Jayne Stinson engages with our local community in the Battle for Badcoe.

Hot on the heels of my blog recently on a 3rd candidate in the battle for Badcoe, endorsed Labor candidate Jayne Stinson engages with our local community in the Battle for Badcoe.

She held two public meetings yesterday. The first was held at Dora Guild Playground; the second at Page Park. I attended both.

Of interest was the presence of the President’s or immediate past presidents of three of our local premier sporting organisations.

Jayne was entertained by President Craig at the Goody Saints v University match

Goodwood Saints Football Club and Goodwood Cricket Club promoted their joint pursuit of female participation in their respective sports. Both clubs are leaders in their competitions and are active in female participation. Later Jayne spent the afternoon as guest of the Footy Club watching the “A” grade beat and pass University in the top five.

They are both keen to see renovations to the Grandstand. Renovations that are long overdue. Renovations that have become urgent given female participation in both Football and Cricket. They lobbied for grant funding for Council’s proposed upgrades.

Millswood Bowling Club and, by way of a phone call to me to promote their needs, Millswood Croquet Club promoted their respective grant funding needs. The Bowling Club is in urgent need for upgraded female toilet facilities and likewise a need for disabled facilities. The Croquet Club in need of new premises.

All four have embraced the principles of Council’s Active Unley strategy. This has resulted in the needs promoted.

Their lobbying backs up my lobbying with Jayne earlier this year.

Other issues included looking at safety of the pedestrian rail crossings at the Clarence Park Rail Station. The introduction of quieter and faster trains while removing gates has created a more dangerous environment than ever before noting this is a Station that has previously seen a death of a young child.

In the meantime, I am looking to catch up with the 3rd candidate later this week, Cr John Woodward.

What is the Value of the Trees of Unley

Yesterday I focused my blog writing on the extreme emotions around trees. Today I look at the value of the trees of Unley.

As I blogged yesterday trees, and therefore the trees of Unley, are both an asset and yet a liability.

Trees are a considerable asset to the community on many levels. They are an important element of the rich culture heritage of Unley. Our trees compliment the environment. They enhance our enjoyment of open spaces by making them more comfortable and pleasant. Just as importantly they provide a wide range of other benefits. Benefits such as shade, cooling and habitat for wildlife.

Conversely, trees constitute a potential risk to our community. There are several risks to both property and more importantly to person. The older they get the greater the risk. These risks include from both underground and aboveground.

Underground risks include movement causing damage by lifting to paths, roads and to buildings. The movement can create trip hazards in our vast footpath network. Above ground dropping limbs can cause property damage and (as highlighted yesterday) are a risk to personal safety.

Like other assets, such as buildings, trees require considered and ongoing maintenance. As with buildings this maintenance should be designed to maximise the benefits they provide and to minimise risks.

So what is the value of the trees of Unley?

Our Tree Strategy Policy 2016-19 is taking a proactive stand toward maintaining and growing our urban forest.

The core of this is recognising for an urban forest to be sustainable there must be a wide age-distribution of trees to create a cycle of succession.

Council’s urban forest has 26,000 trees. 23,000 of these trees are located in some 450 streets. The remaining 3,000 of these trees are in our parks and gardens.

A recent audit of our trees indicates that 20% of our trees realistically require replacement in the next five to ten years. More urgently 7% of our trees (1,570) will require replacement in the next 5 years.

During this time, we plan to remove 1,924 trees. More importantly we aim to plant 2,806 new trees. Rather than just replace trees we have determined are in need, we have identified opportunities to plant trees where none exist now.

 

Trees bring out emotions at the extremes. Often only at the extremes.

Anyone following the media in Adelaide would be aware that trees bring out emotions at the extremes. Often only at the extremes.

There have been many a local media article identifying these extremes recently. In particular, we see this repeated in Adelaide’s inner suburban areas. We have seen the emotions rise to the extreme at both ends of the scale.

At one extreme, we saw the recent save our tree campaign focused on the Government’s redevelopment of Glenside Hospital. At the other end, we often see people expressing concern for the safety of their kids.

