Monday, July 31, 2006

High-density units not the choice of empty nesters

One of the many invalid justifications promulgated by the NSW Department of Planning for forcing high-density onto communities is that empty nesters wish to move into these constructions. We all know this is mostly not the case. Empty nesters tend to prefer to remain in their own home or move to a smaller stand-alone house. A report issued by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and the Environment confirms this common sense.

Here's an overview of the report's main thrust, as included in the Department's 'Research Matters' newsletter:

"The reality is that they (Empty Nesters) now have a house with no kids. The question is - are they ready to move on? To down-size? The answer, at this stage, is no. There are many empty nesters who have decided to remain in the family home. The reasons essentially revolve around emotional attachment, security and finances.

Some are happy to sell up, but invariably want to stay in the same area unless there are compelling reasons to move to another area. Most can visualise their ideal new home and there is a strong consensus on the key features of their new home. It will be as maintenance free as possible, will be modern, on one level, with a small rear garden, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a main open-plan living area plus a second smaller living area and good security. For most, an apartment is not in the consideration set, nor is a retirement village. A 'sea-change' is not on the list for many..."

For more details see

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Names for East Darling Harbour

The Sydney Morning Herald (13 July) reports that the State Government has initiated a contest to rename Darling Harbour East where the current working harbour container wharf is being "redeveloped" into what will mainly comprise high-rise development.

Under the heading Heights is right - of spin and greed letters in today's paper (15-16 July) suggest names such as "Darling Harbour Heights", "Spin City", "Franks Fort" and "Morris Manor".

Click "comments" below to make your further suggestions.

SOS Planning Policies

NSW People deserve better

Letter published in North Shore Times, Friday, July 14, 2006, Page 31

Contrary to Peter Sinclair’s assertions (NST 30 June) Save Our Suburbs offers practical solutions to New South Wales’ planning debacle.
We advocate a viable decentralisation policy drawing on international experience, particularly that of the European Union.
Whole of state development would include imaginatively designed satellite cities and the repopulation of declining regions. SOS offers state-of-the-art transport networks and solid environmental protection policies.
The Commonwealth Government - being responsible for immigration - would also be involved, helping to fund the necessary networks and regional concessions.
Other parts of the world do not rely on just one large city for growth.
China’s decentralisation policy, with sophisticated infrastructure, is reported to be going to plan and is helping to spread the nation’s growing prosperity.
Why then do New South Wales politicians have to cram us in like chooks in battery cages?
The people of NSW deserve better.
In a democracy politicians suckling the teat of donations from high-density developers can be kicked out.
There is a big picture view here.
One that Mr Sinclair has so far failed to appreciate due to an overly narrow, short-sighted and obsessive focus.
We can only hope that people like Mr Sinclair succeed in seeing the big picture in time before our much envied and hard-won Australian way of life is irretrievably extinguished.
Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs

Thursday, July 06, 2006

In Victoria too

Hi SOS Members

We have frequently brought to your attention that the planning strategies for our suburbs submitted by local Councils to the Department of Planning are not really assessed by that department. The Department gives these strategies to a "Residential Strategy Advisory Committee" to assess. This committee is comprised of developers and bureaucrats who cooperate with the Department. There is no representation from the broader community in these closed-door processes. These developers frequently then build high-rise in that suburb. Such arrangements must present a conflict of interest. Developers who will build the high-rise in our suburbs decide how much high-rise there will be and the applicable planning rules! Never mind the public.

It seems the conflict of interest problem does not only occur in New South Wales. In its major front page article yesterday's Herald Sun reports as below. (For your information "VCAT" is the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal which is the body that hears planning appeals and is the Victorian equivalent of the NSW Land and Environment Court).


VICTORIA'S top planning judge has a major financial stake in a multi-million-dollar suburban housing deal, sparking questions of conflict of interest.

The Herald Sun can reveal Justice Stuart Morris, president of VCAT, is moonlighting as a property speculator in blue-chip real estate in East Ivanhoe. Justice Morris, QC, and his wife Jennifer own eight lots that are being sold to Queensland property developers to build a 92-apartment retirement village. The blocks make up a hectare of land near Ivanhoe Park and, based on recent house sales in the area, could be worth at least $8 million....................

Developers Rathmines Investments are expected to lodge their formal application with Banyule City Council next week. ........................

The Herald Sun believes Rathmines wants to develop an aged-care centre, with gymnasium, medical centre and day rooms, and 92 apartments. Justice and Mrs Morris and their companies Statstar Pty Ltd and Sacavic Pty Ltd own the eight prime titles in an area bordered by The Boulevard, Wamba Rd, Cedric St and Wilfred Rd.

The Herald Sun editorial also features this subject and reports that: "Justice Stuart Morris was appointed president of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2003 as part of a new broom designed to make processes more efficient, fairer and democratic. His term as VCAT head coincided with the State Government's 2030 strategy."

For many year the New South Wales Department of Planning have been telling us their urban densification policies will improve Sydney's transport problems as everyone will use public transport. Never mind that after a decade of "urban consolidation" public transport percentage share is down by 12%.
The Daily Telegraph of June 29, 2006 reports:


Faster than a locomotive

"The luck came and it was a dream run but I was surprised that it was possible to keep up with a train in Sydney. I'm not sure you could do that in Melbourne.

"I was glad when the train seemed to wait a bit longer at Petersham, which gave me the chance to consolidate a lead as I powered uphill and then down into Stanmore."

Excruciating waits at stations not only paved the way to victory for the runner, from Ballarat in Victoria. They are also emerging as the biggest headache for train drivers. They say leaving ahead of schedule is a bigger problem than lateness because they have too much time on their hands from one stop to the next.

A Campbelltown to Circular Quay service takes an extra 8 minutes than a year ago. Train journeys take longer today than they did when the first electric-powered red rattlers hit the tracks in the 1930s. Off-peak passengers have been hardest hit under the new schedule, which ripped 270 services from them and increased trip times in line with peak services for reasons best known to RailCorp.

The State Government has never acknowledged that the slower schedule was designed to improve on-time running statistics.Transport Minister John Watkins has consistently blamed recommendations out of the Waterfall inquiry. The judge who presided over Waterfall recently torpedoed those claims, saying none of his 127 safety recommendations mentioned slowing down ordinary suburban services.

The reduction in services has also created a glut of drivers who are being paid to do nothing. About 150 CityRail drivers on full pay are stuck with nothing to do but watch DVDs and hope for a shift.

Money in the pockets of high-rise developers. People packed into units like sardines. Train services worse than in the 1930s. 150 drivers sitting with nothing to do. How does the Government get away with it?

Tony Recsei
President, Save Our Suburbs