Building a smaller car park under Manly Oval is not the solution according to Cr Candy Bingham following another workshop by Councillors. "It's a typical example of a committee designing a horse", she said.
Building a smaller car park under Manly Oval has emerged as the favoured option by councillors in a Manly 2015 workshop last weekend.
The good news is that councillors have recognised the value of the centrally-located Whistler St car park and agreed to retain it "indefinitely". They have also adopted Good For Manly's idea of refurbishing the car park building and converting its forecourt area into a pedestrian plaza. The car park will be retro-fitted with a new lift and fire stairs, and accessible parking spaces will be relocated nearby or on the first floor. The exterior will also be jazzed-up.
However the majority of councillors remain wedded to the oval car park proposal, but half the size as previously proposed.
The new proposal is for a car park with 460 spaces (down from 760 spaces), which would cost $30M. That works out to a massive $65,000 per car space.
Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham said building a smaller car park under the heritage oval made no financial or logistical sense.
"The previous KPMG assessment of the viability of a new oval car park was on the basis that costs would be underwritten by the transfer of parking revenue from the Whistler St car park and the sale of the site," Cr Bingham said. "That no longer applies and the total cost of $30m would need to be borrowed."
She called for a new parking demand study based on the changed scenario. Such a study should determine if the car park would function as anything other than an overflow car park, used only on days of heavy demand. It should also clarify the huge cost of such a facility.
As well there are operating costs of $250,000 a year (based on comparable underground car parks) and debt payments of $1.8M a year (based on borrowing the entire $30m at an interest rate of 5%). The car park would therefore have to generate $2.050M a year just to cover costs.
Cr Bingham said this is unlikely given that the debt-free Whistler St car park, which has 342 low-maintenance spaces in the heart of the CBD, makes a profit $1m a year.
Major problems, including the distance of the oval from the beach and the CBD, and the expense of building a car park in a flood plain, remain.
And there is now an additional difficulty. Building half a car park under half the oval means that water drainage will be dramatically different between the two halves. What that will do to the playing surface, or the cricket pitch, is anyone's guess.
"The council retaining Whistler St car park is a good decision," Cr Bingham said. "But Good For Manly can not support spending $30M on a poorly-positioned car park when the need has not even been demonstrated."
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.
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.