16 storey GSV planning proposal + sale of public land to GSV + Council mergers + 10 storey DA for Gladesville RSL Youth Club site

16 storey Planning Proposal lodged for the Gladesville Shopping Village (GSV) site on 8th October 2015,  the owner of GSV exercised the Option to buy the public land around it on 8th February 2016 and council has been using the time to promote the anti-amalgamation message. Make your submission to the state government on Amalgamation THIS WEEK! And Gladesville RSL lodged a DA for a 10 storey tower on the youth club site, too!


Owner of Gladesville Shopping Village (GSV) wants 16 storeys and massive bulk

The owner of Gladesville Shopping Village (Moch Pty Ltd) lodged a Planning Proposal with Hunters Hill Council on 8th October 2015 (more than 4 months ago) to increase the maximum permissible height of the site from 34m (which allowed for the DA lodged in 2013 with 8 storey towers on top of 2 storey podium) up to a new maximum of 58m – approximately 16 storeys. To put that in perspective, Gladesville Bridge arch (top, not underside clearance) is 45.3m above mean sea level. The highest building heights allowed in the entire municipality west of Mary St, Hunters Hill are those along Ryde and Gladesville roads on the east-bound approach to the Hunters Hill overpass, and they can only be 11m tall. Excluding basements in all cases; if you built the biggest building from Hunters Hill, for example the retail+units above Daschund Coffee / Via Napoli, sitting ON TOP of the crest of the Gladesville Bridge, and you built the new GSV at target height, from the water below – the GSV site would STILL be HIGHER!

Even more alarming than height is the increase in Floor-space-ratio (FSR, a representation of bulk), from 2.4:1 and 2.7:1 at different parts of the site, to 3.4:1 across the whole site. Putting that in perspective, the highest FSR permitted in the Hunters Hill shops area near the overpass is 1.5:1. The redeveloped Top Ryde City Shopping Centre is 5.0:1. The bulk that is planned for the Gladesville Shopping Village site is mathematically closer to Top Ryde City than it is to even the bulkiest site near the overpass.

The mind boggles when contemplating what such over-development would do to Gladesville, on top of all of the other sites – including the recently lodged RSL youth club redevelopment for 10 storeys (discussed below).

We don’t yet know whether Hunters Hill Council will support the proposed change to height and FSR, but we do know that the legal arrangements for disposal (call option deeds, for which heavily redacted versions were previously released after years of us asking council and being fobbed off because they were supposedly “commercial in confidence”) have NO in-built protections to prevent the developer from acquiring the properties and then bypassing the Local Environmental Plan (34m, 8 storeys). The developer can buy OUR LAND from the council and then go to the development-friendly state government for approval instead. Thanks Hunters Hill Council.

The Council has asked some questions of the applicant since October, and plans to exhibit the proposal from late Feb or early March. That should be just after submissions close for the NSW government’s Council Boundary Review.

Owner of Gladesville Shopping Village taking ownership of 10 Cowell St and other land adjacent to site

We were advised by Council on 20th Feb 2016 that Moch Pty Ltd exercised its call Option on 8th February 2016. There was no disclosure of this in the minutes of the Council meeting on 8th February, in public announcements since then, or by direct mail to those interested parties who made submissions in relation to the first DA for the site in 2013 (nearly 300 submissions were received by council).

At public meetings the General Manager has previously commented “the land has not been sold” which may have technically been the case at the time, but we believe such comments created confusion amongst listeners who may have thought that Council retained (in a real sense) the freedom not to sell. Given the level of interest in the land sales, facilitating the highest value development this municipality will ever see, and having been undertaken without public consultation or a tender, it is disappointing that Council did not dedicate some of its energy to “.. being recognised and respected as an open and transparent organisation” (The Community Strategic Plan outcome tag-line littered throughout Council Meeting agendas) by proactively communicating, instead of waiting and responding to our direct questions which were prompted by rumour. A lot of residents care about this transaction, and council knows we care.

It’s not like Council hasn’t been busy communicating, but lately it’s all been about how valuable the Council is for protecting heritage, local character, the Hunters Hill Municipality of the past. You can hang a lot of ribbons from a 58m building.

