SIPA publishes a quarterly Newsletter and other issues of interest. The more recent are available below.
News and Views
SIPA News and Views – October 2020
SIPA’s new website will include a quarterly SIPA News and Views, informing the vibrant St Ives community of its activities, objectives and achievements. To this end SIPA seeks constructive inputs from the community, its individuals and its many lively organisations – commercial, recreational and voluntary – as to how best SIPA can serve to retain and enhance all that St Ives has to offer.
This first edition of SIPA News and Views recalls briefly some highlights of SIPA’s long history of community contribution – with more detail provided elsewhere in the website. In 1913 SIPA’s founders succeeded in persuading the far-sighted Ku-ring-gai Council to purchase the iconic St Ives Village Green and the William Cowan Sports Reserve, arguably among the most highly valued public assets of the St Ives community. Another prized asset from those early days is the Dalrymple Hay Nature Reserve (aka the Blue Gum High Forest) on Mona Vale Road. On the Memorial Avenue side of the Village Green a commemorative plaque recognises SIPA’s 100 years of contribution to the community, much owing to the continuing support of the Ku-ring-gai Council and its Mayors and Councillors, past and present.
St Ives Village Community Centre proposal
Fast forward to today, SIPA’s most challenging project is to encourage development of a truly modern Community Centre on public land adjacent to the St Ives Village Shopping Centre, in association with its own proposed redevelopment, and overall further enhancing the Village Green concept. The concept is illustrated elsewhere on the website; constructive comments and suggestions are warmly welcomed from the community.
Ku-ring-Gai Housing Strategy
SIPA members participated in the Council workshops introducing these proposals, subsequently making a comprehensive submission to Council. It was pleasing that the final report, submitted to Councillors by Council staff, reflected SIPA’s main thrusts. This complex issue involves not only housing density but also transport, amenities and community facilities and the demographic changes expected over the planning period. SIPA’s full submission is available below.
Community members interested are encouraged to read the submission as well as Council’s final report available on its website.
At the time of going to press the Housing Strategy is subject to conflicting views expressed by State Government Members/Ministers and Ku-ring-gai Council. This is summarised in two Newsletters published by the Mayor on the Council Website.
St Ives Village Green Youth Centre Community Hall
SIPA made thoughtful submissions to Council on redevelopment of the Youth Centre and Community Hall. The upgrade, now in hand, will when completed provide more flexible community facilities.
Cowan Road Action Group (CRAG)
SIPA has actively supported the able and energetic Cowan Road Action Group (CRAG) in achieving substantial modifications to the Thompson Health Care aged care centre proposed over three blocks in Cowan Road, initially as a 132-bed complex. This was considered excessive; dominating the full site, overshadowing adjacent apartments, out of character with the locale and its residents and, most importantly, inconsistent with Council guidelines. Following numerous submissions the issue was mediated by the Land and Environment Court. Thompson then reduced its proposal to a 99-bed complex of reduced, more open space and improved setbacks. Significant concerns remain over drainage adequacy and increased Cowan Road traffic; however recently installed traffic calming measures have already proved of assistance.
Impact of Covid-19
Restrictions on the size of community gatherings means that the Annual General Meeting for 2020 has been deferred until restrictions are eased allowing for members to attend. NSW Fair Trading has been advised, the deferment is in accordance with their guidelines.
As you will see SIPA’s website has been upgraded! We are keen to have your ideas on how we can improve it further. Importantly we seek a dedicated webmaster who can manage and update the site – if interested please apply!
SIPA looks forward to hearing from you!
Ku-ring-gai Draft Housing Strategy
The following is the SIPA submission to Council
1 May 2020
Mr. John McKee
Locked Bag 1006
Gordon NSW 2072
Ku-ring-gai Housing Strategy - Reference S12728
The Ku-ring-gai Housing Strategy is the Council response to the State Government requirement to develop strategies to plan for a population increase to 147,809 people by 2036; this is an increase of 25,337 people. It infers an implied increase of dwellings by 10,660.
Development of the strategy and the underlying research is in accordance with overall policy of the State Government and the Greater Sydney Commission. These include:
To prioritise the delivery of housing within areas close to services, cultural and community facilities, and within a 10-minute walking distance to key public transport nodes. To provide homes in areas that can support the creation and growth of vibrant Local Centres and a thriving local economy. To stage housing delivery in coordination with provision of local and state infrastructure and services. We are concerned that the strategy is based upon the belief of both the Federal and State Governments that ‘population growth is the key driver to economic growth’. This may be correct, but it does not mean that all of that growth should be concentrated in a restricted area(s) leading to increased density of housing and destroying the amenity of specific areas that has been developed in rational ways over many decades. Ku-ring-gai, and St Ives in particular, is blessed by being surrounded by a diverse range of bushland, mostly Crown land. It is our belief that small parcels of land at the margins of existing development should be explored for potential to being released for housing development. Planning proposals should be developed and, where suitable, approved for development. Any such development should be restricted to smaller scale strata projects or stand-alone housing. This would assist in maintaining the garden suburb characteristic of St Ives and Ku-ring-gai.
