Following months of negotiations, the Northern Beaches Council will terminate the Development Deed for the construction of the Oval Car Park, although negotiations still continue on the cancellation of the development deed for the redevelopment of the Whistler Street site, which was dependant on the Oval car park being built.
Cartoon by Buddy Ross in Manly Daily sums the issue up well.
This follows an extensive investigation into the process undertaken by the former Manly Council which was headed by General Manager Henry Wong. Mayor Jean Hay and her Liberal bloc of councillors should also be held accountable for allowing the project to proceed. They continued to ram it through despite continued warnings by independent experts that it was fatally flawed.
The cost of cancelling the car park project contract with Abergeldie was $580,000 plus an initial contractual payment of $200,000. Add to this more than $500,000 spent developing the project including consultants reports, traffic studies and environmental assessments, interest payments together with the recent independent reports that led to the scrapping of the car park at $94,000 and the total known cost is $1.5m. However the money lost abandoning the project was nothing compared to what it would have cost if this flawed project had gone ahead.
The Northern Beaches Council has undertaken to release the two independent reports by Ernst & Young and Value Networks, which were commissioned to investigate the matter. However, this is not likely now until August as negotiations continue with Built & Athas. It is expected that these reports will vindicate independent Councillors Candy Bingham (Good For Manly); Barbara Aird & Hugh Burns; (Manly Independents) and Cathy Griffin (Greens) who fought long and hard against these developments, in addition to the Good For Manly Association and Save Manly Oval Alliance.
Whistler Street Redevelopment Still On the Table
The termination of the former Manly Council Development Deed for the redevelopment of the Whistler street site, including the Library, is still unresolved. The Northern Beaches Council will enter into a six month Negotiations Deed with Built & Athas, who won the tender to redevelop the site.
The purpose of this ongoing negotiation period is to find a "mutually satisfactory outcome" in the hope of avoiding a lengthy and complicated dispute with the developer.
During this time Council proposes to review "identified issues including parking, design, value for money, traffic flows, library, approvals required, community participation and procurement considerations".
So the focus now is on the future of the Whistler Street site. What would you like to see happen?
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.
Dee Why Civic Centre was packed last night (23/8/16) as the fate of the former Manly Council's divisive Oval Car Park and Whistler Street redevelopment plans were shelved by the Administrator, Dick Perssons, after an extensive investigation into the flawed Manly2015 Plan. Below is the recommendation that was adopted:
The total project has been shelved, and the DA for the Oval Car Park has been withdrawn. This has resulted in the termination of the Development Deeds with Abergeldie Construction (Oval Car Park), and Athas/Built (Whistler Street site 99 year lease).
After four years of campaigning a decision is finally made.......and the residents were right!
Campaign Based of The Facts
From the very beginning Good For Manly focused on the facts. This was in total contrast to former Mayor Jean Hay and her Liberal Councillors who refused to support any investigation into the process, or even to question former General Manager Henry Wong, who essentially did what he liked. Instead the Liberal block shouted down any opposition, and talked about "scare campaigns" and people pushing their own political barrows.
A four year campaign spearheaded by former Manly Councillor Candy Bingham was supported by huge community opposition to the scheme. Campaign efforts included three public meetings, two protest rallies, letterbox drops, objections by the resident precinct groups, a survey of businesses, hundreds of submissions, four-years worth of letters to the Manly Daily and relevant government ministers, regular press coverage, meetings with local MP Mike Baird, and the formation of the Save Manly Oval Alliance.
Save Manly Oval Alliance
The Alliance commissioned legal advice from the Environmental Defenders Office and engaged independent experts to prepare reports and submissions, covering financial, heritage, traffic management, structural and environmental issues, water & flood management etc in response to the oval car park development application which was lodged 2 days before Manly Council was dismissed and amalgamated into one Northern Beaches Council.
But in the end the depth of community opposition and the stark facts provided by the experts co-ordinated by the Save Manly Oval Alliance could not be ignored. The total project has been shelved, and the DA for the Oval Car Park has been withdrawn. This has resulted in the termination of the Development Deeds with Abergeldie Construction (Oval Car Park), and Athas/Built (Whistler Street site 99 year lease).
