In one of his final acts as Administrator of the Northern Beaches Council, Dick Perrson has approved a recommendation that a Masterplan be undertaken for Little Manly Reserve. This follows years of lobbying by the Save Little Manly Foreshore group and the former Little Manly Precinct to ensure that the foreshore land remains accessable to the public.
Initial work includes:
(Council owns three of the four properties on the foreshore being Nos 34, 36 and 40. No 38 is a recently-built private residence.)
The Administrator also expressed the view that the existing kiosk and toilet block should be demolished, providing more open space in that part of the reserve. The proposed café/restaurant at No 40 Stuart St. would be accessible from the park.
Council staff will prepare a draft Masterplan, for discussion with key stakeholders and the public. The final plan will then be put on public exhibition for further comment and submissions.
This announcement follows years of work by the Save Little Manly Foreshore Group who fought long and hard to retain a number of council-owned properties on the foreshore of Little Manly. Their focus was to realise a 40 year vision to return the harbour foreshore back to open space.
The most recent acquisition, the purchase of No 40 Stuart Street, which runs beside the existing reserve, was purchased by Manly Council in 2012 for $4.2m.
However, then Mayor Jean Hay was totally against the purchase and continued to fight the matter during her term as Mayor in 2012 – 2016 including a proposal to sell-off the other council-owned properties in the area (Nos 34 – 36) to cover the costs of No 40, despite the fact that council owned 3 out of the 4 of the sites making up the foreshore!
The Save Little Manly Foreshore Group, backed in particular by Cr Barbara Aird and Cr Hugh Burns, as well as Cr Candy Bingham and Cr Cathy Griffin, took the Council to court to stop the sale and won. An expensive court case, backed by the Liberal bloc on Council, cost the Council an estimated $200,000.
You can read more on the history to save this site here.
What do you think of the proposed draft ideas for the area?
It’s been a long time coming but Manly residents finally have a special picnic area and new dingy and kayak storage space on the public land near Little Manly Beach at the corner of Craig Avenue, thanks to a long fought battle by the Save Little Manly Foreshore Group.
Now, thanks to a government grant pursued by former councillor Cathy Griffin, the creation of a new public space is almost a reality.
The project is set to be finished by the end of this month, just in time for Spring.
Here is how it unfolded
For more than 40 years there has been a vision to increase the open space at Little Manly foreshore. Initially harbour front blocks at 34 and 36 Stuart Street were purchased by Manly Council. Recently No. 40 Stuart Street was purchased with the view to extend the parkland in the future.
But in 2013 the former Manly Council led by Mayor Jean Hay, tried to sell off the parcels of land of Nos 34 & 36, claiming the money was needed to pay for the recent purchase of 40 Stuart Street.
Public fury and a community-driven court action by the Save Little Manly Foreshore Group in the Land and Environment Court put a stop to the sale.
There have many plans to improve the area, which had been used for kayak and dingy storage but was never fully accessible to the public.
Now, thanks to a grant pursued by former councillor Cathy Griffin, the creation of a new public space is almost a reality.
The kayaks and dingeys have been moved to the street-end of the site, and arranged in a better-organised, tidy system freeing up the space overlooking the harbour.
The work is almost complete in converting this once cluttered space into a grassed picnic area, with landscaping and seats.
Thank you to the Save Little Manly Foreshore Group, their supporters, and Clrs Barbara Aird, Hugh Burns, David Murphy, Cathy Griffin and Candy Bingham who never gave-up on this vision.
Councillor Candy Bingham has admitted to making an error of judgement when voting for the rezoning of 38 Stuart Street Little Manly from Open Space to Residential at a Council meeting in December 2013.
"I don't know what I was thinking and now deeply regret supporting the rezoning", Clr Bingham said recently.
The Manly Mayor, Jean Hay and her Liberal Party colleagues (Steve Pickering, James Griffin, Alan Le Surf and Adele Heasman) and the Independent Councillor Candy Bingham, passed a resolution to spot rezone 38 Stuart St from Open Space to Residential (E4) at the Manly Council meeting of December 2013.
Photo shows: 34&36 Stuart St in red, 38 predominately grey
The Independent Councillors Hugh Burns and Barbara Aird and the Green Councillor Cathy Griffin, opposed the spot rezoning.