The strategy has been informed by a broad range of studies, consultations and reports, the detail of which is available on the Council website. There are, underlying the above objectives, a wide range of subordinate objectives that needed to be addressed; unfortunately, in most cases there are no firm timetables or key performance indicators that would enable those objectives to be measured.
Whilst the strategy addresses the above priorities and objectives it does so with emphasis upon the four Primary Local Centres of Gordon, Lindfield, Turramurra and St Ives. Any consideration to the areas outside the Primary Local centres is deferred to later stages. The present studies are based upon updated historical strategies which date from as early as 2002. Significant whole of place studies have been completed e.g. ‘Activate Ku-ring-gai’ for Lindfield, Turramurra and Gordon; however, no comparable study has been undertaken in respect of St Ives.
Ku-ring-gai is serviced by the T1 railway corridor extending from Roseville to Wahroonga. The eight railway stations provide a link to each other, the overall railway infrastructure extending through Sydney to the East and South; and, going North through Newcastle and further North. The Housing Strategy takes consideration of only three of those stations Lindfield. Gordon and Turramurra as a basis for including additional housing.
There is no apparent consideration given to the remaining Secondary Local Centres, that is, the area around the other five stations for additional housing required by the State Government. They are readily interconnected within minutes of the proposed major development of facilities at Lindfield, Gordon and Turramurra; this is illogical, given the potential for each of those areas to meet some of the demand for additional housing. Furthermore, given that there is a demonstrated demand for housing close to transport hubs, which is one of the key objectives, to not include these areas, which could include units, as a component of the strategy is not understood.
Whilst the Housing Strategy distributes the dwelling targets between each of the major centres on what would appear to be a rather arbitrary assessment, it is nevertheless supported by detailed hypothetical analysis (refer attachment to Council minutes) and, consideration of three scenarios for each centre. None of those studies include either, the minor local centres around the railway stations, or other local centres in each centre, or the wider community. The LSPS Technical Document (at page 62/63) indicates, in the period leading up to development of the Housing Strategy, that approximately 23% of the dwellings were developed outside the Primary Centres.
Much of the supporting data, is at the macro level, whilst it is considered relevant it does not support the inclusion of a projected target of 1650-1760 additional dwellings for St Ives, but excludes North St Ives from any further consideration until the availability of a “priority bus infrastructure from Mona Vale to Macquarie Park” which is not anticipated to be available until 2031-2036.
The provision of any additional ‘priority bus service from Mona Vale to Macquarie Centre” would require considerable capital expenditure, major roadworks specifically to overcome the ‘parking lot’ during peak hours along Ryde Road and over the De Burghs Bridge, and possibly requiring duplication of, or a second level to the bridge. This is unlikely to occur prior to 2036 as predicted in the study.
If the necessary complementary planning instruments would not be available to support development in North St Ives until the latter stages, this is likely to force proposed development to be concentrated around the immediate area of the St Ives Shopping Centre which is likely to lead to more high rise in a concentrated area. This increased demand for high rise and density is unacceptable.
Given that St Ives is required to provide for approx.1650 additional dwellings if 33% was outside the Primary centre then it could be anticipated that 380 dwellings might be available outside. Conversely if those 380 were required to be provided within the Primary Centre that would only likely be achieved by more high rise over and beyond 4-5 storeys. Scenario 2 provides for 200 less apartments that either Scenarios 1 or 2. The difference is offset by providing for increased townhouses.
In the early section of the Strategy Document Council indicates:
“Doing nothing is not really an option for us. Council together with the community need to plan and manage our vision for the Ku-ring-gai local government area.
If we do nothing, Ku-ring-gai Council will have less control over delivering housing and development in the right locations and protect what we value.”
If this is the risk that we face; then deferring any consideration to developing enabling instruments that would enable appropriate housing in Neighbourhood Centres, such as North St Ives must be avoided. This would assist controlled development, allowing Town houses, Villas and or Seniors housing (although it is noted that the target figures do not include Seniors housing) etc. This would most likely require consolidation/amalgamation of sites and appropriate design considerations. However, no studies to support this are intended for some years.