Before committing to this disposal, there was no consultation from Hunters Hill Council, no protection against the developer going to the state government for approval to build a 16 storey over-development, no consideration of community amenity or how the public asset might be used to continue to serve the community in generations to come as it has for decades prior. The asset was just identified as something to be sold and get some money, so council could claim to be financially sustainable and try to justify its independence for a bit longer. Enabling a development probably worth $300M – $400M (180 to 350 units including high-value penthouses with city views + commercial/retail) requires a council to consider the balance of developer profit against public amenity more carefully than pursuing sale-proceeds with the enthusiasm of Gollum chasing the ring (Lord of the Rings). ‘Selling the sliverware’ is purpose defeating in the extreme, we suggest.

The NSW government was offering up to $25M in assistance to councils that voluntarily merge, but that wasn’t enough to encourage our councils to consult with the public on whether we support a small amalgamation (like Hunters Hill merging with Ryde or Lane Cove).

Take 3 minutes this week to make a submission to the NSW Government’s council boundary review – on amalgamation.

Written submissions can be made until 5pm on 28th February 2016. You can make yours by typing into the box, or uploading an attachment, at

Gladesville has much to gain from a well-managed amalgamation or realignment of boundaries, as do many residents from the entire Hunters Hill Municipality.

Ryde, Hunters Hill, and Lane Cove councils have been fighting against the state government, and supporting those loyal to the status quo. We expect them to have promoted a large number of submissions against the amalgamation of Ryde, Hunters Hill, and Lane Cove Councils.

The express version
If you would be happy to see some sort of well-managed amalgamation, but are short on time and aren’t sure what to say, suggestions below might help – (include / delete / replace / add comments to represent your views).

I support well-planned and managed amalgamation because:
* I don’t think my identity is defined by municipal boundaries,
* Gladesville and Boronia Park will benefit from being wholly contained within 1 municipality (planning and development controls, infrastructure management, etc),
* I believe in logic and economics – so I want economies of scale and this can only be sensibly expected when the operating policies are under the control of the same Council that is purchasing the goods or services (particularly relevant to Hunters Hill Municipality residents – the smallest council in NSW),
* The Councils cannot be trusted to genuinely consult with residents in an open dialogue that could identify amalgamation as preferred outcome of local government reform. The surveys by Gladesville Community Group Inc (Council Performance, and Fit For the Future) are the closest to genuine consultation that the community ever had, and they were undertaken by community members with no council funding or promotion http://gladesvillecommunity.com/survey%20results.html and http://gladesvillecommunity.com/fftf%20consultation%20survey%20results.html.
* I am sick of my council planning things behind closed doors and executing it (legally) with the minimum public ‘consultation’ or exhibition e.g. the disposal of public land at 10 Cowell St, Gladesville (and other blocks nearby) without public consultation or tender http://gladesvillecommunity.com/heritage.html,
* I want the council to be big enough to employ experts who can supervise works and ensure things are done properly, not like this https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-O5ZTxPWnRORah-4GDTIPpLCz2C0gRE9
* It is very concerning when a judge of the supreme court of NSW refers to Hunters Hill Council’s bluster (a synonym of bullying) towards a resident, wasting ratepayers money, and failing to adequately supervise works https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/54a638f13004de94513da395. Even worse, when a resident asks “What has Council management done to ensure that such failures are not repeated in the future?” it is not acceptable for the General Manager not to reply claiming nothing is wrong and to have done well by lodging a claim with its own self-insurance pool “Please elaborate on where you think there has been a failure. The fact is that Council management effectively ameliorated a substantial cost to Council through the use of its insurance” (email sent by Barry Smith to Russell Young, cc Mayor and all Councillors, on 19th June 2015).
* [Whatever else you think]

Possibly a better alternative that was never publicly (if at all) investigated, could have been to expand the high-performing Lane Cove Council out to the state electorate boundaries (even if only as far north as buffalo creek), consuming Hunters Hill Municipality and a bit of Ryde. The excellent management of Lane Cove Council would be rewarded with protection against it’s sole weakness – the argument (valid or otherwise) that it is too small in the modern era. Gladesville and Boronia Park would no longer be split between 2 councils, and the long suffering residents of Hunters Hill Municipality could enjoy being part of a council that looked after roads, footpaths, and drains all the way to the poorest boundary of the municipality, instead of just telling everyone how good everything is – Pyongyang style. Interested (and mobility-impaired) residents could all watch Council meetings from their own homes as Lane Cove already webcasts. We could see Development Applications on this new wizz-bang thing called the internet (like Ryde and Lane Cove Councils already publish). Residents of the municipality of the City of Ryde (with new boundaries) could be spared the dilution of access to Councillors that goes with expansion.

