Protecting Ku-ring-gai’s Local Character requires more diligence.

Council is seeking input into the development of Ku-ring-gai’s Local Character in order to manage development ‘in a way that conserves and enhances Ku-ring-gai’s unique visual and landscape character’. This is an absolutely essential and important exercise and we fear that Council is just rushing this through its Local Strategic Planning Statement priorities, without the rigour that is required to effectively understand and allow the protections our area deserves.

In 2000, when the last Character Study was undertaken as one of the baseline studies to form the basis of the Residential Strategy for Ku-ring-gai, Council commissioned Heritage consultants (Gordon, Mackay, Logan) and Urban Planners (Keys, Young) to prepare a Heritage and Neighbourhood Character study. This comprised a rigorous assessment of the character of each suburb with a set of noteworthy, and still relevant, recommendations as to the retention of the area’s character and visual appeal as development occurred. A 1999 street by street analysis conducted by MA Schell consultants supported this Study.

The current Local Character Study will continue into 2021 and include workshops as well as the online survey and interactive mapping to gauge the community views as to what constitutes the character of Ku-ring-gai and our suburbs, but no substantial study has been included, nor are heritage consultants being used. This is a massive error when Ku-ring-gai has already seen a 25% increase in population since 2006 and the character of all our suburbs have been altered as a result.

The current study has divided Ku-ring-gai into 8 local character areas, Green Fingers (the suburbs bordering National Parks), Ku-ring-gai Ridge and Centres (Along the Pacific Highway ridgeline and St Ives centre), Northern Plateau (Wahroonga to Pymble and St Ives), Western Slopes (South Turramurra to south Wahroonga), West Pymble, Lower West (West Lindfield), Heritage Core (Roseville to Gordon) and North Turramurra Table.

In the online survey, each area has a character statement for comment and to add special places. We urge you to take the opportunity to participate, just follow this link The deadline was 18th December, however the survey remains open for comment.

By defining and dissecting suburbs into Character Areas, the manner in which each suburb has developed independently, with the advent of the rail line or the move away from agriculture, is lost. The rationale of how each suburb has grown over the past 150 years is essential to its character.

As a community we believe that Ku-ring-gai deserves better than what is little more than a superficial approach to a critical Character Study. The future impact of further degradation of our area’s heritage, streetscape and character is at stake if there is not a more professional approach to identifying and conserving Ku-ring-gai’s special local character.