Changes in Development Rules the Flavour of the Month

Yes! It certainly seems that changes in Development Rules is the Flavour of the Month. It is not enough that we have to contend with the Planning & Design Code. Or the Development Plan Amendment in Everard Park.

 

In recent weeks we have had to deal with a flurry of suggestions for how the old Anzac Highway Le Cornu site could be redeveloped. That was triggered of course by the departure from Australia of the current land owner, Kaufland.

The Mayor & Keswick Barracks

Picture from Advertiser Article quoted herein

Then, a short while ago, Theo Maras was quoted in the press with ideas for the site adjacent, the Keswick Barracks site. Today I see our Mayor dragged into considering what could be on that site.

That storey, by the Advertiser, can be found here.

The Keswick Barracks is owned by the Commonwealth Government, via the Department for Defence. They have no desire to sell off the land. My information is that they are so focused on keeping their land holding that they are upgrading it.

 

So why are we having this discussion when there is plenty to keep us occupied right now?

 

First up, with all Council is focused on right now, let me tell you that Council is not participating in the discussion. We are aware of the Maras proposal. It runs similar to observations made some 6 or so years ago when the previous State Government were promoting the TOD approach to the need for development pal changes.

There was some personal chatter between members of the Council of that day, as you might expect because it is topical. There was no formal discussion however as the Commonwealth, as now, indicated no desire to sell.

When the time comes to have a discussion, it will be driven by the State Government and not Council. Whether Council gets a chance to contribute or not at that time is problematic in any case. We are all waiting on the Government’s public consultation to the Planning & Design Code. Part of this will be to see if Councils will have an opportunity into looking at changes to the Code when proposed.

We have enough to deal with right now with the changes in Development Rules we are already dealing with. I hope therefore that we can be allowed to focus on what we can influence and/or control.

Informed Decision or a Popular Decision on the Norman Terrace Vote.

Making an informed decision or a popular decision is one of the challenges facing those in leadership. This is what I and Council was confronted with last night.

Our City Strategy & Development Policy Committee was faced with making a recommendation to Council. The topic, a development plan amendment of an aged care precinct. The precinct is bounded by Norman Terrace, Fourth Avenue and Ross Street Everard Park.

To help inform us in our decision making we sought the input of our ratepayers. Many believe that this is a vote and the majority public view should be the view expressed by Council when they vote.

Councillors are elected to represent the ratepayers. That is true. It is one of their two basic roles. The other is to make decisions for the good of the community as members (if you like) of a board of directors.

We are duty bound then to seek the views of those we represent. We must however make informed decisions. To do this we must make every endeavour to be informed (beyond the views of ratepayers) before making a decision.

 

Informed decisions will often therefore be unpopular decisions. Such was the case with the residents of Everard Park.

 

An Informed Decision or a Popular Decision

Line of sight from the footpath and from the front door opposite

This was the dilemma facing our rate payers and (last night) council. Being able to envisage what a 4 storey development would look like in the streets behind 2 storey houses. Many a councillor I believe was reluctant to make the decision we know we should make. We did not want to alienate the community.

The question. Do we make an informed Decision or a Popular Decision.

This is when it was important for me to step up to the plate.

In my work life it was necessary for me to be able to visualise built form before construction. This is a skill very few people have. I know this, as many of my clients back then often said to me at practical completion of their project “so this is what it was going to look like”.

I moved what was a motion for an informed decision. The reasons behind can be found here, along with diagrams I produced to make sure my line of sight assessment was accurate. While members followed this lead with a 10 to 2 vote, we all felt for the ratepayers who honestly believe other than what I debated.

Planning & Design Code is now up to the Government

The South Australian Community has spoken. Our local (Black Forest & Clarence Park) community has spoken. And boy did we locals speak. The Planning & Design Code is now up to the Government.

 

Planning & Design CodeI am proud of my local community, my neighbours. We have taken the trouble to understand how the draft Planning & Design Code would impact on us if adopted. In other words, we took the trouble to be informed.

