Highlights of Report to the CWWPA by Cr. Campbell – September 2020
- COVID19 has negatively impacted Council’s finances, resulting from a substantial drop in income from various sources such as council run day care, libraries, Willoughby Leisure Centre, deferrals / relief of rent from council owned properties, etc.
- Cost cutting measures and proactive financial management have resulted in keeping Council solvent, but the impact means that some projects will be deferred.
- Much of the cash on hand is restricted to specific projects and cannot be used for general purposes.
- However, Council is focusing on delivering as many planned projects as possible with the cash constraints; this includes a healthy infrastructure project pipeline resulting from the infrastructure levy.
- Council customer service is now reopened for face-to-face interactions, but some services (such as DA related meetings) require an advance appointment.
- Willoughby Leisure Centre is reopened, with restrictions of 20 people per class, 1 person per 4 square metres, and social distancing. Forty-five minute time slots are available with pre-bookings for the gym, classes, and the pool.
- The Chatswood Library is reopened, albeit with limitations on visitor numbers.
- The Dougherty Centre, MOSAIC Centre (Chatswood), Willoughby Park Centre, and Youth Centre are reopened for select activities.
- The Chatswood Mall Markets are reopened, but limited to take-away food only, with no entertainment, and with social distancing measures implemented.
- Sport groups are back on the fields and ovals across the LGA.
- Council has shifted all services to cashless payments.
- The Emerge Festival is back on this spring, from 1 September to 11 October with various events, but unfortunately no large-scale ones like the parade.
- Council meetings remain closed to the public due to COVID19 restrictions; however, public input is always welcome and distributed to councillors in written form. Also, the meetings are webcast.
- Committee meetings remain on hold until the COVID restrictions change, but the intent is to resume meetings as soon as possible.
- Willoughby Park has opened a newly renovated playground which so far has proven to be very popular with the children
- The floodlights at Rotary Field, Chatswood have been upgraded to 100 lux for athletics competition.
- The cricket nets at Mowbray Public School have been upgraded as part of the returfing of the oval and moved to a new location along Hatfield Street.
- Oval upgrades and returfing are in process at Willoughby Park and Bales Park
- Transport for NSW (TfNSW, formerly RMS) have agreed in principle to allowing the right-hand turn movement at the intersection of Beaconsfield Road and Mowbray Road West. Preparation of a detailed design for the proposed traffic signals modification is now completed. Quotations from TfNSW authorised contractors to undertake the traffic signals modifications are being assessed. Once a preferred contractor has been selected, the contractor details and detailed design will be submitted to TfNSW for review and approval. A project budget variation request will be submitted to Council for review and approval in October (Quarterly Budget Variation process).
- Construction of the Sydney Metro City and South West project is continuing. The Chatswood Dive Site will continue to be used to support the construction of this major project for the foreseeable future. A Metro Dive facility will be constructed on the eastern section of the Chatswood Dive site. What the end state land use will be and any transport planning around that is still not clear, since planning is only at the preliminary stage. We anticipate that motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian links will be provided on the Dive Site following completion of the construction of the Sydney Metro City and South West project, and bicycle links connecting Frank Channon Walk with Mowbray Road and along Mowbray Road (north side of road) will be part of that.
- Metro has not provided formal advice on the future traffic control arrangements at the intersection of Mowbray Road and Hampden Road at this time. Council has indicated a preference to retain the temporary traffic control signals to provide safe access and connection to/ from Hampden Road for pedestrians and bicyclists. Traffic control signals at this intersection are proposed as part of the Chatswood to St Leonards Bicycle Route Improvement Plan. Council officers will shortly meet with representatives of Sydney Metro City and South West to obtain an update on construction, land use and transport matters for this project including the Chatswood Dive Site.
Planning & Development
- The responses for public exhibition of the OH Reid Master Plan closed at the end of August. Officers will now be analysing and putting forward a report to council to either adopt the Master Plan or further amend it as soon as possible.
- Regarding large scale developments in the CBD, there are 8 Planning Proposals in the CBD which have received Council support for Gateway consideration. These will be returned to the DPIE once updated to reflect the DPIE full Strategy endorsement conditions. There are an additional 4 further planning proposals under consideration in the CBD, at 815 Pacific Highway, 282-284 Victoria Ave, 1-13 Spring St and 3 Ellis St. All are under consideration and have yet to come before Council.
- Outside the CBD, there is a planning proposal in Bowen St which is shortly going on exhibition having passed through Council and received Gateway approval.
- There are no planning proposals currently in St Leonards, although there have been some changes proposed by the state government for the St Leonards and Crows Nest precincts. Officers are currently analysing the information and will provide additional information to Council.
- In addition to the Chatswood Golf Club Development Application there is also a DA for conceptual redevelopment of the Chatswood RSL site to provide for a future club and office tower (DA2020/7). This is likely to be reported to the Sydney North Planning Panel in October 2020. A recent approval for 475 – 501 Victoria Avenue (DA 2018/158) for a hotel and office building is to be amended (application imminent) to increase the height of the office building in the south-western corner of the site from 5 storeys to eleven storeys.
- The Chatswood CBD Strategy has now been fully endorsed by the Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment (DPIE). There is a report advising of this for noting on the next agenda of Council on 14 September and outlining the conditions that apply. The main impact has been to reduce heights and FSRs on the edges of the CBD where it sits next to Heritage Conservation Areas, but also allow some residential in the commercial core area despite Council’s arguments to the contrary. This will impact housing yields in the CBD impacting Willoughby’s housing target set in the North District Plan.
- A Draft State Strategic Plan for Crown Land was on exhibition until the end of August. Council did not make a submission however the Draft Plan put forward the following priorities are:
- Enable jobs growth, commercial opportunities and sustainable economic progress in regional and rural NSW.
- Expand green space, sustainable quality of life and climate change resilience
- Strengthen and support evolving community connections
- Work with Aboriginal communities to realise the potential of their land rights
- In response to queries on a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald regarding bushfire management and any learnings or proposed changes to current bushfire management practices:
- The newspaper article states that Willoughby Council is part of the Hunters Hill/Ryde/Lane Cove/Willoughby Bush Fire Management Committee (BFMC). This is incorrect as in anticipation of council amalgamations Willoughby was moved from this committee and is now part of the Manly/Mosman/North Sydney/Willoughby BFMC.
- Fire Rescue NSW (FRNSW) officers and the BFMC have reviewed the Bush Fire Management Risk Plan (BFRMP) since 2010. Willoughby Councils Bushfire Management Officer, a position which has now no longer exists at council reviewed and amended the BFRMP with FRNSW officers in 2015. Councillor Rutherford chaired the Hunters Hill /Ryde/ Lane Cove/Willoughby BFMC for many years before Willoughby moved to the current committee and may be able to verify this.
- Bushfire operations in the Willoughby LGA are supervised and undertaken by FRNSW. If residents are worried about Bushfire hazards near their properties they can register their complaint on the Rural Fire Service (RFS) website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au. An RFS officer will come and inspect the area of concern and respond them in writing. Residents can also access valuable information on the website about how to prepare their property for the coming bushfire season.