This background paper prepared by the Glebe Society's planning convenor, Neil Macindoe, complements the resolution passed at the public meeting held at Forest Lodge Public School on 7 December 2010.
The nature of public meetings precludes complicated motions. These points, along with the reports of Bruce Lay (Design Principles) and Chris Hallam (Traffic and Parking), are appended in support and explanation of the approved resolution of 7 December. Please note that the Resolution of 7 December and these supporting notes do not replace the Fifteen Points of the Public Meeting in April, but are a response to the Rezoning Application and the accompanying documents on public exhibition.
The Society's Harold Park Working Party and the President of the Glebe Chamber of Commerce also met with Council planners on 14 December, and some results of this meeting are also incorporated.
Density, Height and Layout
The density proposed for the site is greater than what was originally proposed and much greater that the surrounding area. The site does not appear in any assessment of future accommodation needs. It should not be compared to development sites that are so included, and the density should reflect that of the surrounding Conservation Areas, and be transitional, not contrasting.
The Lay Report makes it clear the topography of the site should have primacy. The site is low-lying, in a reclaimed creek valley, and any development should follow those contours, not rising above the escarpment. This contrasts with the Children's Hospital site, which is on a promontory between the confluence of two creeks and has natural views. The Johnstons Creek Valley is surrounded by ridges on three sides, all of them Conservation Areas. To the north are Heritage Items (the Tramsheds, railway viaduct and Jubilee Park). Hence the views are of these areas across and down the valley, and up to the ridges from the site. Development on the site should be recessive and inconspicuous, and not detract from the surrounding natural and built environment.
The layout of the residential and public open space components is flexible. The height of the proposed buildings could be reduced by abandoning the proposed grid road system, and incorporating one that respects the contours of the site. The grid does not connect either physically or visually with the surrounding road system, and wastes a great deal of space. It does not provide improved pedestrian/cycle access to the site or to existing or proposed open space.
A less intrusive and heavily engineered road circulation would also allow greater flexibility and accessibility in the design of public open space. There needs to be an active edge to the residential component so there is no possibility of the public open space being regarded as private.
The DCP correctly prescribes wide and generous roads in response to buildings up to eight storeys. There is scope for reducing the total area of roads proportionately if the height of buildings is reduced to five storeys. The dimensions of roads should not be altered for any reason other than to achieve a reduction in building height.
Light Rail
This public transport mode is essential for the success of the development. The Society notes that the extension to Dulwich Hill is well advanced. However, for Light Rail's potential to be realised it must be extended through the CBD beyond its current terminus at Central.
Currently there is a study under way concerning how best to achieve this. However, given the length of time between the completion of the link to Glebe and its extension to Dulwich Hill – ten years – the City needs to pursue the CBD extension urgently and vigorously for this development to succeed.
The Hill
This industrial waste dump is Crown Land under the care and control of the City. It is the key to improved access from the development to Light Rail and the northern parklands. As a result of lobbying from the Society the City has now obtained a full contamination report, and hence is in a position to plan the future of the site.
The reopening of the access path via the Hill should be an obligation imposed on the City as part of its contribution to the success of the development, and this should form part of the DCP. The requirement to improve access to the northern parklands should also be an obligation imposed on the City as part of the DCP.
Commercial/retail activities
The proportion of the site where these activities is permitted, 0.2 of GFA, is too great and could produce a shopping precinct of regional size. This is far greater than is needed for the residents of the proposed development or the surrounding area. The planners agreed to look at this proportion to see if it should be reduced.
In addition it was agreed that large scale retail activities have a significant impact on traffic flows. It was agreed that the planners would also look at ways to reduce the proportion of the retail/commercial space available for retail activity.
While it may not be likely, there is no current control to prevent the total retail/commercial space being taken up by one or several large activities. This would be totally inappropriate for this site. The planners also agreed to consider maximum sizes for individual retail activities, and restrictions on where they could be located within the Tramsheds.
This is also an argument for at least doubling the community space within the Tramsheds.
The Society's Traffic Report considers the traffic implications of the proposed retail space a major problem, and one underestimated by the Traffic Study. There is potential for conflict between vehicles and pedestrians, and this should be addressed by achieving grade separation between vehicular and pedestrian routes. This would be easier to achieve if the Canal Road were reopened for vehicular access to the tramsheds and across an overpass such as currently separates the racetrack from vehicles. Access via Chapman Road could then be closed.
Other Traffic Implications
The Hallam report makes it clear the creation of a proposed controlled intersection at The crescent/Minogue Crescent is essential for the development to proceed. Obtaining the consent of the RTA should be required before any work takes place.
Moreover, the report states the traffic generated by the level of commercial/retail development is greater than the Traffic Study estimates, and hence the total traffic flow has been underestimated. The Study also fails to analyse the Wigram Rd/Glebe Point Road intersection. Given that other intersections are operating already at or over capacity, the Study needs comprehensive revision.
Social Sustainability
Currently the DCP requires a Social Sustainability Plan to be included in the Statement of Environmental Effects to accompany the DA. The Requirements are then listed in Table 3.
Some issues listed in the Table have already been addressed in the VPA and DCP. We have already suggested ways of incorporating some others. Appending a Table in this way does not give sufficient indication of their inclusion in other documents or their importance. In particular, the requirement for residential aged care on site should be made specific. The developer should be required to negotiate with established, reputable and innovative providers, such as The Benevolent Society, in order to devise a plan to meet the future needs of the Glebe community.