HOUSING development may be booming to the north-west of Lake Macquarie ('Lake boom', Newcastle Herald, 19/8), but developers are driving it, not sound planning. What's done is done but henceforth can councils take charge and focus new housing close to railway stations and other public transport routes? Can there be green corridors for recreation and wildlife? Can there be clever, smaller houses that use space smartly, capture heat from winter sun through appropriate orientation, and have a roof design for optimum photovoltaic powering and solar hot water installation? Can housing developments include low-cost terrace-style units, including units for solo- or couple-occupation, and units for public-housing rental? Could there be trees scattered through the development for shade, for birds, for simple relief from bricks and roofs and roads and pavements? Could there possibly be space for small shopping precincts within walking distance of homes? The 'Lake boom' is way behind the times. Our suburban sprawl is an old-fashioned Australian waste of space and energy. Call in the 21st-century town planners, and design for a housing future that is a lot less resource-wasteful than our present and past.
Ken Rubeli, Bandon Grove via Dungog
Parking and parks are key
LAKE Macquarie City Council is consulting with the community on the Toronto waterfront precinct but excluding the controversial Bath Street development site. Certainly the prospects of cafes and/or restaurants in the vicinity of the former railway station overlooking the lake would be a drawcard - even maybe an over-water restaurant like Scratchleys in Newcastle? This would be a point of difference for the western side of the lake. Connecting pathways and landscaping from Goffet Park to Bath Street, similar to the park adjoining the art gallery at Booragul, would also be a good fit. However it would be commonsense to differentiate Toronto's waterfront from the Warners Bay waterfront. I only recently became aware of the purpose-built two-lane cycle/walkway from Toronto to Fassifern. This pathway meanders through bushland, across bridges and next to the lake. It is well used by locals but many Toronto residents seem to be unaware of its existence. With some publicity I am sure it could become popular, but be quite different to the Warners Bay/Speers Point path. This path was built by an earlier council but I question why the council has ignored the possibilities here for many years while promoting Warners Bay/Speers Point. It is also interesting the council describes the Bath Street site that has been in their ownership for 17 years as "a degraded site used as an overflow parking area ... that does not do justice to its location or potential". Of course if the Toronto/Fassifern path became popular then a landscaped car park and interpretive centre at Bath Street would be ideally located to service both it and a newly-activated foreshore. A landscaped public park and parking would do much to attract visitors.
Wilton Ainsworth, Kilaben Bay
Violence in words
I CAN accept Rob Cosgrove's suggestion regarding Alan Jones' "shove a sock down her throat" comment regarding Jacinda Ardern (Short Takes, 20/8). Yes, it was likely a clumsy attempt to refer to the idea of someone "putting a sock in it", i.e. shutting up. But that's not all it was. "Put a sock in it" certainly does not suggest the same violence as "shove a sock down her throat". The latter goes a lot further to an extent that is not sufficiently explained by clumsiness. Earlier, Jones referred to Ardern's criticism and said he hoped Morrison "gets tough here with a few backhanders". He wasn't talking about tennis. The man has a problem with violent imagery regarding women.
Michael Jameson, New Lambton
Bit tough to take
WHAT is going on? Front page of our family newspaper ('I won't take it anymore', Herald, 17/8) we have a full picture of a has-been rugby league player in the typical bully-boy pose looking tough with one fist in the other hand. OK, these days the word p--f can't be used as someone will be offended - Mr Roberts says there are kids hiding in their houses and their bedrooms and kids in the suburbs killing themselves. Why would they kill themselves because a Newcastle councillor use the "p" word? Mr Roberts then calls the councillor a "f---ing idiot", well done. I ask how this bloke can complain about a bloke using a word to describe someone then he does the same. Most of us Aussies have been called an idiot a few times in our lives; maybe us idiots should get offended. Very disappointing the paper gave him his 15 minutes of fame.
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kevin Miller, Windale
Accredited to use home
NEWCASTLE East residents have just been issued with their yearly notices telling them they are required by Supercars to become accredited in order to access their own homes during the three-day event in November. Included in the conditions which they must accept, is the following warning: "Motor sport activities, the event and activities associated with the event, are inherently dangerous and accidents can happen. There is significant risk of an accident causing injury, disability, death or property damage or economic loss." Yet, a condition of accepting a ticket of entry also excuses Supercars from any liability, including injury, death or damage to goods and property. To add insult to injury, in having no option but to accept these terms, the accreditation of residents by these means, I believe, accounted last year for 25,704 of their attendance figures.
Christine Everingham, Newcastle East
Feeling planning pain
LIKE Sophie Tanchev (Letters, 15/8), I also have had issues with Newcastle council's planning department. It consented to the erection of a large building consisting of two adjoining two-storey townhouses in the subdivided small backyard of the property adjacent to mine. The council has treated me, and its own Development Control Plan, with utter contempt. I objected to the development on multiple grounds to no avail. The development is totally out of proportion and character for the local area. I have lost privacy, amenity, views and afternoon winter sun. The occupants of the building can see straight into my kitchen window, garage and backyard, where I like to spend time. It is my view that my property will have lost considerable value. I believe the council has also disregarded its own requirements in respect of setbacks, floor areas, room sizes, parking, design features, earthworks, outside covered areas etc. There are also some questions it has refused to answer. Sadly, I think greed wins. I, like Sophie, had little success with the office of Local Government or the Ombudsman. They don't seem interested in doing their job. I haven't finished yet.