Jack Mundey speaks at the launch of the Glebe Grapevine

Jack Mundey

Jack Mundey  is a distinguished Australian union and environmental activist. He came to prominence during the 1970s for leading the New South Wales Builders’ Labourers Federation (BLF) in the famous Green Bans, whereby the BLF led a successful campaign to protect the built and natural environment of Sydney from excessive and inappropriate development.

from Wikipedia

Jack was at the launch of the Glebe Grapevine.

watch this video


Submission on Elger etc Cowper St to Council

27 June 2011



The Chief Executive Officer

City of Sydney

GPO Box 1591

Sydney NSW 2001



Dear Sir


Stage 1 Development Application  D/2011/803 1 – 3 Elger Street, 2-6 Elger Street, 83 Bay Street Glebe NSW 2037


I refer to the notification of the abovementioned development application.


Recap –No Real Consultation

The Elger Street estate was built between 1953 to about 1970.  It comprises 15 walk up blocks of flats in a quiet cu de sac garden setting.  There are about 170 trees, many of them mature.  It was occupied by a stable community.  It had adequate parking.  Lifts were constructed a few years ago to service a number of the buildings.  In about April 2008, just as the lifts were being finished, Council and the Department of Housing announced they had reached an agreement to demolish and to make the land available for high rise redevelopment.  There was no consultation with the occupants of the 134 flats earmarked for demolition, nor with the surrounding occupiers nor with Glebe residents.  Part of Glebe was simply to be ripped out of the community of which it was a part and handed over to developers.


The GFC appears to have overtaken things and no more was heard about this proposal until about June 2010, when it landed back on the agenda with news of a $9M grant from Tanya towards a total announced cost of redevelopment of $170M.


A spot LEP to provide rezoning of the subject land was then drafted and considered by Council.  All Councillors with the exception of the Greens were in favour of it.  Only 400 persons were on the notification list, being persons who owned or occupied premises within 100 metres of the site.  Not one of them supported the proposal with a written submission.  Harold Park, a similar spot rezoning, had been notified right across the suburb.  In response to a complaint about inadequate community consultation,    Clover observed that it had all been decided years ago.  This seemed to be a reference to the ‘2030 Vision’[1]


Other comments made by Councillors included: ‘this is just the LEP,  you’ll be heard later before anything happens.’


Later, there was the DA for demolition, and the lament of Councillors with the exception of the Greens, was ‘our hands are tied.  This is Crown development  – Housing can do what they want.’  So why make it easy for them by approving an LEP, DCP and a DA allowing them to do exactly what they want, particularly in circumstances where Housing intends to subdivide and sell or give most of the site to others who do not share the privileges of the Crown and will be subject to the same planning controls as the rest of us.


In the latter stages of the debate on the DA, planning staff produced a Briefing Note (9 February 2011) which confirmed:


  • The existing 134 units comprised 13 studio bedsits, 14 one bedroom units, 59 2 bedroom units and 48 3 bedroom  units, that is a  total 289 bedrooms;
  • The proposed development would contain 153 social housing[2] units comprised of 125 one bedroom units and 28 2 bedroom units, equating to 184 bedrooms.
  • It was also proposed to build 90 ‘affordable’ units, that is, units which are substandard in terms of size, density, landscaping.


It is clear that social housing capacity is being lost (289 vs 184 bedrooms).


The briefing note goes on to assure readers that this is all to the good, as the proposal therefore complies with the 2030 Vision of reducing social housing dwellings in the city area, from 10.4% in 2006 to an expected proportion of 7.5% in 2030.   This is happening all over the city area, particularly in Redfern/Waterloo.  It appears that not only are Council and Housing seeking to reduce the number of dwellings occupied by welfare dependant persons, they are proposing to reduce the size of those dwellings, so that the actual numbers of welfare dependant persons housed in the city will be further reduced, probably to about 5%.  Some of those who are not provided with housing will no doubt join the ever growing throng of city homeless.  This form of social cleansing of our city cannot be supported.


It will be observed that the proposed social housing component of the development will be overwhelmingly 1 bedroom, rather than the existing range of studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom dwellings, which are suitable for a range of occupants from single persons, single persons plus carers, to couples and small families.


