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I am posting this separately from the full Report from the Gallery because of the Public Meeting about the Marrickville Metro expansion tonight. The following is my understanding of the discussion & all mistakes are mine.

The Public Meeting is to be held at tonight Wednesday 21st July 2010 at 7pm at St Peters Town Hall, 39 Unwins Bridge Road Sydenham.

Click on the following link for more details – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/public-meeting-regarding-marrickville-metro-expansion/

Request for extension of time for community submissions concerning the DA for Marrickville Metro expansion – 2 residents spoke asking that instead of the usual 30 days given for submissions, that this be extended to at least 60 days. They said AMP has had masses of time to get themselves organized & that most of the nearby residents are not aware of the planned expansion.  They said there is not much information about the expansion on the Marrickville Metro website, that supposed door-knocking & letter drops by Elton Consulting to the residents has not been successful in that most don’t know what is happening. They also spoke about current problems of traffic, 4am deliveries & maintenance, staff parking in the streets & noise.

Clr Hanna put up the motion to have the consultation period extended to 60 days.  He spoke about being blocked for 15 minutes while a Woolworths truck was doing deliveries. He said none of the residents know what is happening & there are a lot of complaints about Metro as it is currently. He said to make it double the size & buy the street is going to create major problems & asked where the 700 new staff are expected to park.

This is a seriously big Fig with a girth of many metres. It stands near the front entrance of Marrickville Metro on Victoria Road.

Clr Phillips put up an amendment that Council is to write to the Minister to hand the assessment of the DA back to Marrickville Council. He said the expanded Metro would be a disaster, that it would hurt our shopping strips & cause problems with parking.  He said AMP want a privatized space where there is no infrastructure & the process allows a limited scope for consultation.

Clr Thanos supported the 60 day consultation period. He said the planning process has been the most disgraceful process he has come across & it looks like a deal has been made with the state government with AMP as the beneficiary.  Mayor Iskandar said Council was preparing everything to oppose the expansion & the shopping strips will suffer, but the law is as it is. He said we will fight the process together, but shouldn’t raise false hopes.

Clr Marcri said parking does not exist for local shopping strips so people drive on to Metro & the shopping strips cannot compete with this.  He also said the local streets near Metro have been earmarked as parking for the new Enmore pool & that if Metro expands, there will be a huge gridlock further out & residents will suffer. Clr Byrne said if the Metro DA is passed, the state government Department of Planning will not be following fundamental planning processes as Council has been told they cannot change the zoning in this area.  Carried unanimously.

What I did notice was that no-one mentioned the many, many trees that will need to be removed if the expansion goes ahead.

The community now will have 60 days to put submissions in regarding the Marrickville Metro expansion & they will do this with the knowledge that all Councillors oppose the expansion.  Hallelujah!   Hope to see you there tonight.

View of trees in the unused space beside the main entrance at Marrickville Metro

AMP, which owns Marrickville Metro, plans to expand the shopping complex by 35,000 sq mts, more than doubling its size.  They intend to bypass planning restrictions from Marrickville Council & apply to the Joint Regional Planning Panel under Part 3A.  In my opinion it is highly likely that the plan will get the go ahead from the JRPP, as they seem happy to permit development that local Councils have indicated they are likely to refuse.

The Marrickville Greens are opposed to the proposed expansion of Marrickville Metro & you can read what they think about the issue by clicking on this link – http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/issue/marrickville-metro-expansion/ I am unaware what Marrickville Labor or the Independent Councillors think about the proposed expansion.

On AMP’s Marrickville Metro web-site they say their research showed:

  • One in 2 people found the idea of an expanded Metro “very appealing”
  • 81% of Marrickville LGA residents thought that an upgraded Metro would serve the community better
  • 58% liked both strip shopping locations & shopping centres

This is a seriously big Fig with a girth of many metres. It stands near the front entrance on Victoria Road.

Apart from the obvious impact this development will have on our local shopping strips & issues like increased traffic, pollution & delivery trucks, SoT’s main concern is the probable loss of all the mature trees which surround the Metro site & all the mature Eucalypts which line the surrounding roads.

