The entire Ivanhoe Park site including Manly Oval is listed as a Heritage item in Manly Local Environment Plan (LEP) 1988, yet this has not been considered by Manly Council as part of its Oval car park development. This listing prohibits any excavation or development unless a proper assessment of the impact on the items Heritage significance has been carried out and yet Manly Council has made no assessment as part of its Manly2015 Plan which includes digging up Manly Oval to create a two-level car park underground.
According to local historians The Oval and Ivanhoe Park are of extremely high value to Manly both in a heritage sense and in Urban Design terms as the "village green” and is an integral part of the historic and current fabric of Manly.
It is believed that Manly Oval, in its natural context, is the best example in Sydney and possibly Australia of a Public Recreation Oval integrated into a "village" area. For this reason together with the rich history of recorded events which have taken place in the Park, careful preservation and celebration of this place is essential and is currently at serious risk.
Former Manly Council Town Planner and Urban Design Consultant, Rob Burgess, has headed a team of local historian which has championed the documentation of the heritage significance of Manly Oval in the light of the proposal to build a major car park under the site.
"Whilst design details on the works to the Oval are limited, a number of Architects, Planners, Engineers & Quantity Surveyors agree that the extent of building work will devastate the Park and destroy this much loved place. The structure will involve massive excavation in excess of 100,000 cubic meters of material and construction of a two level mechanically ventilated 800 space car park." he said.
"The structure will be below the water table and will interfere with the underground creek which traverses the site. Numerous exhaust stacks will extend above ground level and dewatering pumps will be used extensively. There will be three substantial vehicular ramps providing vehicular access from Sydney Road and extreme traffic disruption is predicted, with impacts to the whole of the area" Mr Burgess concluded.
Of greater concern is that inevitably due to cost, ventilation and reduction of ramp lengths issues, the concrete structure will be above existing ground level, at least in part, and thus will destroy for all time the historic 'village green'.
Manly resident, Jeremy Bingham , former Lord Mayor of Sydney and eminent Local Government Lawyer and the person most responsible for the preservation and restoration of the Queen Victoria Building and Sydney's Capitol Theatre, is also seriously concerned at the ramifications of Council's destructive plans.
“The whole of Ivanhoe Park, including Manly Oval, was added by Manly Council to the heritage list in Manly LEP 1988 after a heritage report in 2010. I am staggered that at no time in the recent debate over the Manly 2015 Plan did the General Manager draw this recent heritage listing to the attention of the Council", Mr Bingham said.
Clause 18 of Manly Council’s LEP prohibits any excavation or development of a heritage item unless a proper assessment of the impact on the item’s heritage significance has been carried out. It is essential this be done before Council proceed any further with the Oval car park plan.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the proposed Oval car park will destroy the heritage elements of Manly Oval/Village Green,” Mr Bingham concluded.
At the public meeting on Saturday 22nd February, organiised by Good For Manly, over 400 attendees unanimously opposed the Council's plans to build a car park under the Oval and demolish the existing Whistler Street car park and 18 year old library.
A report on the proposal from the Office of Local Government is imminent.
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.