Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Arthur Bullen, who has visited Watsons Bay for the past 89 years ask Minister Speakman to #Savewatsonsbay

" I am sure Christopher Drivas of the Dockside Group has no idea of the history of the area and only wants to develop it for financial and commercial reasons. The area has to remain as it is and has been for many years. My answer to the development is definitely NO "

Arthur Bullen's letter to Minister Speakman and Gabrielle Upton details the beauty of Watsons Bay and its importance to him over the past 89 years. As a regular visitor to Camp Cove and Gap Bluff for the past 89 year Bullen says this development must be stopped

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Council Rejects Gap Bluff development on 15 counts- why would NPWS even consider it as a viable proposition?

Woollahra Council's Development Control Committee rejected the Gap Bluff proposal on 15 counts at a meeting on October 6.

Read why they said no.....and write to Minister Speakman and tell him he should do the same!

Recommendation: THAT the Council advise the Office of Environment and Heritage that the Gap Bluff development (alterations and additions to the existing buildings) on the following land within Watsons Bay: 
 The Officers Mess, Armoury and Gap Bluff Cottage located on Gap Bluff Road.
 Constables Cottage located at 32 Cliff Street, Watsons Bay.
 33 Cliff Street, Watsons Bay.
 Green Point Cottage located at 36 Pacific Street, Watsons Bay.

is unsatisfactory and not supported by Council for the following reasons: 

1. That Council does not support the proposal because of the cumulative impacts upon the amenity of tourists, visitors, existing businesses and residents of Watsons Bay, in particular the traffic, parking and noise impacts are considered by Council to not be fully justified by the proposal and are unsatisfactory. Woollahra Municipal Council Development Control Committee Minutes Development Control Committee of 6 October 2015 Page 3498

2. That Council does not support the proposal because the proposal will not foster public appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of nature and cultural heritage and their conservation or providing for the management of land reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 in accordance with the management principles articulated by the Plan of Management for Sydney Harbour National Park 2012 (PoM), in particular it is considered that "Key project 11 - Gap Bluff Adaptive Re-use" was to include appropriate community uses and provide increased opportunities for visitor appreciation and access to the site. (page 41 of the PoM). There are no community uses proposed and access to the site will be restricted, not increased.

3. The proposal does not demonstrate exemplary adaptive re-use management of the South Head, Camp Cove and Green, Point or Gap Bluff precincts because it fails to include community uses and increased opportunities for visitor appreciation and access to the site (page 41 of the PoM).

4. The proposal will not improve access to the National Park, and is consistent with the aims and objectives of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. Specifically, the proposal is contrary to section 2A(c) and section 2A(d) of the Act.

5. The proposal is inconsistent with the identified desired outcomes of the Plan of Management of Sydney Harbour National Park 2012 (PoM).

6. The proposal would adversely impact upon the heritage significance of The Officers’ Mess, The Armoury, Constables Cottage, Gap Bluff Cottage and Green Point Cottage, which are designated as Heritage Items within the Woollahra Local Environmental Plan 2014. 7. The proposal fails to provide adequate off street car parking.

8. The traffic generated by the proposal would adversely impact upon the local road network.

9. The proposal would adversely impact upon emergency service vehicle access.

10. The proposal exceeds the relevant noise criterion, and would fail to maintain a reasonable level of acoustic privacy to the neighbouring properties.

11. The proposal results in an unacceptable intensification of the use of the subject site. 12. There is insufficient public transport infrastructure to support the proposal.

 13. The public consultation of the proposal has been grossly insufficient.

14. The proposal fails to protect the intrinsic value of the National Park for the local residents and broader public. 1

5. For the reasons set out above, the proposal is not considered to be in the public interest. Note: The Council would support a process where the community and Council are engaged in the development of a more appropriate proposal for the adaptive reuse of the subject buildings, which addresses the issues set out above.

 Woollahra Municipal Council Development Control Committee Minutes Development Control Committee of 6 October 2015 Page 3499 Read the full document here 

Take a tour of what could be lost at Watsons Bay #savewatsonsbay

Listen to the locals, the international visitors and the park lovers who want National Parks and Minister Mark Speakman to #savewatsonsbay

Take a tour of Watsons Bay National Park - before National Parks hand it over to a developer

Monday, 12 October 2015

Join Us Thursday October 14 at 6pm Robertson Park rotunda to show your support for #savewatsonsbay

National Parks Community meeting will take place this Thursday, 15th October. Have your say! 
Only together we can stop the overdevelopment of Watsons Bay. 
Meet at Robertson Park the Rotunda at 6pm. 
All welcome - tell your neighbours, friends and family. We need everyone who loves Watsons Bay to attend and register their say against this shameful plan.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

See our new posters which come out next week.

Print them out and post them on your door, front gate, car or house window.

