Call me Naive with the new Planning & Design Code

Call me Naive but I do believe we need to get on board and work with the Government on the new Planning & Design Code.

Naïve maybe. Focused on outcomes definitely.

Minister Knoll continues to give assurances, that they will listen to us during the current 5 month long consultation period. Assurances that we have also been hearing from the SA Planning Commission chair, Michael Lennon.

Call me naïve, call me mad, but I believe him.

Trouble is my neighbours, my rate payers don’t believe him. They don’t trust him. They don’t trust the SA Planning Commission.

Since the initial draft of the Code was released I have taken my usual pragmatic approach and delved into the detail, or lack of it. Others, given their lack of trust and maybe expertise in reading development plans, have focused on complaining about a lack of consultation. Complaining that they are not going to be heard anyway.

Minister Knoll indicated at a recent heritage focused public meeting, held by local State MP and fellow Minister David Pisoni, that Ministers and Governments should be judged on what they do. He then tried to assure the heritage conservation focused audience that the cabinet is made up of inner city seats, whose constituents are heritage focused. Cabinet members, in other words, attuned to the needs of their constituents.

The cabinet will make the final decisions he told us. This is not what we have previously understood. We believed that the Commission is responsible for making the final determination of what is included or not. This belief has led to many in the community believing  this legislation is undemocratic legislation.

Trouble is, as I pointed out at the meeting, the complexity of the draft code makes learned consultation very difficult. It is laden with errors and omissions.

Such does not give rise to trust and I made sure the Minister heard this observation. It actually breeds cynicism.

I pointed to examples of the errors and omissions to applause from the audience. In so doing I urged the Government to consider extending the implementation date. I did this to ensure consultation and the opportunity to respond to that consultation is as accurate as it can be.

I am not sure he heard me.

That said I firmly believe, and call me naïve if you want, that we must focus on what is in the Code and what is NOT in the code. Watch therefore this space.

Are the Trees in Black Forest Going Missing. And Clarence Park.

The saga of trees in Black Forest going missing continued yesterday with a tree in Byron Road being felled.

 

I found myself cutting my shopping short early yesterday. A distraught rate payer rang me concerned that a lemon scented gum on the property next door was being felled.

The third tree in the adjacent area within twelve months. The second on a neighbouring property to this resident. Changing forever the amenity of this neighbourhood.

The pair of trees in the centre of this picture are both gone missing.

The two neighbouring trees, between them, were a significant contributor to the amenity of the neighbourhood. With both gone there is nothing.

I am not saying nothing left. I am saying nothing. The loss is immeasurable.

I share grief of this rate payer (and others who have contacted me). A fourth tree on my side of the Seaford Line (in Clarence Park) was felled recently. A tree behind my rear boundary. Our amenity has been forever compromised as a result.

 

The Question has been asked, was Council responsible for this occurring?

The tree was on private property. It is one of many trees in the last decade on private land within the Unley Council that have been removed.

Council therefore was not involved. If it were a street or park tree, then obviously it would be Council.

 

A subsequent question raised is what Did Council Do About it?

Prior to ringing me the rate payer had rung the Council, who advised they would contact the contractor. Such was the level of her stress however, I simply had to make sure Council was responding appropriately. If this tree was a regulated tree and approval not sought, then we would need to put a stop to the tree damaging activity

I contacted our Regulatory Management, completed my shopping, deserted my wife and headed down to Byron Road. The removal of the tree was already well advanced when I arrived a short while later.

So! Was the tree protected or not? Was the felling of this tree legal or illegal?

On completing their inspection our inspection team reported to myself and the neighbour. Their conclusion was the tree was not protected under the State Government’s Development Regulations.

The species being cut down has no protection under the regulations if it is within 10 metres of a building. This tree would you believe was 9.7 metres from a building on a neighbouring property.

Does this mean the saga of trees in Black Forest going missing will continue?

Yes it will. The felling of trees such as the four mentioned in this blog post will continue to be felled, unless there is change in the State Legislation.

What can we do about it?

As I noted earlier in this blog the controls are State Government controls, via their Development Regulations. If you want change, you need to speak with your local member of Parliament.

The legislation rightfully must consider the danger the tree may present to person or property. It is however meant to protect trees from indiscriminate felling. Notwithstanding this, it often appears that too much emphasis is put on removing the tree just for the sake of moving it, or because it is simply inconvenient to the home owner.

