and Environment court. Meanwhile, the building continued to deteriorate. 

Councils can’t acquire land for any reason they choose. Section 186 of the Local Government Act 1993 requires a council to only acquire land for the purpose of exercising any of its functions.

Unless a proposed acquisition is for a council function, the council has no power to acquire the land. Councils must have the legislative power to acquire land or an interest in the land. Once the council has established that it has the power, it can resolve to proceed with acquiring the land either by –
  • private agreement; or
  • compulsory process (with or without land/interest  owner’s consent)
Section 187 of the Local Government Act 1993 states that if a council is using its powers under that Act to acquire land, the acquisition must occur in accordance with the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

Section 20 of the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 provides that gazettal of an acquisition notice gives council a fee simple or freehold interest in the land. It also frees or discharges the land from all estates, interests, trusts, restrictions, dedications, reservations, easements, rights, charges, rates and contract in, over or in connection with the land. In effect, the council will obtain a clear title to the land.

However, the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 provides that any express provision of an Act that authorises compulsory acquisition of land can keep certain rights in the land, notwithstanding section 20. For example, 186(3) of the Local Government Act 1993 states that land classified as ‘community land’ under that Act will not be discharged from trusts, estates, dedications or other burdens affecting the land once compulsorily acquired.

Once land has been compulsorily acquired, the validity of that acquisition is not generally affected by a failure to comply with the requirements of the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

This does not mean that the validity of a compulsory acquisition cannot be challenged. For example, if the Minister’s or the Governor’s approval was obtained by misrepresenting the purpose of the acquisition, a court could set the acquisition aside, see: Gaffney v Camden Council (1997) 96 LGERA
157. This scenario might also amount to ‘good cause’ for the Governor to rescind a notice (section 31 of the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991).

Acquisition notices could also be challenged on other legal or jurisdictional grounds. 

Acquiring land for the re-sale of some or all of that land at a future date is not permitted without the landowner’s approval. 

When Pittwater Council did not succeed in purchasing the Pasadena in 2012, losing out by 100k of the final purchase price of 2.4 million, the hopes Pittwater would finally have its own Art Gallery and Entertainment venue went with them - something that had been discussed in the community. The Gone Fishing Gallery, which was being run in the structure despite a leaking roof, and on a volunteer basis by Offshore Artists, went with it.

The Pasadena in 2012

The Pasadena structure, initially built in 1930 by Charles Wymark and opened on leased Crown Land(close to and east of the Public Wharf ) then in 1941 he acquired the land where the Pasadena stands, or crumbles, today. 

The business was taken over by Mr Teasdale-Smith in 1949 and he employed Samuel Hood to grace us with a few wonderful photos:

From Album: 'Pasadena waterside restaurant, Church Point (taken for Mr Teasdale-Smith), 1950' by Sam Hood. Image No hood_11664h

The Administration Council, with council elections now less then a month away (September 9th) is in caretaker mode and announced three potential boons for Pittwater on Wednesday the 9th of August - a performing arts centre built by Northern Beaches Council that may now be established on Mona Vale Public School (council will carry out a feasibility study on the facility including a detailed business case in consultation with the Department) - a feasibility study to be conducted into the provision of wastewater services to Scotland Island - and this 'plan' for the Pasadena site.

A Plan that may ensure, per the Administrators Minute: 
C. Upon purchase of the land, give public notice in accordance with the Local Government Act 1993 of the proposal that the land be classified as Community land under the Local Government Act 1993.

Much more room for the Dog Race - but do the current owners want to 'Have Your Say' first?