Hundreds turned up to share stories when Good For Manly & Save Manly Oval Alliance hosted a celebration to mark the end of a four year fight to stop a car park being built under Manly Oval.
It took the new Administrator of the Northern Beaches Council to finally pull the plug on the Manly2015 Plan.
Watch the short slide show below and share some of the highlights of the campaign which demonstrated community power at its best.
On Sunday 5th June, a Public Meeting was held to review the Development Application for the Oval Car Park.
You can view the presentations below. Submissions close 1 July. DA 116/2016 - send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Update on Submissions
As of 20/6/16, 383 submissions have been received, 335 against the car park and 48 supporting the project.
In addition the Save Many Oval Alliance, as result of a fighting fund which was supported by local residents and businesses, commissioned independent exports to review various aspects of the DA including heritage, traffic, urban design and flooding issues. A copy of their submission is below and well worth a read.
Other Submissions, both for and against, can be viewed on the Council's website here. Once you have ticked the disclaimer - select DA 116/2016.
A public meeting to give locals the opportunity to hear from experts on the many major concerns relating to the Oval Car Park development application, will be held on Sunday (June 5) at the St Mary’s Parish Hall, Cnr Whistler and Raglan Streets, Manly at 2pm. (More details here).
Arranged by the Save Manly Oval Alliance the meeting is expected to attract hundreds of concerned residents many of whom have been fighting against the Manly Oval Car Park proposal since 2012.
“Save Manly Oval Alliance is seeking legal advice on how the process has been handled by the former Manly Council which pushed through this DA just days before the amalgamation was announced”, said President Jack Steggall.
“In the meantime we have only until June 17 to lodge submissions against the many issues associated with this controversial DA”, he explained.
According to the Alliance, who are engaging independent experts to prepare reports on the various aspects of the DA, there are serious flaws with the oval car park plan.
PLEASE SEND IN A SUBMISSION - See Below for Key Points
How To Oppose Manly Oval Car Park Development Application
1. Email your submission to: email@example.com
2. Quote DA 116/2016
3. There is no set format for submissions. Cover the points that concern
you the most. See list below for ideas. Object to the DA and ask the
Joint Regional Planning Panel reject it.
4. Include your full name and address for verification purposes.
5. Submissions close 17th June – so don’t delay!
Independent Experts Have Identified the Following Issues:
Sports and Public Recreation
Roads and Traffic Impact
Breach of DA Processes
For More Information go to: Save Manly Oval Alliance. www.SaveManlyOval.com.au
The Save Manly Oval Alliance has now briefed the Environmental Defenders Office which is obtaining senior legal advice about the strength of a legal challenge and the likely outcome against the Oval car park development. This course is looking very positive.
In addition experts have now been engaged to contribute to a substantial submission that is being prepared, addressing the development application for the Oval Car Park. (Submissions close June 17, 2016 and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Public Meeting is being organised for Sunday 5 June, 2pm at the St Mary’s Parish Hall, corner Raglan and Whistler Streets, Manly. This will provide the opportunity for residents and concerned locals to hear first-hand from leading experts on the issues of flooding, traffic, heritage and why a car park in this location simply won’t work.
In addition to very generous donations from our local residents, the business community has now come on board following a briefing meeting last week. It is anticipated that $40,000.00 will need to be raised. The Fighting Fund has already raised around $20,000. Please support the campaign by donating at www.savemanlyoval.com.au
Representation has also been made to the newly appointed Administrator of the Northern Beaches Council.
The Alliance continues to grow in support. We can still stop this crazy plan!
It is very clear that the decision had already been made before the Councillors formally voted on Tuesday night on the successful tenderers for the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street site. Otherwise how can you explain the detailed information board being erected in Whistler Street on Friday morning?
Whether you agree with the proposals or not, you have a right to expect that due process will be followed.
From day one, this has not been the case with the Liberal-led Manly2015 Plan.
Then we had the tender process …
Tenders closed on 15th March.
On the 30th March a last minute (unscheduled) 20 minute presentation was given by the General Manager on the recommended tenders to Councillors saying the staff report had been finalised.
An extraordinary meeting was called for Tuesday 12th April. Councillors were given notice on Thursday 7th April that they could view the tenders (massive documents) before the Extraordinary meeting the following Tuesday. Councillors were required to sign not one, but two confidentiality agreements.