Out here in the west of the City of Unley that is Jayne Stinson. The member for Badcoe. Elsewhere in the City of Unley the local member (and a member of the Cabinet) is David Pisoni.

I am happy to assist in this process.

You might also benefit from joining a lobby group, the Friends of the City of Unley Society. Their focus is the preservation of our history. That includes saving our trees. Check out their website.

Tree Canopy CoverFortuitously, they will be discussing increasing the green cover of Unley at their next meeting.

The other side of the storey.

But wait. There is more. There is another side of the storey. One that will play out in Council next week. I will blog on this after the Council meeting.

 

 

Another Award for King William Road

I am proud to announce yet another award for King William Road. This, primarily inspired by our consultation, while a few continue to denigrate us for our consultation.

Bad news sells papers. We have all  heard that. That may well spell the storey behind a few naysayers dominating the media agenda still around King William Road. To be fair, the media have in recent times, tried to present a balanced storey.

We have seen a number of traders reported recently as commending Council on our efforts. On our communication, on our consultation.

That said there has been no reporting on the positive of another award for King William Road. The second award we have received, both focusing on our excellent consultation on the project.

The 2019 South Australian Landscape Architecture Awards recognised Design King William. Minister Pisoni, Unley’s own local member of State Parliament, presented the award.

The following commentary/ reasoning was provided for our award:

Urban Design Landscape Architecture Award
Design King William by City of Unley with Communikate, Village Well and Outerspace Landscape Architects

“This innovative community co-design approach has set a benchmark for community engagement and urban design planning. This ambitious project was completed within a tight timeline yet provided an ‘open door’ policy to ensure that all stakeholders and the wider community were fully involved for the duration of the project. The success of the project is evident in its high levels of community engagement and Council support, and extremely positive feedback received on the final design outcomes. The jury eagerly anticipates the construction of the planned works in the near future.”

Regular readers of my blogs will recall a previous award I reported on back on the 30th June.

Both awards demonstrate that the City of Unley has conducted a genuine, inclusive engagement process to contribute to meaningful outcomes for our communities.

Planning Process Pains Perpetuated in Fullarton

A sitting of Unley’s Council Assessment panel last night saw how Planning Process Pains Perpetuate. This was in evidence with the approval of a 2-storey development on the corner of Culross Avenue and Fullarton Road.

Approved Development for Culross Avenue and Fullarton Road.

Neighbouring residents turned up on mass to protest a development proposed for that site. They left disillusioned by the Planning Process.

Several neighbours made verbal representations, backing up their written submissions. Unley MP David Pisoni, likely to be the planning minister in the new Government, also made representation.

The Panel approved the development. They did so because the application because it was not significantly at variance to the development plan. This was much to the dismay of the gallery.

Much of their dismay centred on understanding that development plans are not prescriptive, but a guideline. They felt that a minimum in the plan should be just that, a minimum.

Planning is not an exact science. This can even confuse those in the industry.

Opportunity missed in the Planning Process

Most of their dismay centred however in an arena they had control over a few years back. Last year this section of Fullarton Road was rezoned. The then Planning Minister signed off, as part of the planning process, on a development plan amendment.

Residents had an opportunity some 4 to 5 years ago to make representation at this stage of the planning process. Back then there was a proposal to alter our development plan to contribute to the Governments 30-year plan.

Not many did, unlike those in the west. The people in the west turned up in force to protest the changes. More to the point they were successful.

Back then, Jennie & I doorknocked all affected residents in Black Forest. We did so to ensure they received and understood the advice provided them by Council. We found many had not bothered to check the mail. Many also did not understand the potential impact on their neighbourhood. Our mentoring helped them, obviously with contrasting results to what happened in Fullarton.

Ultimately the DPA was split into two. The east was approved by the minister with the west left to be argued later (indefinitely).

This has resulted in a development approved that may not have been contemplated had the east been as informed and proactive as the west obviously was. One of many to come, one suspects.

Now that the dust has settled on the State election it is now time to turn our attention to Local Government

Congratulations to Jayne Stinson on being elected as the member for Badcoe and to David Pisoni on being returned in the seat of Unley. I look forward to working with you both to better our local community.

Councillor, Clarence Park Ward. City of Unley.

Now that the dust has settled on the State election it is now time to turn our attention to Local Government. Yes! Council elections are scheduled for November this year.

It is my intention to put my hand up again. I will be looking to continue as one of your two Clarence Park Ward Councillors.

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Why Councillor? Why not Mayor?