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As a result, we took the trouble to contribute to the conversation. To respond to the Government’s public consultation process, which has now come to an end.

I am proud to have taken the lead in this, along with Jennie. To ensure you were informed. Just part of my election commitment to provide local leadership and work for you.

I am proud also of how we found a small army of volunteers to spread the word. We could not have achieved the response rate we did without them. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Council too, has down its bit. They have provided an in depth analysis with recommendations for improvement.

We’ve done our bit. Now it is up to the Government, through DPTI and the SA Planning Commission. Fortunately, they have made a start by extending the implementation date.

They had no choice. There is a significant amount of work to unpack the observations made by all of us. They have committed to publicly advising what they have heard. Once they have done this they must make amendments to the draft that they recognise is necessary.

The challenge for them will be satisfying us that we have a workable Code. A Code we all can work with. One that does not destroy neighbourhoods, but one that permits appropriate development with a simple easy to use system for gaining development approvals.

This, at the end of the day, was the original goal.

Weekly Green Bin Trial

A Weekly Green Bin Trial has been approved by Council.

 

Take the Pledge

Green Bin Kerbside Collection

Weekly Green Bin

The weekly green bin trial will be targeted to the collection service for Goodwood 500 residents and up to 40 businesses for a period of six months. This initiative progresses one of my election promises and is unanimously  supported by Council.

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Goodwood was picked due to their excellent uptake of the

Take the Pledge Bin Sticker

Take the Pledge

“Take the Pledge” Council program I have previously blogged about.

It will be subject to a successful State Government grant application.

Food waste and organic matter is the largest resource by weight currently going to landfill. Landfill being the most expensive form of waste disposal. Waste that could be recycled into compost if placed in the green organics bin.

While our prime focus is to achieve environmental outcomes avoiding the massive taxes imposed on landfill is a bonus.

The State Government promoting this scheme is a God Send. Previously when the Local Government industry have talked about diverting waste from the blue to the green bin we are shot down with claims Councils are just trying to make a profit. With the debate focused not on weekly green but fortnightly blue bins the other arguments have been but bin (blue) will be infested with ants and smell if collected two weekly.

This trial will test if this different service model results in less food waste going to landfill.

Providing this small section of our community with a choice each week will see whether they will voluntarily shift their deposits from the blue to the green bin.

If it does it may demonstrate that the public is ready to accept weekly green bins. The Government would surly have to take notice of this and change therefore their policy of compulsory blue bin pick-ups.

If successful we may be able to demonstrate that fortnightly blue bin collections may be appropriate because there will be little waste in them.

Page Park Turf Turmoil investigated ahead of two major scheduled reviews

Users of the Park would be well aware of the Page Park Turf Turmoil. In recent years the turf in the much loved and much used park has deteriorated.

This has been evident in the dormant growth season of the Kikuyu grass.

 

Poor Page Park DivetIt has, over that time, deteriorated to a point that I believe requires attention. As reported back then, it prompted me to move a motion on notice in Council back in August of last year. The motion; to investigate the cause of the turf disintegration at Page Park and identify possible solutions to rectify the disintegration.

Council resolved unanimously, in favour of my motion.

I was mindful when moving that motion that Council has two pivotal reviews scheduled for 2020. In other words, the information resulting from the investigation would inform those reviews.

The first of these is a review of our Parks & Gardens Strategy. The second a review of our Dog & Cat Management Strategy. With Page Park being widely used these days for dog exercising, it is timely to investigate causes of and identify remedies for the condition of the turf.

IPOS Consulting Pty Ltd presented a report to Council at our last meeting. The report addressed the Page Park Turf Turmoil. A full copy can be found here under item 4.4 of the Council Agenda.

 

In essence, the report identified two major contributors to the deterioration that has occurred. The first contributor is the recent increase in use of the park during the dormant growth season of the Kikuyu grass. The second is ageing and under-performing water reticulation infrastructure.

