Special place for NAC


DejanSunday, 4 October 2020 - 1:13pm

Part of my contribution to MCC's strategic plans was to suggest special place for our community in those strategies (as one of largest ratepaying communities in MCC), letter to Council's meeting last month:

North Arm Cove is a subdivision different from other “paper subdivisions” – masterplan was done by experts, Walter and Marion Burley Griffin, this represents a national treasure. Plans for URBAN DEVELOPMENT were approved by then Stroud Shire Council in May of 1918 and first lots were sold exactly 100 years ago.

It is a long standing issue of injustice, where large number of rate payers were denied rights and service, where large number of land owners were denied their basic right to dwell on their land, with potential legal risks of class actions and further drain on Council’s resources.

Environmental issues are overstateted and not supported by evidence – area is not genuine “Australian bushland” – it has been regularly cleared of native vegetation for almost two centuries (From the history of The Australian Agricultural Company):

"By June 1826 headquarters had been established, including historic Tahlee House which was occupied by the first four commissioners: Robert Dawson, Sir Edward Parry, Henry Dumaresq and Philip Parker King. Adjacent Carrington was the site of spacious stores, workshops, accommodation and later a church.By the 1830s it was realised that the Post Stephens’ grant was unsuitable for farming and by 1851 the AACo had moved its headquarters to Stroud."

Council owns about 1000 lots of potential value of $250mil. Investment in sustainable communal infrastructure would be a small fraction of that. From our research with infrastructure providers and experienced planning and infrastructure experts (DESIM, Stantec, Alluvium, Flow Systems), apart from roads, infrastructure could be delivered for less than $50,000 per lot on average – profit of $200,000 per lot, or provision of affordable lots for those in need. More than 1000 lots owned by Council could help many.
Ratepayers and community could be provided real opportunity to participate in shaping their own future together with council and industry’s professional teams.

This could be a project that can assist with many of Council’s current issues identified in LSPS:
· Affordable housing
· Employment
· Opportunity for young population
· Innovation
· Sustainable and affordable services for communities
· Creating resilient, selfsufficient community
· State and Federal government programs invest in sustainable infrastructure and smart communities

This kind of development would be fully aligned with Hunter Region’s vision to create a "leading regional economy in Australia".

World will be different after COVID-19, we can make it better together for the benefit of all.

North Arm Cove and its long-suffering community and ratepayers deserve a Fair Go. And young people of MCC deserve a hope.

Sincerely yours, Landowner and Ratepayer at North Arm Cove,


A few observations on this article to add to Grant’s.                

Plans for URBAN DEVELOPMENT were approved by then Stroud Shire Council in May of 1918 and first lots were sold exactly 100 years ago.

The first house blocks that were sold 100 years ago do not appear on that 1918 Burley Griffin plan but on Halloran’s later plan. (These blocks now form a significant part of the North Arm Cove village.)

It is a long standing issue of injustice, … (long paragraph follows)

This whole paragraph is just plain wrong. Everybody who has bought land since the early 1960s must have been aware that they were buying land with no building entitlement.

Unfortunately over the years there have been several false prophets raising hopes. Mostly these were developers. Don Fox was one. He visited the Cove in November 1992 and assured 120 non-urban land owners that his company was going to rezone the land. The costs he said would be $38000 a block. Every owner would be obliged to pay. Those that could not, might forfeit their land he said. But neither Council nor Government were interested in developing the area because, for them, development elsewhere was easier and cheaper. I doubt that much has changed.

Environmental issues are overstateted and not supported by evidence – area is not genuine “Australian bushland” –

This is nonsense too, Dejan. Your heroes, Walter and Marion, clearly had an opinion quite the opposite to yours. Get yourself to the National Library and check out the photos they took when they were here in 1918.

Australian bush regenerates – after fires and after clearing. It has been doing so for millenia. Seed banks remain in the soil ready to germinate when the conditions are right.

Land Ltd, the company associated with the Burley Griffins, knew about regeneration too. When director Samuel Emmett sought permission to sell in November 1918, he argued against them being required to clear all the roads at once because, he told Council, “in a few years it would all be a forest again”.

Look at the 1963 aerial image on the back cover of the NAC book. You will see the clear signs of regeneration occurring on all those bush tracks that were not being regularly traversed.

