Manly residents don't want a new car park or a new library. They want to keep the ones they already have.
They don't want $80 million spent on new infrastructure and they don't want Manly Council to persist with its deeply unpopular Manly 2015 redevelopment plan.
That was the message from over 400 Manly residents and business owners who turned out for Saturday's Manly 2015 public meeting organised by the Good For Manly Association (February 22, 2014).
Questions and comments from the floor showed just how unpopular the Manly 2015 plan is. The high level of debt, pulling down the existing library, and building an underground car park in a flood plain were particularly criticised.
All of Manly's independent councilors, Clrs Barbara Aird, Candy Bingham, Cathy Griffin and Hugh Burns were present. The Liberal councillors, who hold five out of nine council seats, were represented by first-term councillor James Griffin. Local Member, Mike Baird, was also in attendance.
The scene was set with four excellent speakers · Jeremy Bingham, Former Lord Mayor of Sydney & renowned Local Government Lawyer on Local Councils and their responsibility to the Community; Peter Greentree former Head of Equities, Challenger Financial Services on Funding 2015 Plan - The Financial Implications & Risks; Michael Peters, Chair Balgowlah Heights Precinct, The Community Consultation Process and Rob Burgess, Specialist in Town Centres and former Chief Town Planner, Manly Council on Revitalising the Manly Village.
While there was a no doubt about opposition to the 2015 plan, what to do about it was another matter. Given Manly Council's record of not listening to the public and its current dominance by Liberal councillors who vote as a block, how to actually stop the plan became the meeting's main challenge.
Local Member and State Treasurer, Mike Baird, was invited to address the meeting and admitted the financial viability of Manly 2015 in its present form was "marginal" but that Manly Council, led by project champion Mayor Jean Hay, was "working hard" to address these financial issues. His comments did not reassure the meeting.
The mood was summed up by a man who jumped up in the back row to say: "We don't want a car park under the oval and we don't want a new library. We don't want them. It's not about the money. We just don't want them."
So the meeting did what it could - it called on Manly Council to retain Whistler St car park and the library and to abandon the oval car park proposal; and it called on Mr Baird, as State Treasurer and local MP, to do everything in his power to make that stick.
The resolution, which was passed unanimously, called on the Mayor Clr Jean Hay, the General Manager, Henry Wong, and all Councillors to abandon all proposals to demolish the Library and the Whistler Street carpark and to construct a car park under Manly Oval; and that alternative plans to revitalise Manly's village centre in the Market Lane triangle, be considered.
If you missed the meeting you can still take action here.
Sign our Petition to the Premier to Say No to Manly's Mega Debt
See below to download Minutes from Meeting and Financial Presentation from Peter Greentree.
Other Ideas to Revitalise Whistler Street.
In addition to ideas already promoted by Good For Manly to revitalise the Whistler Street carp ark and creation of a new Plaza, Rob Burgess presented long forgotten plans developed by Manly Library's renowned architect, Feiko Bouman ,to add two storeys to the existing Library, open it up at ground level and revitalise the the old Whistler Street car park. (above)
Some other facade ideas to improve the Whistler Street car park ...
Public Meeting - Minutes & Financial notes
The Manly 2015 "urban renewal" plan depends on pulling down Whistler St car park and selling off the land for a mixed retail-residential development. Then spending $40 million to build a new a car park under Manly oval - in a flood zone and further away from the shops. Here's a better idea - keep Whistler St.
Whistler St car park is for the locals. It's right in Manly CBD, with no major roads between you and the shops. Manly oval car park - way over there on the wrong side of busy Belgrave St - will be for the tourists, who don't know where else to park. If you've got heavy shopping, or it's raining, the oval's too far away.
Whistler St makes a profit - $700,000 each year. The oval car park? Maybe after 2030. And that depends on continuing low interest rates on our $30+ million loan, low car park maintenance costs and more people coming to Manly in cars.
Maintenance costs. Whistler St doesn't cost a lot to maintain, because it's built above ground. The council already owns an underground car park - the one in Wentworth St - and it's by far the most expensive to maintain. The oval car park would be a multi-level construction, built in a known water course in a known flood zone. How much will we really pay?
Whistler St car park does not have concrete cancer.