Around the perimeter of the current Marrickville Metro there are 54 Figs, 13 Brushbox, 3 Camphor laurels, 1 Peppercorn, 1 Palm. There are 11 mature Eucalypts on Smidmore Street. This is a total of 83 mature trees & I did not include the smaller trees.

Looking at the drawing of the new Metro on AMPs web-site I would consider all these trees at risk of removal.  The artist’s impression of what the finished development will look like is interesting.  The drawing of the new Metro shows 3 London Plane trees & lots of paving.

AMP say they want feedback from the community.  They don’t appear to be asking how we feel about the expansion or whether we want it or not, but what kind of shops & amenities we would like. Regardless, you can write to AMP & give feedback. franchesca.garciadarke@ampcapital.com

Personally, I don’t want a bigger Metro. Two supermarkets are enough for me. I definitely do not want all those trees chopped down.  I believe that for the Inner West we need the opposite to concentration of large volumes of traffic towards 1 block of land. A sustainable inner Sydney needs shopping strips near where people live as opposed to being forced to use their car & travel for kilometres each time they go shopping.

AMP’s Marrickville Metro web-site is at the following link – http://www.marrickvillemetroshopping.com.au/developmentupdate.amx

The Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting & the Service Committee Meeting was held on 13th April.  I stayed only for the first meeting.  Councillor Thanos was absent.  The following is my take on the meeting & all mistake are mine.

1.       Local traffic planning – 2 issues were discussed in detail.  3 residents addressed Council regarding a development affecting Wilford Lane Newtown.   Link Construction Group Pty Ltd are constructing a building at 63 – 71 Enmore Road Newtown. The speakers complained about a heap of problems such as noise, dust, multiple incidents of damage to private property, potholes, rubbish, blocking of access & abuse from builders.

walk way in Tempe Reserve

A privacy wall that the DA said was to remain was knocked down & not replaced. Also contrary to the DA a green space was removed.  3 metres of land that was reclaimed by Marrickville Council was paved over, making it appear to be private rather than Council property.

The developer has been fined 10 times at a total of $30,000 & the residents say that Council could be booking the builders for violations on a daily basis.

Chair Clr Mary O’Sullivan said this was an acute & serious issue & all Councillors mirrored this sentiment.  They will meet asap with residents & bring back the results to the next Council meeting.

In the second issue a resident spoke passionately against allowing a request from the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) to Marrickville Council to give them a substantial parcel of Sydenham Green for The RTA to create another lane on Railway Road Sydenham heading towards the intersection of the Princes Hwy.  The RTA say the extra lane will make it easier for trucks & other vehicles to leave Railway Road & enter the Hwy.  Of course it will, but it will also encourage more trucks to use this route through Marrickville LGA.  The resident who spoke said as far as he was concerned, there was too much traffic & far too many trucks in this area.

The area of land the RTA have their eye on is from the Princes Hwy to the Coptic Church built in 1884.  13 healthy trees on park land would need to be chopped down.  Councillors voted to deny the request from the RTA.

2.         The Metropolitan Strategy Review 2036 Discussion Paper was briefly discussed.  This is a large document, which I have yet to read.

3.         Metropolitan Transport Plan – Most discussion concentrated on the Greenway.  Marrickville Council is concerned that 55% of the Plan’s budget is for road infrastructure.

Just about to burst into flower-Sydenham Green

Council thought it would be better if only 20% of the budget was directed towards roads with the remaining 80% directed to walking, cycling & public transport.

The Greens wanted an amendment that called on the state government to ‘guarantee’ a bike-path in the Greenway corridor.  The plans do not guarantee the bike path, as a lot depends on whether the light rail is 1 or 2 tracks.  Clr Wright did not want to impose conditions that may impact on how light rail works.  After debate that centred on using creative engineering around ‘pinch points’ the motion was amened to ‘consider inclusion’ & this was carried unanimously.

