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Residents sick of HOSPITAL DELAYS

Think Local

A lot of residents feel like they are cryogenically frozen, and they want action to thaw out and move on." Those were the fighting words Wakehurst MP Brad Hazzard used to sum up the frustrations of Frenchs Forest locals residing close to the Northern Beaches Hospital, in light of the government once again putting off the decision as to what particular areas around the hospital should be rezoned.

"Government agencies have long been working independently of each other and have been flat footed about the rezoning. At least one or two of the agencies have different views of what should happen there. No-one is singing off the same song sheet. I just want things to be done," Mr Hazzard tells Peninsula Living.

"Yes, it's understandable [the government agencies] have struggled - it's the largest infrastructure on the Northern Beaches in 50 years. But it's extremely disappointing they just can't work it out.

"Myself and [NSW planning minster] Rob Stokes are impressing on the agencies and council to get on with it and make the recommendations."

Northern Beaches Council administrator Dick Persson says, "I share every bit of the locals' frustration," but he also laments that the consequence of where government agencies decide to rezone "are very significant, as there are implications to education, traffic and transport".

Mr Persson continues, "We are pushing council staff, and yes, it's long overdue. But that being said, it's important to get it right."

Frenchs Forest local Tim Pace, who lives on Karingal Crescent, is so fed up with the government's inability to make a decision on the precinct that he's started an online petition.

It already has over 570 signatures.

Since the last meeting in late September, when once again no decision was made, Mr Pace took it upon himself to not only start the page but print out 500 flyers advertising the Finish the Precinct Plan petition.

"Everyone has had enough. People may think we are greedy. Yes, this could be quite good for us monetary wise, but it's more the uncertainty of what to do," he tells Peninsula Living.

"People are questioning what school they should be sending their children to, as they may move soon, or whether they should do renovations. I have a neighbour with a half-finished pool, and they don't know whether to bother completing it or not. We just want to be given some certainty."

What is adding salt to the wound, Mr Pace says, is not only the rezoning indecision - it's the construction noise that he and his family have put up with for six months already.

"The noise is getting unbearable. And there's still another year and a half to go. Our side fence has been caved in due to construction work," he adds.

Another local playing the waiting game is Anne Cowlishaw, who has lived on Hilmer Street for 27 years. She shares a similar experience to Mr Pace, with construction work nearly taking over her backyard.

"All along our side fence is ripped up - it got pulled over at one stage - and workers just sit on it and have meetings," she explains.

The peninsula local says that sometimes the construction is so violent it makes the house shake.

"Council continue to acknowledge our frustration, but still no decision is being made. Everybody is blaming everybody," she tells Peninsula Living.

Ms Cowlishaw reveals that regardless of whether the rezoning includes her property or not, she will be moving. "I'm now on a major highway. All the trees are gone. We are living in an industrial zone. Right now I just feel stuck." And her biggest frustration is a significant one. "I want to retire, but I'm stuck working as I still don't know what's going to happen," she divulges.

When questioned how many times the rezoning announcement has been put off, Tim Pace simply states, "A lot." "In 2014, council started holding meetings with people in the area, and conducted an index study into the surrounding area with the view of rezoning many streets. The findings were meant to be released in 2015."

Since then, Mr Pace says there has been at least "six or seven postponements - and each time, the government offers up a series of different excuses."

However, what concerns the Frenchs Forest Local the most is the fact that, after this delay, the government didn't offer a new decision date.

"Usually they say, 'We missed this deadline - it'll be worked out by some other date. At the last meeting in late September, they literally didn't give an expected release date," he comments.

And when does Mr Pace think the rezoning recommendations will actually be released? "I honestly don't know. I just don't" he laughs disbelievingly. "If you'd asked me last year, I would have said, 'Oh, yeah, maybe a couple of months.' But now I just couldn't tell you."


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