 

The consultants identified a need for an upgrade of the reticulation system. For the use the park is experiencing they also recommended an increased maintenance regime. While their recommendation will give the grass every opportunity to improve they confirmed it may not be the answer.

In other words, if the quality of the turf remains an issue following an upgrade of the irrigation, use of the park may need to be considered. Accordingly, it may then be necessary to limit the times and days in which dogs are permitted to be off-leash within the park.

Finally we agreed that, until the two previously mentioned reviews are completed, we should refrain from taking immediate action. Rather than commit to increased expenditure, we will simply maintain the current maintenance.

Now we await the scheduled reviews into our parks & gardens and the dog & cat management.

 

 

City of Unley is Leading the way and speaking up.

My last blog showed how the Black Forest/Clarence Park community responded to the Government’s Planning & Design Code (PDC). In numerous other posts, while I have trusted the Government’s intention I have questioned their ability to get the Planning reforms right.

In this blog I wish to highlight what Council is doing. I can say the City of Unley is leading the way and speaking up in analysing the Code.

 

Planning & Design CodeWe (Council) have devoted significant resources to analysing the PDC. We found this was necessary due to the size and detail of the draft Code. Likewise because it is full of errors & omissions. Errors & omissions that do not uphold the Minister’s promise of transitioning like for like. Errors & omissions (on reflection) that must be inevitable in transitioning 72 Council Development Plans into the Code .

Our administration have provided an in-depth analysis into the entire document. Our City, Strategy Committee unanimously approved my motion supporting that work as our submission to the Government. Council last night endorsed the committee’s recommendations.

 

This submission goes well beyond the issues I have recently raised in this forum. It certainly mirrors my observations of the problems in the draft code but goes further.

 

It replicates also my observations as to how to address these problems. That is to transition the current RB350 zone into (not the General Neighbourhood Zone but) the Suburban Neighbourhood Zone. Likewise, to transition the current numerical values contained in the RB350 Zone into the Technical Numeric Variation Overlay of the Suburban Neighbourhood Zone.

It mirrors (as one would expect) my belief that Council’s should not only be re included as a contributor to future Code changes, but they should take a lead role. It also highlights the sense in delaying the introduction until it is ready for implementation.

There is so much more, the detail of which is too great to simply highlight in a blog post. Should you want more information on Council’s submission you can find it here.

Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up.

Watch as the rate payers of Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up against a false promise by the Minister for Planning.

 

The Minister (Stephan Knoll) and the Chair of the State Planning Commission (Michael Lennon) have publicly suggested by inference that their current Council Development zone RB350 will be transitioned with little or no change in to the new Planning & Design Code. The ratepayers are only too aware however of the significant differences that are and that this is NOT FACT. Differences highlighted in my blog post of 16 December.

PDC Public Meeting

Residents attending Black Forest/Clarence Park PDC Public Meeting

Around 100 people attended a meeting held by my Co-Councillor & I. Many more have also attended house meetings I spoke at.  I have, as I am sure Jennie has, spoken one on one with many others. Even more have learned by word of mouth.

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PDC in Black Forest

Residents attending Black Forest/Clarence Park PDC Public Meeting

The community is engaged. They have responded to my blog post of 8 January among other things. As a result, they are likely to inundate the Department, with expressions of feedback. Likewise the Minister.

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Thanks to my in-depth analysis noted in my 16 December blog, they are aware of the changes. An analysis that 95% of people simply would not be able to do for themselves.

The community is frustrated. Many, believing they are being targeted, are incensed at the Government.

Some believe these changes are deliberate. Others, like me, believe it is just dumb stupidity. Either way,  the result is the same. It is indeed enough for the rate payers of Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up and be heard. It is likewise enough to unseat this Government if what we are experiencing is occurring on mass elsewhere.

Their submissions will add depth of voice to Council’s own submission to the Department, and our lobbying behind the scenes. The Government will surely see that the Community is backing up their Council.

Look to another blog post soon covering Council’s response.

Watch Out for Improvement in carparking in King William Road.

