Laurence McGinty, a solicitor and former Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, was elected mayor of Willoughby Municipality in December 1959 and held the position for eight consecutive years. In conjunction with Hugh Robb, by then the council’s first town planner, McGinty set about implementing the Chatswood District Centre Plan, a grand scheme to redevelop the business centre of the municipality as one of Sydney’s major retail and commercial centres. Originally developed by Robb in 1948, the plan envisaged a civic centre, government offices located in a landscaped garden setting; a large bus interchange at Chatswood station serving routes radiating to the north, east, south and west and large department stores and associated shops on surrounding land to be developed by private enterprise; while the western side of the railway would be utilised for business and commercial development.1
McGinty received the honour of Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the community in the 1967 Queen’s Birthday honours list. He served as President of the Willoughby North Branch of the Liberal Party and in the 1968 election he entered state parliament as the member for Willoughby. Laurie became Minister for Housing & Cooperative Societies in 1973, but he lost this portfolio in May 1976 when the ALP won government under Neville Wran.
1 McLean, Lachlan C, ‘The Origin of the Chatswood District Centre’, in Valmai Phillips (ed), The Good Old Days: Reminiscences of early Chatswood and Willoughby, Chatswood, Willoughby Municipal Library, 1983, pp 26-29.