From the Heart: Ku-Ring-Gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson
By ALEC SMART
The Ku-ring-gai mayor talks to Neighbourhood Media about housing targets, bushfires, elections, and the future.
Mayor Jennifer Anderson, councillor for Roseville ward, has lived in Ku-ring-gai for 33 years after growing up in Chatswood. A recipient of numerous awards, the popular leader has served a long career as Ku-ring-gai Mayor – six terms!
Ms Anderson has no doubt seen significant changes during her stewardship of the council. What does she rate as the best improvements for Ku-ring-gai throughout that time?
“Ku-ring-gai is still recognised as one of the best places to live and to raise a family in a safe and naturally beautiful area,” she said. “In the last 14 years since I became a councillor, I think the Council has done an excellent job of balancing recreational needs for families along with protecting Ku-ring-gai’s natural environment.
“Under our land acquisition policy,” she continued, “the Council has acquired land to build new parks and play areas for residents in high growth areas, such as St Ives and Turramurra"
“To date, Council has acquired over 23,000 sqm of land to create new parks and playgrounds. Examples are Lapwing Reserve St Ives and Cameron Park Turramurra.
“When I was elected to Council, the Ku-ring-gai Fitness and Aquatic Centre was just an idea, so to see it realised and being extremely well utilised is fabulous…
“We have also been delivering a range of improvements to assist the aged or those with mobility issues to better access community facilities. It is so important that we cater for all our residents.”
In a Facebook post on 26 October, Mayor Anderson revealed Ku-ring-gai Council has rejected the NSW Govt’s housing targets strategy. Her post stated that “This decision means that targets for new housing will revert to those already within our existing Local Environmental Plans.”
This is good news for local democracy, and a reversal of Frank Sartor’s planning law reforms over 12 years ago (which took power away from councils and allowed the NSW Govt to implement high-rise housing schemes that weren’t necessarily in keeping with the suburbs that were affected).
But what does this rejection of NSW Govt housing targets entail on a practical basis?
“Ku-ring-gai Council formally voted not to proceed with increased heights and additional new zonings at its October meeting,” Ms Anderson explained. “This means that new housing in Ku-ring-gai will be limited to existing heights and housing numbers under current planning controls…
“Population growth and the proliferation of apartment development foisted on Ku-ring-gai by state governments has been challenging. Many residents are still coming to terms with the fact that the elected Council now has no role in determining any development applications following this change made by the state government a few years ago.”
Ku-ring-gai Council has adopted a draft Heritage Strategy for Ku-ring-gai to support long term protection for heritage items. Ms Anderson explained how heritage buildings and items will immediately benefit once the strategy is implemented.
“The draft Ku-ring-gai Heritage Strategy is intended to cover all aspects of heritage management at a strategic level and tells the community about Council’s priorities in relation to heritage. The strategy outlines key priorities and acknowledges where further investigation is required, such as items of Aboriginal heritage.
“All existing listed heritage Items and properties within existing heritage conservation areas will continue to benefit from the Heritage Strategy through actions such as the heritage advisory service, heritage grants, heritage training & case studies and heritage education.
“Our planning strategies have protected the suburbs of Ku-ring-gai most noted for their heritage value through the creation of heritage conservation areas. These areas have additional planning controls to protect streetscapes with special historical and aesthetic character such as the architectural style of buildings, fences, trees and gardens.”
In August, Ku-ring-gai Council won the Excellence in Communication category in the Local Govt NSW RG Dougherty Awards for their bushfire awareness campaign, called Get Ready Ku-ring-gai.
Why was LGNSW, the peak body representing NSW’s 128 councils, so impressed?
“The campaign aimed to raise awareness of the need for residents to plan ahead for the bushfire season. Get Ready Ku-ring-gai used an innovative 3D simulation tool called the Sim Table to show residents how a bushfire could start and spread in their neighbourhood.
“Residents were invited to see the Sim Table at workshops conducted by Council staff and RFS volunteers, who then provided advice on how to put together a bushfire plan.
“The education campaign was boosted through a video, social media posts and e-news stories, which increased participation in bushfire planning workshops by around 50%.
“According to the judges, the Get Ready Ku-ring-gai campaign was ‘an excellent project…..and gets higher marks because of the innovation element and also the collaborative approach taken with relevant partners’.”
As 2021 approaches, Ms Anderson is looking forward to helping charities and volunteer groups in assisting the community.
“There are so many wonderful volunteer groups across Ku-ring-gai and a number of them have been significantly impacted in raising funds during 2020. I do hope that our community will support those charities with donations over the Christmas period to sustain their good work. Council has provided grant assistance where it can to help local organisations...”
What interesting announcements might be in the pipeline for Ku-ring-gai Council-sponsored projects and events?
“Assuming that there is an end to COVID-19 restrictions on community events, we are looking forward to again hosting the Medieval Faire at St Ives Showground in September 2021.
“A plan of management is currently being prepared for the Showground to examine its use as a venue for events and other recreational purposes. Showground users are participating in a series of workshops to examine the Showground’s potential for expanded and different uses. The Council has been successful in obtaining grant funding from the NSW Government to upgrade the road network and some buildings at the Showground.
“I am also looking forward to the Council elections in September 2021. It is democracy in action and often it's an opportunity to engage with residents who tend not to write to councillors. However, I hope all residents know my contact details are on Council's website and I love to hear directly from them if they have an idea or any concerns I would particularly encourage local women to consider standing as Councillors to continue Ku-ring-gai’s good reputation for gender balance on Council.”
Contact Mayor Anderson
Phone: 9424 0709
Mobile: 0437 037 452
Fax: 9424 0202
Facebook: Mayor Jennifer Anderson