Improvement in carparking was one of the major considerations in the design of the new King William Road. I expect you will be delighted with Council’s solutions to what has been a perennial problem in King William Road.

 

For as long as I have been on Council we have been seeking collaboration for the property owners, the landlords, to improve carparking in the precinct. This has been met with limited success. With the redevelopment, I am hopeful we may meet with some more success.

As I have reported previously there are over 400 off street carparks available in the precinct. These are behind the various shops.

I detailed in my blog post on 5 July what we are doing. I encourage you to check it out, if you have not already.

 

We have approached this challenge with an understanding that there are two types of shopper that use the road. They are mission oriented shoppers and leisure oriented shoppers.

City of Casey Smart Sign

City of Casey Smart Sign

One is intent on parking, buying their goods, and departing in the least amount of time possible. The other is looking for an experience. They will be looking to stay a while and shop at multiple outlets.

Truthfully the street has always catered well for the mission oriented shopper. A loss of a few on street carparks I doubt will dissuade or limit these shoppers.

Opening up the rear carparks (the off street carparks) is catering for the leisure oriented shopper. The shopper, I suggest that will bring more business to the street. Needless to say, the shopper on which the ultimate success of the street will rely.

 

Before the project is complete, why not venture down to the street and check it out for yourself.

 

The smart technology will not be available until the completion of the project. But the carparks will. Because the construction is focusing now on the footpath areas there will remain no on street parking, at least until the construction goes into Christmas hibernation at the end of this month as has been widely reported. This means you have to seek out the alternatives in order to shop there, whether mission oriented or leisure oriented.

This will gear you to take advantage of the improvement in carparking that will soon be a reality.

 

 

New Planning & Design Code is Introducing Environmental Initiatives

The draft Planning & Design Code is introducing some environmental initiatives or controls but there is no detail yet. At least I am struggling to find them.

 

Pilots licences aside, the author of the Code and now the Minister are on record as sprouting that the Planning & Design Code is introducing some environmental initiatives. Initiatives hitherto not incorporated in Planning legislation.

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Initiatives such as:

  • Identifying tree canopy cover as a planning requirement
  • Providing for Deep Soil Zones
  • Likewise permeable surfaces
  • Regulated Tree Overlay

I am confused however by what I read in the Code concerning each of these initiatives.

Identifying tree canopy cover as a planning requirement

The City of Unley has been promoting for some time now the need to incorporate some form of development controls around ensuring tree canopy cover. The Government’s 30 year plan calls for an increase in tree canopy cover.

They have set a goal for Unley to have a 30% canopy cover by 2030. This cannot be achieved unless the are mechanisms to increase the overage on private property. The Code has an aim to do this.

The only references I find regarding trees on private property so far talks of planting trees at the front of development of 4 or more storeys. The only other reference I can find is for tree planting provided on public streets and public open space. Hardly an initiative of significance I would have thought.

Providing Deep Soil Zones

Again the only reference to deep soil zones is on multi storey development.

If I simply have not found the detail on both of these initiatives I trust the Minister will direct me to it. If it has been omitted then I trust it will now be included.

Permeable Surfaces

A number of references have been made in respect of carparking areas and/or driveways containing at least 50% permeable surfaces. This is encouraging but I would like to see a more general requirement for permeable surfaces on all properties. Too many properties are totally paved out or have fake lawn.

Regulated Tree Overlay

Sounds a lot like we now have areas where we wish to protect trees. Areas rather than focus on quantifying what constitutes a regulated tree. I believe I need assistance understanding what the legislators are trying to achieve here.

It seeks to preserve regulated trees listed as rare or endangered under the National parks & Wildlife Act 1972. Trouble is I don’t see any tree species listed in that Act.

This Overlay talks of trees within 20 metres of a building. It seems that the distance from a building within which trees do not need development approval for removal has been extended.

If I am reading this right, I trust it is in error. Otherwise the legislation is watering down restrictions.