But this week was the absolute pits ….
On the night of the meeting, the general public were refused access to the Council Chambers to hear the start of the meeting. Although a closed session was proposed none the less the law states that it’s the Councillors who decide, not the General Manager, and that a vote needs to be taken to go into closed session at the start of the meeting. This was not done.
Rangers refused access to some 80 local residents who turned up to hear the debate. The police were called. The meeting went ahead with the blinds closed and the doors locked. Attempts by the non-Liberals for the correct procedure to be followed were refused.
That wasn’t the end of it.
Although the meeting was in ‘closed session’ and therefore I am not permitted to report on what was discussed in the meeting, I don’t think you have to be Einstein to work out how the vote went – based on statements made by the four non-Liberal Councillors (Candy Bingham, Barbara Aird, Cathy Griffin and Hugh Burns) prior to the meeting and the ongoing recorded stand by the five Liberal Councillors led by the Mayor Jean Hay.
Councillors were told there was no opportunity for them, or the public, to make comments or suggestions about the winning tenders but that any feedback could be made at the time of the Development Application. (This is exactly what was done with the Indoor Pool complex and we all know how well that has gone).
A rescission motion, signed by all four non-Liberal Councillors, was lodged after the meeting at 10.06pm by email. But it was refused on the basis that the tenderers had already been notified. (Not sure that a phone call to tenderers after 9pm is usual business practice?)
Then to add insult to injury ….
The very next day the winning tenders were announced on Manly Council’s website with substantial photographs, copy and a fly-though video which had not even being seen by the Councillors!
Two days later Council staff were erecting an elaborate information board in Whistler Street with all the details about the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street winning tenders. That’s two days later … you think they would at least have had the decency to pretend the final decision was made by the full council and allow some time to look as though everything hadn’t been pre-prepared and ready to go.
As I said, democracy is dead in Manly. The announcement of council amalgamations is expected to be in the next 10 weeks – what a mess the new Council will be left with.
But it is not over. The Save Manly Oval Alliance has committed to fight the decisions firstly at the Development Application stage, and then in the Land & Environment Court if necessary. They have my full support.
Proposed changes to Sydney Road to accommodate the Entrance and Exit Ramps for the Manly Oval Car Park will be a disaster according to local experts.
The above plan comes from a report commissioned by Manly Council and provided to the three companies invited to tender for the construction of the Manly Oval Car Park, and is the one used by the successful tenderer Abergeldie. The plan shows the location of:
The following are some of the more obvious problems with this arrangement:
Perhaps, one of the biggest concerns is that of safety.
To get more information on the problems associated with this arrangement, go to the review by David Wunder at http://www.savemanlyoval.com.au/traffic-report.html.
David Wunder, Ian Sharp and Terry le Roux
Save Manly Oval Alliance
15 April 2016
With Manly Council poised to lock in the controversial oval car park project, a group of prominent local citizens and experts has formed an alliance in a last-ditch effort to “Save Manly Oval”.
The group, Save Manly Oval Alliance, is concerned that the car park project fails on financial, heritage, traffic management and environmental grounds and will deliver an overall gain of only 40 extra car spaces - at the massive cost of an estimated $1M for every new space.
“Our aim is to conserve and protect for the public interest, the heritage and environmental values of Manly Oval and its surrounds in the historical context,” Alliance president Jack Steggall said. “We will fight this all the way to the Land and Environment Court if we have to”.
While Manly Council describes the car park as being constructed “under” the oval, the Alliance says this is not the case.
“The project would involve digging up and removing the oval along with almost 50,000 cubic metres of its natural soil and sand base. The oval would be replaced with a two-story reinforced concrete car park, with access ramps and ventilation stacks, and a raised playing field on its roof. It would be a complete environmental disaster,” Mr Steggall said.
“It is impossible to believe that this proposed redevelopment will in any way retain or even approximate, the iconic status of Manly Oval, in terms of its history, heritage value, natural beauty and usability as a sports oval and recreational area,” he said.
Additional concerns the Save Manly Oval Alliance have include:
The Alliance will engage professional experts to assess financial, heritage, environmental, hydrological and traffic issues arising from the oval car park proposal.
Alliance members include:
President: Jack Steggall - retired solicitor and longstanding Manly resident
Vice President: Former Lord Mayor of Sydney and local government expert Jeremy Bingham.
