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?
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!
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.
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.