Say NO to 50 storeys in Wentworth Point

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Summary:

This is a petition from the residents of Wentworth Point to the City of Parramatta Councillors. Our aims are to:

  1. Request accountability from Council as to why this proposal was endorsed for public exhibition, against the advice of Council Planners and Transport for NSW, and in spite of community opposition.
  2. Register our objection to this proposed DCP amendment, on the grounds that it will exacerbate issues arising from a chronic lack of planning and infrastructure in Wentworth Point. These issues will not be resolved by any proposed VPA.
     

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Dear City of Parramatta Councillors,

Re: Proposed Amendment to the Homebush Bay West DCP 2013 & Planning Agreement - Block H, Precinct B, Wentworth Point

We are writing today regarding the above mentioned subject and ask Councillors to provide justification for endorsing an increase in residential floorspace to 85,000sqm on Block H Wentworth Point (item 13.1 at its meeting on 28th May 2018).[1] We also ask that Councillors vote in support of the community in the upcoming public exhibition and object the proposed uplift (DCP amendments).

In 2018, Parramatta Councillors were presented a report prepared by Council staff regarding the proposed amendments for Block H.[2] The proposal requested an increase in gross floor area (GFA) for almost three times the original, from 29,743sqm to 85,000sqm in exchange for a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA). It also asked for a height increase from 25 storeys maximum, to 50 storeys.

This proposal was assessed negatively by Council’s own planning officers[3], by Transport for NSW (TfNSW)[4] and by community feedback, who all recommended to either NOT proceed with the proposal or to defer the matter pending further advice.

Despite this, Council went against all recommendations and voted for the option which most negatively impacts the community.

The community met and discussed our concerns extensively regarding this matter throughout 2018 via various public forums, online discussion groups and community newsletters. We demonstrated our objection during public forums on 9 April 2018 and 28 May 2018, via hundreds of letters presented to Council on 23 April 2018, and through a petition with over 800 signatures on 28 May 2018[5].

The community was blatantly ignored on this issue.

We understand that none of the Councillors representing Rosehill Ward actually live in our suburb. So let us give you an idea of day to day living in Wentworth Point (pre-Covid).

The median age of WWP residents is 32. Most of us are working professionals. This means that the majority of residents is in employment and leaves the suburb for work. Efficient transportation networks in and out of the suburb are essential. State Transit buses are currently not able to keep up with demand, particularly during peak times and weekends.

For this reason, many of us have become dependent on the Baylink Shuttle. The shuttle has been provided by Billbergia as a “sweetener” to the community in preparation for its inclusion in the VPA. It is not intended as a long term solution. Instead, it is intended to ensure our dependence on this service so it can be used as a bargaining chip. Billbergia is well aware of our overcrowding and transport issues, as they helped create it. If allowed, the shuttle will add over a thousand more residents, and after their new apartments have been sold, the shuttle will cease to exist as it is proposed for 8 years only starting from 2018.

At Rhodes Station, the trains are running at up to 180% capacity in the morning peak. Current developments at Rhodes will further add to this strain.

Nearly 70% of residents drive to and from work. Given a choice, many of us would choose the healthier and environmentally friendlier option to leave the car at home. However, the congestion at Rhodes doesn’t allow for this. There is one road in and out of WWP. Traffic can back for up to 20 minutes on the road in (at the Hill Rd intersection with Bennelong Pkwy). The Homebush Bay Drive roundabout (at DFO) is infamously known as "Australia's worst roundabout for its heavy traffic, confusion and chaos".

41% of residents have children, but young people's community needs are not being met. WWP Public School is already over capacity with demountables. Our closest high school is 50 minutes away by school bus. We desperately need additional childcare centres. Although a childcare centre is offered in the VPA, however with only 75 spaces available it does not meet community needs.

There are currently no public parks in WWP. The ratio of green space to number of residents is currently 0.78ha/1,000 people, far below the target of 3.0ha.