Secretary: Roger Freney - economist, formerly with the Commonwealth Treasury
Former Manly State MP and Manly Councillor David Barr
Prominent Manly businessman John Humphrey of Humphreys Newsagency and Book Centre.
Former Manly Councillor and environmental advisor Dr Judy Lambert.
Local Manly rugby identity and former Wallaby Bob McLean.
Civil engineers David Wunder and Ian Sharp.
For more information go to savemanlyoval.com.au
or StopManlyOvalCarPark on Facebook.
Manly Council's last meeting of the year was business as usual for the Liberal block. They voted 5/4 to proceed to tender on both the oval car park and Whistler Street site redevelopment - after a 3 hour debate.
I've never seen such a huge gallery - there were so many people they were on the landing, sitting on the floor and down the staircase.
Roger Freney of North Habour precinct spoke against the motion to go to tender and did a sterling job handling a number of difficult questions with great poise. He was able to get across the community's key points and concerns.
Mike Bradley from Ivanhoe Park precinct also had them sitting up in their seats (those who had seats anyway) when, as an economist, he talked about the true value of the Whistler Street site and questioned why Council was offering such a long lease (99 years).
The president of the Chamber of Commerce, Drew Johnson, spoke in support of the motion.
Five companies will be invited to tender to 'design & construct' the oval car park and two for the Whistler Street site. The tender period will be 12 weeks.
An amendment to delay the process was lost 5/4 as was a rescission motion lodged at the end of the meeting.
It was very pleasing to see the four non liberal Councillors working so hard to endeavor to delay the process, and ensure that due process was being followed.
Clr Cathy Griffin referred to a new term being used by Planning Minister Rob Stokes - "wicked projects". Here's a great reference on google.
Yes, it's a wicked project alright!
Thank you for your support this year. We will continue to fight for what we believe is "good for Manly" in 2016, and the fight against the oval car park is not over!
Whistler St car park will cost $10M to bring up to fire safety standards according to Manly Council and the Chamber of Commerce. They are wrong.
They’re stating our 45-year-old car park needs to comply with fire standards for a building built today.
But the requirements, though adequate for public safety, are less stringent for older buildings like ours.
They have to be - otherwise councils all over Australia would be sent broke trying to keep their public buildings up to date. The disappointing part is that the Council and the Chamber must know this, but they keep repeating the wildly inaccurate figure anyway.
The real compliance cost is about $500,000.
And one has to question the fact that if the Whistler Street car park is so bad, why is it listed in Council's current financial accounts as being in good condition and required no maintenance in the 12 months?
Below is the breakdown of costs required to bring Whistler St up to the relevant Building Code of Australia fire standards, as prepared for Good For Manly by an independent assessor.
This isn’t the first time the Council has bad-mouthed the car park.
In 2013 they said the building had concrete cancer and was “falling down”, before later admitting that wasn’t true.
Later that year, the building became “a fire hazard”, which required a $5M safety upgrade - ten times too much.
This year it’s a $7 - 10M safety upgrade - twenty times too much.
The truth is the building is structurally sound and will last for at least another 20 years, and probably for another forty. It needs $0.5M in compliance work and some more in beautification projects like a green wall or murals on the outside to make it look more attractive.
Pulling the car park down and selling/99-year-leasing the land for apartments and shops is a key part of the council’s Revitalise Manly (formally Manly2015) Masterplan. The revenue produced from this long term lease will go towards covering the cost of the new 500 space car park under Manly Oval.
Without the disposition of the Whistler Street car park, the whole scheme falls in a heap. Hmm .. I wonder if that has anything to do with the grossly exaggerated numbers being pushed by Manly Council?
Have a look at Good for Manly's ideas on what we can do to revamp the Whistler Street car park in this slideshow. Very cost effective way to use existing infrastructure that simply needs a renovation. What do you think?
As part of its Manly2015 Plan, Manly Council's notification to businesses in Whistler Street, Sydney Road and Central Avenue last week of its proposed staged closure of Sydney Road from Belgrave Street to The Corso, and the creation of a cul-de-sac at Central Avenue, was met with concern by affected retailers and apartment owners.