 

 

 

Council’s tree Strategy Should Recognise Nuisance Trees

Having a strategy to deal with nuisance trees was one of my many election promises. Placing a weighting on the nuisance a tree represents must surely apply to any responsible tree strategy.

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It is timely, as we lament the loss of significant trees as blogged last week in Black Forest, to remember that some trees are nuisance trees.

Nuisance Tree

Nuisance Tree

While this loss of the Black Forest trees is hurting, we must recognise that trees do need to be removed if and when:

  1. The tree is dead
  2. The tree is unhealthy.
  3. It is structurally unsound and inclined to drop limbs
  4. Likewise it presents a danger to person or property.

These issues are dealt with by the Development Act for trees deemed to be regulated or significant trees.  It requires even Council owned trees go through this process.

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Council, as a responsible tree owner, has indeed a similar process for their trees that aren’t regulated, significant. Only trees authorised however by our arborist as either unhealthy or presenting a physical danger can be removed. Trees that may be a nuisance but don’t present as a physical danger are subsequently ignored.

 

As a responsible tree owner and neighbour Council should have a policy to deal with trees that are causing (for want of a better word) a nuisance to one of our neighbours.

 

A policy covering nuisances that don’t necessarily fit that criteria but sufficient to cause understandable stress for the neighbour. Given this, such a tree that was put before the elected body in the Chamber last night for direction.

Council approved a motion moved by Cr Boisvert and seconded by myself for removal of the tree. You can access details of the level of nuisance in this case in the agenda., commencing at page 155 of the agenda.

This need to take a motion to the chamber for a tree creating a health issue for one of our neighbours is clumsy and costly. This experience will surely inform the new tree strategy we have commenced working on.

Is the new Planning & Design Code simpler?

Is the new Planning & Design Code a simpler, easier to use code or a document of complexity that will require a pilot’s licence to navigate.

 

Renewing Our Heritage PlanningThe core of the Planning & Design Code is the data base that will sit behind it. This data base will allow anyone, not just those with a pilot’s licence, to pull up their own property on a map and find out what develop is or is not allowed on that site.

To that end it is clearly going to be easier to understand the planning system in South Australia. Behind this however is a regime of legislation far more complex than the totality of the 68 Council development plans now in operation. A far cry and the complete opposite of what we expected when former Minister Rau announced the changes and a reduction to only 5 zones. A code by the way that would not recognise character zones.

Minister Knoll advised the community attending last week’s forum that the current zones have all been transferred to the Code. This one might expect means without change. He also reinforced that current demolition controls would be maintained.

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This code has some 50 zones. I have not counted how many layers over these. This makes the process of evaluating the code an onerous one. A process that is testing those of us with knowledge in matters planning.

 

As I said in my last blog post I have found the draft Code to be full of errors and omissions. The transfer of zones has not been seamless. The errors and omissions are extensive. So extensive it does lead to the speculation that the Government cannot be trusted. It seems that we need to identify them (each and one by one), failing which the intent may not be achieved and there will change by stealth.

I am working through the Code to do just that and undertake to continue so doing and keeping you informed. Your Council, through its Principal Planner David Brown, is doing the same thing.

The City of Unley will be seeking further interaction with the Minister and the SA Planning Commission. We will be putting in what clearly will be a detailed submission. We have to given the observations I am making.

 

Draft Planning & Design Code Errors & Ommissions that need Correcting

The draft Planning & Design Code errors and omissions are many. As it is a complex document it is proving hard to identify them.

 

Renewing Our Heritage PlanningTo start the conversation that Minister Knoll has invited, let’s look at some of the more essential. At least from a City of Unley community point of view.

The Minister indicated to us that all the zones in the Current Unley Development plan have been transferred to the draft. He also advises there will be no reduction in demolition controls.

On my first couple of reads of the draft, not so.

A look at the very basic of zones sees a reduction in area applicable for each house. If our zones were to have been transferred without change, the RB 350 zone (in which I live) would not now read 300 m2 as being the size of allotment per house as a minimum.