Despite the objections to many components to the housing strategy nevertheless SIPA supports Scenario 2 as the preferred approach to achieving increased dwellings in St Ives. However, we would emphasise that the rather narrow approach to providing housing within the boundary of 800m of the primary centre is not supported: we emphasise that consideration be given to potential development of low rise options throughout the whole of St Ives and only minimal additional high rise (4-5 storeys) in the immediate area, around the Primary Centre as indicated in Scenario 2.
Concern is also raised that the roads network is not capable of supporting concentrated development, or even dispersed development. We believe that any new developments must provide for a higher proportion of on-site parking both for residents and visitor parking. The housing strategy is deficient in not addressing this major issue. Our roads are not wide enough to enable parking on both sides of the road and enable safe and reasonable traffic to pass through the narrowed passageway. Recent developments in Killeaton Street and Shinfield Ave and proposed developments along Cowan Road are typical examples. These already narrow roads are further restricted with parking on both sides of the road, inadequate allowance for pedestrians to cross the road. In many cases pedestrians enter the roadway from between cars, trucks or vans and are blind to approaching traffic, as are they; the pedestrian, invisible to the approaching traffic. This is extremely dangerous and is likely to lead to either serious injuries or deaths. Council could be held liable for inadequate planning and risk management.
The LSPS indicates clearly that target dwelling numbers of 4000 required for stage 1 is likely to be exceeded by 694. The Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) letter dated 4th March (attachment to Council Minutes) required the target for stage 2 (2021-2026) to be increased from 2200 to 3000. This has been achieved by Council simply increasing that target and reducing the targets for the subsequent stages 3 & 4 from 2200 each to 1800 each; but retaining the 2036 dwelling target at 10,660. This is convenient accounting, rather than modifying the future, and overall target because of overachievement of targets in earlier stages.
The Housing Strategy highlights the lack of suitable community facilities, (page 103) whilst improvements are proposed for Lindfield and Turramurra, the strategy highlights that there is a shortfall for facilities across the whole of Ku-ring-gai. Whole of place redevelopment of St Ives which could include both redevelopment of the Shopping Centre and also include a new Community Hub as proposed by the St Ives Progress Association in collaboration with the Shopping Centre, this redevelopment would overcome most of the shortfalls. This would improve the development potential not simply for St Ives but also for Ku-ring-gai as a whole.
Throughout the Housing Strategy the need for additional studies to support the proposed increased dwellings throughout stages 2,3 and 4 are yet to be defined beyond given mention for the need. Given the inability of Council to finalise planning proposals for Lindfield, Gordon and Turramurra over more than the past decade, we have little confidence of these being achieved and recommendations implemented within each of the five year intervals up to 2036. The consequence and real risk is that development could proceed as indicated above “If we do nothing”.
The population studies indicate that the people over age 65 is likely to increase by around 40%, to approximately 30,245. This will lead to an increased demand for downsizing to townhouses, villas and apartments; in addition, ‘senior living, which is not included in the housing strategy. Nor does it include nursing home places (frail aged care places) with an estimated requirement of 387 places.
The increased population over age 65 is likely to lead to an increased demand for downsizing and ‘ageing in place’. The present Covid-19 is likely to reduce the demand for large retirement / nursing home complexes. WHO indicates that 50% of Covid-19 deaths were in housing for the aged. Our experience is that older people desire smaller town house, villa type complexes, with housing on a single level with private outdoor spaces including lawn areas and capacity for small gardens. This has the potential to preserve the garden character of Ku-ring-gai. It would appear that much of this can be achieved with a mix of single storey/two story developments, some of the latter with living space on a single level, others with living space across the two storeys. This would enable potential for parents to be co-located with their children/grandchildren thus supporting extended families.
We note that the study highlights the potential and demand for both ‘affordable housing’ in accordance with the NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial Guidelines, (page 16). This is encouraged and should be given high priority in light of the demand for support workers, currently required, due to housing stress, to live outside of Ku-ring-gai.
Infrastructure throughout Ku-ring-gai is lagging in respect of roadworks, guttering, footpaths, increased green space including pocket parks. Developers need to be made responsible for provision of much of these, either by direct provision or by developer contributions. The arrears need to be overcome and the infrastructure proposed through the housing strategy needs to improve the overall situation rather than be allowed to increase the lag in provision of those infrastructure items.
Notwithstanding our qualified support for Scenario 2 in respect of St Ives we remain concerned regarding the potential adverse impacts of the Housing Strategy on the other areas of Ku-ring-gai. We do not support concentrating the whole of the proposed increased dwellings in the Primary Local Centres and deferring consideration dwelling increases outside those centres to later studies. That approach will only require more high rise developments when past experience is that approximately 23% of dwelling increases has taken place outside those Primary Local Centres. Community consultation does not support high rise development and prefers distributed low rise development.
Kevin Callinan OAM
President SIPA on behalf of the Committee.