CBD Open Space

cbdopenspace

Purpose of Report

A Notice of Motion was presented to Council by Councillor L Saville at its meeting of 4 November 2013. This Report responds to that Notice of Motion.

 Background

Council resolved on 4 November:

That Willoughby City Council:

1. Notes with concern that over the last decade the amount of public open space held by local councils across NSW is reported to have fallen by 18.3%

2. That a report is provided by staff which includes quantification of the amount of open space per head in the CBD currently available and compared with data previously 
provided in WCC S94 Plan

Discussion
The 1996 s94 Contributions Plan said: “There is currently 6.61ha of open space currently being used by residents and workers within the Chatswood City Centre Open Space Catchment area. This is equivalent to 3.10 m² of open space per combined resident, commercial and retail workers”. “It is anticipated that the amount of open space land per person will fall from 3.10 m² in 1996 to 2.09 m² by the year 2006 if the forecast population increase is realised.”

The s94 contributions plan did not provide detail as to the source of the figure for the amount of open space. The combined resident and worker population in 1996 was estimated to be 21,981. Using the open space figure of 66,100sqm and total resident/worker population the amount of open space was 3.10 m²/person. The current (2014) resident population of Chatswood is estimated to be 7538 persons and the worker population is estimated to be 23,208 giving a total population of 30,746 persons. The total current amount of open space for the CBD is estimated currently to be 108,068 m² (10.8ha). This amount represents an amount of open space of 3.5 m² /person. The quantum of open space per person is not a good measure as to whether the recreational needs of residents or workers are being met. The type, quality, access and associated facilities also are factors in determining whether the open space is satisfactory and appropriate. There may also be cultural and demographic (particularly age) determinants for the value of open space to a local population.

Since 1996 the main additions to open space in the CBD have been:

a) The Concourse;

b) The O‟Brien Street to Cambridge Lane pedestrian link;

c) The open space in Victoria Avenue/ Katherine Street adjoining the Bentleigh building;

d) The space surrounding the significant tree adjoining the Police Station;

e) The corridor adjoining Chatswood Chase in Havilah Street.

f) The Open Space associated with the Pacific Place Development in Railway Street.

Changes have included the rebuilding of the Interchange site, upgrades to Currey Park, improvements to the Mall, improvements to Chatswood Park / skateboard park, modification to the public precinct at 465 Railway Street and the improvements to the plaza at the front of the Zenith buildings

Planned open space not included in the open space figures above include the Thomas Street (Meriton) open space plaza, the forecourt open space on the Albert/ Archer site and closure of Spring St.

The Department of Planning Recreation and Open Space Guidelines for Local Government (December 2010) includes the following statements about “default” standards for the provision of open space:

4.2 „Default‟ and locally appropriate provision standards. The most basic way to identify need is via general provision rates of open space and recreation facilities from elsewhere. These standards should only be a starting reference point; over reliance on such standards in lieu of rigorous and consultative research into the community‟s requirements may produce unsatisfactory results in terms of rates of provision and the location of open space.

In NSW the „fixed‟ standard of 2.83 ha of open space per 1,000 people has often been applied. This is derived from the British seven acres per 1,000 residents standard from the early 1900s which is irrelevant to contemporary planning and ignores the fact that open space of different types needs to be provided to accommodate different needs.

The simple fixed, quantitative standard is also irrelevant given observed rates of provision in the different parts of metropolitan Sydney. About five percent of inner urban Sydney is classified as open space. If the 2.83 ha per 1,000 people standard was applied about 16 percent of the area would be devoted to open space. The reality is that the residents of inner urban Sydney have access to a range of recreational and leisure opportunities that the existing open space assets (including high quality urban public spaces and harbour and beach foreshores) manage to deliver (though there 
may be some pressure on outdoor sports areas).

It should be noted that the Department of Planning guidelines referred to above do not 
include provision for worker open space.

OFFICER’S RECOMMENDATION

That Council consider the response to Clr Saville’s Notice of Motion – Open Space.

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