At present, the independent reports remain confidential until contractual arrangements have been sorted however the Council has undertaken to make the reports by Ernst & Young and Value Network public once this have been done.
It's time for the Manly Community to celebrate!
And to thank and acknowledge all those who worked so tirelessly to stop this Plan. The non-Liberal councillors who were successful in delaying the project for a number of years. Clrs Candy Bingham, Cathy Griffin Hugh Burns and later Barbara Aird. As well as the huge number of Manly residents, local experts, precinct groups and business leaders who have stood up to be counted. And of course the the executive and members of the Save Manly Oval Alliance and Good For Manly Association.
We can now go back to the drawing board and come up with a Masterplan for Manly that will gain the support of locals and tourists alike. Watch this space!
The reality of the consequences of the Manly Oval car park has now stirred up Club officials of the Manly Marlins Rugby Club who have launched an on-line petition to Save Manly Oval. Sign at: www.manlyrugby.com.au
As reported in the Manly Daily, Marlins Vice President Anthony Bergelin confirmed that the lodged development application for the car park showed a reduction in the size of the playing field by 3.5m, which is totally unacceptable.
With the size of the oval already at its minimum, this major change will make the playing area unworkable according to the Merlins.
Quoted in the Manly Daily Anthony Berlin said it was the Club's intention to meet with the Northern Beaches Administrator and the independent consultants reviewing the process to "outline some very concerning aspects of the development process".
In the meantime the Oval looks like a bog with the $millions spent on works to install a detention tank earlier this year seeming to only exasperate the condition of the ground, as the recent photos below clearly show.
An independent report on the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street redevelopment plans, pushed so vehemently by the then Mayor Jean Hay and General Manager Henry Wong against strong community opposition, is expected to come to the next Northern Beaches Council meeting on 9th August, which will be held at Mona Vale.
The Office of Local Government has now confirmed that the former Manly Council meeting on April12, at which the public were locked out and tenders were awarded for the construction of a car park under Manly Oval and the 99 year lease of the Whistler Street Car Park and Library sites - was illegal.
Further, Dick Perssons, the Administrator of the new Northern Beaches Council, has commissioned Ernst & Young and Value Network to facilitate an independent review of the projects, following continued concerns raised by Good for Manly, the Save Manly Oval Alliance and hundreds of concerned citizens.
This independent review was announced just days after submissions closed for the Development Application of the Oval Car Park, which in turn was lodged just two days before Manly Council was officially amalgamated.
Concerns Over Lack of Process
Over the past four years Good For Manly has raised serious concerns about the way in which Manly Council undertook the process of developing the Manly2015 Masterplan which originally proposed a 760 space car park under Manly Oval and the 99 year lease to a developer of the Whistler Street car park site.
On the 12 April, behind closed doors and with no pubic notification, the Liberal majority on the council voted for a 500 space car park (not 760) and the 99 year lease of both the Whistler Street car park AND library sites. The redevelopment proposal was new to the Councillors and was nothing like the submissions made during the Expressions of Interest process, in fact some would argue it was a 'non-confirming tender'. It had had no public exhibition for feedback, was quite different from anything previously exhibited and the proposed development exceeds the current height limit for the site.
Non Compliant Running of Meetings
Add to this two years of complaints to the Office of Local Government (OLG) by Clr Candy Bingham that the General Manager, Henry Wong, was systematically refusing to put legitimate motions on the business paper - and you get an idea of just how dodgy the process has been.
In the business paper for the Northern Beaches Council meeting on 7th July, (see copy below) a number of letters from the OLG addressed to Mr Wong, dating back to June & July 2014 , are attached. These clearly state that the Council's Code of Meeting Practice was not compliant with statutory requirements and needed to be updated. It never was, and the GM continued his practice of rejecting legitimate motions.
In addition the OLG's letter dated 10/6/16 addressed to the interim General Manager of the Northern Beaches Council raises serious issues in relation to the meeting of 12 April which was held in the absence of the public to consider tenders concerning Manly2015 Masterplan.
It is pleasing that the new Administration is taking the matter seriously by commissioning an independent assessment. The final report is expected early August.
In the meantime the DA process for the Oval Car Park will continue with independent consultants Fox Partners assessing the submissions on behalf of Council. Their report will be peer reviewed.