In the meantime, businesses and property owners in Raglan Street, including St Mary's Church and school, are challenging the Council over its current changes to Raglan Street, which include the removal of parking and the lack of a pedestrian crossing in this section of the street. (From Belgrave Street to the Steyne).
The Chamber of Commerce has written to Council requesting the delay of the proposed closure of Sydney Road from Belgrave to Whistler Street (which will become Gateway Plaza), because it would effectively cut off easy access to the existing Whistler Street car park. The Chamber stated that whilst in the past its members have supported the Gateway Plaza the current concept plans do not include the additional parking beneath Manly Oval. The concept concept therefore merely removes parking options and will ultimately increase congestion within the Manly CBD. The Chamber continues, however, to support the overall Manly2015 Plan and the building of a 760 space car park under Manly Oval.
According to Good for Manly Councillor, Candy Bingham, many of the proposed closures are premature.
"The final decisions to build a car park under the oval or to redevelop the Whistler Street car park site have not been made. Closing Sydney Road from Belgrave to Whistler street will simply add to traffic congestion and cause confusion to motorists visiting Manly and looking for parking. It's a crazy idea" , she said.
"With the spectre of an amalgamation hanging over their heads and the current Council term running out supposedly in September 2016, it would seem that those ruling the Council are determined to push through their controversial Manly2015 Plan, despite ongoing criticism of lack of consultation and transparency of the process", Clr Bingham added.
In summary the current Sydney Road project includes:
At present the council is proposing to commence work on closures of Sydney Road in October 2015 - right in the peak tourist time. Again, shop-keepers are not happy!
You can view the Council's plans for Sydney Road below:
At a robust Council meeting last night a rescission motion to stop the Oval car park and retain the Whistler Street car park was lost 5/4 with the Liberal majority now pursuing "proposals from interested parties for the construction of the oval car park ..... and long term lease of the existing Whistler car park site for a mixed use development." This followed various representations from precinct groups, with a clear message that locals did not want this project to proceed.
At a meeting called by the Premier Mike Baird on April 9 with chairs from the precincts (6 precincts were present), there was agreement amongst the chairs that the clear view of the majority of the residents is that, as a consequence of the current confusion, the long history of changes in strategy by the Council and the potential financial risks associated with building a new car park under the oval, no decision to proceed with any car park development should be considered until after the next local Government elections.
Addressing the Council meeting last night Terry Le Roux, Chair of North Harbour Precinct, said there was no immediate need or imperative to take action on the Whistler St site or build new car parking capacity - it was entirely discretionary. “There is currently understandable confusion among the residents on this issue. Making a decision to delay and hold over any further work would demonstrate to the community that the Councillors are listening to the residents”, he said
Clr Steve Pickering, who moved the motion to call for proposals, said “We know there is concern and polarisation of views in the community. So we are trying to move forward. We will have an open and transparent brief. What better way to resolve the divergent community views, than to test the market?”
But the Independent Councillors remained firm stating that the redevelopment of the Whistler Street site was not acceptable to the majority of the community, and the viability of the oval car park was dubious at best.
Clr Candy Bingham summed it up by saying: “Just shelve it and be done with it. What a waste of time and money”.
However the recession motion was lost and the calling of proposals is to proceed.
What Has Been Spent on Manly 2015?
At the same meeting Cr Candy Bingham asked for a report on costs incurred since the Manly2015 masterplan to revitalise Manly CBD was launched in 2008. The report would include design and planning fees, marketing expenses, traffic studies, capital works undertaken to date, and so on.
The motion was knocked back on the grounds that it was a) too difficult to find out, and b) it had all been budgeted for anyway.
The knockback, predictably enough, came from each of the Liberal councillors, as well as one Independent who said he was trying to compromise.
The joke, or tragedy, was that this motion came straight after one where Liberal councillors trumpeted their intention to proceed with Manly2015 with complete "openness and transparency".
So how much has Manly Council spent on Manly 2015 and why won't they tell us?
Manly Council has effectively opened up the Manly 2015 Plan to developers at Monday night’s Council meeting by calling for proposals for the construction of a car park under the oval, and the long-term lease and development of the Whistler Street car park site.
“After five years of deliberation and two wildly unpopular car park scenarios, the Council has suddenly decided to go out and ‘test the market’. All we know about the brief so far is that it contains the main elements that most Manly residents have opposed all along”, said Good for Manly Councillor Candy Bingham. “Long term lease of public land in Manly CBD, building an expensive car park in the wrong place and no further community consultation”.
