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Save Hoskins Park – This has nothing to do with Report from the Gallery, but it’s terrific news that can’t wait.  The community won in their opposition to the DA in Piggot Street Dulwich Hill that would have seen 2 double fronted Federation houses demolished, many mature trees removed & building of 11 three storey town houses, 9 of which would loom over Hoskins Park.  See – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/3-more-street-trees-up-for-removal-local-news/ The DA was not passed & the residents are extremely happy with Marrickville Council.

From the Delegated Authority Report: The proposed development fails to satisfy the objectives & controls contained in Marrickville Local Environmental Plan 2001 & Marrickville Development Control Plan No. 35 – Urban Housing (Vol. 1).  It is considered that the proposed development would result in significant impacts on the streetscape, Hoskins Park & amenity enjoyed by residents of adjoining & surrounding developments.  Accordingly it is considered that the application should be refused.

View of the DA site from the high end of Hoskins Park

All up 154 submissions objecting to the proposed development were sent from the community.  Marrickville Heritage Society also put in a submission against this DA.  The community petition against the DA had 770 signatures.  This is a fabulous response from the community. Compliments to the community group Save Hoskins Park for they worked hard to ensure their cause became known far wider than just in the immediate area.  Well done & thank you also to Marrickville Council.

On to the meeting proper. Last Tuesday was the Development Assessment Meeting.  Clr Tsardoulias was absent.  The following is how I understood the meeting & any mistakes are mine.

The following DA decisions were deferred so that the Councillors could do a site inspection: 61 Edith St St Peters, 41 Neville St Marrickville, 14 Vernon St Lewisham & 15 Palace St Petersham.  There was a bit of commotion about one of the DAs being deferred with a member of the gallery jumping up & saying it was a disgrace.  He very much wanted the DA dismissed that night & judging by the nods from others, he was not alone.  Shows you how stressful development can be to the community.

Backpacker Accommodation at 43-51 Addison Road Marrickville – This DA was previously refused in December 2009.  See  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/report-from-the-gallery-2nd-march-2010/

This time they proposed an 80 bed establishment with off-street parking for 7 vehicles, 2 of them designated Disabled Parking.  In recognition of the public

This Camphor Laurel tree is just over 2 metres wide

disturbances by intoxicated guests, they proposed to have a security guard patrol the local streets hourly from 9pm -3am Sunday to Thursdays & on-site Fridays & Saturdays “with authority to stamp out unacceptable behaviour.”

A speaker from the Backpacker Advisory Association of NSW addressed the Councillors.  He spoke about how ‘house rules’ will be sufficiently communicated to guests & enforced if need be.  He said there would be a full-time manager on-site who will have access to full-time security “which is unusual” & they have made provision for 6 neighbourhood meetings.  In regards to parking he said most backpackers buy cars to go on a road trip, otherwise they use public transport. He cited the benefits of backpackers bringing $1.1 billion to NSW in 2009, each spends $2,500 on average during their stay & they each create 6.3 jobs for the community.

The General Manager of the company spoke next & said they had been negotiating with local police & set up a customer complaint monitoring system & 6 neighbourhood meetings.  He said complaints had decreased of late.  Said of the 41 guests in the past 2 months, only 2 had cars.

Figs cascade over the path on a foreshore walk in Birchgrove

A town planner spoke next & tabled a letter from their lawyer.  He indicated they were prepared to take this DA to the Land & Environment Court.  He said the key issue was the security guard who will walk the streets & there will be a restriction of the number of ‘allowed’ parties.

3 residents addressed the Councillors.  Their speeches cited the following: broken glass, litter, vandalism & tampering with private property on a daily basis, female residents being accosted, cars driving on the wrong side of the road, groups of backpackers on the street screaming & fighting for hours, beer bottles lined up under residents’ cars, damaged public phone booth, vomit in the booth, a roller door being pulled off the garage & dumped with multiple other objects on top of a car, opening gates & letting pets out, climbing on residents roofs, damaging residents cars & so on.  Naturally they had concern for their children being out on the footpath.