4.       Greenway Steering Committee.  The Mayor & Deputy Mayor will attend as representatives for a period of 2 years.

5.        LGA wide Parking Management Study – The issue was to employ a consultant for $300,000 to do a study on parking across the LGA.  The Greens were against both the study, saying that Council cannot afford $300,000.  They said there are already areas which the council knows needs work done & it would be better to start fixing the problems than paying that money for another study.  Clr Phillips suggested using Section 94 money to fix known problems.  A staff member advised that Council has already collected funds for parking including on-road parking.  As I understood it, the other Councillors although concerned at the amount of money, were interested in learning what the study came up with.

wetlands in Tempe Reserve

The outcome was the Councillors would be briefed on parking matters.  They would look at using Section 94 money as an alternative to a consultancy report & look at previous parking proposals that have been considered. The decision to employ a consultant has been deferred.

My fear is that Council will go they way of Leichhardt Council & bring in metered parking because it is a phenomenal revenue maker & could be attractive to a council which has severe financial problems.

6.         Re-establishing alcohol-free zones – Clr Tsardoulias put forward an amendment to remove Alex Trevallian Plaza (next to Post Office Café on Marrickville Road Marrickville) from the proposed list of alcohol free places because a Thai restaurant which fronts the plaza will have outdoor eating & wants to be BYO.  The General Manager said they would allow the restaurant to serve alcohol, so Councillor Tsardoulias withdrew his motion. The Greens concerned about the associated increase in police powers that result from such measures. Public consultation will be done regarding a number of locations along Marrickville Road shopping strip, side streets, Calvert Street car park, Sydenham Green & other locations in Sydenham.

There ends Report from the Gallery for another week.

It was a very quiet meeting last night.  Councillors Kontellis, Thanos & Hanna were absent & Mayor Iskandar & Clr Tsardoulias had to leave for other engagements around half way through the agenda.  The following is how I understood the meeting.  All mistakes are mine.

First up was quest speaker Cathy Lloyd, London Co-ordinator & Director of Open Bethlehem which is trying to save Bethlehem by encouraging interfaith dialogue, peaceful cooperation & harmony.  She said only 15% of Bethlehem residents are Christian & if relations between religious groups do not improve, it is likely that the Christian churches in Bethlehem will be museums within a few years.  She will speak at St Luke’s Church in Enmore this Thursday night.

Then on to the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting.

South Ward Local Area Traffic: Marrickville Council’s report recommended 24 points & a few residents came to speak about various points in the report.

Traffic on Warren Road Marrickville South: one resident spoke against & 2 spoke for the recommendations.

The ‘for’ arguments were about the size of trucks using the streets with particular reference to the 19 metre trucks currently used by Woolworths, saying they were too long for the local streets, caused traffic grid-lock, road rage incidents, frequent property damage, increased the risk of accidents & lowered pedestrian safety amongst other issues.  They agreed Warren Road should be made one-way from Carrington to Illawarra Road & wanted traffic to be allowed to turn right from Renwick into Illawarra Road to stop a large percentage of traffic leaving Woolworths being forced to travel around the block to go west & north.

The ‘against’ argument reminded of past experience when roads were made one-way which resulted in significant traffic increases & also expressed concern that other residential streets would get more traffic as a result of Warren Rd & Schwebel Street being made one-way.  Mayor Iskandar & Clr Tsardoulias supported this fear.

Clr Macri suggested a 12 month trial to see if the one-way option worked, but a council staff member advised this wouldn’t be a good idea because if the trial was unsuccessful, the residents would not like losing their parking rights again.  Clr Marcri also said Woolworths needed to act responsibly & suggested council erect ‘concrete tank traps’ to stop damage by trucks to council property.

Clr O’Sullivan said 75% of Warren Road residents said they wanted Warren to become one-way with parking returned to them & 50% of Schwebell Street residents supported one-way for their street.

The outcome is the report will be open for community consultation soon before a final decision is voted upon.

Road closure in Wilford Lane Newtown:  One resident spoke, but I was not in the Gallery during this discussion.  The outcome was the issue was to return to the Traffic Committee.