We do not need to spend $5.2 million to bring Whistler St up to fire safety standards. Our advice is that the car park was built in the 1970s and need only conform to fire standards for an existing building. It would need fire stairs on the outside and additional sprinklers. Good For Manly's expert has assessed the upgrade at under $500,000.
Whistler St is ugly. Yes it is. Here are some ways to make it beautiful. Install vertical gardens like the gorgeous creations at Central Park, Broadway. Put up murals. Install a screen on the side of the car park and show outdoor movies on it. Convert the small ground level parking area in front to a pedestrian plaza.
A car park doesn't mind the noise. But people do. The Manly 2015 Plan is to build apartments on the Whistler St site. But that doesn't work with the rest of the plan, which is to revitalise Market Lane - right next door - and have wine bars and restaurants open till late.
We save $30+ million. More if construction costs or interest rates go up.
Are there any other good reasons to keep Whistler St car park? Let us know here.
Manly Council has knocked back a chance to resolve financial worries over its proposed oval car park.
Today the council rejected a motion by Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham to commission a realistic "revenue generating" forecast.
Cr Bingham proposed that financial services company KPMG prepare a "sensitivity analysis" on the financial return from the car park based on 75 per cent concessional (free) usage.
Cr Bingham said previous KPMG modelling had used the figure of 50 per cent use of free car parking, although the council's own surveys show free use actually accounts for 75 per cent of car park visits, as drivers take advantage of Manly's "two hour free parking" rule.
Councillors opposing the motion said the council had already asked for financial forecasts on the project. But when General Manager Henry Wong was specifically asked if the 75 per cent figure would be used, he could only reply that he "would expect this would happen". As none of the councillors have seen the brief provided to the analysts preparing reports, we can only speculate on what they have actually been asked to review.
According to Many Council's Manly2015 Bulletin dated 12th December, 2013 the following studies are underway:
1. Village Centre Development Mix Study Mid November 2013
2. Retail Centre Study Mid November 2013
3. Parking Demand Study Mid November 2013
4. Independent Due Diligence Advice late December 2013
5. Lodgement of CapEx to DLG January 2014
(Division of Local Government)
6. Lodgement of DA to JRPP March 2014
(Joint Regional Planning Panel)
7. Tender for Oval Car park May/June 2014
The fast pace and timing of this project is alarming with all major reports due over the Christmas holiday season. Mayor Jean Hay tried to criticize Cr Bingham during debate on the motion saying, "This is the 13th occasion you have brought concerns regarding this project to Council". But actually the council should be listening to the concerns raised not only by Cr Bingham and Good for Manly, but all nine of the resident precinct groups, the Chamber of Commerce and four of Manly's most prominent property owners.
As the Liberal councillors keep reminding us - "let's see what the independent studies show". One would wonder however, if it was truly necessary to commission these very expensive reports when it would appear that the project is flawed. Council has spend $177,000 in the last financial year alone on consultants for Manly2015, and that was before all these reports were commissioned.
Objections from the Precincts to the Manly Oval Car Park & Boy Charlton Swimming Centre Developments has been meet with a hostile response from Manly Council.
Read the Precincts letter sent on 28 October and then the response from Council received on the 7 November and you be the judge:
Firstly, here is a copy of the statement prepared by the Joint Precincts Group:
"The majority of Precincts have major concerns about the financial viability of the Manly Oval Car Park & the ‘Boy Charlton’ Swimming Centre developments.
Manly Oval Car Park
Based on an informative document on the Manly Oval car park viability prepared by Peter Greentree, a local resident with an extensive background in financial analysis and project evaluation using information available on the existing car parks in Manly and the information provided by Council from the KPMG Report to residents, the Precincts believe that it is not feasible to continue with the Manly Oval car park development.
As a result of this report & other issues on this matter expressed by Precincts, residents (many qualified in accountancy, major project financing and/or engineering) and the Manly Chamber of Commerce, the Precincts are concerned that:
We request that Council defers the Manly Oval car Park development and reviews the options for additional parking in Manly.
We understand that there are a number of options that could be considered.
The Precincts would like to work with Council to develop these options.