The residents said these days the police do come less often because the residents don’t call them often as they realise the police have finite resources.  Therefore the situation hasn’t really improved even though it appears so on paper.  They also said the building is not vacant as travellers are already living there.

Although the building is in an area zoned light industrial, residential houses abut the site.  If this DA goes ahead, there will be 3 backpacker hostels which put the residents effectively inside a triangle of backpackers.

A massive Eucalypt on private property at Ballast Point Birchgrove

Clr Phillips said that while he appreciated the letter from the lawyer, Council must consider the public interest & this DA is a strong issue of concern for the public.  He said the fact there is a need for a security guard says a lot.  He said Backpackers come & go & he doubted they would sit down & read the Plan of Management.  He said he thought the development was too big, saying the police have serious concerns about the development & with another backpackers, Newington Mews, which already has problems.  He said, If Council approved this DA, they would be causing a lot more problems for the community & that an 80 bed hostel is not appropriate for the area & not in the public interest.

Clr Thanos said the current LEP allows this kind of use & he wanted the courts to be aware that Marrickville Council sees this area as inappropriate for backpacker establishments & that Council’s LEP is going to change soon.  He put up an amendment that Council’s LEP should be altered to prevent this from happening.

Clr O’Sullivan supported this amendment saying Council also had issues of concentration of sex industry facilities & should consider control of concentrations of backpacker establishments as well.  She said introducing another 80 backpackers who are often inebriated would have an effect on women, kids & older people.  She also said it’s a new issue in the area & we need to have a clear view on these.

Clrs Olive & Macri spoke about the fact that, even though the hostel is in light industrial, it still abuts residential areas.

Clr Hanna said he did not like establishments like this in the area & encouraged the residents to contact Council’s monitoring services in the event of further disturbances.

a row of young Figs

The DA was unanimously voted against.

200 Enmore Road – A restaurant wanted to extend operating hours to 3am. They are a non-alcohol establishment.  Approved.

Wilford Lane – The recommendation was for Council to negotiate a payment of $54,000 to the developer to widen this section of the laneway.  Recent meetings between Council & residents agreed that the widened section of Wilford Lane would become green space.  Over time, Council will buy back 3 metres along the laneway to widen the laneway from 3 metres to 6.  Passed unanimously.

Meeting finished.  A quick Council meeting followed which agreed that Marrickville Council hold a reception at Petersham Town Hall for the Women Walking for Peace event.  The reception will be organised by Clr Byrne.  Passed unanimously.  The women are walking from Brisbane through Sydney to Canberra from 13 March – 25 May 2010. To see the itinerary – http://footprints.footprintsforpeace.net/australia_walk/upload/files/Itinerary_Updated.pdf

The evening opened up with an Extraordinary Council Meeting about our Sister City relationship with the island of Madeira, which was recently struck by flood & landslides killing 42 & injuring 250 people.

Discussion covered recognising the devastating effects of this & other recent natural disasters, Council’s poor financial position, the lack of financial capability to reciprocate to an equal level when representatives from Sister Cities visit Marrickville, the large numbers of Sister Cities we have & whether this should be reduced (imagine, “sorry sister, it’s goodbye”) & developing a policy regarding financial assistance to Sister Cities when Council is having problems financially supporting its own services.

The motion was carried to donate $5,000 from the Sister Cities budget to help with rebuilding the affected area. Mayor Iskandar had the deciding vote.

Then came the Development Assessment Meeting.  One wouldn’t think that DAs are interesting unless they directly concern you, but actually they are.

There were DAs for single block developments, shops & large residential housing.  The gallery was full & some residents waited for 2 hours to speak.  The following is my impressions & thoughts:

People from both sides feel quite passionate & emotional about DAs.  Some were frustrated by the time required for the DA process.

Local residents were concerned about developments they felt would significantly change the streetscape in terms of set-back & visual impact. Height, noise, parking, privacy & loss of light were other issues causing concern.

I have seen these issues raised many times both inside & outside Council meetings.  People who become involved by attending Council meetings, signing petitions or lobbying against certain DAs hold the streetscape of the Inner West in high regard & they want to retain it.  It appears that some people new to the area & developers want to build more modern buildings & this causes a conflict with the other residents.

