GS’V’ update and Master Plan for Gladesville (draft coming)

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since we’ve been in touch, but even though you haven’t heard from us we’ve been trying to keep an eye on things affecting Gladesville.

Gladesville Shopping ‘Village’ (GS’V’) update – where is it up to?

Earlier in 2019 Hunters Hill Council submitted its response to the applicant’s request (by the GS’V’ land owner who also now owns the adjacent land that used to be public) to the NSW Department of Planning to relax the Height and “Floor space ratio” (FSR, basically ‘bulk’) controls applicable to the site. 180 flats and 10 storeys wasn’t enough, after our land was sold to them, so they sought a State Government amendment to our Local Environmental Plan (LEP) to allow even bigger development on the site.

Thanks to YOUR continued attention to this issue, and YOUR attendance at the public meeting and YOUR submissions, the response from Hunters Hill Council was not to support any increase to FSR (bulk), but concession on height may be allowable. There were also increased open space requirements, a “design excellence” (according to WHO?) requirement, and a site-specific Development Control Plan to be considered for the site.

Overall, this is as good an outcome that we could hope for, after having already sold the public land to the developer and Council really holding no cards to manage the site in a ‘deveoper-friendly’ state political environment. Well done everyone!

We are still waiting for hear what the NSW Department of Planning will decide for the site. We will update you when we know more.

Master Plan for Gladesville

One significant initiative that should be achieved soon is exhibition of a new draft Master Plan for Gladesville. This was announced in March 2018, and nearly 18 months later we believe there will be a result soon.

You can read the Motion at the link below to our previous communication when the Master Plan was announced, and we note that a public meeting of residents and stakeholders was to occur early in the process (Point 2 of the Motion). We’ll see what’s actually happened so far when the Master Plan goes to public exhibition for comment. Certainly we are hoping that it is not a case of a plan from Hunters Hill Council being developed behind closed doors and then shown to the public for ‘rubber-stamping’ with little or no room for input, to qualify as Public input. But we remain optimistic because this 2017-2020 Council has actually recognised that planning is a responsibilty of Hunters Hill Council.

The previous Council 2012-2017 sold off our heritage asset at 10 Cowell Street (with the only heritage listing in the history of Hunters Hill Council to exclude curtilage, making it easier for the property to be relocated or demolished) and sold other public land including a public car park in Gladesville (without tender), re-zoned Gladesville to take almost all of the increased density for the entire Hunters Hill Local Government Area (LGA) when the State Government pushed targets into each LGA, and invested little or no visible effort to plan for or to mitigate the adverse impacts of the significant additional development – of which we are now seeing the beginning.

What is a Master Plan?

Have a look at the last one – from 2006 – at the link below!

The 2006 Master Plan basically became redundant when the 2012 Local Environmental Plan (LEP) was adopted, because the “Heights of Buildings” and “Floor space ratio” (FSR, basically ‘bulk’) controls changed significantly. That 2012 LEP was the planning instrument that paved the way for all of this extra development – basically the 5 and 6 storey buildings to line most of Victoria Rd as well as the 10 storey development over the Gladesville Shopping ‘Village’ (Coles site).

Before the 2012 LEP, the 2006 Master Plan was an excellent document to guide the planning and development for Gladesville, applicable to both Ryde and Hunters Hill Councils – which jointly developed it.

The Master Plan considers heritage, character, amenity, and how to best plan to retain or promote favourable elements of the suburb’s character. It considers relevant factors beyond our boundaries, such as Top Ryde shopping centre. It considers public transport and the promotion of its use.

Importantly, it considers the management of the suburb at the level of infrastructure that is within the control of the Council. Parking and traffic managment are given due consideration, with chapter 4.6 titled “Access Management and Parking”. “Parking” was mentioned 117 times in the 2006 Master Plan, and “Traffic” was mentioned 29 times. This attention to ‘what Council can do to help’ is what we think has been critically absent since the 2012 re-zoning of Gladesville for high density. Also absent has been sufficient collaboration between City of Ryde and Hunters Hill Councils, to develop such a Plan.

Since lodgement of the Development Application in 2013 for the 4 x 8 storey towers above the two storey podium proposed redevelopment of Gladesville Shopping ‘Village’, the public has been asking (including as a theme in the 290+ submissions received in response to the DA, 99% of which opposed it) for an integrated parking and traffic management plan for Gladesville – which suffers from being split across the Local Government Areas of two different Councils.

Why do we keep talking about parking and traffic management?

Because it matters, because it won’t solve itself, and because Councils shouldn’t be waiting until it’s too late before trying to fix it after the fact.

Businesses rely on customers, and convenient access to enter, park, and leave the suburb is important to the choice of desination. Never have we heard a restauranteur say “I’ll be happy just to have as many diners as would like to ride their bikes here on a rainy Saturday night”, or “there should be enough people on the bus route” to fill a restaurant in a suburban precinct. Not everyone can walk their groceries home.

Commercial landlords rely on businesses success. Bad sites, or sites which are turned bad by lack of planning, don’t attract good rents or resale.

Residents’ ability to enjoy a suburb’s vibrancy requires businesses to succeed instead of closing down as we’ve seen through Gladesville in recent years, both in and out of the Gladesville Shopping ‘Village’. We don’t accept that just building 180+ extra flats above the Coles will somehow solve everything, or even that it won’t create a congestion problem if Councils don’t plan for success. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Public transport in Sydney is only as good (or bad) as it actually is, and Victoria Rd remains a bus corridor with few destinations to/from Gladesville other than the CBD-Parramatta route. 

Indeed, the article from Inside Retail at the link below acknowledges the positive contribution to successful local shopping strips made by some councils focussing on convenient parking and lobbing for improved transport links, the latter not actually being under the control of councils.

We have not seen an articulated strategy from Hunters Hill Council (or City of Ryde) adopting a position against vehicular transport. Any such intention should be properly exihibited for public consultation before the future of our suburb is put at risk. We just haven’t seen any action that recognises that the increased residential and commercial load coming from the 2012 rezoning actually requires planning and increased capacity.

Even if businesses are prepared to pay for parking permits for staff, there are no car parks in Gladesville that have capacity – and this is before the coming wave of development is finished and before the public car park on the northern/easter side of Cowell Street is incorporated into the redevelopment of the Gladesville Shopping ‘Village’. Even if residents with more cars are prepared to rent additional above the low parking space ratios required for approval of blocks of flats these days, there is no capacity to rent what does not exist.

We don’t even have capacity to supply business or residents with additional parking when it’s commercially viable or otherwise desirable to pay/rent/lease. We cannot manage and meet staff + resident + shopper/diner/customer demand for parking if we’re can’t plan to increase capacity. And that ignores the impact of commuter parking already saturating many of our residential streets.

Again, failing to plan is planning to fail.

The Master Plan – coming soon

We keenly await the public consultation for YOUR input into the Master Plan for Gladesville, and hope that by the end of the 2017-2020 Council term we will have a planning achievement to celebrate!

From the team at Gladesville Community Group (incorporated)