– it has been regularly cleared of native vegetation for almost two centuries (From the history of The Australian Agricultural Company):

This is not really correct either and not supported by your quote. After the failure of the cotton crops at Baromee Point in 1927-29, the AACo had little interest in the Baromee Peninsula because they realised the soil was too poor for agriculture. The Gooreenggai continued to make traditional use of the area. In the 1850s AACo did have a track that ran from Carrington to their coal depot at Shippers Point. In 1856 they briefly considered creating a subdivision over the area. Seventy-eight years after they came, they sold the land in 1904. In the 20th century, developers have cleared tracks and lots when they were trying to sell. The Army cleared some areas for manoeuvres. Most of the cleared land successfully regenerated. Despite some exotics, our bush is still “genuine“ Australian bush because it provides a habitat for a wide range of Australian flora and fauna, some of which are designated endangered.

Assumptions and mistakes 2

According to Marion's records:

During that first year in Australia Griffin advised clients of the nature of this district between Sydney and Brisbane and they purchased this strategic promontory. He designed the city. It was surveyed, the allotments staked out and the whole was sold from the plan in the Sydney real estate office. This meant contour surveys were made in the course of which he became personally acquainted with Aboriginals.

Important part is that plans have been APPROVED previously, for URBAN development. So, best planners have determined that it is suitable for such development - who are we to question their expertise?

Injustices are many. One of most obvious ones is overlooking land that is most suitable and already surveyed and subdivided and approved, over the  flood prone and environmentally extremely sensitive like Tea Gardens and others along the river.
Excluding community from decision making and meaningful consultation for the past few decades is the other.
Utilizing their rates to develop elsewhere does make those other developments easier and cheaper - another injustice.
Denying land owners elemental right to dwell on their land ... while forcing them to pay etreme prices elsewhere.

Australian bush regenerates and becomes "regenerated Australian bush", less valuable than genuine one (question is how much is regenerated after grazing non-native animals). And you are also aware that lot of it is being devastated on a daily basis even at present - with illegal logging, dumping of hazardous materials, roads still being used and graveled ... All in all, it environmental value is overstated, as I said. To the level that it is not worth conservation, in my opinion. Definitely not when other uses could bring so much more of so needed benefits.

Other two bottom lines should prevail in any objective assessment.

And fortunately for us all, I have heard that Governments are splashing cash these days on infrastructure and affordable housing projects in regional areas where young people are without work.

What Marion was referring to were not actual sales but agreements to sell/buy as/when/if, because (1) there were as yet no individual titles as DPs had not been registered and (2) Land Ltd's permission to sell was conditional on a bond that was never paid.

These quasi sales were not, in any case, of house blocks but of blocks intended for shops, the CBD and the commercial/industrial use by the railway. These were what the banks and businesses of Sydney were interested in.

One of the facts you seem unwilling to accept is that any prior approvals were negated by council"s decision in the early 1960s. The land in question ceased being urban from that point. That land was (almost entirely) being sold from the 1980s on ... not in the 1920s.

I have obtained copies of records of the first sales in 1920 from what was the Lands Department. The house blocks were sold by Halloran"s company and seemingly not in Sydney given the addresses of the buyers.

Thanks Doug.

I really admire your amazing knowledge of the history of the place. I certainly hope to learn more.

However, my point is - place was sellected and accepted as urban type of settlment at some point in the past. By people who knew their trade - both Griffin's and Halloran.

Peter Harrison, Australian town planner and a champion of the Griffin Plan for Canberra, described the Griffin section as ‘one of his most elegant essays in site planning’(Harrison 1995:58). Halloran’s extension expressed his dramatic wheel-spoke style rather than the more sensuous Griffin mix of grid and curvilinear planning (Freestone & Nichols 2010: 05.11).

Council's actions in their 60's are part of the injustices I was talking about - overlooking best development locations and already subdivided land for some "easier and cheaper options". It turns out "easier and cheaper" in a short run makes it very expensive in a longer run, judging by the sorry state of affairs MCC is in.

As you say, facts matter.

All I am saying, after trying all kind of idiotic things in the past half century or so, perhaps it is worth looking at what Griffins and Halloran have set up century ago. Maybe they knew something Council planners don't know? Just maybe. Lets give it a Fair Go.

I mean, we tried the rest, lets try the best.

There doesn’t appear to be a stated subject. I’ll assume your goal is rezoning nonurban land to residential and the building of approximately 3,000 residential tenancies.

To take your commentary seriously, please clarify the following.

Any perceived “injustice” would appear to reflect Commercial wrong doings to the detriment of unsophisticated (or naïve) investors.
Please provide ANY relevant material where either Local or State Government have promised nonurban blocks would be rezoned.

