Willoughby Council has exhibited its draft CBD study. We considered the proposals and raised a number of questions (see below) that to date have not been answered by Council . Also below is the draft submission by the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations.
Questions raised with Council.
Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations
Submission on Willoughby Council’s CBD Strategy
The Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations appreciates that Willoughby Council is undertaking 20 year planning for our Chatswood CBD, Villages, housing and industrial zones.
All planning and development across the LGA should be sustainable, should protect the existing heritage and environmental conservation areas, be in keeping with our local area, and be accompanied by additional sufficient road, transport, school and hospital infrastructure and active recreational space to accommodate the additional population.
- Proposed Development areas
- FWPA supports the proposed growth of the CBD to the North and South along the rail corridor only, and strongly supports that the heritage conservation areas north and south of the CBD have been protected under the current proposals.They should not be considered for future development.
- It is important for Chatswood CBD to be retained as a vibrant CBD. FWPA strongly supports the proposal that existing or approved Commercial office developments in the area should not be able to be turned into residential developments. There is limited office space and CBD office potential in the area and this must be preserved for Chatswood CBD’s future, not changed due to the current market cycle.
- East Growth Area: The residents for the proposed rezoned development area in East Chatswood along Victoria Avenue and up to the Penshurst and Victoria Ave intersection should be consulted so they are aware of Council’s proposals and have the opportunity to input into consultation processes.
- We support the recommendation that serviced apartments be removed as a permissible use for B3 commercial. (pg126)
- Some residents who are looking to downsize have explored the possibility of apartment living in Chatswood CBD. We have heard reports of instances where people have been told by those promoting the projects that the buildings are for Chinese only and they are not welcome or able to buy. In a city of diversity like ours, this disgraceful discriminatory conduct should be stamped out. We should have diversity not elite enclaves of particular racial groups. If the situation was reversed there would be a huge outcry. There should be appropriate conditions built into consents.
- Traffic, Parking Proposals and Public Transport
The traffic and parking recommendations appear inadequate and in our view will not resolve or adequately address the current traffic and parking issues in the CBD, let alone the issues arising from the increased population as additional developments are built and 9000 additional car spaces are needed.
There is concern that the current proposals will have little if any impact on existing traffic in Chatswood CBD let alone reduce it by 10%. Our residents want a proper traffic plan that resolves current issues and provides access going forward, not a plan with little substance that appears to be doing something but which may only aggravate the existing congestion.
- The biggest issues with traffic are not the PM peak but weekends. So reducing through traffic in the PM peak when it is one of the least busy times will have little impact on resolving current issues.
- Assuming that everyone will turn to public transport if car spaces in new developments in the area are limited is not a reasonable assumption for Willoughby LGA or Sydney in 2017 due to the difficulties of getting to other parts of the metropolitan area (and to some other parts of the LGA!) by public transport. It is our understanding that the previous experiment of Council reducing parking spaces in new residential developments some years ago failed as it just forced more cars into the limited places that are available in the surrounding streets. There must be adequate parking provisions in new developments.
- There is a lack of public transport options at some times of day even to some parts of our own community. For example, there are no buses from Chatswood Station to Castle Cove in the evenings and limited buses to the Northern Beaches after the evening peak, necessitating people being picked up from the Station.
- Forcing through traffic off Archer in the peak will only result in much greater incidents of rat-running in residential areas surrounding the CBD, as the main arteries are at capacity and through traffic cannot be channelled there (noting that the Pacific Highway at Chatswood has been identified as an area of very slow traffic for the whole of Sydney).
- ‘Encouraging parking in optimal locations’ will have limited, if any, impact. Parking signs telling people where vacant parking spots are will not resolve any issues at busy times when parking is full throughout the CBD (which are increasing in regularity!). Congestion is so bad at some times of the weekend that it is likely that by the time someone actually gets to the parking area the sign identified as having spare spaces, any parking capacity may be long gone.
- The busiest times are the weekends and traffic already comes to a complete gridlock all the way around the whole area (ie Up Archer along Boundary, down Victoria to Penshurst, and up Archer to Mowbray.) A few days per year (and increasing), there have been times the gridlock from Boundary and Penshurst join up and no one moves. Some residents who live close to the CBD are reporting it taking 20 minutes to drive home at weekends (they have to take their car down when they are doing a significant family weekly shop or have young children or elderly or infirm passengers).
- The peak hour parking restrictions on Archer St are also much needed on weekends. Similar restrictions should along Victoria between Havilah and Archer st as buses and traffic through flow is impeded by cars waiting to turn into Chatswood Chase car park, and traffic banks back a long way.
- It needs to be ensured that traffic going into Chatswood Chase up ramp off archer st can exit the city the same way and direction it came in. At the moment this traffic is being forced out into the centre of the CBD where there is no need for it to go, and has no easy way of getting back North, particularly if it came from Highway or Ashley St, other than rat-running or doing U-turns illegally. West Ward does not support this recommendation.