The high level of open and transparent government now operating under the new Council is a joy!
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.
We saw "people power" at its very best in Manly last Sunday afternoon.
Despite 150 kph winds and torrential rain approximately 300 concerned locals turned up at a church hall for a "Save Manly Oval" public meeting.
It seemed ironic that a meeting raising concerns about a 500 space car park to be built under a reinstated Manly Oval, was in progress while Manly Oval was actually flooded, particularly around the area where the new detention tank had been installed by Council earlier this year.
Expert after expert informed the meeting about major concerns in relation to the DA which was lodged the day before Manly Council was amalgamated into the new Northern Beaches Council.
The proposed $28m cost was dismissed by experts claiming the cost would be closer to $45-50m. Traffic experts explained the impact of reducing Sydney Road into one through lane in both directions, and the issue of there being no break-down area. (That afternoon a truck broke down in Sydney Road . Under the proposed new arrangement it would have totally blocked and stopped the traffic proceeding into Manly for hours causing traffic jams likely as far as the The Spit.) And what about emergency vehicles? How are they supposed to access this major road in an emergency?
A proposed roundabout at Eustace Street simply will not work, the gathering was told. Dozens of buses, trucks and the dual carriage Sydney Water Sewage trucks which use Sydney Road daily, will be unable to negotiate such a tight turn.
But then there was the flooding issue. As torrential rain fell on the roof of the hall, and water was gushing down Sydney Road at a great rate, the sober reality of building an underground car park, in a flood plain at the bottom of a steep hill, sent shivers up the spine. And the DA does not allow for a 1 in 100 year flood, in fact the DA falls well short of the requirement.
For many the reality that the existing historic oval will be completely demolished, with road barriers, entry portals, ventilation stacks, public toilet amenities, and other bulidings blocking the existing vista of the oval from Sydney Road, came as a shock. For years they had been told by Council that the oval would be reinstated in its former glory, but the harsh reality of what is required to service and ventilate a large underground car park means that in fact this will be far from the case. Even the historic Merritt Memorial gateway (erected in 1927) which now proudly provides the entrance to the oval, will be relocated further away - with the toilet amenities as its backdrop.
But that's not all .....
The DA plans clearly show the relocation of the picket fence reducing further the playing field, which is already short of desired length. This raises serious safety issues, particularly for the rugby players where strict rules apply in relation to the size and standard of the playing surface. The Manly Marlins, who have played on the field for 133 years, have now lodged a submission outlining their concerns. (A copy can be viewed the end of this post).
(A recent tongue in cheek cartoon in the Manly Daily by Buddy Ross, captured this concern well.)
The final presentation was by former CEO of Wilson Parking, Craig Smith. With more than 30 years experience in building and operating major car parks all over Australia, he left no doubt that the location of the Oval Car Park simply would not work. It was too far away from the CBD and beach, the revenue projections were way out and the operational costs would be very high. Northern Beaches ratepayers were looking at huge annual ongoing losses that could never be recouped.
So why is this flawed plan even been considered? That's a question Good For Manly has been asking the former five Liberal Councillors on Manly Council, and Local Member Mike Baird, for four years.
The Save Manly Oval Alliance (SMOA) has recently been formed to continue the fight against the Oval Car Park proposal. Already close to $20,000.00 has been raised in a fighting fund which is being used to engage experts to prepare reports against the Oval Car Park DA and engage legal counsel. The Environmental Defenders Office has taken on the case on behalf of the SMOA, and the advice of a leading barrister sought.
What Can You Do?
1. Put in a submission against the Oval Car Park DA No.116/2016. Send your submission to email@example.com before July 1.
2. Consider making a donation to the Save Manly Oval Fighting Fund.
Details on how to make a submission and how to make a donation are on their website.
Save Manly Oval Alliance
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com)
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!
A fighting fund has been launched by the Save Manly Oval Alliance in a bid to stop the Manly Oval car park development for which a successful tenderer was selected by Manly Council on 12 April in an extraordinary meeting closed to the public. The DA for the carpark has been lodged today with the Joint Regional Planning Panel. It will be on public display for 28 days for comment.
