Monday, February 27, 2012

NSW Planning System Review - BCCT submission

To: Planning Systems Review
GPO Box 39
Sydney 2001

NSW Planning System Review – Listening and Scoping Stage
Dear Sir,
The Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust has a membership of some 700 residents in the suburbs of Beecroft and Cheltenham.  Our constitution includes the objective – “To preserve the existing village character, heritage values, and the natural beauty of the Beecroft and Cheltenham district.”
The Trust supports the Liberal Party’s decision to conduct a review of the State Planning System.  Recent events in our suburb show how the wishes of the people are being ignored by rampant development, conducted by companies with the funding and resources needed to exploit every loophole in the planning regulations.
As one example, the Trust has come into possession of a five page closely written legal opinion provided to a developer by their team of legal advisers.  The paper presents arguments as to why their proposed application should be allowable.  The arguments are so complicated, and make so many references to other documents, that they cannot easily be explained to lay members of the public.  As such the paper, and hence the development application it supports, is effectively beyond challenge by the voting public.
Two major objectives of the NSW Planning System Review should be
  • to simply and clarify the planning rules so that ordinary citizens can understand them and so they can use the rules fully to support valid objections to development applications, and
  • to eliminate loopholes that can be exploited by developers using clever and highly paid lawyers.
Examples of issues that the Trust considers to be loopholes in the system include
·         A Development Application can be submitted with what appear to be promises, but which later turn out to have no legally enforceable stature.  Everything “promised” in an Application should be enforceable with significant penalties for later non-compliance.
·         A DA can be submitted where major issues of public interest are just not addressed.  An example is management of underground car parking intended to be used by residents, shop staff, and customers, and where commuters would park if the system does not bar them.  Any DA for mixed residential / commercial buildings needs to explain clearly how such parking will be controlled to allow short term access to the general public, in sufficient numbers to service all shoppers visiting the retail areas.
·         If a DA is promoted as being for charitable purposes (aged care, affordable housing under the ARH SEPP etc) the developer must be required to ensure that those puposes are fully met in both the short and long term. 
·         The ARH SEPP rule that 20% must be retained as affordable housing allows the developer to write off the Affordable Housing units as a minor impost against the profit on the other 80% of the units.  More importantly the 20% rule leaves the needy people of Sydney without the accommodation that the Affordable Housing SEPP was intended to provide.
·         A DA can be submitted containing demonstrably spurious arguments, like a traffic survey that was conducted during school holidays.  Developers should be required to resubmit applications when such devious tactics are uncovered.
·         A DA claiming a charitable base must be restricted to the appropriate charitable works, and not used as a façade masking a standard commercial development.
·         A DA submitted over a holiday period must automatically be given an extended period for response to permit those on holiday an equal opportunity to reply.
·         Any new zoning should clearly identify the maximum number of dwellings that will be allowed on the plots. 
·         Where such an area is zoned for a particular number of units, the developer must be held to that number or else the zoning should be reconsided against the new target.
The Trust believes that the above examples, all taken from recently submitted development applications, demonstrate how the present Planning System allows unscrupulous developers to hoodwink the public and push through developments that bear little resemblance to the documenation seen by the public and even by the approving authority.
When the public approaches the Trust for clarification of issues in a DA, the Trust has tried to explain, in an unbiased manner, the meaning of such terms, and is often met with horror by the public when they realise how the developers are trying to mask their real intentions by using vague or complex statements.
The Trust wishes to see a Planning System that is open and accountable.  The need for new and altered housing should be met by clearly explained and enforceable development applications subjected to full and informed scrutiny by all concerned members of the public.
Yours faithfully,

Peter Hewitt
Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust
0417 215 774 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

NSW Planning System Review

On 9 February 2012, Tim Moore and Ron Dyer, the co-chairs of the NSW Planning System Review announced that they had agreed to a request from the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, the Hon Brad Hazzard, for an extension of two weeks to the closing date for submissions on the Review’s issues paper, The Way Forward for Planning in NSW? The extension followed requests from a number of key stakeholders.
The new closing date for submissions is Friday 2 March 2012.
Go to the Issues Paper page on the Planning System Review website to view or download a copy of the Issues Paper

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Minutes of Last Year's BCCT AGM 2011

Minutes of Annual General Meeting

Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust

Monday, 7 March 2011 - Cheltenham Recreation Club

1.         Opening:  President Michael Stove opened the meeting at 7.35pm, noted that the meeting would be audio recorded, and welcomed some 120 members & residents including:
  • Hon Philip Ruddock (Federal MP)
  • Councillors Michael Hutchence (Deputy Mayor, Andrew Martin and Robert Browne (Hornsby Shire Council, C Ward) and Bruce Mills (B Ward)
  • Marcia Horvai, Vice President PHDCT
  • Peter Colacino and staff from Transurban (M2).

