A still from a video capturing a recent attack by a group of young people of a food delivery rider on Glebe Point Road (Source: Youtube)

June 2024 President’s Report

by Duncan Leys, Bulletin 4/2024, June

Glebe was in the news for all the wrong reasons last month. On 2 May, I attended a meeting of the Community Safety Precinct Committee which the Glebe police had convened specifically to discuss recent distressing incidents allegedly involving young people in Glebe. These issues have also been noted by the City of Sydney, and Council resolved to request its Chief Executive Officer to work with local community services and to investigate options for additional youth programs. The Council resolution called ‘Collaborating on Community Wellbeing in Glebe’ can be viewed on the City of Sydney website.

Unfortunately, it has taken bad publicity to stir the Council and the State Government into action. I first heard of the problems of young people and antisocial behaviour before Christmas and I have seen letters residents had written to both tiers of government asking for something to be done.

In my time on the Management Committee it has been obvious to me the funding for the Glebe Youth Service is inadequate and sometimes it takes some time for allocated funds to be released. Too often I heard that good programs had stopped for a lack of funding or were on hold pending funding decisions. Now, in a moment of crisis, Council and the State Government are looking to the Glebe Youth Service to provide the solutions.

At the Community Safety Precinct Committee meeting I saw unanimous agreement about what needed to be done – things like reinstating the bus service that picked up young people out late at night and took them home; things like fixing the funding problems at the Glebe Youth Service. The Council resolution I referred to earlier is an excellent summary of the issues and lays out the actions needed to address them – actions that were unanimously agreed upon by the local community services and grass roots community organisations at the meeting.

Kobi Shetty attends management committee meeting

Kobi Shetty was guest speaker at the Glebe Society’s 2023 AGM (Photo: Phil Young)

On a positive note we were pleased to welcome our local member Kobi Shetty to the April 2024 meeting of the management committee of the Glebe Society. We were keen to get the latest news on a range of issues that will impact Glebe and Forest Lodge residents.

On the Glebe Island Bridge, we heard that the State Government is currently tendering for heritage maintenance work which is intended only to prevent the bridge falling down before more extensive works, planned for sometime post 2030, can be undertaken.

The WestConnex Rozelle Interchange is the subject of a NSW Upper House inquiry. It seems that local residents can expect little change to the present situation in the short term.. The plan seems to be to wait and hope this settles over time.

Westconnex tunnels ventilation stacks Rozelle
Westconnex tunnels ventilation stacks (Photo: Tim Hesketh)

On the New Sydney Fish Market (NSFM), Kobi is in ongoing discussion with the relevant minister on matters of traffic management, the frequency of light rail and bus services and the impact on Glebe businesses such as food services. The Glebe ferry service is under consideration for extension to Annandale and Pyrmont stops. We are yet to see any sign that the State Government has a workable traffic management plan and the expectation is we will suffer from significantly increased congestion on all modes of transport.

The Glebe Society’s representative at the New Sydney Fish Market Community Consultative Committee tells us we will have issues with queuing of heavy vehicles and buses trying to enter the NSFM. This will substantially impact Bridge Road and Wentworth Park Road traffic flow. The shared footpath and cycleway at the NSFM and car parking remain issues of concern. We are told the pickup and freight service plans do consider a doubling of visitors over a 10-year period, but we are yet to see a plan that will cope with traffic volumes in 2025, let alone 2035.

Kobi noted that Homes NSW’s approach to maintenance is changing but right now public housing stock is still being neglected and in some instances boarded up.

We recently received a letter from Rose Jackson, Minister for Housing NSW, notifying us that they will be going ahead with the demolition of 82 Wentworth Park Road but will use the homes for crisis accommodation while they get the site ready for demolition. You would wonder why they evicted the former residents and how much it will cost to make these homes habitable again to use for crisis accommodation.

The State Government’s proposed changes to zoning laws around transport hubs and the Low- and Mid-Rise Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (‘LMRH SEPP’) were discussed with Kobi.  Zoning changes have not yet been decided as the Government intends to take into account outcomes of the recent LMRH SEPP public exhibition.’ Industry groups and others are lobbying for greater density increases. These reforms are intended to override controls set out for local Heritage Conservation Areas, but confusion remains about the exact nature of the reforms after several statements by the Premier and the Minister which differ according to area. The local government elections in September could be significant in the debate.

Bidura – ‘a lack of basic maintenance’ (Photo: V. Simpson-Young)

On other matters, the Glebe Society has long been concerned about the deterioration of Bidura through a lack of basic maintenance. Keeping the fences in good order and keeping the roof watertight are vital. It was a condition of the DA approval that conservation works commence within six months of the approval. Work should have commenced by March 2024. We wrote to the Council recently asking what progress had been made in the conservation works. We have received a reply from the Council planner advising that the applicant will be issuing a tender for conservation works shortly.

In the Society’s view this is a complete disregard of the intent of the DA to require essential conservation works (e.g. fixing the fence and stopping the roof leaking) within six months of the DA’s approval. Six months has now well and truly elapsed.

On a more positive note, it is good to see some of the temporary barriers around our parks and gardens being removed after having been re-mulched. 

Autumn and winter are the best times for walks in my view. I enjoyed both the Late Victorian Streetscapes and the Radical Glebe walks. I am very much looking forward to the next two.

Ian Stephenson will be leading a walk titled The Hidden History of Blackwattle Bay on Sunday 16 June. The Walk will explore the history of some of the less well-known parts of Glebe and nearby areas, following the route of the Blackwattle Creek from Victoria Park, a Blackwattle Bay headwater. See Upcoming Walks for a fuller description of this interesting walk.  

Max Solling will be leading a bus tour titled Rookwood General Cemetery and Back: A Bus Tour visiting the burial sites of some famous Sydney families and Glebe identities on Wednesday 3 July 2024. Amongst other things, we will be seeing the mausoleum of the Allen family. George Wigram Allen’s funeral was one of the two biggest funerals seen in Glebe with the funeral procession winding from the Toxteth Park Chapel to Mortuary Station in Chippendale where the remains were conveyed by mortuary train to the Rookwood General Cemetery. The other ‘biggest’ funeral was for Walter Alston Hutchinson and you can read about him in Bulletin 4/2022. Max led a tour of Rookwood for the Society on 20 August 1977 and is enormously knowledgeable about its history and its residents.