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Combined Residents Grouping - Letter to the Lord Mayor and Council

posted 14 Jul 2012, 21:47 by Friends of Erskineville   [ updated 14 Jul 2012, 22:10 ]
Dear Lord Mayor

On June 2, 2012 representatives of resident associations from Erskineville, Alexandria, Glebe
and Harold Park met to discuss matters of mutual concern. Whilst each of the residential areas
concerned are distinct, there are matters that cross borders and are shared by all.

The issues in question are:
• High density development of suburban areas
• Traffic and public transport infrastructure
• Resident parking

To address these issues on an individual basis:

None of the resident representatives are opposed to development provided that development
is properly planned and managed. However it appears to us that development is being allowed
at an accelerated pace without due consideration to infrastructure issues and serious resident
concerns in many areas. In this we have been let down by both council and state governments
current and former and, as a result, we have come together to place on record our concerns
and a request for action to address those concerns.

We believe the loss of focus on residents can be traced to:
• The takeover of South Sydney Council by the City of Sydney
• The loss of the ward system of representation
• The lack of a mechanism for genuine consultation

The consultation that has taken place, whilst occasionally of value and appreciated has too
often been an exercise by council of going through the motions with no real intent to
address the concerns raised by residents. On more than one occasion, a resident who asked
what their rights are in relation to development matters was told by council staff they must
source such information for themself. Consequently local residents have become
disillusioned with the Council planning process. This, combined with flaws that presently
exist in Council's delegated authority regime for development applications, has led to
resident dissatisfaction with the present COS administration.

In an effort to resolve these issues we recommend the following to council:

1. No major developments should be approved until infrastructure issues surrounding
that development have been identified and either resolved, or planned for
resolution, with a commitment to that resolution in writing including a firm time line
for action

2. Council institute a system of fully funded Precinct Committees as presently operates
within the North Sydney Council area. Such a system would increase resident
involvement in matters affecting their immediate urban area

3. Increase the notification radius for large development applications and ensure that
then present relevant resident association (as detailed on the council web site) is
automatically notified of such development applications

4. Install resident notice boards throughout the LGA to ensure residents are made
aware of all council actions and development applications and can comment if they
so desire

5. When writing to residents to inform them of a development application that may
affect them, ensure that a notice is included in the correspondence informing the
resident of their rights in relation to the application and how they can address any
objection they may have to the application.

6. Review the present system of delegated authority

7. Ensure that all notifications concerning development are sent to the owners of
properties at whatever address rate notices are sent to, as well as to the properties
involved, and not simply addressed to "the occupant"

Our villages lack the infrastructure to support existing commuters and through traffic. Resolving
these issues will require investment by the State government.

• Additional trains to Erskineville and St Peters stations where peak hour loadings are
already 150% to 180% of capacity

• Investment in physical and technological infrastructure to get higher efficiency from the
existing lines

• Additional bus lanes and bus services

Until these actions are taken, Council should not approve applications that will aggravate these
problems. Council does have a vital role to play in collecting and sharing data, including TMAP's
for Ashmore, Harold Park and all other major developments, including detailed traffic and
public transport infrastructure studies/modelling as well as a review of bus timetables and
loadings to ensure that capacity is available at all times including peak hours. Such studies must
appropriately assess the future incremental growth of the local population as additional large
scale developments occur in the area of concern.

Resident parking is a major issue within the LGA. Council appears to believe that residents do
not need or want cars.

Such an approach may or may not be suitable for residents of the Central Business District but it
in no way addresses the needs of residents in the suburbs who:

• Require a car for other purposes such as journey to work in outer suburbs

• Have family and other responsibilities during the week, and particularly at weekends

• Choose to use a combination of private and public transport for their journeys

The Council's current approach to the provision of parking on new and major developments is
both unrealistic and resented, and recent 2011 census statistics appear to indicate that
Council's present overall policy in this matter is not working.

As a solution to the issue we would propose that:
1. Council removes the current restrictions on the maximum amount of off street parking
in new developments

2. Council add a required minimum level of off street parking of one car per household in
all new developments

3. Review the allocation of car share spaces and the basis on which those spaces are and
have been allocated, and review the annual charge for the allocated spaces. Allocation
of car share spaces based on membership numbers should be reviewed to exclude
inactive members form the count.

4. Initiate resident parking schemes in all areas where requested by and agreed by the
majority of residents in the area

We believe if the recommendations in this communication are actioned, then much progress
will be made in restoring resident faith in the city Council as a body acting in the best interests
of residents, many of whom are rate payers.

In addition we would seek your assistance in providing the following information:

• A breakdown of where and when the 61,000 additional residents slated for the City of
Sydney (as part of the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy) are to be located. We do not
accept the present haste displayed can be justified by blaming pressure from the State
government. Indeed, we believe in some areas the State government has reduced their
targets, and that existing targets have already been far exceeded with development
currently under way or planned for the immediate future within the City of Sydney

• Full details of audited membership numbers per allocation on which car share spaces
are allocated; length of contracts in place; audited usage of vehicles per allocated space;
and full detail of checks and balances currently in place to allow Council to certify the
veracity of the allocation.

Transparency and collaboration are required on the part of the Council in these and other areas
of concern as detailed in this letter.

This group plans to meet on a regular monthly basis, and has already received advice from
other resident groups that they wish to join on matters of mutual interest and concern.

We hope that we can count on your support. At the least we expect you to put your position on
these issues on the record and we will continue to correspond with yourself and other
Councillors so that you, the other Councillors and Council staff are clear on what the issues are
and how we believe they can be addressed.

We look forward to your response

Yours sincerely

Alexandria Residents Action Group (ARAG)
Friends of Erskineville (FOE)
FLAG Harold Park (FLAG)
Hands Off Glebe (HOG)