Spread the word.....#savewatsonsbay

Friday, 25 September 2015

Dockside Group brings Darling Harbour to Watsons Bay

National Parks are custodians of this land for all Australians. Tell the Minister for Environment and Heritage Mark Speakman to reject this proposal

The Yellow line shows the scale of the party precinct planned by Dockside Group looming over Watsons Bay. Bottom right, the three buildings outlined in red are the Gap Bluff function centre and party accommodation which will double in size. These will be linked by new footpaths and mini buses with Constables Cottage and Cliff St ( top centre in red )  the proposed venue/ restaurant on Camp Cove Beach and party accommodation. Further party accomodation is shown  left outlined in red 

The sheer scale of the Dockside Group plans for Watsons Bay are shown in this aerial view from the tender document. The yellow line shows how the party precinct will loom over Watsons Bay from the three buildings in red at Gap Bluff down to the development of Constables Cottage on historic Camp Cove beach . This chunk of National Park is half of the available parkland on South Head given over to a private developer to run industrial scale parties, school formals and weddings. Dockside Group run the 2000-person venue in Darling Harbour and plan to bring their industrial scale functions to Watsons Bay's delicate village and National Park with no additional parking, no transport or traffic solutions and no solutions to noise pollution, security and safety of guests and residents.  A fitting use of the beach where Captain Arthur Phillip first landed in Sydney Harbour?  

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Wentworth Courrier article spotlights dangers of Watsons Bay becoming a wedding factory with proposal put forward by National Parks and Wildlife. 

Residents say they are almost at breaking point and feel as though they are in the way in their own backyard, Camp Cove beach. And they believe a proposal from National Parks and Wildlife to use six historic buildings to host functions centres, restaurants and short-term accommodation will turn Watsons Bay into a “factory for weddings”.

See more:

Saturday, 19 September 2015

An alternate dawn chorus of partygoers threatens Watsons Bay

We loved Ailsa Piper's moving piece about Watsons Bay and the threat to our parkland in the Sydney Morning Herald. Ailsa recently moved to Watsons Bay and is a well known playwright, writer and actress.

Our pristine parkland is a barometer of who we are and who we were and its worth fighting for

Constables Cottage in the trees in centre of the photo at beach level, currently unobtrusive but could be the lynchpin of a development in Watsons Bay which brings 2000 guests a weekend to the small village and historic beach . Photo SMH

Just over a century ago, a Mr J. Barracluff farmed ostriches on Sydney's South Head. The notion seems laughable now. Ostriches, on one of Australia's most iconic sites!
Out there among the bush of the national park, birds rule the airwaves – kookaburras, lorikeets, wagtails, wrens, galahs and honeyeaters chorus. The Pacific crashes against sandstone cliffs and thumps onto tessellated rocks where seals bask and dive. Inside the Heads, waves lap the sand of Camp Cove, a soundtrack for the to and fro of Manly ferries.
I have no argument with development or with brides – there are plenty of both in Watsons Bay. 
Sharp-eyed visitors note the plaque at Camp Cove, marking where Arthur Phillip first landed in Sydney Harbour on January 21, 1788. They're usually amazed, knowing only the later landing date. Others ask about the original inhabitants who lived and fished the cove, which they called Kutti, and about reports of rock art in the area. Questions about banksias and Sydney wattle, magpies and cockatoos, are asked in many languages, while selfies taken beside the cannon on the convict-laid cobbles are despatched to all corners of the globe.
Now this fragile ecology of history, heritage and nature is threatened. A proposal has been made for redevelopment of former military buildings within the National Park, and of two heritage cottages by the beach, so hundreds of wedding guests can party until midnight or be ferried in minibuses between venues.
I laughed when I first read of it. Surely this was a joke, as daft as ostrich farming would now be in a national park?
But it would seem not.
Dollars may prove more enticing than birdsong, though kookaburras will find nothing to laugh at above the din of late-night disco or the sight of picnickers being shunted aside by those who can pay the prices of high-end caterers and restaurateurs.
I have no argument with development or with brides – there are plenty of both in Watsons Bay. It's a hard-working little patch where hotels and restaurants cater for all comers. A balance between commercial and public, expensive and accessible amenities has been achieved there, but it's delicately poised, and such an intensive commercial usage of the parkland will destroy the very thing that makes it special – enduring nature in the middle of a crowded city.
I am not making a cry about the excessive car traffic this will bring, or the noise and rubbish pollution that may ensue. I make a cry for parkland. For what we offer to those who come in search of inexpressible beauty in our city.
It is the gift of public parklands to allow visitors space and time to ask questions, of themselves and of the landscape. Parks tell us much about who we are and who we were. They are mental as well as physical health zones; places for the spirit, if one dare speak of such things in cities. It's why we designate them as "heritage" – treasures we pass on to future generations, as unspoiled and intact as possible.
South Head has greeted visitors for centuries, long before Phillip nosed through the heads. Its majestic sandstone cliffs still emanate timelessness, yet it's smack in the metropolis of modern Sydney, only a short stroll from the ferry wharf where hundreds regularly disembark.
For decades, I was one of those ferry-riders, drawn by the history and drama of the place. Four months ago, grieving the loss of my husband, I moved into a flat in the area. I've become convinced that the parkland of Gap Bluff and Camp Cove is sacred, as I've stood at the railings where others have ended their days, telling myself I choose life; I choose the side of the fence that is for the living, for as long as I may.
I often meet tourists who tell me they've come looking for healing or beauty; for pause. Inevitably, they turn to make the pilgrimage through Gap Bluff and Camp Cove to the headland, silenced by the birds and sea, the city a mirage on the horizon.
Let's not put our heads in the sand, like Mr Barracluff's ostriches. Let's put them together to dream better ways to subsidise the restoration of the park's heritage buildings.
Parks are arks. Let's keep them that way.
Ailsa Piper is an author and playwright.