Proposed Metro Bus service from Sydenham to Spit Junction in Mosman: A representative from the NSW State Transit Authority spoke about the proposed service saying buses will be the low to the ground, 19 metre ‘bendy-buses,’ air conditioned & wheelchair accessible.  After listing all the pluses of which there

Just to lighten up this post a little, here is a photo of Roundup madness

are many, he then said that Council would be expected to pay for all new signage, the relocation of other signage & a loading zone.  If Council didn’t agree to this, then State Transit may have to think seriously about NOT instigating this service or continuing to provide other bus services.

Sounded very much to me like Council was being held to ransom & Clr O’Sullivan used these exact words a few minutes later.

The cost of the signage is $9,000, which doesn’t seem much, but Marrickville Council is poor & this money will have to be taken away from essential works in the locality. Clr Phillips said with rates pegged at 2.6%, it was going to be very difficult for council to look after services & the state government should pay for the required signage.  This was supported by Clrs Byrne & O’Sullivan.  Clr Byrne said that currently only 17% of routes are accessible routes & only 18% of the buses were accessible.  Clr Macri said it was disappointing that this amount of money was being debated & the community would be prepared to pay for such a bus service.  The motion was carried.

Marrickville Local Environment Plan Update: Clr Phillips was disturbed that the Department of Planning did not want to include the McGill Street Masterplan rezoning in the LEP until Part 3A is settled “which this council is against.” Clr Byrne was concerned that Department of Planning wanted to remove ‘accessibility’ from the LEP.  The LEP will return at a later date.

Duration of council meetings:  All Councillors & the new GM thought meetings were too long.  It was noted that meetings run late when DAs are being decided upon & when many residents want to speak.  It was decided meetings will aim to finish by 10.30pm with a half hour extension if required & that Councillors could use responsibility & discipline & limit their need to speak, especially if others have said the same thing.

Government Information (Public Access) Act: This was about Freedom of Information applications, meaning what information you & I can get hold of.  One person has requested a recording of a council meeting & was supplied with the same.  Marrickville Council keeps audio recordings of their meetings for 3 months after they are approved, so you mustn’t delay if you want one.  You could apply for a transcript, but I have no idea how long they keep these.  However, the written word loses all other nuances that are clear with recordings.

Finally a recision motion was accepted to put mobility parking space outside a residential home in Newtown.  It had previously been declined, but new information regarding the level of disability was submitted.  9pm & the committee meeting was over.

In other council news of late, The Cumberland Courier published an article about Strathfield Councillor Danny Lim, including breach of code of conduct findings against him. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/in-spotlight-for-wrong-reasons/

Next, also from The Cumberland Courier, Camden Council finances are in surplus largely due to development. I wonder whether Marrickville Council is hoping for similar with Section 94 money helping their financial position to become viable. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/development-surge-boosts-camden-council-s-coffers/

The Manly Daily asked “Is Warringah Council back on track?” with an article addressing poor behaviour by Councillors & long meetings with one where the agenda was not completed. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/warringah-councillors-try-to-get-with-agenda/

Lastly, another from the Cumberland Courier concerning Backpackers clogging Sydney’s local streets with their vehicles many up for sale.  Something to think about with the proposed DA for a 132 bed Backpackers in Addison Road Enmore with 7 parking spaces.  See Report from the Gallery – 2nd March 2010. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/backpacker-car-yards-on-our-streets/

the community does not want this road through Tempe

Today, around 300 people attended a protest walk across Tempe Reserve to the RTA’s community consultation about the planned 4 lane arterial road.  The walkers could be heard chanting as they approached.  Then with a roar, they came around the trees & stood facing the tent where about 20 people were listening to a talk by the RTA on the ‘road to nowhere.’

The ‘No WAY RTA’ banner carried by local residents led the walk closely followed by the Marrickville Council banner carried by Councillors O’Sullivan, Olive, Peters, Phillips, Byrne & Mayor Iskandar. State Greens MP Lee Rhiannon also attended.  Many people expressed disappointment that other State & local MPs were not in attendance.

After a few minutes the crowd progressed to the tent & listened to the speaker.  The protesters respected that the RTA staff had a job to do & did not interrupt.  Besides, the information about this road has been vague, so everyone wanted to know the details of what was being proposed.