Since 1948, The County of Cumberland Planning Scheme, and each succeeding Manly Council has maintained the Open Space Zoning on all the properties behind Little Manly Beach.
At this time, Manly Council owns three of the four properties behind Little Manly beach, 34, 36 and 40 Stuart St. Only 38 Stuart St is privately owned and has recently had a major new residential dwelling built on it.
Tireless campaigners to maintain the Open Space Zoning, The Save Little Manly Foreshore Group, maintained the Open Space zoning on 38 was important, because it signals that at some future time Manly Council intends to purchase this property as well, but if the property is spot rezoned Residential E4, then the value of the property is substantially increased, making it less likely Council will be able to afford to do so.
There is another concerning aspect to the spot rezoning of 38 Stuart St from Open Space to Residential.
This rezoning was not formally requested by the owners of the property, and therefore could be a gift of a substantial rise in the value of the property to the owners of 38 Stuart Street.
The Manly ratepayers will also bear the costs of the spot rezoning, with NO benefit to the Manly ratepayers at all.
The Mayor, Cr Jean Hay used her weekly newspaper column (Dec 14) to vow to "right the appalling decision made by the last Council to buy No 40 Stuart Street".
Number 40, along with Nos 34 and 36 Stuart St which were bought years ago, was purchased as part of a 40-year vision to increase public land at Little Manly beach - a secluded Sydney Harbour jewel.
But Cr Hay says No 40 cost too much - $4.25 million - which the council had to borrow, creating the "huge financial burden" of paying off $500,000 per year for the next ten years.
In fact that's exactly what Monday's vote was all about.
Public fury and the Land and Environment Court had stopped the council's Liberal block from selling public waterfront at No 34 and 36 to pay for No 40. So attention could finally turn to funding the purchase in another way.
The business plan included - raising the timber house at No 34 and using the space underneath for a paid dinghy and kayak lock- up facility; using the house as the new home of the Manly Environment Centre, thus saving $75,000 per annum in rental on the centre's existing premises; and delaying the demolition of the house at No 40, meaning the council could continue to receive rent from the property.
Changing the council's loan on No 40 to interest-only repayments was also considered but is not likely to be adopted as it more than doubles the cost of the loan - from $1.1 million in total interest to $2.7 million.
Increasing Manly's Environment Levy by 50 cents per rateable property per week was also under consideration but does not seem a likely option.
An immediate improvement to public land at Little Manly was on the cards as No 36, the smallest property, has been deemed for demolishion for some time, and the land landscaped for public use and additional outdoor boat storage.
The council is to consider the business plan seriously at a strategic workshop in February 2014.
Let us know here what you would like to see happen with the Stuart St properties.
It's been a long, determined campaign by the Save Little Manly Foreshore Group but finally they have won! Little Manly foreshore will stay in public hands, as it should.
This week Manly Council finally abandoned its plan to sell off precious public land at Nos 34 and 36 Stuart St.
It's a shame it took months of community opposition and a defeat in the Land and Environment Court to persuade Manly's Liberal councillors not to sell off our waterfront.
And it's a pity the Liberals wasted $200,000 of our money in court costs - especially when their argument for selling the properties was that they needed the money.
The two properties are next to the only harbour boat ramp in the area and are loved by kayakers, canoeists, windsurfers and scuba divers, as well as boaties.
The blocks were initially bought as part of a 40-year vision to increase open space at Little Manly beach, one of our harbourside gems.
So the council's February decision to rezone the land to residential so they could sell it off, enraged the Manly community and galvanised opposition to the council's Liberal voting block.
Mayor Jean Hay's line that the two blocks needed to be sold to finance council's recent purchase of No 40 Stuart St, was never credible.
Until its knockback in the Land and Environment Court, the council hadn't seriously explored other ways to fund the new purchase, - such as making better financial use of its existing Stuart St properties or using "Section 94" development contribution funds, some of which are required by law to be used for this exact thing - open space acquisition.
As well the council has no problem spending money elsewhere - it's planning a $16 million swim centre upgrade, and a lavish $80 million revamp to Manly's CBD including a $40 million car park under Manly oval. Both these issues have also been very controversial.
On Monday (9th December 2013) the council rescinded its decision to rezone Nos 34 and 36. That means the two blocks stay zoned as community open space. Finally! No 38, the only property the council does not own in the Little Manly block, is still slated to be rezoned as residential.