Independent traffic studies have clearly shown that the proposed 500 space car park this will result in traffic chaos in Manly's CBD and surrounding areas of Fairlight and Balgowlah. The car park, which is possible due to the 99 year lease of the Whistler Street car park and Library sites for redevelopment, will only provide a minimal number of additional parking spaces, further away from the CBD.
It is a high-risk and expensive plan that will change the character of our historic Manly Oval for ever. The old car park and Library in Whistler Street are to be demolished for shops, apartments, offices and a new library on the 5th & 6th floor resulting in a major loss of ground floor community space.
FUNDS ARE URGENTLY NEEDED TO:
1. Take legal proceedings in the Land & Environment Court challenging the validity of Council's tendering process for the Manly Oval car park and the Whistler Street car park and library site.
2. Challenge the Development Application for the Oval Car Park. Experts in traffic, heritage, hydrology and the environment will be engaged to prepare expert reports for the Joint Regional Planning Panel who will be making the decision on whether the project proceeds.
3. Pay legal fees to the Environmental Defenders Office to pursue these cases.
Your support will save our Manly Village and unique Oval.
TOGETHER WE CAN STOP THIS!
Please help by Making A Donation - NOW.
WHO IS BEHIND THE FIGHTING FUND?
The challenge will be mounted by the Save Manly Oval Alliance (SMOA) which is an incorporated community association.
President: Jack Steggall, former local solicitor
Vice President: Jeremy Bingham, former Local Government Lawyer & former Lord Mayor of Sydney
Secretary: Roger Freney, economist and formerly Commonwealth Treasury
Treasurer: Ian Jones, Chartered accountant
Supporters include: Three former Mayors of Manly (ie Peter McDonald, Sue Sacker & Judy Mellows); former Local Member of Manly, David Barr; John Ferrarin former Director of JWT Partnership to name a few. See list here .. its impressive.
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
This week Manly Council announced the winning tenderers for the long-drawn out Manly2015 process of the Oval Car Park and Whistler Street site.
Oval Car Park
The design and construction of a 500 space car park underneath a reinstated Manly Oval was awarded to Abergeldie for around $28m.
This is well within Council’s budget of $34m which was originally set aside for a 760 space car park. Many local experts still question whether $28m is a realistic budget given the complexities of the site – only time will tell.
Many questions still remain about the management of traffic in Sydney Road and the proposed use of a roundabout at Eustace Street. These issues will need to be addressed if RMS approval is to be gained.
The Save Manly Oval Alliance has vowed to continue to fight the car park proposal.
Whistler Street Site
The proposal for the Whistler Street site was a surprise, taking a new look at what could be done within the triangle space.
Although KPMG’s original report stated that the Whistler Street car park site would be valued at around $16m, well-known Architects FJMT for Built Development Group & Athas Holdings, turned the design on its head producing an innovative approach that utilised the total site (Library & old car park) and offering Council a two-level library on the 5th & 6th floors, 50 car parking spaces (intended for disabled and 30 minute parking only) and a ‘theatre’ which in fact is two small 80 seat cinemas. Council will also receive a cash payment of $37m from the deal in exchange for a 99 year lease for both the car park and library sites.
Already dubbed ‘the glasshouse’ by locals because of the extensive use of glass in the design, the new development will include retail at ground level, sixty-eight apartments, commercial space and library, meeting spaces and council offices.
The General Manager of Manly Council said that work is expected to start on the oval car park in October this year and take about 12 months to complete.
Once operating the Whistler Street site will be redeveloped with a time-frame of 2 years to complete. During this time the Library will be re-located in temporary accommodation yet to be decided.
No opportunity has been provided by Council for Councillor or public feedback on the new Whistler Street plan. Let’s hope the developer has the sense to undertake community input before their Development Application is lodged.
Both projects will require the approval of the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Manly Council voted last night in closed session to proceed with the Oval Car Park and the 99 year lease of the Whistler Street site. The plan for Whistler Street involved the total site being redeveloped for retail, commercial, apartments and some library and community space.
What do you think?
Built Development Group & Athas Holdings (local Chris Athas already owns a number of successful retail & commercial properties in Manly) were the successful tenderer.
All has been done with great haste just 10 weeks before expected announcement of council amalgamations.