Apologies were received from:
    • Greg Smith SC, MP
    • Councillor Nick Berman – Mayor of Hornsby
    • Daryl Watson
    • Stuart Pittendrigh
    • Robert Raymond
    • Peter Downey
    • Pamela Bough.

President’s Report
The President referred to the Agenda and Reports distributed on seats and prior to the meeting.  He then spoke to his report, including achievements and highlights of the year for the Trust.  He thanked the Committee for its work, including Ross Walker for the Autumn & Spring Walks, Ilona Kernick for representing the Trust and community at Council Meetings, and Dr Raimond Pohl and his helpers for Clean-Up Australia Day.  He also spoke to all points set out in the published Agenda & Reports noted above.
[Moved by Carolyn Watt, seconded by Felicity Findlay.  Accepted by meeting.]

2.         Minutes of Previous Annual General Meeting

The minutes of the 2010 Annual General Meeting were read and confirmed.
Arising from that, a resident noted that the very dry season had made a significant impact on trees in our area.
[Moved by Felicity Findlay; seconded by Ilona Kernick. Accepted by meeting.]

3.         Treasurer’s Report
Colin Johnston presented this report and financial statement and paid tribute to Daryl Watson’s work combining Membership Officer and Treasurer’s roles so effectively.
[Moved by Bill McDonald; seconded by Clive Troy. Accepted by meeting.]

4.         Committee Reports – as circulated, from the following Trust committees (convenors), were received:
ü  Environment & Bushland (Ross Walker)
ü  Housing & Development (Stuart {Pittendrigh)
ü  History Group (Roderick Best)
ü  Bulletin & Special Projects (Carolyn Watt)
ü  Strategy & Policy (David Clark).
[Moved by Colin Johnston; seconded by Jim Vandore. Accepted by meeting.]

5.         Resolution – Life memberships:

The meeting agreed to confer honorary life membership on the following members for their exemplary service:

a.       Wayne Yeo (former Treasurer, with some 40 years prior service) presented by Hon Philip Ruddock MP

b.      Keith Coble (retiring Auditor with some 30 years recent service)
presented by Deputy Mayor, Councillor Michael Hutchence

c.       Ross Walker (who has given over 15 years of committee service, continuing in a notable array of roles) presented by his friend, Councillor Robert Browne

d.      Brian Sippel (who coordinates some 40 resident volunteers to distribute some 4100 bulletins, during every 2-3 months, for 10+ years) presented by his friend, Councillor Robert Browne.  Brian paid tribute to his great team of distributors – some who go back 20 years, including his neighbours, the Hallidays.

 [Moved by Michael Stove; seconded by Colin Johnston. Accepted by meeting.]

6.         Resolution – Constitutional Change

President Michael Stove advised the meeting that the resolution to adopt an amended Trust Constitution, set out on the materials with the Agenda, would not proceed as there were two versions in circulation.  He advised an amended Constitution would be presented to Trust members at a later date.

It was then proposed that the current Objectives of the Trust not be changed in such amendment.

[Moved by Malcolm Powell; seconded by Jo-Anne Cox. Accepted by meeting.]

 7.        Election of Committee

The President thanked retiring Committee members, including the following three who were not seeking re-election: Frank Murray (Hornsby Resident of the Year), Ilona Kernick (Council liaison for Trust and 2119) and Bill McDonald for his Architectural and committee skills.
The President then introduced Marcia Horvai, President of the Pennant Hills & District Civic Trust to conduct the election.  Whilst recognising two people seeking nomination were absent, she sought any declarations of conflicts of interests.  None were noted.

All positions were declared vacant. As 13 nominations for the committee were received and 10 were to be elected, the election procedure was explained. Ballot papers were distributed with members to mark ten boxes beside the candidates they wished to elect. Councillor Browne referred to the Constitution requiring a minimum of 3 from Cheltenham and 3 from Beecroft on the Trust Committee. The ballot then proceeded. The scrutineers, Gordon Winch and Wayne Yeo, were recognised.

During counting, the President presented a token of esteem to mark Hon Philip Ruddock MP’s birthday.  The President then invited local Councillors to present their reports:

8. Councillors’ Reports
Deputy Mayor of Hornsby Shire, Councillor Michael Hutchence
  • Importance of the Trust advocating for 2119 – especially on town centre planning , and DAs – Ilona Kernick to also be congratulated
  • Be active – communicate with Trust and Council
  • Leaf litter in Council gutters and drains – Council is thinly spread on this
  • Flood study submissions encouraged
  • Adoption of Australian Standard - Tree Preservation on Construction Sites
  • Mayoral election – will continue to be direct-elected by residents.

