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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 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.

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