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Unfair criticism of Councils (Daily Telegraph, June 2004)

Article in News Release: "Justice"


Stop this planning disaster (Daily Telegraph, May 22nd 2004)

Warnervale Neighbourhood Forum members have to realise that the people pushing for more medium and high density in the area (Extra, May 12) are the unelected bureaucrats of the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR).

These urban consolidation policies of DIPNR have been supported by both the Liberal and Labour parties for the past 20 years.

The bureaucrats in DIPNR believe in no other philosophy – they don’t seem to learn about decentralisation in planning school.

Because the rest of the world lives in medium and high density apartments, so do we.

We’ve had the best living conditions in the world, and now we’re going down the road of London, Hong Kong and New York. Planning Minister Craig Knowles is firmly commiteed to this planning philosophy.

All community groups have to unite and fight these un-Australian planning ideas.

To find out more about our group, Save Our Surburbs, check out our website at

Anthony Meaney
Save Our Suburbs
Summerland Point


Unit Glut (Daily Telegraph, May 17th 2004)

We now know that first home buyers are not purchasing the over-supply of apartments in Sydney but are buying free-standing houses. This demonstrates the speciousness of Minister Diane Beamer maintaining that her policy of forcing more units onto unwilling communities is to provide "housing choice".

The market is plainly showing that the units being compelled into neighbourhoods is frustrating people’s choice. How can she justify high density?

Tony Recsei


Minefield in a secret garden (Daily Telegraph editorial, April 27th 2004)

THE public response to our exposure of Sydney's "secret garden" - the 1500ha ADI site at St Marys - should be heeded by politicians and planning authorities.

Sydneysiders -- western Sydney residents in particular -- are beginning to suspect they've been the victims of a raw deal.

Sold by the Federal Government to property developer Lend Lease for the knock-down price of $160 million, the site was designated for suburban development, with plans for 5000 dwellings, infrastructure and "parkland".

But over the past two weeks, articles and photographs published in The Daily Telegraph have revealed the area as a place of invaluable biodiversity and unique natural beauty.

Home to a number of endangered plant and animal species, this relatively undisturbed tract of Cumberland Plain woodland is a virtual natural science museum in the heart of our city and its proper preservation and future management must be made a matter of urgent priority.

Equally apparent is the determination shown by active citizens keen to ensure the conservation values of the site are not destroyed.

Bernie Laughlan, 77, of St Marys, is one of these. Over the weekend, Mr Laughlan collected more than 1600 signatures calling on both state and the federal governments to conduct -- as promised -- a thorough environmental assessment of the site and to explain how exceptional values would be preserved.

Mr Laughlan, who has lived near the site since his childhood, has a simple philosophy -- he just thinks the people of western Sydney should have a say in how the site is used.

So far, they seem to have been left out of the equation altogether.


Playing favourites (Sydney Morning Herald, April 15th 2004)

Liberal and Labor join forces to keep Greens out of the mayoralty in inner-city councils (Herald, April 13). Does this not suggest that neither Liberal nor Labor represents a real choice?

The developers have made their donations and are calling in their favours. The inner city gets developments that satisfy nothing but the developer's greed.

David Mathers,
Lidcombe, April 13


Immigration (Sydney Morning Herald, April 15th 2004)

Tougher water restrictions and higher prices are just two of the costs of higher immigration levels. The success of the Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, in selling the massively boosted 133,000 immigration program which will compound Sydney's problems, was masterful ("Door opens to 6000 more immigrants", Herald, April 2).

It’s time for Sydney's water-stressed residents to back the Premier's demand for a total review of immigration policy.

Gordon Hocking,
Oyster Bay, April 14


The walls have years (Daily Telegraph - Real Estate section, March 20th 2004)

How homes will change as people live longer
As aged Australians begin to outnumber first-home buyers, experts look to a 'universal' design. JULIE HUFFER reports

High-rise retirement villages, a surge in medium density development and "universal" homes lasting a lifetime. This is where Sydney's residential property market is heading as the population ages and the proportion of first-home buyers declines.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates within seven years 24 per cent of Sydney's population will be ages 55-plus and by 2021, one third of the state will be occupied by this demographic. The 85-plus age group is currently growing faster than any other sector.
And while some seniors are heading north, the majority - who are expected to live and work much longer than their predecessors - remain in detached housing built 30 years ago or more.

This poses a challenge for planners: if older people don't move from large freestanding homes in areas designed for cars, homes will need to be built on the fringe to house child-rearing families.

If urban sprawl is to be prevented, there needs to be a wider choice of housing that enables seniors to remain in their communities, as evidence suggests they prefer to do.

To date SEPP5, the state's housing policy for older people and those with a disability, has had only limited success and this month it is being replaced with a new Seniors Living Policy.

The new policy proposes the development of "in-fill" housing in existing neighbourhoods; large-scale retirement villages in urban edge locations such as Blacktown, Camden, Warringah, Hornsby, Liverpool and Sutherland; and vertical housekeeping in Sydney's urban areas.

Save our Suburbs president Dr Tony Recsei has welcomed the move, saying while he still has concerns about medium density infiltrating residential areas, "fake" SEPP5 housing, built by "scallywag" developers, should disappear and be replaced with genuine aged housing.

