HPG Comment on letter from Geoff Bailey to Clr Peter Abelson

HPG Comment on letter from Geoff Bailey to Clr Peter Abelson

To: Mosman Councillors

Ms. Veronica Lee, General Manager Mosman Council

March 4, 2014

Re: Comment on Letter from Geoff Bailey to Clr Peter Abelson, Mayor March 3, 2014

Dear Councillors,

Late last night Mayor Abelson forwarded to us a letter from Geoff Bailey at the Harbour Trust. The letter had 2 parts. First a request to defer tonight’s motion until some new foreshadowed amended application is received. Secondly, a defence of the present application from the Trust’s point of view.

Request to defer the Motion (Paragraphs 1-4)

The present application has not been withdrawn. There has been no amended application received, and the proponent has, according to Mr. Bailey, only told the Trust that it is its intention to submit an amended application.

Although he has apparently not received any new application, Mr. Bailey has revealed that the applicant apparently has the intention of submitting a proposal for one side of the roadway. Further, that this new amended application would “enable” the Trust to remove the 3 Barracks buildings.

This is only what Mr. Bailey says the proponent says it intends to do.

There is no certainty that any new proposal will be submitted.

The present proposal was released 4 months ago, is quite detailed, and has caused considerable debate in the community. We think it is entirely appropriate for the Council to express its view on the present application tonight and that it should not be deferred.

Comments on Present Application (Paragraphs 5 – end)

The second half of Mr. Bailey’s letter comments on the present application, the process so far, and also the need for aged care in the community.

We believe it is highly unusual for the Trust, being a consent authority, to write to Council in support of an application that is still being assessed by the Trust.

The present proposal relates to the 10 Terminal site and Barracks buildings, which are in what is called the Middle Head Precinct (see map attached). Middle Head Precinct is only one part of Headland Park, which covers not only Middle Head Precinct but also Georges Heights and Chowder Bay.

Paragraph 5 references the range of uses in the Headland Park – but that is not really relevant as Headland Park covers a much wider area.

The Middle Head Precinct has its own separate Management Plan. All the other precincts have their own Management Plan.

According to the Comprehensive Plan for Middle Head (2003):

“The Middle Head precinct is the culmination of the Headland Park: a gateway to Middle Harbour from the land and water.

The precinct forms an important historic area within the proposed Headland Park.

The key proposals contained in the Comprehensive Plan are:

  1. to retain and adaptively reuse the building clusters in a park with public paths through each cluster
  2. to remove, adapt or re-build the northern barrack buildings and
  3. to create a continuous band of parkland that straddles the ridge and envelopes the buildings

The more detailed Middle Head Management Plan (2007) states in relation the 10 Terminal buildings:

“Potential for uses that suit the buildings’ character and location in the Headland Park including visitor facilities, places for refreshment, education and cultural studies and accommodation for visiting school groups.”

Paragraph 6 of Mr. Bailey’s letter references the need for aged care in the community. However, that is not the issue. The issue at stake is whether aged-care is a suitable use on Middle Head, which is public parkland.

His letter states “The proposal is for a residential clinical care facility with associated community day care set within public parkland open to all. It is neither a retirement village nor a gated community.”

It is our understanding that this is a private aged care residential facility where elderly people will live out their lives. We believe that is not an appropriate use of the site. As stated by the National Trust:

“Suggestions that the operation of the aged-care facility is somehow a ‘public’ activity and that aged-care facilities are ‘public assets’ are rejected.”

We do not accept that the Trust has sufficiently consulted with the community for such a large scale development ($33m) and which was first proposed to the Trust in January 2012 (according to the proponent). The Trust has had only 1 Information Session in which the public were allowed to ask questions. The HPG publicised this Information Session more than the Trust did. The HPG has had 3 public meetings but no Trust staff attended to answer questions.

Finally, it appears that the entire development is contained within a significantly dangerous bushfire Category 1 area, in which the buffer zone normally required is 100 metres, which would exclude the whole of the proposed development. The Trust admits that a Bushfire Protection Assessment for the proposed development has not been prepared.

Yours truly,
Linda Bergin OAM
President Headland Preservation group

Attachment map of outcomes Middle Head Management Plan 2007

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