Build Multi-Story Commuter Car Park Not Single-Story Car Park At Schofields Station

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This petition seeks to have the current proposal for an at-grade (ground level) commuter car park replaced with the originally promised multi-story car park with a smaller land footprint while retaining the number of proposed spaces, providing better traffic flows and being located preferably, in one of the vacant blocks in the commercially zoned area adjacent to the Woolworths along Railway Terrace.

We seek a reversion to the originally promised multi-story commuter car park, we request that the new car park be located in a more appropriate location for commuters and surrounding residents alike. This petition seeks a solution that is suitable for all stakeholders and enriches the wellbeing of the residents of Schofields. 

As of Friday the 27th of November, we officially received notification of a plan to construct a 700 space at-grade car park on Stockland Altrove land in Schofields. Whilst we have been looking forward to the construction of a car park, for commuters using Schofields station as their chosen transport hub. The construction of an at-grade car park with an estimated 27 000 + m2 area in the chosen location has highly detrimental impacts on the Altrove estate and neighboring parts of Schofields external to the estate and for traffic flows in and out of the suburb of Nirimba Fields. Furthermore, the current plan proposed by Transport For NSW (TfNSW) leaves residents from Marsden park traveling through residential streets to access the car park and those seeking to exit the car park heading towards The Ponds, Kellyville, Rouse Hill, etc exiting through residential streets or having to loop back. This plan is fundamentally flawed. 

As such, this petition seeks to voice these concerns with members of parliament and council who will hear our voice. This petition seeks an alternate development of the originally promised multi-story car park. 

The placement of an at-grade car park at the suggested location is of significant concern to residents as its being placed within a residential estate, effectively at the doorstep of our homes. My initial concerns and objections to this project hinge on the fact that the placement of this car park would fall within 100-200 meters of our residences within the estate but less than 80m away from those living on Mary Jane Parade all of whom will have a line of sight visibility of the car park. As you can imagine a car park of such scale can and will not have any positive impacts on those living near it.

We foresee the following issues as a direct result of the at-grade car park placement in the proposed location. 

Increased Noise Pollution. The location, proximity, and scale of the at-grade car park will cause substantial noise pollution and bring with it the adverse health impacts as NSW EPA notes concerning noise pollution. “The impact of noise on human health has emerged as an increasingly significant issue that justifies considerable management effort. The Guidelines for Community Noise (WHO 1999) and The Health Effects of Environmental Noise – Other than Hearing Loss (enHealth Council 2004) identify the significant health effects of exposure to environmental noise.”[1]

Seeing as the car park will operate 24hrs a day 7 days a week the foreseeable level of noise pollution will have significant and lasting impacts on the community. For example, at present from my residence I can hear cars going down Schofields Road, so the placement of such a large and open car park substantially closer than Schofields Road to our residences will leave us, the residents of Schofields forever dealing with the sound of engines starting, cars revving, people hoking, doors closing, all day and all night with the potential hoons late at night, burnouts in the car park, car alarms going off all day and all night, gatherings of crowds late at night and the list goes on. Does this sound like an appealing prospect to you? Does this sound like a liveable community to you? And the answer is simple, no it does not. Stories of resident’s discontent and despair due to noise pollution from the at-grade car park at Tallawong Metro are not hard to find. 

Increased Traffic and Bottlenecks. The present plan indicates that there would be a main entry & exit to the car park on Schofields Road. Proposed is an additional entry & exit from Altrove Boulevard flowing into Veron road and finally, a left turn entry via Bridge Street fed through Veron Rd & Argowan Rd. 

The location of the car park relies on residential streets becoming access routes to the car park for commuters from neighboring suburbs. For example, Altrove Boulevard is a residential street (and connects to other residential streets) where children ride their bikes and play and to which medium to high-density houses have their frontages. The constant coming and going of hundreds of extra cars a day would add a dangerous and unacceptable level of risk to our children’s and our own wellbeing, as we will see a substantial increase in traffic for example on Altrove Boulevard and any streets the car park relies upon for the flow of traffic. This will turn our safe suburban streets into busy roads. Traffic flows will likely follow AM & PM peaks further compounding the risk to residents moving about during these times. Consider for a moment where this leaves residents who walk to the station every morning, as cars race by them to find a car park every morning? Or our children who like to play in our driveways and extremely small front yards on a cool summer evening as cars fly by in a rush to get home or beat the traffic?

It is fair to note that this car park will likely create substantial amounts of traffic at the Veron Road & Schofields Road intersection, as it would be the preferred exit for residents living in the north to east of the car park. Furthermore, I must note that Veron Road is already set to see a huge increase in return traffic from the car park as it is the only exit for the entire Altrove estate and for the rapidly developing suburb Nirimba Fields (Formally known as Akuna Vista). 

Lastly, it is worth noting that the proposed boom gate system could lead to delays in people entering and exiting the car park. These delays have the potential to overflow onto main roads and our suburban roads which will become access points creating further traffic issues. 

Increased Contribution to The Urban Heat Island Effect. 

The placement of an at-grade car park of such scale, with an estimated size ranging from 25 000 m2 to 30 000 + m2 (See Fig: Area) from my calculations, will result in increased temperatures in the immediate area. Considering that we have had temperatures reaching somewhere between 47-49 degrees last summer an at-grade car park of such scale will not assist in reducing any documented[2] urban heat island effects already impacting the area and Western Sydney but rather exacerbate them. The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) noted in their collaborative document “Turn Down The Heat Strategy And Action Plan” that urban heat is recognized as a priority issue for Western Sydney and call on stakeholders to engage in better planning to:

- Reduce the average peak ambient temperatures in Western Sydney by 1.5° C through water, greening and cool materials strategies by 2023”, Zero net increase in economic impacts of heatwaves by 2023
- Zero net increase in economic impacts of heatwaves by 2023
- Zero net increase in morbidity and mortality impacts of heatwaves in Western Sydney by 2023

As such, it is hard to see how the development of an at-grade car park will assist in meeting any of the noted outcomes to which Blacktown Council is working towards. I must note that the construction of the proposed at-grade car park is tantamount to building a giant heater in the middle of Schofields that runs for much of the day even after the sun is set as the heat dissipates. As noted in the WSROC document urban heat contributes to morbidity and mortality of the most vulnerable members of our communities, our elderly, and our children. So, consider with me the day that this proposed car park is built, and during a heatwave where we see local temperatures exceed 50 degrees Celsius and our vulnerable suffer from excess heat exposure, would you feel as though you have been treated fairly?

Increased Crime. Carparks attract crime and troublesome behavior. A car park of such scale and proximity to our residences places our already targeted residences at greater risk of robbery. Our suburb has had numerous events of cars being robbed or houses being broken into late at night. I have personally experienced this when our car was broken into while parked in our driveway which is well lit at night. Lights don’t stop brave thieves, neither does CCTV generally speaking. The placement of an at-grade car park with much closer proximity will only put us, residents, further in the crosshairs of thieves. 

Whist the proposal includes CCTV and lighting, but these elements are passive preventative measures, they are set and forget and if they do assist will be after the fact assistance. As mentioned previously, we only need to speak to the residents living across from the Tallawoong Metro to hear their grievances of witnessed robberies and troublesome behaviors occurring in the at-grade car park at Tallawong Station. 

Parking Overflow. The day will come where should the proposed at-grade car park be built that that car park will be full, and any sensible commuter in a rush to work will simply exit the car park and look to park in one of the residential streets located nearby. This is a guaranteed outcome, our streets will become parking for commuters, this will then be followed by parking restrictions imposed by the council to curb this activity. 

We only need to speak to the residents of The Ponds living opposite Tallawong station to see our future. This plan does not consider that we live in medium to high-density residential zones. Our streets are small, the frontage of our houses is small, so are our driveways, our garages. Everything is small, and our guests and we the residents need our streets to park in. 

Consider the moment when our streets are full of commuters parking and or the day where we have 2-4hr parking restrictions, where do you suggest we the residents and our guest's park? Who will pay their fines when our guests come for lunch or come to help the newborn mother with her baby or the elderly for the day and forget to move the car?

Reduced Amenities. Altrove development was supposed to be the development that anchors the Schofields Town Centre, the construction of a car park will effectively reduce this development to well, houses, and a car park. We do not need, nor can we afford an at-grade car park and especially one of this scale, what we do need is parks, shops, community spaces, more residents who will take pride in their homes and grow this community and enrich it. 

The fact is that we the residents were here well before a car park was proposed on land that we collectively paid a premium for so that the developer will build a valuable estate with resources that enrich our communities and lives. TfNSW’s proposal is in effect robbery from the estate, its proposed vision but also of the suburb of Schofields, as any assets-built by the developer will be used by the wider community. Take Altove Hilltop Park for example. It is a beautiful park full of play equipment for children developed by Stockland, this park not only services the immediate estate but the suburb at large. There is not a day that goes by that I do not see people travel from further afield to use the facilities. Schofields has a dire lack of beautiful and functional open spaces and parks that enrich our lives and contribute to the wellbeing of its residents. We don’t need an at-grade car park larger than 25 000 m2 +. Not only will this car park take valuable land away, but it may also function as a disincentive the developer from developing the rest of the land and or develop it in an appropriate manner.

The Alternative

So, what is the alternative? Well, quite simply we call on the Local Minister, Transport For NSW, the Transport Minister, and State Government to discontinue the at-grade proposal and revert to the originally promised and costed multi-story car park. A multi-story car park, with a smaller footprint, better traffic management, and better planning can mitigate and or resolve all the issues noted. 

Ideally, the multi-story car park would be located in one of the vacant blocks adjacent to the Woolworths. Satellite measurement of the area reveals vacant blocks of substantial size around 10 000 m2, build two levels and you have 20,000 m2 and three levels and your car park is bigger already. Furthermore, building the car park at the suggested location will provide better access to commuters via a footbridge to the station. From my estimates parking at the furthest reaches currently proposed car park would leave commuters with a potential 10+ minute walk. A multi-story car park will assist individuals with accessibility requirements will have better access through lifts as well. Commuters would need to walk less to their destination. Additionally, the commercial zoning in this area would mean that there are no residents who would be adversely impacted, the proximity of the new school will serve parents who drop their children off and go to work better as well. See attached image of zoning by planning NSW for the Alex Avenue Precinct. 

That said, should this location not be suitable a smaller multi-story car park close to the station on Altrove land surrounded by the installation of mature trees, feature landscaping, and further considered and planned traffic management would be preferable to the at-grade car park proposed. 

In conclusion, we call on the relevant stakeholders to dispose of the at-grade car park concept as it is a grossly inconsiderate and inadequate solution to a single issue, that being the lack of commuter parking faced by the community. This proposal in effect will only partially solve the issue of parking whilst creating a long list of issues that will have an impact on the health and welling of the very community it intends to serve. 

Further Design Flaws with Carpark: 

1. Commuters from the Marsden Park direction will not have easy access to the car park as they will not have a built entry initially until Altrove Blvd. is extended. There will be substantial issues caused by this as traffic spills onto neighboring streets as people try to make their way in.

2. Walking distances and gradients will make the commute from the parking spot to the station unpleasant.

3. The location is in a residential zone. 

4. The car park will create bottlenecks on Schofields road as people try to enter the car park through its single main entry.

5.Boom gates could cause delays for those entering and exiting resulting in possible traffic spilling onto all roads.