Given that these developments are being built, I don’t think it will be too many years before the visual outlook of great chunks of Marrickville LGA will be significantly changed.  Unlike Haberfield, which has decreed no modern buildings will be allowed & heritage will be protected at all cost, Marrickville LGA does not seem to have a policy like this.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that if a DA ticks all the boxes, it is up to the councillors as to whether it gets approved.  Naturally, the Councillors have differing perceptions of taste & beliefs as to what constitutes appropriate outlook, as well as what should be knocked down.  Many cherished buildings considered heritage by the Marrickville Heritage Society & other authorities have been demolished over the years.

Last night one developer said the plans for a large  residential development were “unashamedly contemporary,” yet the area this development is situated is one of the most historical in the LGA in terms of housing, other buildings, parks, trees & other historical infrastructure. I see some box-like buildings plonked next to softer, filigree terraces, but I belong to Marrickville Historical Society, so of course I prefer the older buildings.

Only last week Paul Keating said on Lateline, “Well, I can’t teach you good taste” when speaking about the 60 storey glass hotel in red planned for a finger pier at Barangaroo. Interesting that I liked much of the proposed development, but not this particular building.

streetscape

I mention the issue of development & taste because our suburbs are changing.  Marrickville LGA is about to embark on major new development & much of it will be high-rise.  A lot will get through because the state government wants us to have housing for something like another 10,000 people & frankly Marrickville Council desperately needs the money which comes from Section 94 contributions (what the developers pay to Council).

The Councillors need our input either directly or via community lobby groups.  Mayor Iskandar said this in both Marrickville Matters & the Inner West Courier recently.  He also said that the changes coming would affect the community for at least the next 25 years.  If we don’t let the Councillors know what we don’t want, then we will have to accept what the developers give us.

Very soon, a DA for a Backpackers in Addison Road Enmore will come before Council.  This is a 130 plus bed establishment with 7 parking spaces, 2 of them designated Disabled Parking.  Is this of consequence?  Judging by the speakers last night & other recent community action regarding the proposed development on the old Marrickville RSL site, parking is a huge issue in people’s minds.  Council is passing DAs where residents question the parking ratio & sincerely believe parking opportunities will be worse with the new development.

It’s changing times.  Denser living will further impact on parking.  Backpackers often have sufficient funds to buy a car & most residences have at least one car & sometimes more than two.  Council & the government are encouraging public transport use, but living close to a railway station really doesn’t have much of an impact on vehicle ownership yet.  Perhaps later it will when petrol becomes costlier.  For now, there is the problem with a transport system that is already deemed inadequate.  It’s all food for thought.

Moving to trees, a DA at 23 West Street was passed last night.  This site will have 8 double storey modern townhouses built on a block where there are two 9 metre Council protected Canary Island Palm trees & a Fiddle Leafed Fig tree on the boundary of the back property.  Council’s own report stated that Canary Island Palm trees only live for 15-40 years so the development would ‘outlive’ them.  In fact, these trees generally live for 150-160 years, which is an enormous difference.

The Councillors agreed these 2 trees will be relocated to the back of the development, stipulating the root protection zone of the Fig tree will also be protected.  This is a good thing, though I’m sorry we will lose the Palms from the streetscape, which has or is about to lose 31 trees on the opposite side of the street.  Change.

It was good to hear that Palms relocated at Enmore Park for the swimming pool development are doing well.

Another DA passed was 63 Grove Street St Peters which will erect 34 double storey dwellings.  2 mature trees will be removed, yet the landscaping is great.  They intend to plant 10 trees capable of growing to 15 metres, 19 trees reaching 5 metres, 9 trees reaching 7 metres, 10 trees reaching 8 metres & 46 trees reaching 5 metres.  94 trees in total.  They also intend to preserve the current street trees.  I wish all developments planted this percentage of tall growing trees.

One final point of interest is that various sites across Marrickville LGA are considered contaminated, so don’t eat the dirt.  There is some serious toxic stuff around from poor industry practices in the past & dumping.  Like toxins that live on to create problems decades later, we need to think if an upcoming development will also be like that & whether we want to be involved in community consultation to shape our community for the better.

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