Janet Wahlquist, 10 October 2021, Bulletin 9/2021 November 2021
On Sunday 10 October, 46 members attended the 2021 AGM, via zoom. Below is the report by outgoing President, Janet Wahlquist, followed by details of the Commendations bestowed upon three members for their contributions to the Glebe Society.
Glebe Island Bridge
One of the campaigns in which we have been actively involved in the last year has been to save and restore Glebe Island Bridge.
On the 3rd of December 2020 it was 25 years since the Bridge was closed and we held a Rally on that day to protest its state of disrepair and need for it to be restored for use as a pedestrian and cycle way. The Rally was well attended not just by Glebe Society Members but also residents from Glebe, Pyrmont, Ultimo, Rozelle Annandale and Balmain. Cyclists, and passive water sports people also attended. We also received positive publicity for the Bridge’s cause.
We have continued to press for proper plans to be put in place for its restoration. There have been some positive signs from government and Transport NSW (who is responsible for the bridge) that they are looking at its repurposing. It has been included in plans for the Blackwattle Bay Precinct Plan, The Bays West Plan and the Fish Markets Plan as something that will be there but it is not actually part of the plan itself.
We have the support of both City of Sydney and the Inner West Council in our bids for restoration.
Our continued work has involved the launching of the Glebe Island Bridge Website and continuing contact and pressure on Transport NSW.
Protecting Glebe from overdevelopment
This year has been an important one for our activity in saving Glebe from overdevelopment and protecting our village nature.
The fact that the State Government owns most of the southern end of Glebe and has decided to slowly sell it off and to replace two housing department low level multi-unit blocks with 8- and 12-storey blocks of units has been of great concern. We have been actively opposing these State Government Plans.
The selling of public property, which has been both public housing and used for community purposes, is something we have been active against. The reason for these sell offs is both to raise money and because the government is not prepared to pay the cost of necessary repairs. Much of the public owned housing has been allowed to fall into disrepair.
2A-2D Wentworth Park Rd & 17-31 Cowper St
We have been actively involved in opposition to the proposals for redevelopment of 2A-2D Wentworth Park Rd and 17-31 Cowper St to replace them with 2 x 8-storey and 1 x 3-storey buildings. We objected in the first instance to the removal of the properties from the St Phillips Heritage Conservation area which the State government needed to lift the height restrictions. The removal was approved. We then objected to the development application. Members of the Management Committee then spoke at both the Council’s Planning Panel and subsequent Council meeting opposing the development. Unfortunately, this was approved. The State Government announced at the last minute that the housing would be 100% public housing and the Council approved the development.
The second development of Housing Department property of concern has been the proposal to demolish the existing low-rise units and replace them with 3 x 12-storey residential units of which only one third will be for public housing and the rest would be sold to private buyers. These properties are the homes of many long-term housing residents who will be required to vacate and move elsewhere. There has been strong resident opposition to the proposal and the Society has supported the residents. The redevelopment proposal increases the density by 350%, provides completely inadequate open space and is out of keeping with the heritage nature of Glebe. The Society has made objection to the proposal and has supported rallies by residents opposing the redevelopment. As yet no Development Application has been lodged.
The Society met with the Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey regarding State Government plans for Glebe and to voice our opposition to current plans. We were told that there were no further plans at this stage for larger redevelopments.
We have also had meetings with City of Sydney Councillors making our opposition known. We are also in contact with our State representative Jamie Parker who is strongly opposed to these State Government proposals.
The Society has also been concerned about the private large scale apartment development proposed at the rear of the State and Locally listed heritage home, Bidura. The fate of the Metropolitan Remand Centre was eventually determined by the Land and Environment Court, and it can be demolished.
The Society made a submission that called upon Council to require the protection of historic Bidura House both now and beyond the construction works behind it. We want to make sure the importance and relevance of Bidura House and its appropriately scaled setting is not further disrupted by inappropriate landscaping and contextual elements that may occur adjacent to the building.
The State Government released its Proposal for the redevelopment of Blackwattle Bay. The plan for this is an extraordinary overdevelopment of the Bay with towers of up to 45-storeys high, little open space, no reasonable plans for the extra traffic that will be created and will have Glebe looking at a wall of buildings. We have attended two meetings called by the Lord Mayor of Community representatives opposing the Plan. The Council strongly opposes the plan and seeks the support of residents to oppose it. We have made a submission opposing the plan. This will be an ongoing battle.
The Fish Markets development
The Society remains concerned about the impact the building of the Fish Markets will have on Glebe. We have a representative on the Fish Markets Community Consultative Committee, and we will be able to have input into the issues that will arise in relation to pedestrian, vehicle and cycle traffic, pollution in the bay, noise and parking. So please let the Society know about any issues you have and these can be raised. The plan for the Fish Markets over the water next to the foreshore park and Glebe High School, the position of which we opposed, is a done deal.