We have seen it regularly in the City of Unley with development applications for removal of significant trees.

One such recent application before Council’s Development Assessment Panel has typified that trees bring out emotions at the extremes. Our Panel considered one such application recently.

On that night the gallery was full of people desperate to save the tree the subject of the application. Emotions ran high on the night. Their energy and their emotions unfortunately resulted in their interrupting the proceedings. One unidentified person then graffitied the front fence of the applicant.

This prompted a storey in the Eastern Courier Messenger and in the Advertiser. The storey, in turn, prompted a significant social media response at the other extreme.

Those responding were overwhelmingly of the view that trees should take second place in the hierarchy to humans. They were just as passionate. Any hint (no matter how slight) of there being a risk was enough to say down with the tree.

Definitely, trees bring out emotions at the extremes. And there seems to be no middle ground. It is either one extreme or the other.

Council’s are often caught in the middle here, unable to be seen in good light. Like an umpire at a sporting event, always wrong according to half the supporters.

 

Council Development Assessment Panels set to change

Word is that 1 August 2017 will see the commencement of the assessment panel provisions of the Planning Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (PDI Act). 1 October 2017 is set to be the designated day for the new system.

This means changes for our own Development Assessment Panel (DAP). First up, the Council Development Assessment Panel will now be known as a Council Assessment Panel (CAP).

The change though with the most impact will be the change to the membership of the Panel.

The current membership of the Panel is 7 people. Elected members fill three of the positions on the panel. The remaining four members are filled by independents appointed by Council.

The effective number will reduce to no more than 5 from 1 October however. More to the point, there can now only be one elected member of Council on the Panel.

Membership of the panel will now have to be reviewed by Council. It means we must reduce the elected member representation.  We can and I expect will retain the 4 independent members on our Panel.

We will need to consider keeping only one of the current elected members on the panel or starting again. The opportunity for all elected members now exists to nominate for membership of our panel.

Last night I attended Unley’s Development Assessment Panel meeting last night as a spectator. Interestingly there were two apologies dropping our 7 strong team down to 5.

As a result, if the new Council Assessment Panel was in operation 2 apologies would see the members of the Panel in attendance reduce to 3. Members of the Public were disturbed that the number on the night (5) was too small a number.

Finally, as has always been the case, assessment panels will be relevant authorities by virtue of the PDI Act, not because they receive delegated authority from another body, such as a council or the Minister.

 

Is the Gourmet Gala too expensive to run?

Should we disassociate ourselves from future TDU’s. I ask everyone a separate question. Is it the TDU you have a concern with or the Gourmet Gala with its cost of $ 266,000 per event?

In other words, is the Gourmet Gala too expensive to run? Should we continue to run the Gourmet Gala?

The Gourmet Gala is held the night before a stage start for the TDU. It certainly does compliment the race start the next morning, making for an extended celebration.

 

But again, is it the TDU?

The Gala does require an investment by council of some $ 266,000 to stage. This is a significant investment.

But is it? It is actually in the order of just $ 10.00 for every rate payer, whether residential or commercial.

Some see this as focused on an elite group, others just a big party that we can do without. Others, a party we could hold at another time, at another venue, at far less cost than $ 266,000. A solid argument.

If it is all about party time in Unley we certainly can look at doing it at less cost. The Unley Way to go held many moons ago on Unley Oval is evidence of this.

The gourmet gala many do not realise goes well beyond this however.

The Gourmet Gala attracts people from within and from outside to King William Road as a destination. Up to 30,000 at a time which is far from an elite group.

This, in turn, must be economically good for business in King William Road. We are told by qualified experts that it has provided an economic benefit to the strip of over $ 5.0m to the City of Unley between 2011 and 2017. An average of close to $ 730,000 per event.

Some traders disagree, losing money on the night. These traders I suggest do not see the marketing potential of such an event. That is a debate however for another time.

So, when this comes up again, let us focus on what we are actually debating. Is it the TDU or is it the Gourmet Gala? Or is it both?