Boy Charlton Swimming Centre
The Precincts do not understand why Council will not discuss this matter with them or take on board the suggestions/comments on this development. The Precincts have outlined a number of ideas that could be introduced to make this development more appealing, more viable & more ‘user friendly’.
However because of the short lead time on the DA for this project the Precincts have not had the opportunity to properly discuss their recommendations with Council.
This project is highly expensive and most Precincts have major concerns about Council’s projections that patronage will treble to service the cost. Precincts do not believe that the attendance figure is achievable which will result in the Council not being able to deliver enough income to service the loan.
We also have observed that in the Council’s Ten Year Financial Plan, ongoing investment in capital expenditure decreases significantly from recent years implying that Council will run down its asset base to fund Manly 2015 and Boy Charlton. This assumption is both unrealistic and unsustainable, delivering a substantially more positive outcome for Council’s projected financial position than will likely be the case.
The Precincts recommend that the procedure to upgrade the Swim Centre is slowed down to allow for further discussion on this development.
Precincts desire a meeting with Council to look at the total viability of the current project with a view of deciding on a less expensive & more appealing swim centre.
In summary, the Precincts believe that Council is ignoring prudent risk management principles by moving too quickly on these major developments without taking into account responses from Precincts & residents on the financial viability and on-going risks associated with such large capital outlays. We implore the Council to take on board our comments and to look more closely at each of these projects to determine what other options are available which would reduce the amount of money required for funding."
Alarm over figures for Manly Council's proposed new car park is behind a call for a fresh study into the $40 million project.
Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham will ask Council to commission a new "revenue generating" forecast by financial services company KPMG at its next meeting on December 2, 2013.
This time the brief will be to use actual car park usage figures, including 75 per cent usage of free car spaces, as drivers take advantage of Manly's "two hours free parking" rule.
Cr Bingham said previous KPMG modelling had used the figure of 50 per cent use of free car parking, although the council's own surveys show free use actually accounts for 75 per cent of visits.
Cr Bingham is not alone in her concerns about the car park, which is part of the council's $80 million Manly2015 project. The Manly Chamber of Commerce, all the independent Manly councillors and Manly's precincts (residents' groups) are opposed to the plan in its current form.
Recently, four of Manly's respected long-term property owners also queried the viability of the oval car park.
Apart from worries over Manly 2015's financial viability, stakeholders are upset at the lack of public consultation on the plan and concerned that the car park will be moved further away from the CBD.
But Manly Council says the plan will bring Manly's lane ways back to life and remove traffic from CBD streets. It aims to create a "heart" for Manly based around a new library in Market Place, as well as demolishing the Whistler St car park and building a new 800-space car park under Manly oval.
Good for Manly fully supports the activation of laneways and creating a 'heart' for Manly in Whistler Street however we believe this can be done by revitalisation of existing infrastructure, rather than major redevelopment.
See related Manly Daily article at http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/iphone/homepage.aspx#_article06cf8f9b-6153-40ef-8f8d-e2ac8a159ef5
Alarm bells have started to ring regarding the ‘revenue generation’ model for the Oval Car Park which is based on a turnover of 600 cars, everyday, paying an average of $15 each. This figure (which seems very unlikely) does not take into account Council’s current policy of two hours free parking, and no analysis of demand has been undertaken.
A recent study of the utilisation of Council’s existing car parks by the operators of Manly Wharf has confirmed Council’s own study that the existing car parks are under-utilised, expect during major events and summer weekends.
The funding of the car park will be over 50 years with Council borrowings of around $33m, (although KPMG have put the figure at closer to $40m). Many are questioning the wisdom of the plan. On the 3rd June at Manly Council meeting the Manly 2015 Plan and the proposal for the car park was debated for 2 hours as part of the total 10 year Strategic Plan which included the controversial 2015 Plan.
The Good For Manly campaign to stop the Oval car park & save Whistler Street car park was successful in slowing down the process and getting an independent due diligence review of the projects, more consultation and therefore more time to get the facts known. This resulted in a compromise resolution put forward by the Liberals which is why Good for Manly's Councillor, Candy Bingham, supported the motion. Without our campaign the Oval car park would now be a reality. While the resolution at the June 3 Council meeting has bought us more time it is concerning that the Mayor, Jean Hay, at recent 2015 briefing sessions, is speaking as if the Plan is going ahead.
