Woollahra seeks refuge within City of Sydney as mandatory mergers near

Woollahra seeks refuge within City of Sydney as mandatory mergers near
Woollahra seeks refuge within City of Sydney as mandatory mergers near

Woollahra Council has made an eleventh hour attempt to avoid the proposed merger with Randwick and Waverley municipalities.

It had told the Local Government Boundaries Commission of inquiry it was best suited to instead merge with the City of Sydney should the State Government insist on forced amalgamations.

"While our communities are against being forced, if the government is hell bent then the majority of my councillors support a merger with city of sydney as opposed to this government proposal of a merger with Randwick and Waverley where there is no community of interest or synergy," the Woollahra mayor, Councillor Toni Zeltzer said yesterday.

"We are of the view that City of Sydney would protect what we value most, better than Randwick and Waverley.

"Like City of Sydney we are a habourside council not a coastal council.

"We value our trees and our heritage just like they do.

"We have legible, discernable precincts just like they do at Sydney.

"Waverley on the other hand has a highrise belt in Bondi Junction, Bondi Beach on the coast and everything in between is a homogenised mess with little legiblity or precinct character."

Another key reason was to see the emergence of a strong heritage Oxford Street shopping precinct in response to international shopping tourism trends.

It currently has both Sydney and Woollahra control.

Woollahra have previously refrained from nominating any merger preferences in its submissions to the State Government because the IPART report provided confirmation that the amalgamation of Woollahra Council with neighbouring councils would result in a significant net cost to the Woollahra community. 

"It makes better sense to leave Woollahra Council well alone,” the Woollahra mayor, Councillor Toni Zeltzer has long said.

But on 18 December the NSW Government released its plan for Woollahra Council to be merged with Randwick and Waverley Councils to form a new eastern suburbs council.

Passing on the Global City Council, the state government agreed the City of Sydney had sufficient scale and capacity to remain a stand-alone council without any boundary changes. 

The likely to be displaced Woollahra community have until 28 February to lodge submissions on the merger plan with the Government’s appointed delegate, Dr Robert Lang, as part of the public inquiry into the merger.

"The vast majority - some 80% - have told us loud and clear that they don’t want to merge with Randwick and Waverley," said Woollahra mayor, Councillor Toni Zeltzer.

Woollahra Council has waged a campaign to stay as a stand-alone council, while Randwick and Waverley have volunteered to merge.

The possibility that Woollahra ratepayers would pay up to $17 million more in annual rates under an amalgamation with Waverley and Randwick Councils due to high land values in Woollahra has been a key issue.

Woollahra’s average residential property value of $1.061 million is 1.7 times more than Waverley’s average of $620,000 and 2.2 times more than Randwick’s $477,000 average residential property value. 

It has volunteered to fund an assessment of the cost benefit of any merger with the City of Sydney.

The City of Sydney was excluded from amalgamations although an initial ILGRP report recommended an amalgamation of Botany Bay, Randwick, Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra councils.

The City was forcibly amalgamated with South Sydney in 2004, which mayor Clover Moore said was enormously disruptive.

Under the Act, Dr Lang has been delegated the function of examining and reviewing the Minister’s proposal into the amalgamation of Randwick City, Waverley and Woollahra Municipal councils, taking into consideration the views of the public and the factors outlined within the Local Government Act through verbal and written submissions.

Under the Act, consideration of other merger suggestions are not within the scope of Dr Lang’s delegated responsibilities.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

Council Woollahra

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