With councils rationalised from 3 to 2, the state government would have its all-important political win, and it’s hard to argue against aligning municipal boundaries with those of state electorates (especially when they don’t run through retail centres like Gladesville and Boronia Park). Residents would retain good access to Councillors and the councils would be big enough to enjoy better economies of scale. Hunters Hill municipal chambers could even be turned into a nice cafe / restaurant / retail precinct like Garibaldi where traffic turns from Alexandra Street into Ferry Street. Win win win.

For those who want to do some useful research (and good on you for using your brain instead of just listening to what Council wants to tell you)

The Council Boundary Review encourages, but does not require, submissions to address one or more of the 10 categories identified on this page. It doesn’t have to discuss those categories to be a valid submission, but if you have the time to frame your argument, or look for guidance, this might be useful.

The Hunters Hill Trust produced a ‘rough guide’ to amalgamation – which is a thought-provoking list of issues relevant to an amalgamation debate (instead of just change-resistance or emotional knee-jerk reactions), available here

The Office of Local Government issued guidelines in December 2015. Readers can decide for themselves whether Hunters Hill Council’s promotion of the Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition is in keeping with the instruction (highlighting added to assist)
Any public information campaigns conducted by councils with respect to merger proposals: * should be conducted for the purposes of informing the local community about the merger proposal and should be proportionate to this purpose * should not involve disproportionate or excessive expenditure or use of council resources * should be conducted in an objective, accurate and honest manner and should not be deliberately misleading * should not be used to endorse, support or promote councillors, individually or collectively, political parties, community groups or candidates or prospective candidates at any election, Local, State or Federal.”

(we respect the Save Hunters Hill Municipality Coalition’s right to express their opinions and tie ribbons up, but could not support ratepayers’ funds and facilities being used contrary to the Office of Local Government guidelines).

The leaflet can be read here

Gladesville RSL redevelopment – the other BIG development site in Gladesville

On 11th February Gladesville RSL lodged a DA with Ryde Council to redevelop the Youth Club site bound by Western Crescent, Ross and Coulter Streets, and the public car park. The RSL is looking to build 10 storey building containing 34 residential units on top of the new Youth Club.

The RSL club will hold a “Development Consultation” on Wednesday 2nd March 2016 at 7pm in the first floor auditorium, and their leaflet advises that people will need to have registered to attend. The club can be called on 9816 2999.

Somewhat disappointing and concerning is that the RSL club has issued and is requesting members fill out a pro-forma expression of support, addressed to Ryde Council. Promoting public participation is a good thing, but it seems out of order to be asking people to support the development now, when they haven’t even exhibited or consulted on it. They also lodged the DA on 11th February and will hold the Development Consultation on 2nd March, which is a curious order of events.

For example, the promotional leaflet says “62 car spaces for the RSL Club. This will take considerable pressure off the adjacent Public Car Park…” – but one might ask how the 62 car spaces will be managed. You could easily find 62 local workers who would pay $10 annual membership to be able to park their car close to their work. Will they be timed? Will they be first-in best-dressed? How will the club safeguard against abuse? It seems inappropriate to be asking members to communicate their support of the development to Ryde Council on a pro-forma document when we haven’t even had a chance to ask, let alone get answers to, many questions that arise from such significant development.

You can see a bit of information about the DA on Ryde Council’s DA tracker at

You can view the information which as been released by the RSL club here at

It might be an excellent development and contribution to the future of Gladesville, but there’s something concerning about asking people to show their support before the details are even exhibited.

Planning Alerts

As hard as we try, we can’t be across every development and tell you everything that’s going on. We recommend you subscribe (free) to Planning Alerts so you can be sent information about DA’s near you as they’re lodged. This excellent service can alert you to DA’s in the Ryde Council area (and others), but we don’t think it can work for Hunters Hill Council area because they don’t have an online DA tracking / exhibition / notification system. Try carrier-pigeon. Until amalgamation. Then maybe we will all benefit from technology of the 1990’s.