No opportunity for Councillors, or the public, to provide comment until the Development Application is lodged.
More details to come .....
Meanwhile the Oval Car Park tender was awarded to Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure for $27,733,747.
Good For Manly Cr Candy Bingham’s motion to discuss the need for a business plan was illegally ruled “out of order” and left off the agenda at Monday’s Manly Council Meeting. And Cr Bingham’s attempt to have it discussed as a matter of urgency, was also knocked back.
A packed gallery, comprising many representatives of Manly's Resident Precinct groups, expressed their outrage as the Mayor Jean Hay refused to allow the matter to be discussed.
The motion, which was to examine the financial viability of the 99 year lease of the Whistler Street site and construction of a 470 space car park under Manly Oval, was prepared by residents of North Harbour Precinct. It had the support of the majority of the resident precincts and is a requirement of the Office of Local Government.
"The council’s existing documentation is so out of date it was made when the car park was to hold 760 cars, not 470, as is the case now. The KPMG report also contained significant omissions, such as not taking into account the loss of the $1M a year operating profit currently made by the Whistler St Car Park," Cr Bingham explained.
The need is urgent. The contracts to build the oval car park and redevelop Whistler St are expected to be awarded next month. At that point, Manly Council and its ratepayers will be locked in, with a penalty fee incurred if the newly merged Council decides to call the projects off.
“It’s easy to see why people are upset,” Cr Bingham said.
“While the planned 99-year lease and development of the Whistler St site will partly fund the new oval car park, the down side of that deal is that we lose convenient parking in Manly CBD and the potential for a new CBD plaza. We also lose a key site in Manly at a time when the Council is to be expanded."
“The remaining cost, including any price overruns, or operating losses, will come out of the pocket of Manly businesses and rate payers.”
At the end of the day, Manly CBD will lose up to 100 on-street parking spaces and gain a pitiful 40 extra spots further away.
“It’s the ‘why bother’ Car Park,” Cr Bingham said. "Why are the Liberal Councillors hell-bent on pushing this through before the Council is amalgamated? It's irresponsible".
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!
It's been controversial from day one: the building of a car park under Manly Oval and the removal of more than 100 car parking spaces from the streets of Manly's CBD as part of Manly Council's Manly2015 Plan to pedestrianise the area. Now Manly Council is again under fire following advice from the Enviromental Defenders Office.
In addition questionable revenue and construction forecasts; changing of the original plan from a 760 space car park to a mere 500, which effectively only replaces what's existing; lack of transparency and the blatant misleading of the public and councillors in relation to approval processes has left many wondering just why this project is being pushed through on the eve of an amalgamation announcement.
Nonetheless, it is expected that Council will vote to proceed to go to tender on the design and construction of a car park under Manly Oval, and the 99 year lease of the Whistler Street car park for shops and apartments, at its next Council meeting on 14th December, just weeks before the State Government is expected to announce Council amalgamations.
Advice sought from the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) by Good For Manly clearly sets out the steps which need to be taken by Council before proceeding with such a tender. Many of these important steps have not been taken.
For example, the current plan relies on major exit and entry tunnels in Sydney Road for access to the Oval car park, and yet the Roads & Maritime Services (RMS), the authority which controls this main road, has not been formally notified of this proposal. In a recent letter from the Acting CEO, Steven Head, he states that RMS "understood that the Council had abandoned the proposal to built a car park under Manly Oval”.
In addition the Oval is part of a Crown Lands Reserve for Public Recreation which can only be used for recreational purposes. Council cannot proceed with a commercial car park unless the Minister for Lands & Water authorises the Oval to be used for the car park as an additional purpose. DA approval from the Joint Regional Planning Panel is also required.
None of this has been done and yet Manly Council is poised to go to tender.
"It doesn't matter which way you look at it, the Oval Car Park project stinks!" claimed Clr Candy Bingham who has been fighting the plan for the past four years, with hundreds attending public meetings and protest rallies organised by her group, Good For Manly.
"The oval car park project has already been rejected by two previous Councils and this Council has been in a locked vote of 5 to 4 for most of its term. With so many questions unanswered, questionable due diligence, lack of due process and pending amalgamations it would be totally irresponsible for this Council to go to tender", she said.