Unley has a zone called Streetscape Built Form. It is a zone afforded demolition controls, but not as stringent as those applying to Historic Conservation Zones.

Under the Code, these zones are shown to be part of what is now to be called a Character Area Overlay. This overlay has no demolition controls.

This needs to be addressed. Either demolition controls need to be introduced into the Character Area overlay, or those current zones in Unley would have to be redefined as a Historic Conservation.

Our new Corridor Zones have a 30 degree interface with neighbouring residential zones. The Code is specifying this only for south bound residential zones. A 45 degree interface therefore is relevant to all other geographical sides.

Are these errors and omissions that will be corrected once they are pointed out? Or are they deliberate changes, as suggested by those in our community who are cynical about Government promises.

Whatever, they could have a profound impact on our community if left unaltered.

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.

Have you experienced Walking Footy? I have! And I loved it.

You might well ask what Walking Footy is. It is an opportunity for those who would love to participate in the game we love, even though we may have reached or passed the age of 50.

 

Launched this week, the program was organised in partnership between the City of Unley, the SANFL and ECH. Council played host this week at Unley Oval to the official launch of Walking Footy.

We hosted this as part of our Zest Fest 2019. Zest Fest is a project by the Council of the Ageing aimed at celebrating longevity, challenging stereotypes and unlocking the possibilities that modern ageing brings.

Because of Unley’s involvement, I received a Walking Footy invitation to participate. I am glad I did. Experiencing it first hand I can say without fear or favour that this is a great concept.

Don Palmer. BOG at launch of Walking Footy

At my ripe old age, I found my competitive juices are still running high. Loved it. Loved the competition, the interaction, the involvement in team success. Yes, my team won. I would like to think I won the medal for best on ground.

And yes that is my balding head in the picture.

Although I have a few aches and pains, I can’t wait to experience it all over again. Given my history however, I might offer to pull my Acme Thunderer out of the top drawer. Yep. I still have it.

 

Walking Footy is a great Concept. A chance for us seniors (both genders) to be active, to regain or improve fitness, and to mix with others with a similar passion.

 

Two teams of mixed gender numbering six participate. Two backs, two mid-fields and two forwards. It is played on a very much shorter field, thankfully. The two major rules are:

  • No Running
  • No tackling

They are hard to abide by too. Trust me. I got called up for running.

If you want to know more about it check out the SANFL website. They are organising an inaugural season to commence probably in March 2020.

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.

 

 

Option 5 No Change A Winner Highlighting Unanimous Approval for LATM 3.

Option 5 No Change a Winner as Council unanimously supported the the final recommendations on the recent Clarence Park LATM 3.

 

LATM map for Clarence ParkA resolution by Council that is owned by everyone. That is the result of the recent Clarence Park Local Area Traffic Management Survey LATM 3. The big news last night was: Option 5 no change a Winner.

LATM 3, as noted in my blog post titled Draft Clarence Park LATM awaits your final input, addressed concerns around traffic in Clarence Park. Council last night unanimously supported the final recommendations provided by our staff.

During the debate Cr Jane Russo complemented Jennie & I on the work we personally did with you and our staff. This was unexpected, but appreciated.

The fact of the matter is we all need congratulating. You, the staff and Jennie & I. We all contributed positively to what I believe is a great solution.

A number of you identified the problems. Our staff back up your concerns with data they collected. We went back out to you to confirm we were on the right track.

Those of you who had concerns appreciated the options we put in front of you. Those who did not participate last year wondered why we were putting solutions in front of them for problems that did not believe existed. By engaging with each other, this was soon understood.

19 recommendations over the whole local area were made, one which was additional to the original list.  As a result of your input, some changes were made. Some remained the same.

The biggest change by far was the change to option 4. We split recommendation 4 into two parts. A stand-alone Mills Street recommendation and a south of Mills Street option.

The latter of the two saw an additional option become apparent. On that night and suggested by me in response to what I was hearing saw an additional option emerge. Enter Option 5 no change a Winner. Given this was the overwhelming response, it was adopted.

