Town Planning

Photo of the old St Marys Council now the headquarters of the Society courtesy of Tom Thorburn.

IN his minutes submitted to St Marys’ Council in August 1947, Mayor Alderman Joseph Cook said that the town planners Messrs Bunning and Madden submitted a revised residential area to the Town Planning Committee to accommodate a population of 31,500 residents and the Committee accepted in principle. Messrs Bunning and Madden had asked for permission to proceed with the details on behalf of the Council and the Mayor granted this request and asked for endorsement from the Council on this. (This firm was founded by Walter Bunning in 1945 in Sydney and was most prominent between 1955 and the 1970s.). On the motion of Alderman Mackay, seconded by Alderman Rance it was decided in view of statements by the Deputy Director to ask the Secondary Industries Division as to what area will be allocated in the planning for private industries.  Alderman Mackay said that at the recent conference in Sydney it was pointed out that St Marys’ Council was the only one in the area that had been planning and he thought that the people of St Marys should be informed of the fact that their Council has done something that will go a long way in helping the development of St Marys, and if the Council and Bunning and Madden had not gone to the trouble that they had, he did not think that St Marys and the surrounding area would be in the position of being on the threshold of a very wide and lively development of the area, and in view of the controversy that had taken place regarding town planning, he thought that St Marys’ Council should call on the neighbouring Councils with regards to planning their areas and he suggested that the Mayor contact the Councils. Mayor Cook said he would like to follow up the suggestion but was wondering whether it would be wise at the present time in view of future developments that something might take place that would affect the Council. Alderman Blair said that they were definitely told at the conference that Councils that didn’t have any plans would be compelled by the Government to do town planning, and if they don’t get on with the job the Minister would make them, and the Government would ask the Councils to pay for it, so he thought it is up to them to get on with it. There were various aspects of the case that he knew himself, but he was not in a position to divulge them at this time, but it would particularly advance this area and in a few weeks, they might be able to put something concrete before the people of St Marys even though there had been a lot of talk, and they would be in a position to make a start. At present he didn’t think the Council could say very much as far as St Marys was concerned. Alderman Rance said he had not forgotten the meeting about planning that was held in Penrith not long ago, and he did not know how much St Marys had spent, but Penrith and other Councils had spent nothing. There was no town planning at Castlereagh and it was up to Penrith to spend some of their own ratepayers’ money on it and not wait. Council agreed on Alderman Mackay’s suggestion to let the matter stand for the present with a view to finding out what was going on behind the scene. At the meeting of Penrith Council on the same day, the Mayor Alderman F J Allen said there was no doubt that St Marys had elaborate plans prepared for the future and he was disappointed that Penrith Council had done nothing. They had been asked to prepare a master plan at a town planning conference that was held in Sydney to deal with the planning question arising from the large development of St Marys and districts. St Marys’ Council had gone on with its planning and was pressing for a grant for the re-planning of St Marys and he asked that the matter be treated as one of urgency. Other Alderman however thought Penrith had acted wisely in not spending a lot of money on town planning at that stage, regarding it as a national matter rather than one for ratepayers. This question was also a subject of discussion at the meeting of St Marys’ Council. At the conference they decided to ask the Federal Government for £10,000 for preparing a plan and £100,000 for carrying it out. Alderman Tornaros (who, with the mayor was one of the Penrith delegates) said that Penrith delegates were at a loss when they were told they had not advanced much in a town planning scheme. The Commonwealth Government had spent five million in St Marys and they were anxious that something be done and would have to grant something. Alderman Fragar said that as a member of the Council he had not been anxious as ratepayers we should spend a large amount of money. St Marys’ Council has spent something in the vicinity of £10,000, but he did not know whether this was correct and it is not the responsibility of the person who pays rates to do it, it is something of national importance that should be borne by the Government. Alderman Hand said he thought Penrith Council deserves a pat on the back for not spending too much money on town planning and he agreed entirely with Alderman Fragar, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the £10,000 is going to be voted and why should we waste our money? He said that as soon as they get this under way, are we going to be invited to another conference?. The Mayor said that they had no plan to put before the Cumberland County Council to bolster what they want. In September that year the St Marys’ Council asked for a grant for Housing but the Minister for Local Government declined to make a grant towards meeting the cost of roads, in and adjacent to land where the Housing Commission was building at Forrester Road, Griffiths Street, Maple Street and Viney Street. The council received a letter from minister Mr Cahill, through Mr Joseph Jackson MLA., stating that in reference to Mr Jackson’s personal representations on behalf of Council regarding a grant, he investigated the matter and was of the opinion that the construction of roads was a matter for Council and the Housing Commission and he regretted that he was unable to give any financial assistance toward the construction. Alderman Blair said that he supposed that they will have to borrow it themselves and they had a certain loan potential they hadn’t touched.  Mr Evan Ross the Town Clerk said that Council already had an application before the Loan Council for £18,500. 

Sources: – Nepean Times Thursday 14 August 1947, page 1, Thursday 11 September 1947, page 7.