The new small social housing units are to be built in blocks which are 6 and 10 storeys high.  There will little outdoor space, no sunlight to speak of, no drying areas, no parking.  The units will be unsuitable for a range of persons including the elderly, disabled, and children.  It has been suggested by Councillor Burgman that the proposed profile fits the demand for social housing.  But it does not.  Nearly one third of housing applicants receive parenting or carer payments, approximately 40% receive the disability support pension or Veterans Affairs pension or other benefit, and about 12% receive an age pension.  None of these persons can be expected to make do with the size and standard of accommodation afforded by this development in the long term.


According to Housing 80% of new applications are from single persons.  The most recent available figures from the 2008 – 2009 Annual Report do not reflect that claim  (extract annexed) and says nothing at all about the 43,000 or so persons already on the waiting list.


According to Housing the social housing component of this development is intended to accommodate predominantly single aged persons.  They would be the group most likely to need a second bedroom for family and other carers.


The strength of the Glebe community lies in the persons living here on a long term basis with connections in the community.  The Heritage Consultant’s report suggests that the estate was not held in high regard by residents.  But of course he didn’t speak to any of those persons who were forced out, some of whom had lived there since the flats were newly built.   The last of the tenants left in April 2011, 3 years after the project was announced.


Unlike other parts of the city there are many children from a range of ethnic backgrounds living in and round the Glebe Estate. Many residents have grown up here, been educated here, looked for job opportunities here, and established families here.


Other nearby suburbs appear to be increasingly occupied by city workers who probably intend to move on and move out, and persons downsizing their Sydney residences with a view to retirement.  Communities such as those in Glebe, Millers Point, and Redfern of persons who spend large portions of their lives in the same community are increasingly threatened by polices intended to drive them out.


Some Councillors espouse a credo of ‘social mix’.  There’s plenty of it here already, as in Redfern, Waterloo, Surry Hills and Millers Point.  These suburbs don’t need their local communities booted out and replaced by ‘workers’, whoever they may be, to achieve social mix.


The demolition DA was approved and work commenced in about mid April.  The workers on the site stopped work on 18 May 2011 to join residents in a protest against the project.  The windows and internal fittings of the flats have all but been removed.  The double brick walls are however in remarkably good condition with no cracks.   The electricity, water and sewerage services remain intact.  The entire development could be retrofitted and made functional again for the purpose for which it was built – the provision of decent low cost housing to a low income community.  This would cost a lot less that the further $152M which the applicant proposes to spend on the development.


Hands Off Glebe, a group of which I am a member, has sought to draw attention to  the issue, with leaflets and posters as well as face to face discussions, because this task has not been undertaken by Council, Housing or any of its consultants.   In  early May 2011 Council directed its contractors to remove Hands Off Glebe posters from electricity poles.  In a response to Hands off Glebe’s letter about same the Mayor admitted that Hands Off Glebe’s posters were targeted in preference to other posters in response to a complaint (letter 27/5/2011).  Members of the Hands of Glebe group can foreshadow that any political material posted by future Council candidates can expect the same treatment.


The LEP has not yet been gazetted.  Perhaps someone on Council should move a rescission motion.  This situation means that the present DA must be considered against the present planning controls.  If it is assessed properly it will be found to fail to comply and should be rejected.


The Present DA.

Councillors need to consider whether:

–          They have already made up their mind;

–          They can do nothing, their hands are tied; or

–          They are willing to genuinely listen to the community and promote its interests.


Unless you are prepared to do the last mentioned, you shouldn’t be in the job.


High Rise

High rise development is entirely unsuitable for public housing tenants, the elderly or infirm or anyone else who will be spending the majority of their time in the home environment.  Any community forced to live in such conditions will be dysfunctional.  Just ask Housing about Franklyn Street, which is a high density albeit low rise development.  Council still contributes significant sums of money in attempts to keep this development functional, 30 years after it was built.  The nearby John Byrne high rise flats on Wentworth Street were offloaded by Council in the 1980s.  They were unmanageable.


Solar Access

On the northern end of the complex the upper units may get some sunlight.  Those built to face internal light wells or south will get very little sunlight.    The applicant says that 73 – 96% of the units will get 2 hours of sunlight.  No prizes for guessing who will be living in units without any direct access to sunlight.  The social housing units appear to be designed to get either no sunlight or the merest occasional glimpse. 2 hours is in any event insufficient to comply with the standard, which requires a minimum of 3 hours in respect to living areas and private open space.