Many people have asked me in recent times to run for Mayor, which is certainly flattering. I believe however my true value to council and to its ratepayers is to focus on being a Ward Councillor.

The elections will see a significant turnover of elected members. Two members, one being the Mayor, have already resigned. Two other councillors have announced that they will not be renominating. A fifth is considering his future.

Five of 13 positions on Council will therefore see a change of member.

Two, maybe three, of our current membership are considering running for Mayor. Given anyone losing the Mayoral race will not be on Council this means a turnover of 7 out of the 13 positions. If I were to run for mayor too the change will lift to 8, 9 if an outsider won the Mayoral race.

Change is usually healthy. It is good to see change after each council election. New ideas, new perspective, new energy etc. If the extent of change is excessive however this can be unsettling.

This is because the learning curve when stepping into the elected member role is extreme. New members therefore need time to settle in.

Running for Mayor, with so many others considering it, would increase this risk.

In Government Liberals Demand Council Travel Transparency

The Liberals Demand Council Travel Transparency if they win Government in March.

Travel-Allowance

They will make it mandatory for all South Australian councils to publish travel expenses in their annual report to increase transparency and accountability. They will Demand Council travel transparency.

Seems their answer to the State’s woes rest with fixing Local Government.

You get no argument from me regarding transparency. I demand Council transparency too.

All Governments should be transparent in all they do. It is important that those who have the responsibility of spending rate payer (or taxpayer) funds be subject to public scrutiny.

My colleagues here in the City of Unley concur with the principle. Cr Bob Schnell and Cr Mike Hudson have both welcomed the move as can be seen on their blogs. My Co-councillor Jennie Boisvert has likewise responded. Bob & Jennie have questioned them however.

 

It sounds like we have no such obligation now. Wrong!

Section 79 of the Local Government Act 1999 already requires the Council’s CEO to keep a register of all allowances and expenses paid to their elected members. Section 7 of the Local Government (Members Allowances and Benefits) Regulations 2010 then goes on to say that this is required on a quarterly basis.

Unley’s own David Pisoni said a check of 19 metropolitan councils showed just one disclosed travel undertaken by elected members. I wonder which Council he is referring to.

He can’t be talking about the councils of 6 Mayors I talked to yesterday. We all do. This group of Mayors are of the belief the Liberals see fixing Local Government as their priority in Government, rather than the workings of State Parliament. Hmmmm!

This may be why we keep hearing that the public, in a background where they hate the government and see Mr X as looking to fix Parliament, see them as irrelevant.

Unley under attack

Unley under attack is the consistent image out there right now, ever since the the clock turned over to 2016 and for a myriad of reasons.

While we believe we have been working hard to improve the community of Unley others have not seen it this way. They have found reason to attack us it seems daily in the first two months of the year. The attacks have been continuous with little time to come up for air before copping another salvo.

It all started at the arrival of the new year. This was when Eastern Courier Columnist Andrew Faulkner denigrating council over it’s allocating  $2.0 m under “general” in its accounts.  This article insinuated impropriety on our part. My blog of 21 January hopefully put it into context. Abiding by the legislation that governs us has made us to look like we are guilty of something sinister.Unley Paid Parking

This was followed with criticism by the Minister for Transport. While were looking after our rate payers, he has us as being greedy by fleecing and discouraging public transport use against his governments policies.

My blog of 26 February responded to the messages out there at the time. Curiously his diatribe about going behind his back seems focused on only one street. The other street in our trial IS fortunately on council land I am assured and he has not commented on this street.

With little time to breath we then saw local state MP for Unley David Pisoni criticising our 2nd generation tree policy. This is currently out for public consultation. His observations, welcomed as part of the consultation, but which were made in public indicate we are going to decimate our tree population. This is curious as the intent of the policy is to ensure we protect our tree assets by having a targeted replacement program over time rather than wait and find we have to replace most of our trees in a short time frame because they have come to the end of their life around the same time.

Then to finish it off (I hope) West Torrens Mayor John Trainer (a resident of Unley) purportedly has spoken with us about a concern he has with sight lines at one of our intersections (one I suspect he uses regularly) which I am sure we will investigate. It becomes a public claim however (don’t know how) keeping the media pressure on Unley.

Of course in the background to all this and which all this feeds into is the ongoing murmurings of those who would see Local Government removed in favour of the State Government looking after local matters such as which street should be upgraded and which park should have improvements. In my opinion and irrespective of how it may have been reported we are seeing why Local Government should stay.

Can you surely expect the State Government to be as interested as we are in the local community. I think not.