Councillor Andrew Martin
  • Green offsets policy by Council has not worked well for tree preservation
  • Cost-cutting may threaten the existence of Council’s Heritage Committee
  • Trust should monitor and scrutinise
  • Over 900 submissions on Council’s Town Centre planning proposals
  • Councils are still part of NSW government and that reduces the independence of local government to represent their community   

Councillor Browne
  • Reiterated the concerns above that cost cutting may threaten the existence of Council’s Heritage Committee
  • Green offsets policy for tree preservation – very hard to value trees, and local compensation for the loss of green in our area
  • Location of new trees on public land, as private land size is becoming smaller, a trend that is likely to continue – with implications for green offsets policy
  • Complying affordable housing issues in Pennant Hills – possibly for Beecroft?
  • Imperative that Trust and community are vigilant on advocating local issues
  • The issue of local School extensions ignoring heritage and local planning controls is hard for Council to police, in the absence of real legislation.

Resident Survey Results – the President invited Colin Johnston to present the results of email survey responses from residents about possible closure of the
Murray Farm Road
bridge over the M2 tollway during its widening. This showed overall agreement for interim one-lane, two-way flow across the bridge, controlled by traffic lights.
10. Other Business
a.         The Secretary noted the Trust committee was considering Mr Ray Barham as Honorary Trust Auditor, and should make an appointment at its next meeting.

b.         A motion was received from Felicity Findlay:
Beecroft-Cheltenham Civic Trust wishes to express concern for any proposal to disband the Hornsby Shire Council Heritage Committee, and would strongly object to any such move. 

[As a former Councillor] she said, in support, that Council’s Heritage Committee does not just monitor heritage but recommends DAs be changed to reflect streetscape, to make new buildings more suitable and amenable to the area.

Councillor Browne noted concerns with careless cut-backs in Council that impacted heritage; Councillor Martin also exampled the practical importance of that Committee; Councillor Hutchence noted that once public input was sought by Council on such cut-backs the Trust and residents should respond directly.  Felicity Findlay did not exercise right of reply.
[Moved by Felicity Findlay; seconded by Jo-Anne Cox. Accepted by meeting.]

Committee Election Results
After a short recess, Marcia Horvai [President, Pennant Hills & District Civic Trust] declared the results of the ballot; the following 10 were elected to the Committee:
1.      David Clark
2.      Colin Johnston
3.      Stuart Pittendrigh ©
4.      Ross Walker
5.      Michael Stove
6.      Peter Hewitt
7.      Carolyn Watt ©
8.      Roderick Best (H)
9.      David White
10.  Felicity Findlay ©
(H indicates History Group, © indicates Cheltenham resident)

Marcia Horvai congratulated those elected.  President Michael Stove thanked her, all those who had nominated and members and residents for attending this AGM, which he closed at 9.40pm. 

A brief recess was declared to allow presentation set-up, by Peter Colacino and his staff from Transurban, on the M2 Tollway widening proposals and their local impacts.  Their presentation was augmented by questions from residents. 

President Michael Stove concluded the discussion at 10.30pm and thanked everyone for their attendance and participation.


Monday, February 13, 2012

BCCT Constitution Changes

Changes to NSW legislation make some changes to our constitution necessary.  The following changes will be proposed to the AGM for membership approval.


1.1 (c) and (d)
change to read:
(c) ‘the Act’ means the Associations Incorporation Act 2009
(d) ‘the Regulation’ means the Associations Incorporation Regulation 2010
Change the existing rule to become Rule 6.1 and then at its conclusion add:
6.2 A member may appeal to the Trust in general meeting against any decision of the Committee to discipline that member within 7 days after notice of a resolution is served on the member, by lodging with the secretary a notice to that effect.

6.3 The notice may, but need not, be accompanied by a statement of the grounds on which the member intends to rely for the purposes of the appeal.

6.4 On receipt of a notice from a member under subclause 6.2 the secretary must notify the committee which is to convene a general meeting of the Trust to be held within 28 days after the date on which the secretary received the notice.

6.5 At a general meeting of the Trust convened under subclause 6.4
(a) no other business other than the question of the appeal is to be transacted, and
(b) the committee and the member must be given the opportunity to state their respective cases orally or in writing, or both, and
c) the members present are to vote by secret ballot on the question of whether the resolution should be confirmed or revoked.