Can you please provide your “evidence” that the area is not genuine “Australian bushland”? That seems an extraordinary claim.
Have you actually investigated the local flora? Have you liaised with Landcare Australia or any government body in relation to this?

VACANT, undeveloped Council properties valued at $250,000 each?
Many are less than 400m2, many suffer horrendously from Highway Noise, many are situated on sites that would require total destruction of the environment to develop.
Please provide the basis of your land valuations.

Please provide suitable documentation that “infrastructure could be delivered for less than $50,000 per lot”, which, from your research (DESIM, Stantec, Alluvium, Flow Systems), you must be in possession of.

Please provide your estimate for the costs of “roads” which of course needs to be incorporated. Stormwater? It seems mischievous that such expenditure is ignored in your $200M profit projection for Council.

On what basis could a $250,000 block of land (many less than 400 m2) provide “affordable housing”? What impact would a third of the township needing “affordable housing” have in terms of Social Welfare?

What “employment” is projected and what opportunity does this offer “young population”?

Please expand on the following:
“ · Innovation
· Sustainable and affordable services for communities
· Creating resilient, selfsufficient community”
Is this a reference that some Services (water, sewer, power) can be internally funded and maintained privately, without any level of Government provision?
“Self-sufficiency” exceeds those Services so the use of that term is misleading and deceptive.

“State and Federal government programs invest in sustainable infrastructure and smart communities”
(Well there goes any self-sufficiency.)
What programs have been considered and approved?
Please provide accurate details of these government investments as a critical aspect relating to Land Owners further expenditure.

“This kind of development would be fully aligned with Hunter Region’s vision to create a "leading regional economy in Australia".”
3,000 houses (1,000 “affordable housing”) attempting to be self sufficient with no inherent industry? Please explain the basis of how this could be “a leading regional economy in Australia". It would appear to be a Social Welfare disaster waiting to happen.

“World will be different after COVID-19, we can make it better together for the benefit of all.”
Please provide the relevance to Covid-19.

The commentary you provided appears to be an extension of the scams previously perpetuated. Inaccurate and attempting to provide false hope to both current and prospective land owners. 

Buyers Beware.

Assumptions and mistakes

They say that assumption is mother of all mistakes. And you assume wrong. My goal, when writing my submission for MCC's draft LSPS was to contribute to its improvement. Strategy presents quite a bleak picture of current status of MCC and not much vision for improvement:

The MidCoast has one of Australia’s oldest populations with a median age of 52, well above the NSW and Australian median of 38. With high levels of retirement and unemployment, low levels of educational attainment and low income levels compared to other regions, housing affordability and the diversity of housing are particularly important.

Add to that consequences of climate change and COVID-19 and you might understand why I think that project of building a sustainable URBAN development (note, not only residential) could be a good option.

Language I used was directed to those who are familiar with the subject (LSPS), so I would not waste much time of semantic arguments. In short, North Arm Cove could be  opportunity for many.

And I am not selling anything. I am in the business of making people's dream come true.

So you categorically deny you have any financial interest in development of non-urban properties at North Arm Cove.
The questions previously raised remain valid and your refusal to respond places you directly in line with the past spruikers and scammers. 
False hope, promises (YOUR LAND IS WORTH $250,000 with ONLY a $50,000 FURTHER INVESTMENT!)
I consider you have a financial angle and I reiterate that BUYERS BEWARE.
My suggestion to the moderators of this site is to ban your incorrect, misleading, financially self-beneficial comments until you provide information of substance.

I am landowner and ratepayer in both village and non-urban area. I will have financial benefit of development like any other landowner who works on improving the value of its investment.

I do believe that development of NAC will bring prosperity to all, owners, residents and wider community. That includes myself and my family.

I also expect from public service to provide the service they are paid to do - planning for the future and for the benefit of ratepayers is one of those. Especially when community of ratepayers is so large like in NAC.

As a professional - architect, town planner and project manager - I have offered assistance to Council in achieving the progress for NAC and for MCC as the largest land owners here. We'll see where that goes.

I am posting here as a member of the community working for the progress of the community. I have no problem if community (or an owner of the web site) doesn't want to hear what I have to say.

BTW Do you categorically deny that you have been benefiting (commercially or otherwise) from non-urban land not being developed? Do you deny that you have been benefiting from rates thousand of those land owners have been paying to the Council in past few decades?



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