Since our November newsletter, SOSs has been strengthening its organisational structure. Our initial growth spurt has given way to a period of catching up with paperwork.
SOSs is presently being managed by an interim committee while a member database is developed from which a residentsí assembly can be formed.
Now that the stresses of the Local Government elections are behind us, we can begin to focus on the main SOSs objective: changing State Government laws and policies, so that residents can have a real say in decisions that affect their local area.
Through planning policy SEPP53 the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP) bullies and intimidates local communities to accept its dictates imposing high-density development on our Sydney suburbs.
Sutherland Shire Councilís Housing Strategy was initially refused by DUAP, because it contained a clause requiring 80% of residents to agree before a rezoning could go ahead.
R. Stephens, DUAP Assistant Director, Sydney Region East, advised Sutherland Council in writing: ". . . the Department would not (irrespective of the level of support) endorse a Council policy which again relied on owner agreement prior to the consideration of rezoning requests. Such an approach is at odds with the process established under the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979".
Planning Minister Craig Knowles was no less strident: "The message to councils: if they do not properly plan for their future growth, then the State Government will be forced to do it for them" (SMH 9 August 1996).
SEPP 5 thrusts upon communities unlimited amounts of so-called "housing for the aged and disabled" (but really for rich empty nesters). This is done without regard to normal community planning principles. Typically, residents who have worked a good part of their lifetime to purchase and adapt a home in an area zoned for lower densities are suddenly informed of a proposal to build multiple units next to them.
A recent letter in the Sydney Morning Herald noted that DUAPís policy: "chokes formerly quiet streets with traffic, invades resident space and privacy, destroys both leafy and historic precincts and smothers formerly green foreshores and bush in concrete and tiles" (30 March 2000).
To what purpose do we have to endure these outrages? We may well ask! DUAPís policies have been discredited. DUAP has been publicly challenged and cannot provide any practical examples or research to support the benefits it claims for its policy. We will experience the destruction of our environment, amenity and that rare commodity, adequate space, for no purpose at all.
Clearly the law needs to be changed. And one could argue that politicians and bureaucrats could benefit from rethinking their relationship with the communities they are supposed to serve. We need all the support we can get to push for change.
The SOSs structure includes a Residentsí Assembly, which will help determine policy and which will elect the Executive. Eventually every local government area in Sydney will have a representative on the SOSs Residentsí Assembly.
Right now, SOSs needs every member to pro-actively seek out new members. Arrogant governments only listen to loud voices. Itís vital that we halt this authoritarian arrogance now, or our city will be changed forever. We need your help to achieve a large Sydney-wide membership that politicians will respect.
Our ability to network with many community groups is our greatest asset. But we need to know about all of the community groups that are actively working to save suburban lifestyle, heritage and environmental values. If you know of any community groups that could benefit by being part of the SOSs network, please contact us Ė by e-mail, by clicking here.
Renewals Membership renewals are now due for members who joined in the first or second quarter of 1999. Please use the attached combined Renewal/Application form when renewing your membership.Back to Home page