St Ives Cultural annd Environmental Education Centre – Council committed to spending $4.3m to design and construct the education centre. I know some residents have criticized this decision as they’d rather see $4.3m spent to support local businesses, however it’s important to point out that this money comes from restricted funds ($1.2m environmental levy, $3.0m development contributions) and legally there is no option for council to collect money for one purpose then spend it for an entirely different purpose.
St Ives Showground and Precinct – Council recognised the importance of potentially heritage listing some of the built structures in the precinct. Before the heritage listing of any specific structure, it will be assessed against the usual eight criteria for heritage assessments.
Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra – Council voted unanimously to sponsor the KPO an amount of $28,000 for community activity throughout 2021/22.
Where do your rates go? – Council voted to investigate the possibility of adding an attachment to the annual rates notice to indicate how much money will be spent on each initiative. This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea, it’s been done by other councils before where the feedback has been that some residents have found it helpful. Personally, when talking to residents about the way our council spends money I usually just guide them through our annual report which contains much more detail. In the image below I’ve provided a page from our annual report showing you where $100 was spent in 2019/20.
Yesterday the State Government provided new guidance urging councils to keep playgrounds open where possible, and today our council staff made the decision that all playgrounds will reopen from this Saturday.
Please note that under public health orders, no more than 2 people should gather (excluding members of the same household) and that we should continue to observe social distancing, good health and hygiene practices.
Personally I’m still reluctant to send my children to playgrounds if I can at all keep them entertained in the home, in the yard, or at other local walks and ovals. Delta is easily transmittable. However the number of cases in Ku-ring-gai is relatively low and like many other things in life, it is up to each family to make their own risk-based decisions on the risks vs. mental and physical health benefits.
For more information refer to the following links.
This week we received over 80 submissions to the public exhibition and while I can say that I agreed with what residents have been saying about the priorities and potential delivery path of the Lindfield Village Hub project as a whole, I’d also say that none of the submissions talked about the Planning Proposal itself (which is about land rezoning) and the submissions may therefore end up not addressing any of the land zoning issues that are opened up by the planning proposal. To explain, think of the Lindfield Village Hub project as two workstreams.
Workstream one covers the financial and project delivery elements including questions such as:
Who will council partner with to design and construct the hub?
Council does not own land for a pedestrian bridge. Does any potential partner help deliver one at an acceptable cost?
Is Council able to afford building the hub?
Should the hub include commuter parking and if so, is the State Government committed to fund it at a reasonable cost?
Which elements of the hub should council retain vs. which elements should be privately owned?
Should funds from the old Lindfield Library go towards funding the new library?
How should we fund the future operations and maintenance of the hub?
The issues with workstream one are being addressed behind the scenes as part of a separate process.
Workstream two is unrelated to, but separate from, the first work stream. It covers the land use and zoning of council-owned land with questions such as:
Should the heights be increased from seven storeys to nine storeys?
Should we add an additional residential tower to the site, thus reducing the 3,000 sqm green space previously promised to residents?
Do we wish to build the library and community facilities at the current anticipated size of ~1,200 sqm each?
The Planning Proposal is in relation to workstream two and I’ve covered it in more detail in the previous post.
The 80+ emails cover workstream one and not the Planning Proposal so how could they make things worse? Council staff could say “we received over 80 responses to the planning proposal and not one objected to the reduction in park size”.
If you want to make a submission please make sure that it’s about the Planning Proposal, not unrelated matters.
Several residents have asked about the Lindfield Village Hub Planning Proposal which is currently on public exhibition until 27 August 2021. At 1,288 pages, residents have said that the material was difficult to understand and did not know whether the Planning Proposal should be a cause for concern.
The short answer to this is that the land for the future Lindfield Village Hub is currently zoned for seven storeys but in order to improve the economic viability (and success) of the project, council is proposing to rezone the land to support nine storeys. The increase of two storeys requires a Planning Proposal.
I am personally comfortable with single-digit storey heights as it means the proposed buildings will be no taller than the buildings on the other side of the Pacific Highway. However what I am uncomfortable with as a councillor is that the Planning Proposal creates the possibility of a northern tower that encroaches land which was previously intended as green space under the 2015 Master Plan. The 2015 Master Plan provided for 3,000 sqm of ‘green open space’ however in more recent years the language has shifted to ‘plaza, park and open space’ to draw attention away from the anticipated reduction of green space.
In the future, Council will choose a delivery partner to design and construct the Lindfield Village Hub. It is my hope that we can choose a delivery partner who has the means to make the project happen with 3,000 sqm of green space to meet the recreational needs of our local residents.
In other news, the State Government announced last month that it had finalised negotiations with Council to deliver 135 commuter parking spaces for the Lindfield Village Hub. This announcement provides more certainty for Council as it seeks to progress with delivering the community facilities.
I have more to say about the Hub but will leave it for another post. In the meanwhile, if you want to check out the Planning Proposal you can do so via the following link.
Last month Ku-ring-gai Council was one of only two councils in the Sydney metro area to close its playgrounds despite the absence of a public health order to do so. The decision by staff to do this was a conservative one made genuinely in the interest of our residents’ physical health, and in the context of ambiguous stay at home orders.
After some feedback from local residents, councillors and MPs, council staff have reassessed the situation and have decided that from this Friday (6 August), nine of Council’s playgrounds will be reopened to the public as part of a two week trial. These playgrounds will be cleaned and entry will require a QR code scan. Towards the end of the trial and depending on the situation with Delta at the time, council staff will then consider what to do next (e.g. open more playgrounds, leave as is, close the playgrounds again).
The nine playgrounds are:
Queen Elizabeth Reserve – West Lindfield
Dukes Green – East Lindfield
Gordon Recreation Reserve – Gordon
St Ives Showground – St Ives
Putarri Avenue Reserve – St Ives
Bicentennial Park – West Pymble
Kissing Point Village – South Turramurra
Cameron Park – Turramurra
Wahroonga Park – Wahroonga
This news will be of great relief to some parents, especially those whose kids are stuck in apartments and going nuts. Having said all that, I’d like to remind everyone that we still have orders to remain 1.5m apart while exercising (if not in the same household). The Delta strain has also proven to be quite infectious and has a greater impact on young people than its predecessors so even as a parent, I’d be cautious about sending my children to these playgrounds. Keep an eye on the latest COVID sites, remember that there’s usually a week-or-so delay before the sites pop up on the case locations list, and make a risk-based decision as to whether or not you want your children to be out at these playgrounds (as opposed to running around an oval or walking around the neighbourhood).