Parramatta Council’s planning officers assessed the VPA against the proposed uplift and made the following key points in support of the community’s opinion and advised council that:

  1. “Existing transport issues are at a level which is not expected to be fully addressed and solved by the proposed shuttle bus, and will likely be amplified by the proposed additional density.”
  2. “Light Rail Stage 2 cannot form part of a justification for increased density, given the uncertainty of the funding, configuration and operation… and requires further analysis to determine whether it will be able to support existing density, or any proposed increase density, particularly at Wentworth Point.”
  3. There is a “need to increase public transport services for existing densities, not for services in exchange of higher densities”,
  4. “Endorsement of the provision of temporary public transport services may set an undesirable precedent in the future for other developers seeking to justify additional uplift on surrounding sites”
  5. “The proposed increase in density is only one proposal out of other development or uplift proposals which are amplifying existing issues”
     

Advice received from TfNSW stated that:

  1. “traffic demands resulting from Wentworth Point, Carter St and Sydney Olympic Park Master Plan review are in excess of the road network capacity”.
  2. Further, “the traffic and transport impact assessment undertaken by the applicant does not adequately address the impacts of an additional 56,000sqm on the surrounding road network or the sufficient measures to offset these impacts”.
  3. And importantly, since the shuttle bus represents a significant proportion of the VPA and is a major selling point for the developer to build the uplift, we want to highlight that TfNSW has assessed that “while it is acknowledged by TfNSW that the provision of the shuttle bus would supplement existing State Transit services, the advice concludes that they do NOT support the proposed density increase”
     

In summary, both independent assessors concluded that the items in the VPA cannot address any of the above overcrowding issues that the community experiences every day.

In fact, no VPA can address these issues, because:

  • it cannot build an additional road for residents to get in and out of WWP

  • it cannot extend the train line or build a station in WWP

  • it cannot offer to expand Rhodes Train Station
  • it cannot increase trains through Rhodes
  • it cannot increase street parking
  • it cannot guarantee a light rail
  • it cannot run the shuttle indefinitely
  • it cannot improve the Homebush Bay Drive roundabout
  • it cannot increase student capacity at the primary school
  • it cannot build us a high school.

These are all issues in high density living that a VPA cannot address as it requires the contribution of various local, state and federal bodies.

Given all the evidence against uplift, the Wentworth Point community would again like to know why Council endorsed the highest density increase from the original plan.

Under the Local Government Act 1993 (The Act), Council has an obligation to explain and be answerable for the consequences of the decisions made on behalf of the community. As laid out on the City of Parramatta website, the Act stipulates that “the community and stakeholders should be able to follow and understand our decision-making process. This means they will be able to clearly see how and why a decision was made, what information, advice and consultation Council considered, and which legislative requirements Council followed”.

The community invokes our rights under The Act to ask Council to explain their decisions and provide evidence for endorsing Option 3 (85,000sqm GFA) in 2018. This endorsement was made against the advice of the community, TfNSW/RMS and Council’s own planning officers.

We also firmly request that Council vote in support of the community in the upcoming public exhibition and object the proposed DCP amendments.

 

Sincerely,

The Residents of Wentworth Point

 

Footnotes:
1.      (Council minutes 28/05/2018, pg.11, item 13.1) Council resolved that on completion of the design excellence competition, Council proceed with the exhibition of the Draft DCP to the limit of Option 3 (85,000sqm of residential floorspace).

2.      Planning officers presented the Block H report to Council on 09/04/2018, 23/04/2018 & 28/05/2018.

3.      (Council business papers 28/05/2018, pg.159, item 13.1, paragraph 134) Council officers recommend that Option 4 be resolved by Council, to defer the matter pending further advice from TfNSW&RMS in relation to the traffic and transport impacts of the proposal.

4.      (Council business papers 28/05/2018, pg.250&251 Attachment 3) TfNSW & RMS states in their submission that they “do not support the proposed increase in development density”.

5.      (Council minutes 28/05/2018, pg.5) Residents state that the community “support Option 1 - to not proceed with the proposal”.