- Also re comments in the report about people being able to park around the perimeter and go to the other centres don’t take into consideration the difficulties getting shopping and trollies between the two main centres, and the aging population of the area.
- Buses are being impeded due to the huge build up of traffic on Archer st in weekday peak and at weekends, which deters people from taking public transport (as it is quicker to drive and rat run).
- Buses are also being delayed by people illegally blocking the intersection on Ashley St at the top of Anderson St in heavy traffic, and due to the long length of traffic waiting for the Ashley St/Highway lights. During peak hour perhaps there should be no stopping on the CBD side of Ashley St to facilitate buses getting through when traffic has built up, or a number of car spaces should be removed adjoining the bus stop, and lanes painted on the road so there are two lanes and so the buses can easily access Anderson St without sitting in traffic for lengthy periods waiting for the lights to change and traffic to proceed.
- The red arrow on the Pacific Highway at the intersection turning into Ashley St is also causing local traffic to funnel through the CBD when they come out of Fullers Rd. Whilst it is really good that a green arrow has been installed. The red arrow that does not turn off means cars can be sitting for many minutes when there are NO cars coming the other way due to the light, so it is faster to channel down Help St through the CBD and rat run up Anderson St and through Rose/Tulip/Daisy Streets etc. The cycles need fixing.
- Likewise, the removal of the Left Turn with Care sign on Ashley St onto the Highway has increased traffic build up and blocked buses.
- There should be more Kiss and Drop zone on the East side of Chatswood Station for locals. Currently the maximum 2 spaces are insufficient.
- The right hand turn from Help St into the one way street on Cambridge Lane is already causing significant traffic blocks and one car wanting to turn right here can cause traffic build-ups right back into the CBD area. It is an example of very poor planning and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency, particularly as the major building on the corner of Anderson and Help is about to open, which will increase the issues here.
- An underground link from Boundary St to Fullers Bridge is needed as major infrastructure to join the Northern Beaches with the rest of Sydney. In the interim, a bridge allowing through traffic from Boundary onto the Highway and at Fullers Road is needed to improve traffic flow.
- If there are 9000 more car spaces required, as per estimates, there needs to be additional road capacity and some of the car spaces in Archer St and Victoria removed between 10 am and 5pm on weekends to facilitate two lanes of traffic in each direction. At the moment the buses get caught for long periods as well during these times, making public transport a less attractive option.
- It is good to upgrade the bus interchange.
- As indicated above, the buses are getting stuck in the traffic gridlock, which is a disincentive to catch public transport.
- The recent decision by Forest Coaches to remove the bus stop at the corner of Anderson and Help Streets other than for school buses is completely contrary to the goal of improved public transport access. This bus stop was the one closest to Chatswood Chase through the road behind the Concourse, and now users must walk another 3 blocks up to the bus interchange (if one uses legal methods to get to the bus stop) which is too far for many people particularly carrying shopping. This bus stop should be restored immediately.
- Open and Recreational Space (page 174 B7)
This plan must include additional sporting field recreation space provision given the significant increase in resident numbers that will result from the proposed development and new development areas. It is not adequate or reasonable, and does not reflect good planning to say that there should be consideration of this issue down the track, proper recreational space must be provided for in this plan.
Once the land is rezoned and sold it will be impossible to get this important social infrastructure later.
- The current sporting field access in the area is insufficient.
- Development of the magnitude being proposed requires more playing fields that can be accessed by all the community.
- Large numbers of families and children are already living in units, and this will increase with the proposed plan. Obesity is also on the increase.
- Tiny pockets of new open space being proposed are token and insufficient, and do not meet the need for proper sporting facilities, exercise and dog walking off leash areas for our community.
- Current arrangements where local private schools have exclusive access to Beauchamp park oval in out of school hours must be stopped. That is when the community needs access and that school can bus their students to their school playing fields like other nearby private schools do.
- Sports of small numbers of athletes for large duration should also be replaced by sports that allow better use of facilities. For example, 1`-2 day long cricket games on Beauchamp Park cater for only a small number of players, and prevent community access during that time are not an effective use of our very limited community social infrastructure.
- Including the 2 remembrance gardens distorts the local recreation space figures provided, as does including large amounts of the fabulous bushland we have surrounding the area, and the golf courses that serve a limited number of people. Our residents need playing fields for team and individual recreation and exercise. Calculations should be undertaken that properly reflect the space available for the community.
- The ‘greening’ plan seems to be growing trees in the CBD and greening down the sides of buildings etc. Whilst this is nice and to be commended, plants on a concrete base or tiny pockets of artificial grass are not the greening that most residents would expect. The increase in population in the CBD has been significant over the last 8 years, and more open playing fields are required.
- Active Transport Path (Cycleway/Pedestrians)
- It is excellent and much needed to have a cycleway through the CBD to encourage riding.