6.6 The appeal is to be determined by a simple majority of votes cast by members of the Trust.

Rule 6A
6.1 A dispute between a member and another member (in their capacity as members) of the Trust, or a dispute between a member or members and the association, are to be referred to a community justice centre for mediation under the Community Justice Centres Act 1983.
(2) If a dispute is not resolved by mediation within 3 months of the referral to a community justice centre, the dispute is to be referred to arbitration

(3) The Commercial Arbitration Act 1984 applies to any such dispute referred to arbitration.
Change to read:
13.5 No postal or proxy votes shall be allowed at any general meeting of the Trust.
Change to read:
14.1 The Trust may effect and maintain insurance.
Add at the end of the existing Rule:
 Rule 16A – Funds – Financial Year

The financial year of the Trust is each period of 12 months commencing on 1 January and ending on the following 30 December. 
Change to read:
17. Except as otherwise provided by these rules,
(a) the secretary shall keep all minutes and correspondence as held by the secretary and
(b) the public officer shall keep all other records, books and other documents relating to the Trust
in his or her custody, or under his or her control.
Change to read:
19. The statement of objects and rules may be changed by special resolution. A special resolution may only be passed in accordance with section 39 of the Act.

Discussion on other proposed changes to the constitution will be deferred to a later time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rail Freight Corridor and the AGM

A representative from Transport NSW will speak at the AGM on 26 March (date still provisional) to explain intentions for the third rail track through Cheltenham and Beecroft!

Rail Flange Noise Press Release and Petition


Long-suffering residents of Cheltenham and Beecroft have had enough, and are demanding action from local State member, Greg Smith MP, to have his Government tell the residents what is happening and bring about regulatory reform to combat freight train noise pollution in his electorate.

Third line for freight only to increase freight train movements from 29 to 44 per day
The NSW Liberal Government is building a freight-only line through our community in order to increase freight train movements by 50% through the leafy 2119 suburbs. Community sentiment has now snapped.

·         The Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Program is currently in the final stages of concept design and review of environmental factors. Subject to final planning approvals, works on the Epping to Thornleigh Third Track will commence in 2012 and are expected to be completed by late 2016.
·         By 2015 the construction of approximately six kilometres of new track on the western side of the existing track between Epping and Thornleigh
·         No information is available about the impact of this corridor on the 2119 community – will it mean loss of parking at Cheltenham and Beecroft, will the children’s playground at Beecroft be lost. These details are just not known.

Greg Smith MP needs to recognise the issue and act decisively
Local MP has asked for yet more evidence of community anger and so a petition is available for support.

Our Liberal MP – Attorney-General Smith is now in a position to get something done,” said BCCT President, Michael Stove, said. “Out of power, Greg Smith berated the Labor State Government for neglect of the people of his electorate. This horrendous freight train screeching has been going on since the 1980s but the third freight line is the last straw,” said Stove.

Local residents are demanding installation of noise mitigants now and some information about what is being proposed. While the BCCT supports freight movement by train the private freight train operators must be made to comply with our current noise pollution laws. Railcorp engineers know that it is the bogies of these operators’ rolling stock that is the chief contributor but both Railcorp and the Environmental Protection Agency are apparently powerless to doing anything apart from write letters to the freight train operators highlighting the problem

Northern Sydney Freight Corridor website

Something about the third rail line between Epping and Pennant Hills can be found at their website:

The website contains some of the answers to the Trust's questions, saying specfically

  • upgrade to Cheltenham station to include new pedestrian footbridge, stairs, three new lifts, platform modifications and new commuter car park (retaining existing numbers of parking spaces).  

  • modifications to the roof and retaining walls of the pedestrian underpass at Beecroft Station.

  • new car park at Beecroft Station (retaining existing numbers of parking spaces) and modifications to existing footpath.

  • construction of a new bridge crossing the M2 Motorway.

  • a new lift, stairs and extending Pennant Hills station concourse, as well as modifications to existing footpath, roadway and the footbridge south of the station.

    Nothing said about improved access to Beecroft station for aged and disabled, hopefully that will be included in the final plans.

  • Regarding timescale, the website says work will start during 2012 and be complete by 2016.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Response about DA1305 authority

    This reply received from Hornsby Shire Council in response to the letter covered by the post yesterday:

    The Sydney West Joint Regional Planning Panel is the determining authority for the proposed development. The Panel of five includes three appointed by the Minister for Planning and two nominated by Council. The two nominated Council members include former Councillors Janelle McIntosh and Felicity Findlay.