"It should be killed off and buried once and for all”, Clr Bingham added.
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?
PROTESTERS at the No Oval Car Park rally packed the oval grandstand today.
The crowd of more than 600 expressed their anger at Manly Council that their voices had been ignored. But their rates would be used anyway for a car park that’s high-risk, in the wrong place, and not needed anyway.
You can view of short video of the event here.
The next step was clear - a call for intervention from a higher power.
The crowd unanimously endorsed a call to local MP and State Premier Mike Baird to act now to block the oval car park scheme.
Guest of honour on the day was environmental warrior Jack Mundey, who has come out of retirement to help save Manly’s oval and “village green”. In a huge show of support, Mr Mundey pledged to call for a “green ban” on car park development work, if the council persisted with its plan.
Speakers included Rob Burgess - formerly Manly town planner, a town centres specialist and the man behind the push to list the oval on the State Heritage Register; David Barr - former Manly State MP and councillor; and Candy Bingham - rally organiser, president of Good For Manly, and current Manly Councillor.
Mr Burgess blasted the council for clinging to “a crazy notion that has already been rejected three times”. Arguments against the car park include the location of the oval in a natural water course and the fact that Sydney Rd is too narrow to be used for the proposed entry and exit ramps.
“Sydney Rd is a major arterial road and no work can be done on it without the approval of the RMS,” Mr Burgess said.
“To put in car park access ramps, the RMS require a road reserve width of 30m - but Sydney Rd is only 18m wide. So the ramps can’t go in unless you remove half the rugby field.”
He said that access ramps would also turn the road from four lanes to two, and “create a traffic jam as far up as Balgowlah shops”. It’s another Kenneth Rd disaster waiting to happen,” he said, referring to the traffic chaos that has resulted from the council’s swim centre upgrade work.
Second speaker David Barr also cited the council’s disastrous project management record.
“The swim centre development is a bloated monstrosity with a bloated budget to match” he said.
“It’s a vanity project for people with big egos.
“These same people are planning to wreck our heritage oval.” He warned that the oval car park would only be the beginning of the development work, with a club complex for Mounties bowling club and a shopping complex along Belgrave Rd all in the mix.
Mr Barr called out the Manly Chamber of Commerce, who support the oval car park project, for failing to represent the Manly business community. “In Manly 70 - 80% of businesses don’t belong to it,” he said.
“It’s a few rich developers - that’s all it is. “They don’t represent small business. They have another agenda.”
Cr Bingham summed up the mood of the Manly community to the car park plan
“This is the message that I’ve heard,” she said. “We don’t want it. We don’t need it. We can’t afford it. “So why are the Liberal councillors pushing this so hard?”
Cr Bingham said the Good For Manly alternative was to “work with what we’ve got.”
“We can beautify Whistler St car park with green walls, murals, or at least a coat of paint. We can open up the parking area out the front and link it to the Market Plaza and library. Then we get rid of the ugly fire escape in front of the library, and connect up the whole area in a big plaza.
“It would cost about $5 M, it wouldn’t destroy anything and it would keep customers and car parking in the right place for local businesses.”
Cr Bingham called on the crowd to support her call for Mike Baird to intervene. Protesters also signed post card to be delivered to the MP begging him to act. An easy course of action for Mr Baird would be to call a moratorium on all major new council projects ahead of council amalgamations to be announced later this year.
Residents, who were then invited to have their say, ranged from young school student Sofia, to former rugby player Jack Steggall.
The crowd was entertained with music from the band “Ulterior Motive”. And despite terrible weather for the entire previous week, it didn't rain at all.
"The more opposition there is, the more determined I am," Mayor Jean Hay
The unpopular oval car park and the Whistler St car park re-development are likely to go to tender next month. And yet this current, high-risk, plan only provides for an additional 40 car parking spaces in Manly's CBD. Why are the Liberal Councillors pushing this?
It's 12 month's since an estimated 1,000 people marched against the Oval Car park ... We Can Still Stop It
Opposition from residents, businesses (see related story below), almost all our community precincts and the four non-Liberal councillors, continues to be ignored.