“Last week the Mayor (in her blog) announced that the majority of Councillors agreed to retro-fit Whistler Street and that a smaller car park under the oval was being explored. This week it’s back to the original plan. What a joke,” Clr Bingham said.
Good For Manly is now calling for intervention by local MP and Premier Mike Baird.
“We believe a moratorium is needed on high-debt, high-risk projects that councils are trying to rush through, ahead of possible amalgamations later this year. “ Clr Bingham explained.
“The Oval car park has already being rejected twice by previous Councils as not viable and yet here we are now asking for interested parties to come up with ideas on how it could work,” she added.
The council resolution to seek proposals from interested parties was an amendment lodged by Clrs. Steve Pickering and James Griffin. However the wording of the resolution has left many confused, with many people believing that in fact the Oval car park had been stopped. No so. (download copy below).
In the meantime resident precinct groups and opponents to the oval car park plan are believed to be dusting off their protest T-Shirts to start fighting the car park proposal again. After two well-attended public meetings, a letter of concern from the Office of Local Government, a large protest march, hundreds of letters to the Manly Daily and thousands of signatures on petitions they are wondering just what it takes for the Council to actually listen to its community. No Oval Car Park - No Massive Debt
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."
As recently reported in the Manly Daily, Manly Councillors are working towards a compromise following their most recent workshop on the future of the Oval car park and Manly 2015 Plan.
The focus has shifted to the Whistler Street car park site, with discussions being held whether it should be retro-fitted (renovated) or pulled down and a replaced with a new car park complex.
Recent figures released by Council shows that the existing car park currently generates around $1m in revenue. Good for Manly has been pushing for the renovation option using examples from other car parks of a similar vintage which have been successfully retro-fitted. However, the size of the car parking spaces would need to remain as they are, due to structural constraints.
Redeveloping the site as a new parking station complex would also retain the site in Council ownership, with ideas such as including shops on the ground floor level and other commercial space on the top levels being explored.
All Councillors are in agreement that an important part of the Manly 2015 Plan is the revitalisation of the laneways, but the division has been over the building of a big car park under Manly Oval.
It is expected that a number of further workshops will be held over the coming months to explore options for the Whistler Street car park site.
What would you like to see there?
Hundreds of Manly residents took to the streets on Sunday in a huge display of public anger over Council plans to build a car park under Manly Oval. (Great coverage in the Manly Daily here.)
The crowd included the full spread of the Manly community, ranging from small children to business owners to older residents in mobility scooters - this group there to protest that the new car park would be too far from the shops for them to manage.
March organiser Candy Bingham of Good for Manly, who welcomed the crowd, drew the biggest response when she criticised Manly Council for its secrecy and lack of community consultation throughout the car park project.
Cr Bingham also cited the car park's cost - at least $34 million; the fact that it will be built in a flood plain; its distance from the CBD and the fact that the existing Whistler St car park, which is well used and well-situated, can be given a makeover rather than being pulled down. She said the oval car park had already been considered on three previous occasions and rejected as not financially viable each time.
Cr Bingham, accompanied by Manly's other independent Manly councillors Barbara Aird, Hugh Burns and Green’s Councillor Cathy Griffin, led the march procession past the oval site and Whistler St car park to Manly Town Hall. The big crowd, helped by a drummer and flautist, chanted "No oval car park. No massive debt" throughout the entire march before crowding into the square in front of the Town Hall building.
According to Cr Bingham the march was a huge success. She said over 700 people had signed the 'No Oval Car Park' petition on Sunday alone, and that the 650 people marched to show just how worried Manly locals are.
"We are not just a vocal minority," she said.
The four independent councillors hope the big turn out will convince their Liberal colleagues, who hold the balance of power, to take the community seriously and rethink the Oval Car Park plan.
A crucial vote to abolish the oval car park plan was lost 5 votes to 4 on Monday night (October 13) with the Liberal councillors stating the matter was “still in process”.
While the recent Council resolution to delay lodging a development application (DA) to proceed with the controversial Oval car park has been welcomed by the Independent Councillors Candy Bingham, Barabara Aird, Hugh Burns and Cathy Griffin, it is clear that the 5-4 deadlock will take some time to resolve.