The development will also have significant shadowing impacts on all development along Queen Street to its south.   These premises will be deprived of their present levels of solar access and for some the level of solar access will be reduced to less than the 3 hours per day minimum for the project.  A couple of places will be deprived altogether of any significant solar access by this development.


The applicant claims to be unaware of any impact on views, but at present there is a pleasant open aspect of trees and skies looking to the north.  Many of the houses on the northern side of Queen Street are  single storey.  The visual impact of high-rise will overwhelm and dwarf adjacent development in Cowper and Queen Streets.


In addition to shadowing impacts, the development will result in a loss of privacy to surrounding development.  The development aims to ‘maximise casual surveillance’ but the result is intrude upon the visual and aural privacy of the mainly terrace house construction in Cowper and Queen Streets.  The intrusiveness of the development will be emphasised by the perimeter block layout and rooftop gardens.


Open  Space

There is virtually no open space proposed and what open space there is will be in shadow most of the time.  All the existing 170 trees are being removed.    Meanwhile Council is studying the impacts of stormwater on the Wentworth Park area.  Go figure.


While the applicant is unable to identify any adverse effects on air quality, it is obvious that the bulk removal of vegetation and wildlife habitat will have adverse impacts on the environment including on air quality and heat, wind & humidity control, as well as the removal of shade and visual screening.


Size of Units

The gross floor space of the units is 38,260.  Allowing 20% for common property including lifts, stairs, foyers, passageways and the like, the average unit size including balconies is 62m2.   It is not clear whether the car parking spaces, where provided, are additional or included in the gross floor space.   It is proposed to include 3 bedroom units in the private and affordable blocks, with the result that some of the studio and 1 bedroom units will be very small indeed.


Annexed is a table of project density and dwelling mix.


The proposed FSR is 2.4:1.  The standard for Glebe residential is 0.7:1.



Parking for about one third of the number of units is entirely inadequate.  Nor does it comply with the SEPP ARH.  If Council is serious about reducing use of motorised vehicles it would include a condition, to be noted on the strata plans, that occupiers do not own or use cars, other than persons who hold disability permits from the RTA.   That requirement would also serve to drive down the price and make the units more ‘affordable’.  But Council is not serious about reducing traffic or about making housing more affordable.  Its car usage policy is in this instance being used as mere window dressing to allow developers to build denser development and hang the effects on the community.



The transport report refers to proximity to public transport routes.  In previous submissions, this writer, and others, have advised that it is very difficult to catch public transport because most services are full, particular at peak times, by the time the services arrive.  None of the applicant’s consultants has included consideration of that matter in their reports.  Perhaps that is because the facts do not assist their application.


Elger Street

Extending Elger Street to Bay Street will encourage traffic into the back streets of Glebe particularly at times of frequent gridlock.



The applicant claims that over one third of the existing vegetation is weed species.  That leaves well over 100 trees, many of which are mature, which are not ‘weed species’.  These trees and other remaining vegetation should be left to continue to provide a habitat for birds and other wildlife.



This proposal will cost a fortune without providing an inch more of social housing.


The existing units have been stripped out but remain standing.  The appropriate alternative is to retrofit them and use them for their intended purpose of housing persons on low income.


The proposal should in any case be rejected as it will create intractable traffic and parking problems, substandard housing, adverse affects on the natural environment, and nearby development will be subjected to overshadowing, overlooking, and loss of aural and visual privacy.  It will also detract significantly from the existing streetscape.  There is not one reason why this development should be approved.


Yours sincerely,





Michele Fraser

[1] Or should that be ‘hallucination’.

[2] ‘Social housing’ seems to refer to housing for welfare dependant tenants, and will be used in this document to that effect.