The policy paves the way for controls that could require new housing to be made accessible for people of all ages and abilities (following the UK standards adopted in 1999). This would include wide doorways for wheelchairs, rails in bathrooms and kitchen benches able to be raised or lowered.

A senior policy officer with the NSW Council on the Ageing, Brenda Bailey, says "universal" design is the way forward and if such modifications became standard, they wouldn't be expensive.

AV Jennings is developing a concept of adaptable housing for life. National marketing manger Tim Redway says the future lies in homes with flexible floor plans and moveable walls. "A four-bedroom home could become a single bedroom with guest room and various activity rooms for hobbies such as model trains or computers, which older people are really getting into."

But the National Housing Industry Association director of planning and environment, Wayne Gersbach, says suggestions that 100 per cent of new housing should be able to be modified over time is overdoing it. "The industry would obviously want to be part of that debate," he says. Gersbach says the government has overlooked the possibility of inter-generational housing.

As land becomes scarce, big houses could accommodate older parents and their children and their kids, he says. This already happens in some families, where both parents are working and need child care support. "It happens fairly loosely outside the law, with granny flats and teenage retreats and I think you have to look at ways to free up that legislation," Gersbach says. "it's about the regulation of what you can do on your own block of land and councils deny you that opportunity."

Meanwhile, agents say older homeowners are showing interest in medium to high-density living. "Older people want low maintenance on one level, they like apartments, but they still want generous living space to accommodate a house full of furniture that they may not yet want to part with," Di Jones agent Debbie Donnelly says.

Studies conducted by BIS Shrapnel forecast empty nesters and retirees will show increased interest in higher density dwellings in the next five years, with a surge in demand from 2008. The 65-plus age group is already growing at a rate of 2 per cent per annum, compared to less that .05 per cent in the first-home buyer category, BIS project manager Jason Anderson says. "As you go forward, the 65-plus group will accelerate to 2.5 per cent growth and will exert influence on the market. The tendency will be for flats, apartments and townhouses."

More attractive and creative designs for this type of housing and improvements to the Strata Management Act will fuel the move, the Real Estate Institute of NSW says.

HOME FOR LIFE'S FOUR SEASONS - A level-headed decision
At 60, Anna De Angelis says she's past maintaining a large house with stairs. And while her husband, 69, has always been fond of gardening, the block they owned at Liverpool for 39 years finally became a chore. So they sold the family home and bought a two-bedroom villa through Re-Max Paradise Realty. "I have a sore back and cleaning two baths and showers was too much," Anna says. "I didn't like to go up and down the stairs. We found this beautiful little villa home at Casula. It's nice and quiet and you can walk to the shops, which is important because I don't drive." Anna says they have surplus money from the sale in the bank ("enough to bury us") and are making additions to their new place.


Keep councils out of developers' clutches (Daily Telegraph, March 22nd 2004)

Late on the afternoon of Friday, March 19, a glitch that rail staff said was a signal failure at North Sydney again threw Sydney trains into chaos. Passengers were delayed and confused.

Once again, defying overwhelming community consensus, the State Government's determination to turn Sydney into a slum in the shortest possible time goes together with its absence of infrastructure planning. Government policy of allowing country centres to die makes things worse by encouraging the unnecessary drift to the big city.

The disaster stems from developer greed. Both Labor and Liberal parties accept huge donations from developers. In effect, the State Government issues licences to developers to print their own money.

The Opposition is silent, except to malign those members of local councils who strive to maintain some quality of life for their constituents by opposing ad hoc over-development.

Enough is enough. The local council elections next Saturday might well be an opportunity to send a message to both Government and Opposition that to accept donations from developers is to accept bribes, and that it makes a mockery of democracy.

So think twice before voting for any candidate sponsored by Labor or the Liberals, or who claims to be independent but is supported by a Labor or Liberal politician, or who has strong connections with the Labor or Liberal parties.

Keep the Labor and Liberal parties out of local councils. Keep local councils local.

Hugh Knox, Gordon


Tap into restrictions (Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 19th 2004)

Faced with relentless growth of Sydney's population, the Carr Government struggles to find an electorally palatable mix of urban consolidation (which carries environmental cost and loss of neighbourhood character) and urban sprawl (with environmental costs). Dr Tony Recsei (Letters, January 15) opposes urban consolidation and Ian Napier (Letters, January 17 {should read "19"} opposes further urban sprawl.

But the main issue is population growth underlying this dilemma. Must we wait until Sydney is unliveable, traffic chocked, polluted and continuously water stressed before the population tap is turned off?

Gordon Hocking,
Oyster Bay, January 19.


Trees (Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 15th 2004)

Sydney is losing many more trees than those obstructing water views ("trees losing in race for water views", Herald 14 Jan). Urban consolidation flattens attractive homes with their charming gardens, smothering the soil with concrete, bitumen and tiles.

Trees bestow tranquillity, peacefulness and beauty; they provide a sanctuary for wildlife; they control rain rainoff, they cool and purify the air. Urban consolidation not only destroys trees, it increases traffic congestion, so intensifying the concentration of atmospheric pollution. We thus suffer a double whammy – more pollution generated while our surrounding cleansing trees are razed.

We wouldn't dream of ridding our parks of trees, yet every day countless trees are removed for urban consolidation.

Tony Recsei

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