A series of workshops have been scheduled to give the Councillors time to work through the issues. Clr Candy Bingham, while pleased by the delay, questions whether the correct process has been followed.
“In my opinion the process has been flawed from the start. Although the Manly 2015 Vision has been on Council’s agenda since 2008, the Good for Manly group were the only Council candidates who took a stand on the Oval car park in the lead-up to the Council elections in 2012.
“Nowhere in the Liberal campaign materials was the Oval car park or Manly 2015 mentioned, even though the project had been put on hold by the previous Council,” she said.
Without any resolution to proceed, the newly-elected Liberal dominated Council launched the 2015 Vision and in particular the construction of a car park under Manly Oval.
This month, following a mixed response from the Office of Local Government regarding the capital expenditure of the project, the Council administration recommended that the car park move to a DA, even before any design plans had been developed, or discussed by Councillors or the community.
During its term, the Council has remained divided over the car park proposal. The Mayor, Jean Hay, has responded to concerns about the lack of community consultation by stating that “this is the most consulted project Manly Council has ever done …”. However it is the Council’s response, or lack of it, to community feedback and questions that has caused major concern. As has the Council’s refusal to provide copies of relevant due diligence reports to Councillors.
“The lack of transparency is a furphy being promoted by the opponents of the Plan,” according to the Mayor at a recent Council meeting.
Thousands in the community would disagree. As would the nine Resident Precinct groups which still have not had their concerns and questions regarding the financial viability of the project addressed.
In the meantime the Councillor workshops will provide a truce for now, with both sides hoping that the other will ‘come to their senses’ and vote their way.
The likelihood of that happening is as remote as finding a parking spot in Manly during a busy summer weekend.
UPDATE: Clr Bingham's motion to stop the Oval car park was lost 5 - 4 but the matter has been delayed. A Councillor workshop is to be scheduled to discuss further.
The Office of Local Government (OLG) has now responded to Manly Council's submission to build a $34m car park under Manly Oval.
Late Friday 1st August 2014, Councillors received notice of an Extraordinary Meeting for the following Monday 4th August, to vote on the matter.
There has been no public notification of this extraordinary meeting by Council, which will take place after the scheduled Planning & Strategy Meeting which commences at 7.30pm.
The response from the Office of Local Government (below) is ambiguous enough for either side to state that they are right. For example the Council highlights "..the office of Local Government's capital expenditure criteria have been broadly met" , while those concerned about the project and Good For Manly focus on comments such as "While primary concerns have been addressed, I note the significant complexity and risks associated with the project" and "I would draw the Council's attention to these concerns:
1. the viability of the project .....
2. the ability to achieve long term cost of debt at 5%
3. the potential impact of unforeseen cost increases
The response also says: "It is important to note that the response from the OLG should not be construed to be an endorsement of the Manly Oval Car Park".
The OLG response and the Staff recommendation to proceed with the DA for the car park are below:
According to Clr Candy Bingham, Manly Council is misleading the public by stating that the feedback they are receiving is positive towards the Manly 2015 Plan.
“Setting up an information booth in Manly Plaza was an excellent idea although the feedback I’ve received from many who attended was that they couldn’t get their questions answered, and that most around them were not happy with the Oval car park component of the Plan”, she said.
This is backed up by a recent poll asking residents and business owners whether they supported the building of the oval car park and the demolition of the Whistler Street car park.
“A total of 900 people have completed the poll. 75% disagree with the building of a car park under the oval; 71% disagree with demolishing the Whistler Street car park; 91.5% agree with the revitalising of the laneways and 82% agreed that these issues should be taken to a referendum so residents can have their say”, Clr Bingham said. The Poll was promoted extensively by as well as Good for Manlythe Chamber of Commerce and some Manly Precinct groups .
This compares to the Council’s statement that “68 people made written comments at the information booth” – although it’s not clear what type of comments they were.
The Council has also ignored the Precinct Resident Groups, all of which have stated that they are not yet convinced that the Oval Car Park is a viable project for Manly.
“What’s the rush? While the concept of pedestrianising Manly and revitalising the laneways is popular, the real question of whether the high risk components of the oval car park project have been accurately assessed remains a concern”, Clr Bingham concluded.
You can complete the poll here
You can view the poll results as at 28 July below.