Or as Mayor Jean Hay summed it up for the public gallery at the August’s council meeting: the more opposition there is the more determined I am to go ahead anyway.
But despite Mayor Hay's determination not to represent us, our voices have still been heard.
Several times Cr Hay has said that If it wasn't for Cr Candy Bingham and the Good For Manly team, the oval car park would be built by now. She means it as a criticism, but really it's an admission that, even in Manly, the council eventually has to listen to the people.
1. Sydney Rd, where the car park entry and exit ramps will need to be built, is a major road controlled by the RMS. Permission to proceed will be needed from the RMS, but no request has been made from the council so far. Even worse, Sydney Rd - at 18m wide - is way below the 31m road width required by the RMS before access ramps can be approved. Does the council plan to slice 13m off the oval, grandstand and park? Or are they planning a 'Kenneth Road' solution which locals have found unsafe and unworkable?
2. Manly Council is now claiming that "The Masterplan can be delivered without the need for any long term loan, and will be fully funded by the commercial ratepayers of the Manly CBD and from the long term lease of the new Village Centre site development - the Whistler Street car park site". Not according to the calculations of an independent report. The Masterplan will in fact cost us $40 million over the next 20 years! See financial report below.
The Manly community, led by Cr Bingham, has stopped the car park so far. And we have to act again now, to stop tenders being locked in for a project we don’t want, and don't need.
Good for Manly is holding a protest rally on Sunday 27th September, 3pm at Manly Oval, to give the community a forum to demonstrate the strong opposition to the car park scheme.
Legendary Enviromental Activist, Jack Mundey, has come out of retirement to support the Manly Community with this fight.
The protest is support by Manly Independents Clrs Barbara Aird and Hugh Burns and Greens Clr Cathy Griffin.
More details here.
This is why:
1. The $40 M car park will provide 40 extra car spaces. By our calculation that's $1million per space. Clearly not a good use of our money. (see report below).
2. The new car park is in the wrong place. It’s too far from the shops for the elderly, or anyone with small children or lots of gear. It’s also a long way from the beach. It is likely to be a car park of last resort, after the on-street spaces, and the council’s three other car parks are full.
3. The project is high risk. Not all the figures are available for public scrutiny but what we’ve seen doesn't stack up. No provision seems to have been made for the entry and extra ramps, the ventilation stacks or the extra cost of building in a flood plain with part of the car park lying under the water table. No costs have been made public about relocating and reinstating the Cricket and Rugby club's facilities.
4. The debt. Our independent experts say the oval car park will cost about $40M to build. KMPG estimated leasing the Whistler St site will generate about $15M. That leaves a $25M hole. More if the car park runs over budget, or generates less than expected in income. We are already in debt for an major indoor swim centre development which is believed to be 30% over budget.
5. It's our village and our money, but our voice has not been heard. There has been no genuine community consultation, the decision-making process has been obscure and important public information has been hidden behind "commercial-in-confidence" claims.
6. We will lose control of land in the heart of the village. Whistler St car park site, which currently generates around $1m in profit each year, is to be leased for 99 years to pay for the oval car park. Developers are bidding for high-rise apartments and shops. We do not want to lose this asset.
What Are the Alternatives?
1. We can beautify and revitalise Manly village cheaply and without fuss. We don’t need to sell off Whistler St and dig up the heritage oval. Good For Manly supports the plan to limit traffic in the CBD, and re-pave and open up our laneways for cafes, bars and shops. Lets start by doing that.
2. We don’t have to pull Whistler St car park down. We can renovate it with vertical gardens or murals, and modernise it including a new lift. Lets have the discussion.
3. We can improve the library and surrounds, by removing the ugly external fire-escape and opening up the plaza. Lets have the discussion.
4.. We can generate more car parking in our CBD, simply by managing our existing car parks better. They are not well sign-posted, so many people don’t even know they are there. As well there is currently a bizarre practice of putting up the “Full” sign, when lots of car spaces are still free. Lets have the discussion.
If you agree, or would like to know more, be sure to come to the Protest Rally on Sunday, 27th September, 2015.
Want the Council's view? Go to their website here to see the pretty pictures they won't allow us to show you!
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?
Manly businesses don’t want a car park under the sports oval, nor do they want the Whistler street car park demolished for shops and apartments.