While some councillors and Save Little Manly Foreshore supporters are concerned about No 38 being rezoned to residential, Good for Manly believes the main battle has been won.
Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham congratulates all the Manly residents who fought to keep the land in public hands, particularly the Save LIttle Manly Foreshore group, and formally acknowledges the major job undertaken by Cr Barbara Aird who fought for the vision for years at Manly Council.
A business plan for Little Manly foreshore may help to keep the harbourfront land in public hands.
Manly Council voted this week to prepare a business case to help finance last year's purchase of No 40 Stuart St, which is ear-marked for demolition in the future to extend Little Manly park.
The council had previously resolved to sell two properties - Nos 34 and 36 Stuart St - in order to fund the $4.2 million purchase of No 40.
However the threat to public open space enraged residents who successfully took the council to the Land and Environment Court to block the sale.
At Monday's meeting the council voted to consider financial options including raising the timber house at 34 Stuart St and using the space underneath for a paid dinghy and kayak lock- up facility. The dwelling could be used, for example as The Manly Coastal Environment Centre, thus saving the rental on the groups' existing premises.
Deferring the transformation of No 40 into open space is also on the table, meaning the council could continue to receive rent from the property. Changing the council's loan on the property to interest-only repayments and increasing Manly's Environment Levy will also be considered.
While councillors welcomed the development of a business plan, Cr Barbara Aird expressed concerns that, despite everything, the future of the beachfront land is still not secure.
A motion, put by Crs Cathy Griffin, Hugh Burns and Aird to rescind an earlier decision to re-zone the Stuart St properties from 'open space' to 'residential' was deferred until next month. That means that the council's September decision to spot re-zone the four Stuart St properties on Little Manly beach, still stands.
The council's four independent councillors and residents' group Save Little Manly Foreshore see the re-zoning as an attempt to circumvent the Land and Environment Court "no sale" ruling.
Good For Manly councillor Candy Bingham welcomed the business plan proposal and congratulated Manly residents who fought to keep the land in public hands, particularly the Save LIttle Manly Foreshore Group and Cr Aird who fought for the vision for years at Manly Council.
But she criticised the council for "wasting $200,000 of rate payers' money" in the Land and Environment Court.
Council staff will now prepare a business case to be considered at next month's meeting. That meeting should also vote on the re-zoning rescission motion.
UPDATE: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water .... the future of the Little Manly Foreshore is in question again.
After the Land & Environment Court’s recent ruling against Manly Council, it was hoped that the matter of rezoning of the foreshore land from ‘open space’ to ‘residential’ would be taken off the table.
Instead, Manly’s Liberal Councillors have effectively delayed this for another month while further legal advice is sought. If Manly Council intends that the foreshore land be used as public parkland, why would the foreshore need to be rezoned to residential?
The judgement by Justice Biscoe clearly stated that the Mayor's motion of December 2012 to sell-off the land was no longer valid.
It's time Council revisited the four Architect designs which were commissioned in June 2012, but have never been made public, to look at how a park could be created on this land. Council should also prepare a draft plan of management for what is clearly COMMUNITY LAND and stop playing games. It has already cost around $200,000 in ratepayers money in court costs - image what a great park we could have created with that money.
The judgement handed down by Justice Biscoe on 9/10/13 in the Land & Environment court against the sale by Manly Council of two parcels of foreshore land, currently zoned as 'open space' and extensively used by the community, was in favour of the resident action group. He found that the land at 34 & 36 Stuart Street was in fact 'community' land and therefore could not sold by Council without due process.
Council is also to pay full costs. Great win for the residents of Manly and thanks and congratulations to the Save Little Manly Foreshore Group who worked tirelessly to make this happen, and Councillor Barbara Aird who has fought the issue in the Council Chamber for many years.
A copy of the judgment is below:
LATEST UPDATE - 26/9/13. Justice Biscoe of the NSW Land & Environment Court has reserved judgment to consider arguments from the Save Little Manly Beach Foreshore group and Manly Council before making a ruling in this matter.
Thanks goes to the efforts of barristers Ingrid King and Justin Doyle and solicitor Bruce Woolf in representing the local residents to ensure that this vital matter of public interest was heard by the court. Also to the Save Little Manly Beach Foreshore group who have been fighting this issue tirelessly since Mayor Jean Hay's decision to sell in December 2012.