- The route looks a bit unusual. It quite a steep ride up through Beauchamp Park, and if one traverses along Rose St and across Archer and up to Anderson, this route has another hill. This route may therefore deter normal social riders, particularly is it is outside the CBD, so cyclists may cut through shorter ways.
- When buildings are built or upgraded there should be external pedestrian walkways above the ground level, like in Makati in Manila, enabling pedestrians to walk quickly an unimpeded.
- Whilst Castle Cove and Lane Cove River Parklands are indeed 3-4km from Chatswood Station, neither are easy, social ride destinations for most of the community due to the roads and traffic issues getting to Castle Cove, and the major hills involved on both routes. There needs to be proper off road cycle ways throughout our community however it cannot be assumed that this will be a major active transport route (nor that people living in the CBD will all flock to them by bike. Both these areas should not be included in the CBD green space calculations as they will have a distorting impact and are not easily accessible by CBD locals.
- There should be a cycleway/pedestrian overpass tacked on to the Boundary St railway Bridge. It is very disappointing that this was not incorporated into the new bridge design (or an underpass put under Boundary Rd with the current building work, but is needed now for cyclists and pedestrians going North/South.
- School and other Social Infrastructure
- Necessary social infrastructure needs to be considered and included in the current plan, not recommended for consideration for further studies. It is too late once the plan proceeds to provide for such facilities down the track, they need to be planned for now as part of the current process.
- The current private and public schools in the CBD are at or in excess of capacity with no room for growth. The Chatswood public primary school has very serious capacity issues at the present time and is struggling to cope with current enrolments let alone growth from additional developments. More capacity is needed before any further residential development should proceed. The ‘bush campus’ was supposed to be a 5 year interim measure (until 2018).
President, Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations
Here is a local residents submission on proposed new planning legislation:
1. Be pro-active to focus on overcoming current planning system weakness. This is hard when the NSW State Government [SG] wants to dumb down local government by amalgamation to run a top down developer friendly system. As a resident of 39 years I have seen intervention by the SG on the North Shore making Ku-Ring-Gai agree to a growth figure. This was achieved in half the time so Sartor doubled the number. Labor hates the North Shore. Willoughby City Council [WCC] had an agreed growth strategy for Commercial Office Space and Residential. BUT SG on appeal from the Developer agreed that much of the planned Office Towers be residential or Serviced Units. These interventions produced buildings that far exceeded the DCP, LEP .
2. The Willoughby Community must always be involved in all stages of planning. Typically after approval the developer will demand variations which again exceed the DCP and impact on neighbouring buildings or parks with shadow, wind tunnel effects but the neighbours are not listened to. The current system is unfair. No new or wider roads are in evidence. The only project that can claim World Best Practice on completion is the Concourse Project which was not materially funded by SG or Federal Government money but due to an 8 storey Boutique Hotel option lapsing was only completed in December, 2016.
3. Fair Dinkum Zoning is the key to the next 20 years.
4. Suggest FG reduce annual immigration by half immediately.
5. Open Space – Parks and Ovals are insufficient for future needs. As I suggested previously for the Chatswood Golf Course: Apply 16,17 and 18 to become an oval sporting complex that is constructed so as to never be flooded by the Lane Cove River.
6. Gridlock in Chatswood CBD is common. You only need one accident on the Pacific Highway or Fullers Road for delays.
7. Traffic Lights at Albert Avenue and Pacific Highway need more frequent changes between 8.30AM – 10AM and 4.30-6PM if Chatswood is to remain competitive as a regional shopping and business centre.
8. Potential Office Tower owners like Dexus, Mirvac and Meriton must be allowed to provide appropriate vehicle parking facilities. Westfield and Chatswood Chase carparks are used on a three hour basis busy in 2017 so it will not improve in the years ahead.
9. The rebuild of The Mandarin Centre needs to respect the views south from the Sebel Tower and therefore comply with WCC DCP.
10. I am not an Architect but subdivision / dual occupancy, granny flat rules for residential areas need to be realistic and user friendly.
11. The drivers of this 2037 strategy, when I am 94, wish to impose another 25,000 residents on Willoughby to 90,000. I doubt that the standard of living in Sydney will improve with this overcrowding. I have used the Beijing China “Metro System”all automatic and most people stand. This move away from our manned rail system is a huge mistake. Likewise putting light rail down George Street, Sydney is so ridiculous. A start from Eddy Avenue to Kingsford was overlooked by the Member for Willoughby now Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
12. The Metro System Epping to Chatswood requires removal of the heavy rail system and use of buses for over a chaotic year which will make roads West of Railway Street – a bus zone to 2019.
13. The only rule of good governance 2036 need are to get things right first time by consulting those affected by change. To accept the DCP for an area. Eg. 5 levels is the max for the building north of Chatswood Public School at the T intersection with Victoria Avenue and Pacific Highway.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.