You could be forgiven for not knowing what Manly Council's Manly 2015 Plan currently entails - even the Councillors don't seem to know!
The Plan, which at its core involves the construction of a car park under Manly Oval, seems to change regularly, without any reference to the Councillors. What is the latest plan for the LIbrary - does it stay or does it go? Does the sale of the Whistler Street car park include the area in front where disabled parking currently is? Does the Council own the oval under which the car park is to be built or are they selling a major asset to pay for another asset under Crown Land?
The Combined Precinct Group (representing the 8 active resident precinct groups in Manly) has worked hard to obtain answers from Council and this has been progressing. However at a recent meeting of the Group it became clear that many important questions still had not been answered (see copy of questions below) and therefore the Combined Precinct Group are still unable to support the Oval car park concept.
In the meantime the Council has been busy running further 'information sessions' in the newly named Manly Plaza. The display and concept video were excellent although feedback has been that on many occasions staff present were not able to answer questions. In addition, a Manly2015 Bulletin has also been issued (see copy below) which provides more technical detail.
While the concept of pedestrianising Manly and revitalising the laneways is popular, the real question of whether the high risk components of the oval car park project have been accurately assessed remains a concern. And the question still remains: will locals continue to come to Manly if the parking is less convenient and further away?
You can follow the Manly 2015 Plan issue here
The recent NSW Budget announcements could finally deliver the infrastructure seriously needed by the much neglected Northern Beaches.
Local Member Mike Baird has followed through with a $633 million transport upgrade announced that will include a rapid bus transport system from Mona Vale to the city, and five new public transport hubs.
This includes a $400 million package of infrastructure to support the yet to be built Northern Beaches Hospital, including two underpasses on the Warringah Road at Forest Way and Wakehurst Parkway, the widening of Warringah Road and Allambie Road as well as providing access to the new hospital via the intersection of Warringah Road and Hilmer Street. These upgrades will be in place by 2018.
The proposed Bus Rapid Transport system (BRT) is a project which has been lobbied by SHOROC (the combined Councils of Mosman, Manly, Warringah and Pittwater) for many years as the best solution to free up the grind that is the daily commute from the Northern Beaches.
A $125 million will be allocated to build the BRT from Mona Vale to the city, including indented bus bays, more frequent services and longer operating hours.
Five new interchanges will be developed at Mona Vale, Dee Why, Brookvale, Northern Beaches Hospital and Mosman at a cost of $30 million.
Also included in the package is the creation of 800 new commuter carparks at North Narrabeen, Narrabeen, Mona Vale, Warriewood and Brookvale costing $67 million.
The building opposite Warringah Mall, which has been an eye-sore for years, is currently under negotiation to be transformed into a commuter car park.
Talks have also commenced to divert buses from the Spit Bridge approach through the nearby property that includes the old Greater Union cinema building at Spit Junction.
A simple survey undertaken by the Good For Manly group clearly shows that locals don’t want a car park built under Manly Oval.
Circulated widely, including by the Chamber of Commerce who support the Oval car park, the survey asked four simple questions. So far 754 people have responded with a clear message: No Oval Car Park 75.20%, Keep Whistler Street Car Park 71.58%, Revitalise the laneways in Manly 92.30%, Have a referendum to decide 81.00%.
Strong opposition is building against Manly Council’s 2015 Plan that has at its core the demolition of the centrally located Whistler Street car park and the building of a $34million new car park under Manly Oval. This week former Mayors of Manly, Sue Sacker and Peter Macdonald, publicly came out against the project.
“The community are angry. They don’t believe they have been listened to by Manly Council. Despite hundreds of letters against the Oval car park project, a public meeting attended by 400 people, 8 out of the 9 active resident precinct groups voting strongly against the car park and complaints lodged with Mike Baird’s office, the Liberal majority on the Council seem hell-bent on pushing this through”, claimed Independent Councillor, Candy Bingham.
The four independent Councillors, Clrs Barbara Aird, Candy Bingham, Hugh Burns and Cathy Griffin, submitted independent expert reports to the Office of Local Government raising serious questions about the viability of the Manly 2015 Plan.
“We have come to the conclusion that Manly Council is under estimating the financial cost, construction risk, and community opinion, and over estimating its own ability.” Clr Bingham said.
A final assessment on the Oval Car Park project is expected to be received from the Office of Local Government shortly.