    Attached is a Fact Sheet from the Panel web site which provides information on the decision making process.  

    Yours faithfully

    Garry Mahony
    Senior Town Planner  |  Assessment Team 2  |  Hornsby Shire Council

    The attachment referred to is a large document available on the JRPP website.  It includes the options for someone like Felicity, who is on the JRPP and also on the BCCT Committee.  To avoid a conflict of interest, Felicity has divorced herself from all discussion on this DA1305 issue in order that she can participate fully in the JRPP consideration of the proposal and the subsequent decision making.

    Clean Up Australia

    Clean Up Australia this year is on Sunday 4 March, the Beecroft effort starting at the Beecroft Village Green (by the tennis courts) from 9am for a few hours in the morning.  If possible bring your own gloves.

    Autumn BCCT Walk

    The Autumn Walk will take place on April 15, starting and ending at Cheltenham Oval, from 2pm to about 4pm. 
    Starting in the Cheltenham Oval car park next to the netball courts we walk through the bush to Kirkham St. Points of interest will be bushfire recovery and proposed access road for NW Rail.
    Them across Kirkham and along the Transurban track to come out below Beecroft Scout hall. Features will be bush regen works. Turn left and go down to Devlins Ck then turn right and walk through to York St . Features will be bush regen.
    Turn right and return to scout hall , along gravel access road to Kirkham.
    Up Kirkham to Boronia, along Boronia.  Feature will be 37 Boronia subdivision.
    Turn right down Cheltenham Rd and down steps to Castle Howard Rd   (more bush regen work) and then back to carpark

    2012 Annual General Meeting

    The AGM is now confirmed as March 26th. So it's time to nominate for the Committee if interested in standing for the committee.  Nomination forms can be obtained from the BCCT secretary, Peter Hewitt, at the Ray White Beecroft offices in the Module, Beecroft Shopping Village.

    Who Has Authority in DA1305?

    The following is an extract from a letter copied to the BCCT by it's author, a resident of Beecroft.  It refers to a response from the Mayor sent to people who protested about DA1305.

    Mr. Mahony,

    The below response from Nick is quite confusing. He states that Council has limited authority with which to reject this application however, as per the attached  letter from Greg Smith MP, it seems that the State Government also denies responsibility for the decision.

    Please let us know who has the ultimate authority in this case? 

    The council elected by the Ratepayers, the State member elected by the citizens of NSW, or a non-elected Panel consisting of people who may or may not have any interest or affiliation with the area affected by their decision?


    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Northern Sydney Freight Corridor

    The following was received from Transport of NSW in response to an enquiry:

    Thank you for your email regarding the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor (NSFC) Program.
    The NSFC Program is a jointly funded initiative, supported by both the Australian and NSW governments, to improve the capacity and reliability for freight trains on the Main North Line between North Strathfield and Broadmeadow, Newcastle. A scoping study has been carried out which has identified four projects in this stage of the program.
    The program involves the construction of:
    o        a rail underpass at North Strathfield
    o        a third track between Epping and Thornleigh
    o        new passing loops near Gosford
    o        a holding loop at Hexham.
    Transport for NSW is responsible for the delivery of the projects at North Strathfield, Epping to Thornleigh and Gosford.  Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is responsible for the delivery of the Hexham project.
    Environmental assessments are currently being prepared which will provide information on all environmental factors associated with the construction and operation of the projects within the NSFC Program, including noise and visual impacts and mitigation options. To ensure the projects benefit from local input, the environmental assessments will be publicly displayed for members of the community to review and provide comment later this year.
    In our correspondence with you dated 9 September 2011, we let you know you would be able to talk to the project team once design has further progressed and environmental impact assessments had been completed as part of the public exhibition process.
    Public exhibition dates have not been confirmed yet. Once this is finalised we will contact you about the community information sessions. The information sessions will provide an opportunity to talk to key members of the NSFC project team, who will be on hand to answer any questions you my have on the program.
    For enquires regarding the existing rail corridor and railway line or to report a problem please contact RailCorp directly through the RailGreenline on
    1300 656 999 or the Transport Information Line on 131 500
    Up-to-date information is also available on the Projects page of the Transport for NSW website ( 
    If you require further information can also call the Project Infoline on 1800 684 490.  
    Kind regards
    Kelly Potts
    Public Affairs Officer | Transport Construction Authority
    Transport for NSW

    Transport NSW

    Are you aware that a discussion paper is due to be released in Feb about the "NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan" ?

    Rail Flange Noise Petition

    If you are unhappy about rail flange noise through Beecroft and Cheltenham, please consider signing this petition: