Submission on Grove St development site

Grove St development plans

The Friends of the GreenWay group has lodged a submission calling for changes to a major residential unit development proposed at Grove St, Dulwich Hill  (plans to the left and photo of development site below). In particular, the Friends group has asked for a cycling and walking track to be built on the area of the development facing the light rail line. Our submission is below:

I am writing in regard to the plans for 6-26 Grove St on behalf of the Friends of the GreenWay Group. The Friends of the GreenWay is an apolitical  community group which has been fighting for the GreenWay vision since 2007, including for a 5km walking and cycling link between the Cooks River and Sydney  Harbour.

This is a major potential redevelopment within the GreenWay corridor.

The plans show a ‘green corridor’ along the northern edge of the development site, which is at times also described as a ‘GreenWay’. Consistent with the submission from the GreenWay Steering Committee, we believe this space should be set aside for bushcare and an active transport corridor. Currently, the plans show this area set aside for native landscaping planting with, as far as we can see, no mention of a cycling and walking pathway.

The Friends’ group believe this pathway could form part of a very useful 400m long cycling and walking link between Constitution Rd and Davis Rd. This development site would make up the majority of this link. After leaving this development site this pathway would probably have to veer into the rail corridor for a short distance (because private properties which are unlikely to be developed are adjacent to the rail corridor).

One of the major benefits of this 400m link is that it would relieve pressure from the existing pathway through Johnson Park, which is currently shown as the main GreenWay route and well-used by cyclists. The pathway through Johnson Park runs past a heavily used playground where toddlers and children play.

This link would also effectively join Johnson Park with Hoskins Park, in line with the GreenWay vision to better link green spaces. We think this development should be required to set aside and fund the required 3m pathway within its site. In the first instance, the link could run from Constitution Rd to Hill St, with a potential future connection to Hoskins Park if the pathway is allowed to run within the rail corridor.

It should also be noted that this proposal currently exceeds the floor space ratio requirements for the site, which raises concerns that it would have a damaging and overly bulky appearance on the GreenWay route. The developer’s offer of a new square under a voluntary planning agreement really would appear to be a glorified forecourt for this development site.

If a VPA was to be created, and if the proposal is approved despite exceeding planning controls, it would be preferable for this money to be allocated to a pathway as described in this submission.

Bandicoot concerns about biodiversity package

Trees cleared for the Taverners Hill stop near Parramatta Rd

A rare opportunity to improve the ongoing habitat of the inner-west’s threatened long-nosed bandicoot population has been lost due to a disappointing biodiversity compensation package put forward by the NSW Government.

As part of the planning condition for clearing about 1.1 hectares of bushland to create the inner-west light rail, Transport for NSW was required to develop a Revegetation and Biodiversity Compensation and Monitoring Package.

Some two and half years after this condition was imposed, the exact terms of the package are now being  thrashed out between local councils and Transport for NSW. The Planning and  Infrastructure Department is responsible for signing it off.

The Friends of the GreenWay group supports the joint response from the Ashfield, Leichhardt, Marrickville councils pointing out the deficiencies in this package.

The government might be spending at least $176 million building the light rail but is being stingy meeting  its own approval conditions and creating a truly sustainable and green corridor. Read our media release to find out more.


SMH exposes GreenWay inaction

Many thanks to Jake Saulwick at the SMH, who on Saturday July 6 exposed the government’s inaction on the progressing the GreenWay. Jake has pointed out that two years after the government “deferred” the GreenWay and announced it would be instead looking at an “integrated transport masterplan” to progress the project nothing has been announced.

Jake’s story can be read here and the government’s 2011 media release referring to the masterplan here.

Jake has dug up a series of internal government documents which show how the transport bureaucracy has been trying to progress the project, including through doing patronage surveys and urging the government’s planners to require a GreenWay contribution from the Summer Hills flour mill site. Clearly the transport bureaucracy is keen to progress a Cooks River to White Bay link but at this stage, Transport Minister Berejiklian has not supported anything going out publicly.

The Friends of the GreenWay are an apolitical group and genuinely keen to constructively work with the government to progress plans for this important active transport route.




Changes afoot for Dibble Avenue waterhole

The Dibble Avenue waterhole is a very interesting but little-known part of the broader GreenWay corridor. A couple of recent issues before
Marrickville Council mean that the debate about how best to preserve this hidden gem will probably continue.

Tucked behind a small reserve in Marrickville West, just north of the Cooks River, the waterhole has a haven for waterbirds and ducks and has
recently been restored by Marrickville Council. It is described as the only remnant open (albeit water-filled) former brick pit remaining in the Marrickville local government area – all the others having mainly been filled for parks. It might be hard to find (via AB Croft Reserve) but it is a very scenic and pretty part of Marrickville and a worthy part of the GreenWay corridor.

The waterhole is locally heritage-listed as part of Marrickville’s local environmental plan. A few weeks ago, Marrickville Council decided to seek
public comment on a proposal to enlarge the heritage zone around the waterhole. This was largely on the basis that segments of the waterhole were, quite incredibly, actually part of private property and this had not been properly captured in the previous heritage boundaries. See the council report on this matter (very large document, search for Dibble). It’s pretty obvious that the waterhole is partly privately-owned from the fact that one resident has built a deck over the water! (see below)

Dibble Avenue deck

It’s got to be said, however, it’s not clear why a surveyor when subdividing the main waterhole from adjacent proposed housing blocks would have allow some sections of the pit to remain in these blocks. It’s also not clear why Marrickville Council did not fill in this pit when it resumed it – like it did with pits that used to exist but have long been filled at places such as Jarvie and Henson Parks at Marrickville and Arlington Oval at Dulwich Hill.

The other issue is that an application has been lodged to build a small unit block, on a property immediately to the south of waterhole. The
heritage report for this proposal has some interesting history about the waterhole, including the financial woes which beset its owner. The application says it is in keeping with the heritage and ecological character of the waterhole. The fact that someone wants to build a new unit block overlooking the waterhole appears to prove that it does have some scenic value.  The application is on exhibition until May 23.

Friendly Dibble Avenue ducks photo taken May 2013

Temporary path is great but the NSW Government needs to act now

Councils are preparing to build a temporary  on-road cycling route along the GreenWay corridor after the NSW Government’s  refusal to support, or release plans for, a permanent pathway.

The Friends of the GreenWay group understands that GreenWay councils are marking out a temporary route which will guide cyclists and pedestrians from the Cooks River to Sydney Harbour, using signage and road marking paint.

The Friends’ group welcomed the temporary on-road route but said it was disappointing that it came after the NSW Government had refused point blank to advance plans for the GreenWay.

“It’s now been 600 days since Transport minister  Gladys Berejiklian said the GreenWay was ‘deferred’ back in September 2011,” Friends’ spokesperson Jud Agius said.

Mr Agius said it was also concerning that Ms Berejiklian had refused to release plans prepared by Transport for NSW outlining  potential options for a Cooks River to White Bay pedestrian and cycling link, which includes the GreenWay corridor.

“Significant work has been undertaken by the transport bureaucracy to prepare a detailed study but it has not been allowed  to release this work,” he said.

“Additionally, Transport for NSW has not released patronage studies which were carried out last year on the Cooks River to White  Bay route.

“With the release of the Bays Precinct report –  and activation of the White Bay precinct through the cruise passenger terminal and temporary exhibition centre developments – now is the time for a full
public debate and discussion on these plans.

“The Long Term Transport Masterplan released late  last year says the Cooks River to White Bay link was a medium term priority for  the government  so there is no need to carry out any further strategies or studies.

Read our full media release here