At the end of the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) Public Meeting last Wednesday evening the committee of the Willoughby Area Action Group (WAAG) and I got quite a big lump of our lives back! Now that we have made our representations to the PAC panel there is nothing more we can do but wait until their decision is known. This may take a good few weeks. We are informed that after the decision is announced, under the Part 3A legislation, Channel 9 will have the option of appealing to the Land & Environment Court but Council and the Willoughby community will not have this option. If things should pan out that there is an appeal, there is a possibility that we may yet have a further opportunity to make representations at the hearing.
Those of you who were not able to make it to be part of the approximately 150 people who filled, almost to capacity, the beautiful hall of the Willoughby Uniting Church, will be pleased to know that all who attended went away happy that we had made a significant impact on the panel. All 40 speakers, led off by Council’s Director of Planning, Greg Woodhams and tail ended by Naremburn Progress Association’s Roger Promnitz, did us proud. With only one exception, a Lane Cove resident, who requested a total smoking ban for the redevelopment, everyone embodied the same message, “Too dense, too high and we support WCC’s medium density alternative Concept Plan”. Among the speakers were Steph Croft of the Northern Sydney Council of P&C Associations, the WCC acting Mayor, Gail Giles-Gidney and Councillors Rozos, Sloane and Coppock. The Department of Planning’s (DoP) report and recommendation to the PAC came in for a lot of criticism for its inaccuracies and inconsistencies and there was much scepticism voiced about the effectiveness of Channel 9’s and the DoP’s community consultation in this project.
At the end of the meeting the Chair of the meeting, Gabrielle Kibble AO, complimented us on the consistency of our message, the community support shown by the number of attendees and the positive way all speakers conducted themselves. We can all feel proud of the efforts the community has made in pursuing a reasonable outcome for the Channel 9 site and how, over the extended time this matter has taken, we have never wavered in stating what we are prepared to accept.
I’d like to thank the entire community for their support with special thanks particularly to the Willoughby Area Action Group (WAAG), formed at the Community Meeting in May 2013. They have been tireless in their efforts. Thanks too to our late Mayor, Pat Reilly, Gladys Berejiklian, Joe Hockey and the Councillors and officers of WCC who’ve supported us all along the way. Finally, thanks to Artarmon, Naremburn, Northbridge, Castlecrag and Willoughby-Middle Harbour Progress Associations and the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations for their support and involvement.