FOKE is a community group with membership drawn from across Ku-ring-gai, opposing inappropriate and unsympathetic overdevelopment within Ku-ring-gai, and defending and promoting the cultural and natural heritage of Ku-ring-gai.
FOKE is not anti-development. We work on behalf of residents and friends for the maintenance of Ku-ring-gai’s heritage and the enhancement of the existing traditional character and amenity of its environment, both built and natural.
Some time ago the NSW Government established an “Independent” Local Government Review Panel, to review how local governments operate and are structured. In April, the Panel published its report, with its recommendations on the future directions of NSW Local Government.
A key recommendation of the report is the amalgamation (or merger) of councils. For our area, the report recommends the amalgamation of Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Councils.
It makes no effort to demonstrate clear benefits to either community from being part of a larger Council, relying instead on bold assertions of reduced rates and better services. What seems very clear are the significant upfront costs that would be involved in merging, with an expectation of less visible resident representation or discussion as part of a larger Council. It would also likely mean the end of the opportunity for representation by truly independent councillors, given the greatly increased costs of getting elected – candidates financially backed by political parties would have a significant advantage. – but under pressure to toe party lines!
In Ku-ring-gai, our character, heritage and environment would therefore likely suffer as part of a larger Council, and issues affecting just Ku-ring-gai or one or more of its suburbs could expect to gain little traction.
Ku-ring-gai Council is preparing a submission on the Panel's recommendations and is seeking input from its residents. North Shore Councils have met to discuss the issue, and (apart from Hornsby and Willoughby!) appear to have shown little enthusiasm for the proposals.
Complete this short survey to help Council better understand the community's opinion on amalgamation and the options available to Council. The survey will take approximately five minutes to complete. To learn more about the report's recommendations click here
We issue regular newsletters and occasional emails. Join our mailing list, or change your contact details by clicking here.
The State Government has recently published its White Paper, indicating its intentions for a major overhaul of NSW's planning legislation and controls. As expected, most of the changes they have flagged appear aimed at making the path of developers much easier, and drastically reducing the opportunity for comment or influence development proposals by neighbours, other residents or communities generally. FOKE and over 400 other community groups across NSW have banded together to resist the changes, in a new umbrella group, Better Planning Network. We highly recommend that you click that link, watch their video, and do all you can to support BPN, by joining its email campaigns, regularly visiting its site, and by donation.
See also our community flyer, summarising the thrust of the White Paper, and in particular the wide range of issues to which all thinking residents should now be objecting in strong terms and calling for change in the Government's direction. Premier O'Farrell made unequivocal promises before the last election to "return planning control to local communities", and the White Paper flags not just a broken promise, but a clear betrayal of Ku-ring-gai residents, and indeed all those who took him at his many written and spoken words on the issue.
International expert's dismay re Ku-ring-gai
When visiting international planning expert, Joel Kotkin, keynote speaker at the Property Council Congress "Cities Summit 2011", inspected Ku-ring-gai's suburbs, he was appalled at the inconsiderate destruction of the community environment. He said "What is happening in Ku-ring-gai is amongst the worst I have seen and dreadful that the surroundings built up over the years is being destroyed by bureaucratic ideology". For a full report of his remarks click here.
See also our latest newsletter Our 2013 AGM and Public Forum were held on 20 March. The President's 2013 Report delivered on that occasion is a separate download and provides considerable detail. For copies of all our newsletters, visit our newsletter archive.
A collation of items from print and other media relating to Ku-ring-gai and wider planning issues can be found here.
For further media items of interest we recommend visiting the Ku-ring-gai Residents Alliance site at www.notsohigh.org.au.
See also the new community heritage site at www.heritagespace.com.au.
The acclaimed State of Siege film documenting the trashing of Ku-ring-gai by inappropriate and over-development has been updated by www.tropicofoz.com, following the NSW March 2011 election. At this stage, seven Australian universities have sought copies of it and are screening it for pedagogical purposes. Audiences at universities and elsewhere, are finding the documentary “riveting”. We congratulate resident Dennis Grosvenor on presenting so well the adverse effects of development on his neighbourhood.
Take a look at our video “Ku-ring-gai For Sale”, showing Ku-ring-gai places which have been or will be demolished and replaced by unacceptably high and intrusive apartment blocks. See the environmental destruction of this extensive architectural heritage area and critically endangered native bushland and wildlife, forced on us by the NSW State Government. We accept change, but it should be appropriate to the area, and in accordance with the community's wishes and values. Our voice should be heeded!
See also the media coverage of the “Death of Democracy” rally, plus a short video report on the rally! And don't miss FOKE's first video, "What we have lost".