Mills Street, on the other hand, will see the biggest changes. The number of approved infrastructure recommendations should make life much better for the residents of that street.

Many of the recommendations will be completed in the current budget. Some, like the two pedestrian refuges and the Mills Street infrastructure changes will require a budget bid for next year (2020-2021).

For more detailed information check out page 8 through page 108 of the agenda which can be found here.

 

Is the New Planning & Design Code Undemocratic legislation

Communities from across the state attended a forum last night believing the New Planning & Design Code is Undemocratic Legislation.

Held at the splendid heritage listed Norwood Concert Hall, the forum was conducted by Protect Our Heritage. Protect Our Heritage is an alliance of local community organisations whose primary aim is protecting our heritage. Their website is https://protectourheritage.nationbuilder.com/

Renewing Our Heritage PlanningThe forum was designed to inform and encourage communities to respond to the State Government’s new Planning & Design Code. Speakers on the night all spoke with concern that  hard won protections for our treasured heritage places are under threat.

The common belief expressed was that the Government’s State Planning Commission is not looking to maintain those heard fought protections. This flies in the face of assurances I have received from the Chair of the State Planning Commission. Assurances expressed in blogs I wrote in May and earlier this month.

How the Commission will treat (what have been called until now) contributory items was the biggest concern. Public utterances from the Government, the Minister and the Commission have left members of the alliance believing protections are going to be removed in the new Planning & Design Code.

They are concerned that the Commission will determine, not the parliament, what will or will not be included. In other words, they believe that there is not going to be any public input into the final decisions. In other words, undemocratic legislation.

At the heart of the concerns and energy in the room last night then is a lack of community consultation.  

Rather than consult us, the Commission has been saying trust us. Given a lack of consultation to date, attendees do not trust the Commission and the Government.

I believe the problem here is when should a government (whether Federal, State or Local) commence consulting on any issue. Should they consult when a project is at the formative (blank sheet) stage. Or should it be when there has been sufficient information for informed public observation to be possible.

Here at Unley we have tried both ways. Either way we have been criticised. When consulting on a blank piece of paper for not providing substance to respond to. When consulting on a prepared position for hiding facts until the end.

As reported in my blog earlier this month the Commission will be putting their proposals out to consultation from October. At this time there should be sufficient information for informed debate by the community.

The consultation period for metropolitan council areas will extend until early next year. This should provide ample opportunity for such informed debate.

Finally, as I have said in both mentioned blog posts, we must respond when the opportunity presents itself shortly. We must look at the detail (the devil is in the detail). We then must put our submissions into the Commission. That is all us. Collectively and individually.

As I have often said in my blogs, only then can you be assured your voice is heard. Let us all ensure by participating that we are not the reason for any undemocratic legislation.

I know I will be. Will you?

Food for thought. Green Waste v Landfill. It’s up to us. You & Me.

Here is some food for thought for you. Are you helping to keep the amount of waste going to landfill or not. Are you aware of “if it grows, it goes”.

Can I encourage you to undertake to understand the need to put your food scraps into the green bin, not the blue bin. If you already do, thank you.

If you don’t then I encourage you to take up one or both of the opportunities I speak of in this blog.

Taking waste to landfill is already the dearest form of waste disposal. It will soon, as I revealed in a recent blog post, be way more expensive courtesy of the State Government increasing the levy.

If you can follow my lead and the lead of all our councillors, you will start putting your food waste into the green bin. Speaking for myself I put out my blue bin maybe once every three or four weeks. If I could put my green bin our weekly (as I have previously blogged about) I would.

The first opportunity is to commit to the Less To Landfill October Challenge. This is a challenge put on by a group called the Adelaide Waste Collective.

Why not give it a go, challenge yourself. See if you can keep you blue bin off the street for the month of October. I wont have a problem doing so. Will you?

The Second opportunity is to sign up to Council’s own initiative. Join Council’s Take the Pledge Program.

