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.
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.