Submission on 87 Bay St

8 April 2013


The Chief Executive Officer
City of Sydney
GPO Box 1591
Sydney NSW 2001


Dear Sir

PLANNING PROPOSAL 87 Bay Street Glebe NSW 2037

I refer to the notification of the abovementioned planning proposal and to the following documents:

  1. Council Resolution 15 October 2012
  2. Gateway Determination – 87 Bay Street
  3. Planning Proposal – 87 Bay Street, Glebe
  4. ARUP: Preliminary Traffic and Transport Assessment 18/10/2011
  5. Bitzios: Traffic Impact Assessment dated 19/9/2012
  6. Foster and Associates: Planning Submission July 2011
  7. Duane Location: Affordable Housing Study November 2011
  8. Mott MacDonald: Flood Investigation Letter September 2011
  9. Surface Design: Sustainable Design Initiatives and Planning Principles: 23 September 2011
  10. John Oultram: Heritage Impact Statement March 2011
  11. Urban Environmental Design: Contamination Assessment 4 June 2010
  12. Holding Redlich: Draft Planning Agreement 2013
  13. Draft DCP March 2013

The Consultation Process

  1. I note that the consultation process now being engaged upon follows a Council decision of 15 October 2012 to approve the planning proposal.  This is not the first time the Council has made a decision affecting residents first and consulted with them later.  It also happened in relation to the Department of Housing site, with Ms Moore claiming that all relevant consultation had taken place during the development of Sustainable Sydney.  The objections, submissions and petitions of many people were ignored in the consultation process relating to LEP affecting that land, and the DA for demolition, and not one single change resulted from massive public criticism of the proposal.  No one affected by the proposed Cowper Street development supported it to any degree.  I can only assume that the consultation process the Council has now embarked upon in relation to the adjacent site will lead to a similar result.

The Proposal

  1. I read the planning proposal documents which were available on the website, but details of the proposal kept changing and so I sought further clarification which was provided by Mr Fitzpatrick:
  • The proposal seeks a FSR of 3.7:1 and a maximum building height of 33m
  • Total proposed floorspace is 20,000m2
  • Proposed commercial floor space is 4000m2
  • Proposed residential floor space is 16,000m2, being around 185 – 195 units including 22 or 23 affordable housing units
  • Parking spaces would be about 120 for residential units and 50 – 80 for commercial development and would probably be underground
  • Open space comprising a through site link and widened footpath on Wentworth Park Road would be 480m2.

Change of Zoning

  1. The site is not a particularly suitable site for housing, particularly the area near the busy intersection of Nay Street and  Wentworth Park Road.  The site’s best use appears to be its present use, comprising a number of businesses operating from the premises including a hairdressing school which provides hairdressing to residents and is well integrated into the area.

Supporting Documents

  1. The Affordable Housing Study submitted by the applicant is misleading and deficient in a number of respects:
  2. While it is the case that Glebe has a significant proportion of lower income households, said to be 59.3%, the low income households are concentrated in the NSW Housing accommodation, some 1500 or so dwellings on the Glebe Estate as well as other NSW Housing development in Glebe.  Obviously these residents should not be included in a study intended to identify demand for affordable housing, as they are already living in low cost housing.
  3. The Study states that the socio economic profile of the Glebe population reflects an inner city population comprising students and professionals.  This overlooks the large welfare dependant population of Glebe.
  4. Whereas the Study refers to 1 and 2 bedroom units comprising 67% of the total housing stock in the city of Sydney, this is not the profile of housing stock in Glebe, where houses rather than units predominate.
  5. Figures from Price Finder are said to indicate a 227% increase in sale price of homes in Glebe from $300,000 in 1996 to $975,000, presumably at the date of the Study.  Figures kept by the Department of Housing based on prices shown on transfers lodged at the Land Titles Office show a median price of $725,000 in September 2012, representing an increase of 142%, or on average 8% per annum since 1996.  For the Sydney area, which comprises mostly units the increase has been roughly 6% per annum over the same period.  Many of the units in the city area have been newly constructed within the period 1996 – to date, and the difference in growth price probably reflects the preference of many persons for the older housing stock in Glebe and the better amenity afforded by it.
  6. It is not the case that Sustainable Sydney 2030 identified social housing as a key future area of growth.  Sustainable Sydney identified a decline in provision of social housing in the city area from 10.4% in 2006 to 7.5% in 2030.
  7. The Study suggests (par 1.3.ii) that the proposed rezoning ‘would be consistent with surrounding uses’.  That is not the case.  The surrounding uses are presently vacant land and medium density terrace housing and town houses, and parklands.  The future of the Council owned depot site across the road is unknown.  As pointed out in the Heritage Report the site lies within the St Phillips precinct conservation area.
  8. The Study envisages a concentration of high rise development including the subject site, the Council depot site and the department of housing site.  This would be a very poor planning outcome for residents both of the proposed development and surrounding development.
  9. The Study assumes that the existence of 1 and 2 person households represents a demand for studio and one bedroom units.  With respect there is no data capable of supporting that assumption.
  10. The assumptions about housing choice in Glebe as set out in the Study are undermined by the failure to consider the prevalence of NSW Housing dwellings in the suburb.  At least 1/3 of the 11,500 persons resident in Glebe would be accommodated in such dwellings.  If those numbers are removed from the equation then the Owner/purchaser and renter figures are similar to the Sydney Metro Average rather than the West SLA.  In other words in Glebe there are twice as many owner/purchasers than renters of privately owned dwellings.
  11. In para 2.4 it is noted that the rental figures are closer to the Sydney Metropolitan average rather than the Sydney city area.  All of this tends to support the notion that Glebe is exceptional within this local government area in that its residents adopt the ways of living and aspirations of residents of the wider metropolitan area rather than being a species of some inner city ‘lifestyle.’  This a suburb worth preserving.
  12. Par 2.4 ii exhibits the same confusion between household size and rented spaces as noted above.
  13. Par 2.4 iii claims that average weekly rental in Glebe is not available between 1996 – 2006.  NSW Housing have been keeping these figures for many years, extrapolated from rental bond lodgements.  In Dec 2002 median rentals in Glebe were as follows:

One bedroom              $243

Two bedroom              $340

Three bedroom            $450

Four bedroom             $535

In Dec 2012 median rentals were as follows:

One bedroom              $440                increase           $197

Two bedroom              $620                increase           $280

Three bedroom            $800                increase           $250

Four bedroom             –

Percentage increases

One bedroom              81% or average 8.1% pa

Two bedroom              82% or average 8.2% pa

Three bedroom            55% or 5.5% pa

  1. It will be seen that the percentage increases in rentals are similar to, or less than, increases in home prices.  This does not bespeak any large pent up demand for studio and 1 bedroom units.
  2. Par 2.4 iv demonstrates a flawed thinking process once again.  Since 1996 both rents and incomes have risen substantially.  It is not surprising that the number of tenancies attracting more than $350 per week in rent is greater now than in 1996.
  3. This is a very poorly written report, comparing apples with oranges, and the work of an advocate rather than an objective assessment designed to assist the decision makers.

Flood Investigation

  1. The Flood Investigation Letter confirms that the site is affected by flooding.  The report is based upon a Bewsher Consulting report dated 2008.  On the basis of that report, Mott MacDonald states that the peak flood levels for the 1 in 100 year ARI storm event was 3.5m AHD on the overland flow paths in Bay Street, Cowper Street and WentworthPark, and 3.7m AHD at the intersection of Wentworth Street and Bay Street.
  2. Over the period I have  lived in Queen Street Glebe, I have observed flooding in and around the intersection of Bay Street and Wentworth Park Road in excess of 300mm on 2 occasions.  The most recent occasion was on 7 – 8 March 2012.
  3. The Bewsher report was prepared before the demolition of buildings, clear felling of 170 trees, and removal of all material down to rock and clay on the NSW Housing site immediately to the south of the subject site.  The proposed redevelopment of the NSW Housing site will involve overwhelmingly hard surfaces and there will be little by way of absorptive capacity on the site.  Mott MacDonald has not taken these changed circumstances into account in its letter.  Nor has it considered the impact of stormwater and drainage from the proposed development on surrounding development, such as the NSW Housing town houses opposite the subject site in Cowper Street, and nearby terrace housing on Wentworth Park Road.
  4. It would be difficult to protect basement car parking and ground floor premises from flood impacts.  As well flooding would presumably have a detrimental impact on drainage from the site and may create health problems for residents.

