The Manly 2015 Plan is ambitious to say the least and with Capital Works expected to cost around $100m in the next four years to deliver a number of projects, alarm bells are starting to ring.
Top of the list is the proposed car park under Manly Oval which KPMG have costed around $40m (against Council's estimate of $33m). Next is the demolition of the Whistler Street car park and 18 year old Library with part of the site to be sold to developers for retail and apartments and the Library rebuilt (add another $35m). Then you have $15m for public domain works and a further $15m for the upgrade of the Manly Swim Centre.
But is this ambitious 'Vision' a potential nightmare for Manly ratepayers. The oval car park development in particular is a high risk proposal. The Council's revenue-generating figures are based on 600 cars, every day of the year, paying $15 each ..... and if you include the two hour free parking option, then the car park will barely cover its operating costs, let alone pay-off the debt.
An important point to remember - Council's have unlimited liability, as the ratepayers of these Council's have discovered:
Does Manly really need to be redeveloped? We don't think so! So much can be done to revitilise the area for a more modest , low-risk budget. Our 'Local's Plan' is just one approach. Why can't Council present another option - that is what could we do if we kept the Whistler Street car park & Library? I know a number of local architects who have plenty of great ideas.
What would you do?
It would be reasonable to say that there is confusion by Manly residents of the terms 'boarding house' vs 'affordable housing' due to the areas long history of boarding house accommodation.
So here's some quick background: Under the NSW SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy) legislation, which overrides local council's Local Environment Plans, new types of housing have been allowed in an attempt to overcome Sydney's housing crisis. These include 'New Generation' Boarding Houses and housing for seniors
This type of housing has been referred to as 'affordable' but is not to be confused with social or crisis housing provided by the Department of Housing and others.
Because the cost of land, and limited floor space ratios allowed with these developments within Manly, we are in effect talking about “Studio Rooms” not the old-style boarding house accommodation. $350 per week rent for a self-contained room with kitchenette & en-suite bathroom is targeting quite a different group of residents – fulfilling the need of accommodation for international students, young professionals and maybe even those in-between marriages!
To get these types of developments moving quickly, the State Government has made them very attractive to developers with a number of usual taxes and Section 94 contributions removed. The policy also allows for smaller rooms, a limited need for providing car parking spaces and other amenities than would usually be required for a new development.
Current examples of DAs for Boarding Houses include:
323 Sydney Road, Manly - 14 studios (no car park spaces)
135 Griffiths St, Balgowlah - 17 studios
112 Sydney Rd, Manly, 21 studios (6 car spaces)
120 Pittwater Rd, Manly, 10 studios (no parking) *
(*No 120 Pittwater Rd was recently approved by MIAP following two years of to-ing and fro-ing. Although no car parking spaces have been provided, it was an agreement that residents would not be entitled to Resident Parking Permits.)
To address the issue Manly Council recently made changes to its LEP in the hope of adding more controls to the developments, although, of course, at the end of the day it's the State Government's SEPP that has precedent.
This LEP is currently on exhibition.
The Royal Far West (RFW) proposal is for an 8 storey development on Manly’s beachfront. Only 25% of the proposed development will be for the charity’s own use, the remainder being dominated by a 8 storey commercial and residential tower.
The RFW obtained its land through donations from the State Government and private individuals. The RFW has also benefited from 80 years of fundraising and thousands of hours of volunteerism from the people of Manly. Not surprisingly, the people of Manly are dismayed with how the RFW is now treating the community.
Due to home-based internet communication, the RFW traditional model of service delivery to country children has changed dramatically in recent years, Therefore there are far fewer children staying at the Manly site for extended periods of time. The RFW has not been forthcoming on its plans for service delivery in the future, and whilst there is talk of a so called 'Centre of Excellence', there has been no clear explanation of exactly what that would entail.
Having now obtained approval to redevelop its site, the RWF is asking for community feedback on the proposed development. The attached document was prepared by the Save Manly Village group and sets out some of the issues.
The battle continues at Balgowlah Heights between concerned residents and Telstra regarding the positioning of a Telstra Tower to increase mobile coverage in the area.
While the initial battle was won in preventing the installation of a 30m tall steel telecommunications tower being erected outside the local shops and near a child's bedroom, finding a more suitable site seems to have reached a stale-mate with Telstra revisiting the Balgowlah Heights Bowling Club as a potential site.
Locals requests for consideration of Tania Park seem to have reached deaf ears.
Meanwhile, Manly Council is working closely with residents in the hope of finding a solution and will expand educational programs on the potential risks of harm to human health associated with such towers, while also lobbying the federal government to review the 1997 ARPANSA regulations for safe EME exposure as a matter of urgency.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.