A report commissioned by Council by KPMG on the feasibility of the key components of the Plan has not been made available to Councillors despite a major campaign by Clr Bingham who is stressing that Councillors need to be fully briefed on the financial consequences of the Plan and confirmation by the Division of Local Government that the document must be provided to Councillors.
To date, every Manly Precinct has opposed the Oval car park plan, 200 people attended a recent public meeting arranged by Good for Manly against the Plan, close to 100 individual letters have been received by Councillors against the Plan plus letters in the Daily. So what else do we need to do to get the Liberal Councillors to listen to what their community wants?
Manly Council has now released the new traffic plan as a result of it's public exhibition period for the Manly 2015 Plan in September 2011. It includes a new car park under Manly Oval, the demoliton of the Whistler Street car park and the closure of Sydney Road from Belgrave Street to connect with the existing plaza. Central Ave, where the Post Office is, will become a cul-de-sac. This illustration is apparently copyright to Manly Council however in the interest of public consultation and information, we are reproducing it here:
What do yo think of the new plan? How will it affect you?
Mayor Jean Hay and her Liberal Councillors are moving at a great pace to proceed with the 2015 Plan which at its core entails the demolition of Whistler Street carpark (yes, it's an eyesore but still a valuable asset that holds 395 cars); the demolition and rebuild of Many Library and the building of an 800 space carpark under Manly Oval. The overall cost of the Plan? - $80million. Add this to the $15 million to upgrade the Manly Swim Centre and you are looking at total capital expenditure of $100 million.
Can Manly ratepayers afford this? No! Let's get real. We need to live within our means not be servicing borrowings of $100 million for years to come. I'm not persuaded this is good for Manly.
Manly Council's decision to put on hold their controversial $85million 2015 Plan until the next council election in September is a good move.
The car park under the oval idea in particular has not proved popular with the estimated cost of $40m and a limited number of additional car parking spaces provided once the Whistler Street car park is demolished as part of the Plan, has no local support according to our research.
The idea of activating some of the old lane ways and plaza spaces, however, should go ahead. What do you think?
Stop Press:Council voted unanimously against the increase at last night's meeting (4/6/12). It was stated that the proposal was just one of many that were suggested at a brainstorming meeting to find ways to raise additional funds and yet although it hadn't been voted on by Councillors somehow appeared in the draft budget. Why? It was also revealed that such a move would have raised about $350,000. But what would have happened to our Village? Empty shops and no-one using the parking stations in Manly I suspect while Warringah Mall benefits. An ill conceived idea that should never have seen the light of day.
Background to story 23 May 2012:
Residents and local businesses are alarmed by the Council’s proposal to remove the 2 hour free parking period in the four parking stations in Manly’s CBD. This proposal is part of the Council’s draft budget for 2012-13 hidden on page 255 of the 288 page Community Strategic Plan. The changes would include:
· $1 fee for the first hour
· $2 fee for the second hour
· Increase in night charges after 7pm to $16 for 3 hours
The Chamber of Commerce, who were not consulted on the proposed changes, has urged the council to scrap the plan due to the potentially disastrous affect it could have on local businesses. Currently, the majority of vehicles using the car parks stay for less than 2 hours. It has been suggested that an increase in fees would prompt shoppers and diners to go elsewhere.
These carparks were funded by commercial levies on local businesses. Does the council therefore have the right to start charging for something that has already been paid for?
This proposal could be the final nail in the coffin for our Village shopping area.
What impact would such a change have on you? Will it change your behaviour in visiting Manly?
Please leave your comment below so that we can include in a submission to council.
UPDATE: 25/5/12 ....Mayor Jean Hay announces that two hour free parking to remain. Question has to be asked: How did this fundamentally important matter get into the draft budget, on her watch, in the first place?
Hold onto your parking ticket - it's not over yet! Manly Daily reported (May 26) that Manly Council is NOW considering a scheme that would require people to get a voucher from local shop to entitle them to 2 hours free parking. Oh brother! Why can't the Council, and the Mayor, get it? If you want Manly Village to survive (let alone thrive) we must compete with other local shopping areas that provide 3 hours free parking, no proof of purchase, no vouchers or bar-code scans, just free parking.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & 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.