Traffic Reports

  1. It appears inevitable that should the planning proposal go ahead there will be a loss of street parking on Wentworth Street and probably Bay Street.  Wentworth Street is too narrow to carry two way traffic as well as allow for parking on both sides.
  2. The reports assume that social housing generates no vehicular traffic.  That is an unwarranted assumption.
  3. A policy of encouraging methods of transport other than private motor vehicles does not appear to be anything more than a pious hope.  In 2006 over 35% of residents of Glebe travelled to work by means of a private motor vehicle (2006 Census statistics).  20% walked or cycled, 1.5% travelled by train and 24% travelled by bus or light rail.  Since then new motor vehicle sales in NSW have risen by about 18% (about 24,500 per month in 2006 to about 29,000 per month in 2013).  Depriving  residents of adequate parking, whether within a development or in the street or public parking areas is inequitable and creates problems for the whole community.  Only the Council profits from parking fines.
  4. The traffic reports have not taken into account the traffic generation of the proposed development in Cowper Street and the increased demand for parking associated with that development.


  1. As the proposed use is primarily residential, the FSR should be reduced rather than increased, and should match density controls over residential development in the rest of the suburb.
  2. The residents are likely to be disturbed by noise from traffic  and activities at the Council depot and  WentworthPark, as well as increased population density.  Amenity for small units facing Bay Street and Wentworth Park Road will be particularly poor.  There is quite heavy traffic with concomitant noise and fumes at this intersection.  The 10 – 15 proposed affordable units will no doubt bear the brunt of the poor amenity.
  3. It appears that solar access will be compromised for about 30% of the proposed units.
  4. High rise development is not appropriate in Glebe.  It is incompatible with  heritage surroundings, and the community that lives there.
  5. The proposed development will visually overwhelm surrounding development, and will overshadow terrace housing to the west of the site and the proposed development on the Cowper Street site.
  6. Amenity for small units facing Bay Street and Wentworth Park Road will be particularly poor.  There is quite heavy traffic with concomitant noise and fumes at this intersection.  The 10 – 15 proposed affordable units will no doubt bear the brunt of the poor amenity.
  7. There is no demonstrated need for small substandard units without appropriate solar access or parking in this location.
  8. If the goal is to make the city as unliveable as possible, this Council is doing its best to achieve it with the type of overdevelopment envisaged in this planning proposal.


  1. The planning proposal envisages an enclave of high-rise development encompassing the subject site, the Cowper Street Department of Housing site and the Council depot.
  2. High rise development has no place in Glebe.  In the 1970s the entire Glebe area was classified as an area worthy of preservation by the NSW National Trust.  Further, Glebe was regarded by UNESCO as worthy of preservation in toto and as one of the historic areas of Sydney which require the safeguards of legislation to preserve it as an historic heritage for the future (Department of Housing and Construction briefing note 13 December 1984).  Council should preserve this historical legacy.

Media Release Aug 17 2013 LAUNCH OF GLEBE GRAPEVINE

Media Release

For immediate release.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Community newsletter – the Glebe Grapevine to be launched Sat Aug 17

On Saturday 17 August 2013 at the Old Fire Station 115 Mitchell Street Glebe the Glebe community will come together to launch its newsletter The Glebe Grapevine, and the DVD 50 ways to hold your fence up.  Urban protection icon Jack Mundey and local Greens MP Jamie Parker will be asked to launch the community newsletter, The Glebe Grapevine, and a satirical you tube “50 Ways to Hold Your Fence Up” at the Old Fire Station in Mitchell Street, Glebe this Saturday 17 August at 2pm.


The newsletter and DVD are an initiative of Hands Off Glebe, a resident’s group committed firstly to the preservation and extension of public housing as well as the conservation of the historic urban landscape of Glebe.


According to the Auditor General’s recent report on Making the best use of public housing July 30 2013:  “It is estimated that all social housing only meets 44 per cent of need in New South Wales.”


The State Governments of both major parties have been trying to free themselves of the responsibility of public housing and it shows in Glebe as well as in other places.  Neglect and selling off of public housing in Glebe is common it is time for this process to be stopped by concerted community action.  Hence our campaigns via the newsletter Glebe Grapevine and social media.  We have had some success in getting some maintenance carried out.


Hands off Glebe started because of the Cowper Street Project in Glebe where 134 units were demolished to make way for high rise development and 50% of the public land is to be alienated to the private sector.  An issue we are still fighting.


For more information contact Denis Doherty 0418 290 663

Visit our website: www.handsoffglebe.org

View our you tube film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qWGM5nU9NY

Gallery about the launch of the Glebe Grapevine

Gallery of fences – view