It is interesting to note that the Chamber of Commerce has changed their position, now publicly suggesting members 'ignore the negative campaign' against the project. Nonetheless we wish to acknowledge and thank the President, Mark Stanley, who organised a Meeting of Stakeholders with Council's experts to address unanswered questions. Good for Manly had two representatives present. (See minutes below for more detail.)
The majority of Manly Resident Precinct Groups however still seem firmly against the Oval car park (although like most they support the regeneration of the laneways.) A number of precincts believe the Oval car park project should be the subject of a referendum at the next Council election.
Manly's four independent Councillors remain concerned about the viability and impact of the proposed car park project which includes the demolition of the well-used Whistler Street car park. Councillors Aird, Bingham, Burns and Griffin have this week forwarded a final response to the Office of Local Government , who are reviewing the capital expenditure. A detailed submission, including advice from independent experts, has also been submitted. See copies below:
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Manly Council's plan for a car park under Manly oval has taken a hit after the Office of Local Government raised seven major issues for the Council to address.
The Office has just released its initial assessment of the Council's capital expenditure plan for the $34M car park. It lists seven major concerns about the plan, which is already questioned by the Manly Chamber of Commerce, and opposed by all of Manly's precinct groups, a growing number of Manly residents and the four independent (out of nine in total) Manly councillors.
Council is required to respond to seven key issues before the Office can complete its assessment. They are:
1. Geotechnical risk. Council's claim that building the car park - a multi story structure under Manly's heritage oval and in an area known to flood after heavy rain - is a low risk enterprise. The Office notes that the Council's own technical report does not support that claim, based on initial geotechnical work.
2. The car park operating costs. The Council has been criticised for not taking these costs into account, as required in plans of this nature. This tallies with concern by residents and independent Manly councillors, who note that Council's one underground car park - in Wentworth St - is by far the most expensive of its four car parks to maintain. This contrasts with the Whistler St car park - slated to be pulled down - which is cheap to maintain and brings in $700,000 a year.
3. Interest rate assumptions. The Office questions Council calculations, which are based on an unchanging rate of interest of 4.3%. This is despite the fact that the rate is floating, not fixed, and the term of the loan runs for 50 years. The Manly Chamber of Commerce has already questioned this claim - understood by them as "an average cost of funds of 5% over the life of the project"-
4. Public support. The Office of Local Government didn't buy the Council's claim that Manly residents were right behind the car park plan. "It is apparent to the Office that there is a growing level of community concern and opposition to this project", it wrote. That's no surprise to the 400+ Manly residents who recently attended a Car Park opposition public meeting, or to Local MP and State Treasurer Mike Baird who has publicly aired his own concerns about the car park project.
5. Project management expertise. The Office also didn't believe the Council's claim that it was experienced at managing large projects, noting that previous Council projects have not been as large or as complex as the oval car park. Residents, who remember Manly Council's recent botched job of repaving the Corso, would agree.
6. Cost to fix Whistler St Car Park. The Council has been asked to explain its wildly varying estimates for this job. Council says $5M is needed to fix the car park, and gives this figure as a reason for pulling it down and building under Manly oval instead. But the Office points to the Council's own 2012/13 financial reports, where the car park is listed as being in "average" condition and "requiring no maintenance expenditure".
7. The sale of Whistler St Car Park. The Council was criticised for not taking into account the risk of the sale not going through.
While the Office of Local Government does not have the power to stop Manly Council going ahead with the oval car park plan, Mayor Jean Hay is on the record as saying she won't proceed unless the plan is assessed as financially viable.
Latest news from Westfield is plans to further expand Warringah Mall with an additional 80 - 100 shops and more parking.
The plans, which have already been approved, allow for a new parallel mall linking between the supermarkets and Myer, as well as a new multi-deck car park.
Many locals believe that the opening of Warringah Mall was the start of the bleed of good general shopping out of Manly and that this expanded Mall will further contribute to that. Although unfortunately we continue to see the closure of small shops in Manly, the area is undergoing a renaissance, becoming the place to go for restaurants & cafes with many high-profile establishments recently opening in the area.
Manly Council has also just put up for tender the lease for the Old Kiosk at Shelley Beach and the name of the winning tenderer is expected is to named shortly. I'm sure locals will be delighted with the winning tender.
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.