That’s the shock result of a survey conducted by Good For Manly on attitudes to the Manly CBD masterplan.
As well as opposition to the oval car park, the survey of over 200 small ground floor Manly businesses found overwhelming opposition to the demolition of the Whistler St car park, and to further pedestrianisation of the CBD resulting in loss of on-street parking and the closure of Sydney Rd. But the businesses did support the planned Manly Library revamp.
The results are a surprise, as the businesses’ peak body - the Manly Chamber of Commerce - staunchly supports the oval car park/Whistler St development.
And businesses that were members of the Chamber of Commerce did look at the project more favourably. But even in the Chamber group support for the oval car park/Whistler St plan ran at less than 50%. However the Chamber businesses liked the idea of more pedestrian zones and, like the overall group, supported the library redevelopment plan.
The survey was carried out last month, and involved face-to-face contact with 214 businesses in the Manly CBD. Only ground floor businesses were included, and because contact needed to be made with either the business owner or manager, most large businesses such as banks, pubs and chain retailers like Suzanne, could not take part.
Businesses were asked to reply “Support”, “Don’t support”, or “Don’t know” to these five questions:
1. Manly Council now plans to build a 500 space car park at Manly Oval to replace the Whistler St car park. The Oval car park will provide a minimal number of additional parking spaces.
2. Council plans to demolish the Whistler St car park and lease the site for 99 years to be redeveloped for shops and apartments. There will be no public parking on this site.
3. Council plans to refurbish/rebuild the Library with an additional two floors of community space.
4. Council plans to remove 100 parking spaces on the street to further pedestrianise Manly’s CBD.
5. Council plans the closure of Sydney Road from Belgrave St to The Corso, and no through traffic in Central Ave, to pedestrianise Manly’s CBD.
This is the result:
Traffic flow in Manly's CBD will be radically changed as the Council rolls out its Revitalise Manly Masterplan.
Work is set to start this month on the plan to pedestrianise Sydney Rd, with the ultimate goal of closing the road to traffic all the way from The Corso to Belgrave St.
Stage 1 of the project involves the pedestrianisation of Sydney Rd between Central Ave, where the pedestrian zone in Sydney Rd currently ends, and Whistler St.
The work will include new landscaping, and improved public seating, paving, street lighting and signage, in an effort to transform Sydney Rd into a new pedestrian friendly high street.
Other major changes will include:
1. Central Ave will become a two-way cul de sac, stopping at Sydney Rd. Trucks and vehicles longer than six meters will be banned after 8am.
2. Henrietta Lane will also become a two-way cul de sac. Trucks and long vehicles will be banned after 8am.
In pedestrianised areas delivery vehicles will be limited to the hours between 5am and 8am, and permitted on Market Lane, and on Sydney Rd between Henrietta Lane and Central Ave only.
While construction work is going on, delivery vehicles will be re-routed through parts of Sydney Road that are currently pedestrianised, and the eastern end of the Corso.
Stage 2 of the project, will involve the further pedestrianisation of Sydney Rd from Whistler St to Belgrave Rd, as well as changes to traffic flow and parking in Whistler St. No date has yet been set for this work which is subject to the final decision on the proposed construction of a car park under Manly Oval and redevelopment of the Whistler Street car park site for shops and apartments.
Should a Councillor be actively promoting Council’s redevelopment plans during the public exhibition period?
No according to Manly Council who has demanded that Councillor Candy Bingham remove publicity-promoted images of Manly2015 proposals from her blog.
“It’s just the latest effort by Manly Council to gag me on this highly controversial multi-million dollar project for Manly”, Clr Bingham said.
“This whole process has not been open and transparent from the start, and its time Manly Council came clean on what the real costs are rather than using vague phrases such as ‘it’s bankable and affordable’”, she added.
Manly Council says the images are copyright. However when Clr Bingham requested permission to use them as part of her role as a Councillor to keep the public informed, permission was refused.
She has compiled with the Council's demand, but replace the images with the following messages, in protest.
This image has been removed by Order of Manly Council.
Sorry, so has this one. It would appear that even a Councillor can not promote these publicly available images.
You can see the pretty pictures on the Council's website here
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.