Take the Pledge Green Bin

Take the Pledge Green Bin

If you join Council’s take the pledge program you’ll be in the running to win a $25 Mitre 10 Barrow & Bench – Malvern Store gift card. Join Unley’s war on waste by increasing the amount of items you recycle, and by diverting more food scraps and compostable paper to your organics bin.

You can take the pledge by completing the online form. Pledge takers will receive stickers to place on their green or yellow-lidded bin to demonstrate their commitment to reducing landfill.

Thank you and keep up the good work!

Community Engagement Reform a Necessary Local Government Reform

Community Engagement Reform, the 4th area of the Governments Local Government Reform proposals, is necessary.

 

Many in the community consider community engagement is something that Councils are poor at. The Government’s local government reform package must therefore include a look into community engagement.

Much of the problem with community engagement is that council’s hands are tied. Tied in regulation that is not applicable to the world today. Regulation that is a one size fits all approach.

Replacing therefore the current prescriptive community engagement requirements in the Local Government Act with a more flexible ‘Community Engagement Charter’ is a no-brainer.  The consultation requirements under which we currently have to act are way too complex and prescriptive. The whole industry therefore looks forward I believe to a complete overhaul.

An overhaul in keeping with my previous utterances about our own ability to communicate with our community. An overhaul that allows individual councils the flexibility to engage with “their” community. Furthermore, an overhaul that recognises there should NOT be a one size fits all approach.

The issue of public notices also requires attention. The Act requires publication in a local newspaper. This is hardly a recipe for good communication today.

The Government has recognised that the current “informal gathering” legislation is causing distress and limiting elected members. It is true, under the existing legislation, that elected members worry that having legitimate conversations on the business of the council, will land them in trouble. We therefore need to find a way to promote transparency in councils without criminalising legitimate conversations.

The proposals however appear to be placing (yet again) an administrative burden on councils that will add cost to local government, not reduce cost. There will need to be some deep and meaningful discussion about how to balance the two, without creating another cost impediment to Councils. An impediment that will ultimately be transferred to you.

Local Government Reform Area 3 – a positive change in the main

The State Government’s Local Government Reform Area 3, one of 4 reform areas, focuses on efficient and transparent representation.

 

This Reform Area attempts to provide a range of proposals aimed at improving the local government elections in South Australia.

 

During the earlier call for reform ideas, the most popular idea received was to introduce electronic—online—voting for councils.

 

Disturbingly there is no proposal to consider this. The government is telling us that technical difficulties are too great at this time. I would however appreciate at least new legislation recognising the potential future role for electronic voting.

 

As with my blog posts on the other reform areas I agree with many (if not most) of the recommendations.

 

I agree with their proposal NOT to move to compulsory voting. Their reasoning is that enforcing compulsory voting in a postal voting system is difficult and resource intensive. My reasoning is compulsory voting, I believe, will see the potential intrusion of the political parties into local government. This is indeed the case where compulsory voting exists in the eastern states.

I also agree with the proposal to avoid local government elections being in the same calendar year as state government elections. Being in the same year can invite voter fatigue. Of note is the next election year will be 2022. As the federal government is due for election also in that year (as part of their 3 year cycle) By the time our elections come round, there will surely be voter fatigue.

I support the re-introduce the automatic enrolment of property franchise holders. Currently they have to painstakingly re-apply before each election.

Being independent, I absolutely agree with candidates having to confirm, at the time of announcing their candidacy, any affiliation with political parties. You deserve to know about any such political affiliation before you vote, not after. The same for donations received and whether or not a candidate lives in the Ward.

Candidates should, in today’s world, be provided with a choice of receiving a paper copy (as now) of the electoral role for their ward, or a digital copy of the roll. We are the only level of government where an electronic copy is denied.

The rest of the initiatives are pretty much administrative in nature. They will simply improve things without you necessarily seeing the benefit.

All in all, the recommendations in the State Government Local Government Reform Area 3, will bring about a better more transparent local government.