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Planning is a sham (The North Shore Times, 29 March 2002)

IT is clear the Director General of the Department of Planning Sue Holliday and the the Department of Planning Minister Dr Refshauge do not listen to the community. The policies and views they expresses remind one of the planning of unlamented dictatorial regimes of last century in Eastern Europe. They represent nothing more than a set of ideological social engineering of narrow "know-best" idealogues.

Ms Holliday and Dr Refshauge, most of us do not want to live in a crammed Eastern European city with inherent environmental degradation, social problems and a grey sameness from one community to the next.

Urban consolidation is a failure. It has creating more traffic problems, poorer air quality, breakdown of social networks and less housing choice. Urban consolidation is destroying heritage and remnant pockets of urban bushland. It is not stopping urban sprawl. These dictatorial policies are threatening to destroy our suburban lifestyle. We can only hope they see the light before lifestyles turn into a nightmare.

K Cowley, Lindfield

Sydney's development betrayal (Blacktown Advocate, Edition 1 -Wed 3 April 2002)

PREMIER Bob Carr has enjoyed a remarkable run of diversions - Tampa, kids overboard, the G-G and Heffernan - drawing attention to the Federal Government and away from him.

The Prime Minister has been accused of lying, but what do you call someone who says one thing and does exactly the opposite?

Mr Carr says Sydney is bursting at the seams and deplores the prospect of wall-to-wall apartments from the coast to the mountains, but his Government is hell-bent on turning Sydney into an overcrowded, polluted high-density slum, to profit no-one but developers.

People on low and modest incomes, trying to maintain a lifestyle of quality, are forced into outlying areas.

Mr Carr's head planner upholds New York as the model to follow, and scorns regional development.

As a result, expensive teeming anthills have already destroyed much of Sydney, and country towns continue to die, forcing more people into the big city. His deputy calls this planning and housing choice.

Mr Carr has betrayed his own supporters. So, what can the ordinary person do?

Don't buy from developers or you will be ripped off. Vote Mr Carr's hypocritical government out in 2003.

Hugh Knox, Gordon

Built for profit (St. George and Sutherland Shire Leader, 9 April 2002)

PETER Woods complians that over-55s "sit on waiting lists for years trying to get into retirement homes" (letters, March 26).

The solution, he claims, is to build more aged housing. However, a quick look at the Leader's 80-page Domain real estate section shows no shortage of over-55s' and villa accommodation.

What is in short supply are three-tier residential complexes that cater for for the needs of infirm aged people, firstly in self-care units, then in assisted care hostels and finally, if required, in a nursing home.

SEPP5 developments are simply medium density developments built for profit. There is no waiting list.

Elsa Hocking, Oyster Bay

Democracy bites dust (The North Shore Times, 12 April 2002)

IT has now been publicly revealed that Planning Minister Andrew Refshauge, has been "deluged" with up to 90 rezoning applications from developers wishing to develop private land in Ku-ring-gai. He has already indicated he is going to rezone six of these privately owned parcels of land in Ku-ring-gai - but where will this all end?

Will developers see this as a green light to bypass democratically elected local councils who won't allow them to contravene their planning regulations? By Dr Refshauge accepting these rezoning applications via the back door is this an acceptable transparent, open and public process?

1 believe the process has the potential to become abused, manipulated and corrupted and should be stopped.

K Cowley, Lindfield

Keep up the fight, not write (The North Shore Times, 12 April 2002)

DOES Elaine Malicki belong to the same club Wally "The Whinging Whiner" Bass? Maybe she should be included in the Kid's books of Where's Wally? by Martin Handford. That's how insignificant they both are in Ku-ring-gai - lost in the, crowd.

If Elaine put as much effort - as do all the "small groups" - into quelling the onslaught of over-development, tree decimation, excessive overdevelopment and pollution and stress to all concerned residents that she and Wally put into letter writing and supplying your paper with much woolly stuff, Ku-ring-gai would be a happier place in which to live.