It all started in December 2012 when the Mayor, Jean Hay, moved a Mayoral Minute that the Council-owned foreshore land at Little Manly Beach, 34 & 36 Stuart Street be sold to cover the cost of buying No 40 Stuart Street.
The land to be sold has been owned by Council by more than 40 years, and zoned 'open space'. It forms part of the public space at Little Manly Beach and No 34 in particular, is used extensively as dingy and boat storage.
A group of residents have got together to challenge the Council's sale of this land claiming it is 'community' land and can not be sold without consultation. The case is listed for 24 & 25th September 2013 in the Land & Environment Court. For a brief understanding of what the case is about - view the short video below.
Great coverage on Channel 10 news on September 19, 2013 about the issue.
Just heard that Manly Council will hold the sale of foreshore land at 34 & 36 Stuart St, Little Manly, pending an application to the Land & Environment court by the Save Little Manly Foreshore Inc. over the land classification and sale. The matter is expected to be heard by the Court in early August.
The decision has caused an outcry from day one. The Mayoral Minute by Jean Hay in December 2012 to sell council-owned foreshore land at Little Manly, without any consultation with the community, has resulted in public meetings, letters to the editor of the Manly Daily, thousands of likes on a Facebook page .... all of which have fallen on deaf ears.
Determined to cover the cost of purchasing No. 40 Stuart Street, which was bought by the previous Council to continue the vision to extend the open space at Little Manly Beach, Mayor Hay's resolution delegated to the General Manager the sale of No 34 & 36 Stuart Street. This 'community land' has been owned by Council for decades and includes a popular and well-used dinghy and kayak storage area on the beach-side of No. 34. (No 38 is a recently constructed large family home).
At Monday's council meeting (July 15, 2013), architects from the Public Domain Committee proposed to Council that rather than sell the two properties they be subdivided into smaller lots, thus ensuring that a large part of the public space could be retained while also meeting the objective of raising funds.
The General Manager undertook to meet with the architects to explore the idea further.
Do you think this could be a good compromise?
Street after street in Manly have examples of 'Ausgrid Vandalism'. The relentless butchering of our trees by Augrid sub-contractors continues to be serious issue resulting in major damage to a number of heritage trees. The systematic need to remove established trees which have become unstable or unhealthy due to inappropriate, and continual, cutting of significant branches has become unacceptable.
For example, Ausgrid are about to remove four smallish trees on Seaview Street between Upper Beach and New Streets. The reason I understand is that they do not want the continual expense of pruning them.
While aerial bundling is not the best solution, it would bring about a significant improvement. Under this method cables are bundled and insulated which means that contact with branches is much less of a problem and trees do not need to be as radically pruned. Currently the wires, apart from the Optus cables, are not insulated. Of course the best solution would be to underground the cables, but reality dictates that this is highly unlikely due to the enormous expense.
A good example of bundling can be seen on Bourke St in Surry Hills. Some bundling has also occurred on Addison Road, Manly.
Due to recent concerns raised by a number of Precinct Forum groups and local residents in the Manly area, a resolution was passed at the June 2013 Council meeting which included that steps be taken to halt the Ausgrid practices; that Manly Council develop a Tree Policy for the area, and that the possibility of aerial bundling be investigated. North Harbour & Little Manly Precinct groups in particular have been actively fighting this issue on behalf of local residents.
Should Nos 34 & 36 Stuart Street on Little Manly Beach be sold? Frankly, I don’t know but I'm certainly not in support of this rash and rushed decision which was passed on Monday night (11/2/13) by the Liberal majority.
As a Councillor I have not been given any alternative options; I haven’t seen the plans for the park that Council commissioned for this land less than 6 months ago; I have no idea what the land would be worth once it was carved up into even smaller parcels; I don’t know what other assets Council has that could be sold to meet any shortfall; I don’t know how much Council has raised in Section 94 Contributions specially for this Little Manly area.
…… in fact as a Councillor I’ve been given absolutely no information to support this sale. Where is the due process in this matter? Why isn’t Council following proper procedures?
No’s 34 and 36 Stuart Street were purchased for the express purpose of one day being incorporated into a new community park, and they have been reserved for ‘Open Space’ for approximately 50 years.