The above is far from an argument justifying the Gourmet Gala.

There is much more to consider as we consider any future commitment to the Gala. This conversation I think needs to expand into at least a 4th post just to explore alternatives to the Gala.

So watch this space.

City Strategy & Development Committee concurs with Local Knowledge Assessment

Last night our City Strategy & Development Committee met and discussed the Ministers two DPAs. Refer my recent blog on the importance of local knowledge in a Development Plan Amendment.

We concurred with the Local Knowledge Assessment by our Mr Brown of the Ministers (Specific Sites) DPA. Led by my observations in support of his assessment and a motion moved by me the committee has recommended Council go further than his recommendation.

As noted in my last blog post Mr Brown provided an in-depth analysis of the Ministers DPA. This analysis demonstrated that the Specific Site DPA did not relate to his Design DPA. It fell well short of the parameters that Unley has previously demonstrated with our DPAs. Parameters that his Design DPA had been based on.

The Committee saw the Ministers DPA this way.

The most significant observations were the zoning the Le Cornu site as a Transit Zone and Unley Road Malvern as High Street. The other observation is the classification of the street behind Cappo as a primary street.

We concurred that the street behind Cappo is a narrow suburban street that should be classified a secondary street. Our recommendation will provide setbacks not provided in the proposed zoning. Setbacks that will soften the interface with the surrounding residential zone. Setbacks that will reduce the height along Chinner.

Both the Le Cornu site and the Malvern site unmistakably should both be business zones with setbacks along both Anzac Highway and Leader street, the latter to protect the interface with the residential zone to the south.

So long as setbacks are recognised we had no difficulty with the heights proposed at Le Cornu. We did however on the Unley Road site. We determined in discussions a height of 4 storeys, or even 3 with Business zone setbacks rather than high street. But we went further.

We determined that it was inappropriate that this site be included in the DPA. In a climate of low population growth, it was not necessary to isolate this site from its surrounds. Council has provided opportunity for significant growth (say 200 people) just down the road in the District Centre. This site we believe would potentially compete in a low market with the District Centre and the latter surely should be encouraged first.

Now, let us wait on whether Council concurs in two weeks or whether they would prefer changes to this recommendation.

Unrest from some over Unley hosting the TDU

Amid cries that it is too expensive and/or it has had its day, there is unrest from some over Unley hosting the TDU.

During budget deliberations, we heard cries from some in our community to abandon the TDU. Indeed (from memory) two councillors said the same. Some including the two councillors will be disappointed with the news it is going to happen.

Those same cries were not so apparent when we debated earlier in the year whether we should put another bid in or not. That is when the debate was needed to be had, not at budget time.

Curiously this happens every year. We agree to put in a bid. Then at budget time we debate if we should change that decision.

With the announcement imminent of who has been successful in hosting a start or a finish, budget time is precisely the wrong time to have the debate. To pull out then would surely to be irresponsible.

But what are we debating. The calls to drop our association with the TDU come from concern over the $ 266,000 it costs council to stage the Gourmet Gala.

I don’t argue that this is a significant amount of money for one event. But is it? More on that in a future blog.

Whilst the Gourmet Gala is associated with the TDU it is not the TDU. The TDU start surely must stay. As I wrote in my last blog post the City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand.

For the premier bike capital of Adelaide (Unley) not to host a start, or a finish for that matter, would surely be criminal.

So, when this comes up again, let us focus on what we are actually debating. Is it the TDU or is it the Gourmet Gala? Or is it both?

 

The City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand

The City of Unley is recognised for being the most cyclist friendly City in all of Adelaide. Adelaide in turn is Australia’s home of the Tour Down Under (TDU). Truly the City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand.

 

Unley is recognised for it’s extensive bikeways. An inner suburban Council, we have been proactive in finding alternate forms of transport other than single occupancy cars.

For this reason, the City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand.

It should be expected therefore that the Tour organisers see Unley’s bid to host a TDU start as a no-brainer. No surprise then that we have been awarded a Stage 2 start for the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under.

Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said the race was thrilled to be returning to Unley for the start of Stage 2. “The location of Unley as a stage start is one of the iconic start locations throughout the history of the event and never disappoints,” he said.

“The support from the community in Unley and its surrounds is terrific. Next year the race will start on King William Road and the peloton will parade through the city from Unley and take a route down Melbourne Street for the first time.”

Stage 2 will be held in the morning of Wednesday 17 January.

As always, we will hold our Gourmet Gala event on the night before. An event that often attracts 30,000 people or more. The Gala has become one of Adelaide’s iconic events, seen by many as integral to the whole TDU experience.

There are however some within our community, indeed on Council, who see this differently. Please stay tuned for my take on that shortly. When I do, just remember that the City of Unley and the TDU go hand in hand.

The importance of local knowledge in a Development Plan Amendment

Tomorrow night we will see demonstrated the importance of local knowledge in a Development Plan Amendment (DPA).

 

A report from our Policy Planning Officer Mr David Brown on the Minister’s Corridors DPA will be received by Council’s City Strategy and Development Policy committee tomorrow night.

The DPA is a site specific DPA, including (in Unley) 4 sites;

  • The Le Cornu site at Forestville
  • The Cappo site on Glen Osmond Road
  • 12-30 Anzac Highway Everard Park
  • 299-307 Unley Road, Malvern

We will consider the DPA with the help of his analysis. The committee will then make recommendations to Council.  Council can then consider in to weeks times making similar representation to the Minister.

Honestly, the Minister could do with having David Brown on his staff at DPTI. David’s analysis has identified a plethora of anomalies/discrepancies in the DPA.

There are discrepancies between the DPA and Unley’s previous parameters set in our Corridor DPA. Discrepancies also indeed between this DPA and his concurrent running (design) DPA (also being considered tomorrow night).

Too many to highlight in a blog post. Sufficient, that said, to demonstrate the folly of the Government’s move to progressively take Council out of the planning process. Sufficient to demonstrate that a State or Regional Government does not and cannot identify with local nuances.

I will be keen to hear the input of our independent members into the DPA and into David’s analysis.

His analysis should be the catalyst for quite a comprehensive representation on our part to the Minister. It is to be hoped that he takes on board our observations and suggestions, whatever they wind up being after Council considers the committee’s recommendations in two weeks’ time.

I believe the importance of local knowledge in a Development Plan Amendment will be demonstrated tomorrow night.

If you want to see David’s in depth analysis check it out here, item 9.

Our 2017/18 Budget: a win for those in Our Community who contributed to the process.

After the most significant contribution from our community in who knows how long Council has determined its budget for 2017/18. A win for those in our Community who contributed to the process.

 

As I suggested in my blog post entitled “Please Stay with Us” the contribution from our community has seen positive results. Many initiatives suggested have now been included in the budget.

Those that have not have been earmarked for council to contemplate as projects later in the year. Should any of those projects receive council endorsement we will need to include them in one of our quarterly budget reviews.

The inclusion of the extra initiatives has seen the rate increase lift from 2.8 % to 2.9%.

The significance of this budget is the expectation that some of those projects we have been contemplating since before I joined Council may occur sooner rather than later. This includes:

  • the start of the Brownhill Creek Flood Mitigation project,
  • the redevelopment of the Unley Oval grandstand. This will be the culmination of a number of improvements at that ground.
  • Possible commencement of the Goodwood Oval and the Millswood Sporting Reserve,
  • Possible commencement of the redevelopment of King William Road between Arthur Street and Mitchell/Park Streets.

A win for those in our community who contributed to the process.

It will also see something I have been championing since my early days on Council. That is an improvement in service standard in the reactive maintenance of our footpaths.

Of course, we have also had to pass on a 9% increase in the NRM levy that Councils are forced to collect on behalf of the government. Our rate payers are contributing the equivalent of 3.1% of our rate-able income. That is a whopping (in excess of) $ 1.2 m. And we are collecting $ 38.3 m in rates.

If you want to know more about what the budget includes you can check it out here.