Bays West Precinct
A further Development has been proposed for the White Bay Area. This proposal is still in the planning stages. Part of the proposal involves the repurposing of Glebe Island Bridge and extending the foreshore walk. The size of the redevelopment is important and the access of the public to foreshore and increased parkland are also issues which impact on Glebe. We made a submission in relation to this redevelopment proposal.
Concrete Batching Plant at White Bay
A Concrete Batching Plant was proposed for White Bay. It will take up foreshore land which should be for community use for an ugly industrial use. This is in part to replace Hymix where the Fish Markets are to be built but it is larger in scale and will operate 24/7. We objected to the plant being particularly concerned about the noise and scale which will travel across the water to Glebe. It has been approved.
Videos of Glebe
We were approached by Chinese students from the University of Technology who wanted to make a video. With the guidance of members of the Management Committee they made a video about Glebe called Treasure in the City: Glebe. It is a lovely video spoken in Mandarin about Glebe from a Chinese student’s perspective.
Ian Stephenson has worked on and produced six videos about Glebe. The videos provide some of the history of Glebe and the battles Glebe has fought to remain the place it is now. They then move on to addressing the battles we are facing today. They present a great perspective on Glebe and our history and are well worth viewing.
Heritage Act 1977 Review
The Society has concerns about some of the potential weaknesses in protection proposed in the Government’s plan to review the Heritage Act 1977. Our concern is that for other than a few iconic heritage properties the proposed changes will result in making it easier to develop heritage listed properties. We have made a submission objecting to these changes.
Community Centre for Glebe
The Society continues to push for a Community Centre to be established at Glebe Town Hall to promote greater opportunities for community activities to be held in City of Sydney. Although we had a meeting last year with the Lord Mayor about this proposal with the advent of the pandemic this project has been placed on the back burner by the Council. The ability to arrange venues for community activities despite proposals for improvement even prior to the most recent lockdown had only worsened and a Community Centre continues to be a clear need for Glebe and Forest Lodge.
Pop Up Cycleway
Members of the Glebe Community have continued to express their concern about the safety and lack of access for residents as a result of the Pop-Up Cycleway on Bridge Rd. Despite being temporary and only until March 2021 its temporary status continues. The cycleway which stops and starts continues in its current state, with no resolution of any of the issues raised by the Society or residents.
The Blue Wrens Committee have continued to actively promote biodiversity in Glebe Forest Lodge providing three grants to educational facilities to encourage knowledge among younger community members. They continue to carefully monitor our bird community, organising an eighth annual bird survey in November 2020.
Their annual biodiversity lecture given by John Turnbull, a Research Fellow from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of NSW was fully booked and a most interesting insight to our local marine environment.
Glebe during COVID
Members of the Glebe Society have been active in assisting members of the community impacted by the lockdown during the pandemic. Recently COVID struck a number of more vulnerable members of our community and a request was made by the Glebe Youth Service who have been supporting community members with the provision of food and other essential items. A call out was made to Glebe Society membership and $25,000 was raised for the Youth Services activities. Many thanks to you all.
On an administrative front we are proud to have launched a facelift to our website which hopefully will make it easier to navigate and make more accessible the thousands of pages of information on Glebe which are available on the website. We have the Communications Subcommittee and in particular Tarny Burton, Sarah Fogg and Virginia Simpson-Young for their hard work in this regard.
Funding and Membership Campaign
We have been actively trying to raise funds so that we have funds available for campaigns and other causes which the Society supports. Unfortunately, many of our fundraising activities and community activities have had to be cancelled due to the COVID lockdown. We have participated in a membership drive by producing postcards which have been letterboxed to solicit more members. As a result, we welcome new members.
We anticipate that with an end to lockdown a number of Glebe Walks will be up and running in the New Year. We also expect to launch more activities such as Glebe Voices. We encourage members to participate.
Thank you to the Management Committee
I want to say a special Thankyou to the Management Committee Members who put in a large amount of work.
The number of volunteer hours and effort put in by committee members is outstanding. I have been in other volunteer organisations and the volunteer hours and passion put in by Glebe Society volunteers is incredible. I would like to thank the committee members: Mark Stapleton, Dorothy Davis, Jan Macindoe, Ted McKeown, Allan Hogan, Mary-Beth Brinson, Michael Morrison, Nick Sangster, Andrew Wood, Asa Wahlquist, Judy Vergison, Brian Fuller and Ian Stephenson.
Both Ian and Brian have been invaluable in their knowledge of heritage and planning and great people to attend meetings with government and council people. I thank them. Jude Paul, Secretary, I thank for her effort in making sure things get done and her endless enthusiasm. Jane Gatwood, Treasurer I thank. She is seriously underappreciated for all the effort and hard work she puts into the less glamorous but necessary job of managing our finances.
Finally, Virginia Simpson-Young our editor who works tirelessly to put out our fantastic Bulletin. She says she is retiring the position at the end of the year which will be a great loss for the Society and irreplaceable. I hope you might change your mind. Many thanks.