The message that ‘rates will go up and Council can’t afford this plan’ is misleading. Council has many assets on its books which could be classified ‘surplus to requirements’ – why aren’t we investigating the option of selling another asset rather than foreshore land. Where is the due process in making this decision?
The Mayor, Jean Hay, has decided these properties will be sold to pay off the debt of Council's purchase of No. 40 Stuart Street which is the land closest to the existing reserve. Where is the open and transparent process in this decision? Where is the community consultation? What are our other options? Why are we selling such a valuable asset to justify the purchase of another? It just doesn't make sense.
Two mature trees at Little Manly Beach, a fig & a gum, have been poisoned much to the distress of locals. The trees are dying and we are about to lose what little shade we have there. As you can see from the photo below, a number of deep bore holes were drilled into the trunk of the trees so this was no accident. What sort of person would do such a thing?
UPDATE: 13/10/12 Red faces all around at Manly Council! It has now been revealed that the trees were not poisoned at all but the work of a pest control company employed as part of the due diligence on the purchase of 40 Stuart Street, next door, by the Council. Although the drilling of eight holes into the large paper bark and three into the fig in search of white ants seems an act of 'vandalism' of another kind (see photo below, these were not small holes). The Council even engaged the help of the Manly Daily to help find "the vandals who poisoned the trees" - oh dear!
As reported in The Australian (10/4/12), veteran Sydney property developer Phillip Wolanski is behind a new consortium called Spring Cove Developments which has won the development rights from the Catholic Church to compete the final stage on land surrounding the former St Patrick's seminary at Spring Cove, following withdrawal from the project by Lend Lease.
It has been reported that the church will finance the project to the tune of around $200m and the substantial development will comprise houses and apartments in what is considered by locals as environmentally sensitive, pristine waterfront land.
Locals at Little Manly first become aware that the development may be underway again when a number of mature trees where felled recently.
Local environmental groups and residents will be working overtime to ensure that environmental controls are met, and penguin habitat protected, during development.
If you want to know what was approved by the Council previously, too bad! The Council's latest controls of information means that no DAs older than 14 days can be accessed on the website. You can however fill out a two page form, lodge it and wait about 3 weeks to view it at the Council Chambers .....
Manly Wine and Food Festival In its 25th year, the Manly Food, Wine (& recently added) Sustainability - Festival was fantastic this year! Good weather, lots of treats, well-run stalls and a good layout ensured that everyone had a good time. Well done Manly Council!
This event is really good for Manly and good for the environment. As one well-briefed volunteer on garbage duty told me, "89% of the rubbish from the event is recycled".
A team of residents from Little Manly Precinct did a great job cleaning up graffiti on Sunday for Graffiti Action Day. This was a fantastic community event and thanks to Ray Mathieson for co-coordinating it, but everyone continues to ask - "when are we going to get serious about treating graffiti as a crime"?
It's estimated that in NSW alone we spend around $100m a year removing graffiti and most Councils, including Manly, have contractors working weekly or even daily removing graffiti in their area. Blacktown City Council, for example, has an annual budget of $800,000 for the purpose - money that could be better spent!
Ways you can get involved:
• Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333000 if you see graffiti in progress
• Call Police Assistance Line on 131 444 if your property is hit by graffiti
• Contact your local council who can assist with names of contractors or provide kits for removal.
Update from Manly Daily - 26/8/11
Manly Council voted earlier this month to incorporate an internet-based graffiti reporting system on its website to help residents better report vandalism in their area. It already operates a phone-based scheme, which allows residents to supply photos and provides police with information for identifying and tracking tags.
The council spent $76,373 in the 2008/09 financial year on removing illegal graffiti and had budgeted $85,000 for the service the following year, according to the most recent available figures.
The new online system is expected to be operational within a month.
Manly Council recommends calling the police assistance line on 13 14 44 to report graffiti on residents’ own property and its own graffiti hotline, on 9976 1633, to report tags on council or other people’s property.
At a packed Little Manly Precinct meeting last night residents slammed the main features of Manly's 2015 Plan as totally unworkable.
The proposed changes to traffic and parking in particular, which includes the removal of 400 street parking spaces, and the introduction of 'shared zones' and 'traffic calming' on what are already clogged roads, just left residents in total disbelief that such a proposal even got this far through Council.
It may be a vision - but as one resident said ... "they're dreaming".
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.