“The Duke” – June 2020


June 2020

Friends of Freshwater
Community News
Volume 21, 2020 Update from The Friends of Freshwater Inc.




Freshwater Village, is going through a period of transition. In the past 8 years, there have been three major constructions and a further one proposed.  In addition, there has been much retail turnover in the suburb.  It is no longer a fashion hub.  Fortunately, as the home of surfing, it still has a newly refurbished Surf Shop, and there are also signs of a resurgence, with new retail shops preparing to open.

It also looks as though fitting out of an IGA Supermarket may be about to occur with tradesmen contracted by the Liquidator starting work inside the premises.


Friends of Freshwater has been involved with every aspect of the DA involving what is now the built “Freshwater” complex.   The previous Harbord Growers operation had a large loading dock that supported a curtained truck that came weekly from the Flemington Markets. This influx of fresh fruit and vegetables was much prized by local restaurants and the local community. They knew that every Monday morning there would be a large delivery of fresh produce.


Unfortunately, the new Apartment/Retail complex, with supermarket and shops below, was premised on deliveries of a smaller size from cold stores in western Sydney rather that the Flemington Markets.  These could be delivered by medium rigid trucks that could operate from a smaller loading dock. As part of the DA, provision was made for a turntable to enable these vehicles to place their rear to the dock.  Apparently, this is a workable solution although some suggest that it is not.


The “Freshwater” complex has also been the subject of what is understood to be prolonged litigation amongst various parties, which has taken a long time to reach resolution. It now appears that whatever matters were at issue are being resolved.


As to the Landlord on the southern side of the Village, there appears to be a case to answer for a combination of high rents, negative interaction with tenants and insecure leases with insertion of demolition clauses. The net effect of all this appears to be emptying of shops or emergence of short-term pop-ups. These issues are compounded by the restrictions posed by Covid 19.


There is also the prolonged impact of developments that have disturbed pedestrian traffic flows and made the Village unpleasant to walk around. The Village has been in a constant state of flux over the last 7 years.


We have also recently lost the presence of Harbord Property Lawyers and Robinson Strata which have both moved elsewhere. Likewise, for the high-end boutique, 23 Albert St. which is moving to Manly along with the name.


Overall the Village will take a long time to overcome these situations but the Friends of Freshwater, with your assistance and from others, will be working hard to alleviate it.



There has been much discussion and community concern expressed over the commissioning of public art by Northern Beaches Council, using funds provided by the State Government from the merger of the three former Councils.  There has also been a great deal of misplaced and sometimes malevolent misinformation (mainly in the social media) as to the factual basis for these proposed commissions.

Council recently resolved at its recent meeting of 23 June, to set up a fund raising plan to ensure that the 21 prioritised sites along the Coastal Walkway (including the 2 in Freshwater) had a sustainable budget. It asked that a Report be brought to Council in the next three months, that would look at a possible Trust Fund that might provide security for possible donors to the fund.

The Friends of Freshwater has been keenly interested in developing meaningful public art in the broader Freshwater community. Over the last 8 years, we have gained grants to commission 2 public sculptures in Jacka Park, a 5 metre mural on the wall of a Service Station in Soldiers Avenue, a commissioned aboriginal art work in Freshwater Village Plaza, and a Whale/Surfing motif in the same plaza.  Our bush regeneration project has also uncovered the stone-carving work of the “phantom carver”, Mick Leslie, on rock formations on the Freshwater headlands.

Our interest in Public Art as a means of creating vibrancy and liveliness in our community, is ongoing. For too long our community has lacked in this area.


In recent years, we have also been closely involved in Council workshops and project teams associated with the Palm Beach to Manly Coastal Walk. Some of these community consultations involved discussion of the most appropriate locations for public art.  These consultations have been occurring over a number of years.


We are therefore a strong advocate for the location of permanent, commissioned art work in Freshwater and particularly along the coastline between Curl Curl and Queenscliff.


This public art should be commissioned through a tender process from local professional artists and wherever possible should use local industry in its construction and installation. Local artists in a constrained coronavirus climate would welcome such artistic opportunities.



The recent East Coast Low that hit the Northern Beaches had a significant impact on south Curl Curl ocean pool with it being a receptacle for sand being taken off the beaches and redistributed. (See photo below.)  Local Excavator, Rick Pybus, was given the task by Council of removing the sand contents and placing it along the beach. His team of operators removed 200 tonnes of sand that had been dumped by the powerful seas.  This was the most in a decade of cleaning this Pool.



Freshie Community Garden has gained an environment grant to assist with the construction of a plant propagation structure on its site in Crown Reserve. The $5,000 grant from the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science and Environment was facilitated by the Warringah Federal Electorate Office of Zali Steggall, MP.


Freshie Community Garden is located in Crown Reserve, between Queenscliff and Crown Roads.


With 100% volunteer labour and structural items predominantly scrounged from dumped and recycled materials, the Garden will make this grant go a long way.  Already the timber structure frame has been completed. (See photo below) The roof will be of salvaged glass and the walls clad with wire mesh.  When completed, gardeners will be able to grow plants from seed stock.




Submissions are currently being received by Council for a large building to be constructed on the current Robinsons Strata site at 50 Lawrence Street.  This is a landmark site which has attracted the attention of 35 submissions from local residents.


The Friends of Freshwater has a series of major concerns including: –


  • The proposed part 4 storeys and 12m height exceed the LEP limits of 3 storeys and 11m.
  • The DA is non-compliant with the DCP landscaped area requirement that 25% of the site is landscape. The proposal only has a  small rooftop garden proposed.
  • The residential component of the proposal dominates the site. This is inconsistent with the land use B2 zoning which requires the provision of a range of retail, business, entertainment and community uses that serve the needs of people who live in, work in and visit the local area. A development disproportionately comprising 70m2 allocated to commercial use and 900m2 allocated to residential use cannot achieve the intended outcomes of the B2 zoning.
  • The sheer bulk of the building overshadows the neighbouring property to the south.
  • The proposed development is totally out of character with the heritage buildings to its north and the Freshwater Village in general.
  • The proposed on-site parking allocation is 2 spaces short of the DCP parking requirement. 21 required/19 provided.
  • The addition of an extra access driveway in Dowling Street where the current accessible 139 bus stop is contravenes the intent of the Freshwater DCP to improve pedestrian safety in the Village.
  • The proposal requires the removal/relocation of the accessible 139 bus stop in Dowling Street, adversely impacting public transport access for able-bodied and disabled public transport commuters to the commercial centre of Freshwater. There ought to be space available for a bus shelter and seating.
  • The build cost at $3.3m for 13 units, suggests a construction cost per unit of $253k which is exceedingly low and implies a frugal approach to construction.
  • There is no mention of the linkage between the building and the public verge around it. Other buildings in Freshwater have supplied public amenities such as public seating, bicycle racks, public art, and landscaped garden plots.



With the rapid rise in real estate values in Freshwater, it is becoming clear that some of the built structure and architecture that has defined the various phases of the suburb’s growth over the last century as well as the people who resided here, is in danger of being lost forever.

Freshwater has not had a Heritage Review since 1995 and council has agreed to FOF submitting some examples which might warrant consideration. Two examples are submitted here with photos attached: –

  • 23 Albert Street
  • Bonnie Walter’s Beach Cottage in The Drive