I asked about the location & height of the 4 lane arterial road & how many trees will be chopped down to achieve this.  The staff member said he had no idea, acknowledging, “Some trees will have to go.”  He did however, show me the route of the road & said, “It will be at least 10 metres above the ground, higher in some places.”  He said the road could not travel along the Alexandria Canal because it will cross the flight path.  Another person pointed out that the intended route put the road on top of a hill travelling in the same direction & this would also affect the flight path so the rationale didn’t make sense.  I think there is a plan cooking somewhere to build units along the Alexandria Canal.

The details of the proposed 4 lane arterial road as I understood are:

  • The road will require the removal of many mature trees in a park on the Rockdale Council side of the Cooks River (do they care?)
  • It will cross the Cooks River & travel between the mature Fig tree situated on the point of Tempe Reserve & the Robyn Webster Sports Centre (the white building with the brown drawings designed & painted by Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft as part of the Marrickville Council Public Arts Strategy in 2004)
  • 2-3 mature Fig trees look to be in the way of the road, however the staff member said this was only a guideline & may change
  • The road will go through & above the seating in rotundas, the barbeque areas & the extensive & well loved playground
  • It will then follow the curve of the park along Alexandria Canal cutting off access to the water (I doubt people will want to sit under a 4 lane highway)
  • Then it will cut through the urban forest on the city-side of the park before it travels along the crest of the hill just above Tempe Wetlands, & beside a golf driving range.  It will overlook houses in Tempe & most certainly be visible from the Princes Highway
  • The road will stop at Sydney Park & much of the 15,000 vehicles/day will end up on King Street & Euston Road

at today's protest

This road is of great concern because of pollution, noise, impact on the community, respiratory illnesses, damage to Tempe Reserve & the park on Kogarah side & both the Cooks River & the Alexandria Canal & will increase traffic through Newtown, St Peters & surrounds.

Community group Tempe 2020 are there to provide details about how this road will affect their community (see What’s on page).  SoT is concentrating on the impact it will have on trees, wildlife, the river & the Tempe Wetlands.

The well-utilised beautiful park on the Kogarah side of the river will be massively affected.  Here, I have photographed cormorants drying off their wings on the banks of the Cooks River.  It is filled with wildlife that will be severely impacted by the making of this road & the addition of thousands of vehicles speeding past each day.

Tempe Reserve is a beautiful park in its infancy.  Marrickville Council have spent millions repairing it & creating biologically diverse areas such as a salt marsh & ephemeral wetland to provide habitat for flora & fauna.  In about 10 years it will look significantly more beautiful as the current works will have established themselves & the trees will have matured. It is used by many people 7 days a week & not just for sporting activities. I do not think the community can afford to lose either park to a major road.

impact on Tempe Reserve

Most people are attracted to the point of the peninsula & Marrickville Council knows this because that’s where they put the barbeques, the playground & the seating & this is exactly where the RTA intend to put the road.

I feel annoyed that the State government & the RTA have so little respect & appreciation for these areas.  I can only assume that they, as many people in Sydney, don’t realise just what a jewel this area is.  Friends glaze over if I mention the Cooks River.  Years ago they heard it was ugly & dirty & this has remained in their consciousness.  Now it is full of lovely regrowth areas.

The State Government should be doing everything in their power to protect Tempe Wetlands & the Cooks River, which is also highly visible as one of the gateways to Sydney from the airport.  Sydney also needs to keep places like this for future generations & for wildlife.  This is a densely populated area of the inner west with few parks per capita.

The wildlife in my opinion is quite stressed with the rapid urbanisation & the continued loss of where they can live & find food.  Stopping on the perimeter of Tempe Wetlands to take photos today, the air was alive with the sounds of insects humming away.  Walk inside & you could be in a national park.

Not everything of beauty should be destroyed for more roads.  In my opinion, the State government are continuing to build this city for vehicles, not for people. As long as you encourage cars, roads will always be filled.  Spend the money earmarked for this project on public transport, not for a road system that ends nowhere & is going to force drivers into crowded Alexandria and King Street that is barely coping now.  Let the wildlife have a little pocket for themselves.  Future generations will thank you for it.

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