Thank you North Shore Times for including their woolly stuff. it shows them to be what they are, the original provincial "Aussie knockers".

A message to the small groups. Continue to expand and keep up the rage. You are the ones who will make a change for the better for our cultural heritage and future generations.

Dinah Warner, Killara

Thanks for caring (The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April 2002)

I was pleased to read Dr Refshauge's letter (Herald, April 15) stating that community concerns and the local environmental matters are taken into account when development applications are approved by local councils.

I'm now assured that a petition our community sent to the minister last week concerning inappropriate development will receive prompt attention. The mayor's casting vote allowed the development, against the recommendations of the town planner and the wishes of many residents.

If no action is taken, I'm resigned to the fact that it is another example of ministerial rhetoric telling the people what they want to hear!

Martin J. Cochrane, Croydon, April 15.

The fundamental flaw in Ruddock's immigration plan (The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 2002)

In an act of national environmental vandalism, Philip Ruddock is locking Australia into a four-year period of historically high immigration levels a resounding slap in the face for the Premier, Bob Carr, and Sydney residents who are fighting urban consolidation.

According to Mr Ruddock, "with a net migration gain of 100,000 a year, Australia's population could reach 27 million by 2050". But last year's net migration gain was 107,900 and his new intake will deliver 137,000.

Only last year, Mr Ruddock told the 'Sydney's Population Future' forum that Australia's population would reach 24 million and be stable by 2050, with Sydney's population 6 million.

And only four months earlier, Mr Ruddock told a Canberra seminar "the Australian Bureau of Statistics projects that 75 per cent of all population growth will occur in the major cities. This has prompted some to argue that the upper bounds of population growth in Australia will be linked to the capacity of these cities to absorb more people and our ability to manage and re-shape them".

Sydney is not managing. Do the sums. Imagine Sydney with 7 million residents.

Weep for Sydney!

Gordon Hocking, Oyster Bay, May 8.

NSW planning is on a road to ruin (The Australian Financial Review, 23 May 2002)

If Sue Holliday, "urban planning czar" from the NSW Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, believes putting more people into the same space is a "solution" for Sydney's future then I am very worried indeed ("So many people, so little space", AFR, May 10).

The contention that making the city "more compact, with more apartments extending through the suburbs and along train and bus routes" must be seriously questioned when existing transport infrastructure fails to cope with the present population. Relying on popular trends for inner-city living is also fraught with danger as overcrowding and pollution may force change in other directions.

The former head of the State Rail Authority, Ron Christie, in a report last year found that the urban rail system was already in distress and almost collapsing at the seams.

Additional lines are urgently required to Sydney's north-west and along its seaboard. Updated signalling, more efficient train paths and some additional loops for turning trains are also urgently needed. The cost was in the billions of dollars.

NSW Transport Minister Carl Scully responded by more or less making out the problem was for some other Transport Minister down the line. He has already canned the proposed Parramatta to Epping rail line and has shown an unwillingness to confront the very severe problems facing our entire suburban network.

As to traffic congestion, whilst Scully has a predilection for bitumen and car exhausts, even his best efforts here will not be able to provide an efficient transport system for the additional population Sydney can expect over the next 20 years. Cramming more people into Sydney will only exacerbate road bottlenecks and increase pollution.

The only real option is to ensure that urban centres outside of Sydney and its Central Coast - Wollongong conurbation can provide the conditions for investment and jobs necessary to take the pressure off Sydney. The idea of different tax zones for regional areas may therefore have some merit. Alternatively, if Sydney is to retain its dominance, it will need a very fast train network linking regional centres to the city. Hopefully "green" banks would survive between such centres and Sydney.

Whatever the case, Sydney will not cope with the forecast additional population within its current geographical context. Cramming more people into the existing space is a recipe for disaster. One can only hope that if this overcrowding continues, there will be many looking for more than a seachange to escape the rat race.

Brad Hinton, Mt Colah, NSW

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