NPA address to Councillors re proposed Northbridge Car Park options

On the 27th July 2015, a report regarding two suggested options for the Northbridge Car Park was put to Councillors for consideration.

The Options were:

Option A:
Maintains the current system of repairing and patching the car park as needed. $50,000 is budgeted and should be adequate to cover the required costs. This maintains the 309 car spaces.
Option B:
Involves the resurfacing of the existing car park; matching existing levels with a redesign of the layout and improving the lighting. This was to cost $1.15M and would result in a reduction of 41 car spaces to accommodate the reconfiguration.

The NPA addressed the Willoughby Council General Meeting that evening, as follows:

Madam Mayor, Councillors, Council Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen.

We would like to thank Council and Council Officers for the amount of time and effort put into seeking and deriving a solution and preparing this report as tabled before you.

Over this past weekend, we have notified residents and have received numerous responses. The majority of respondents have indicated their preference to achieve the best outcome rather than, what some feel may be, a short-term solution.

Option A – many residents felt did not resolve the ongoing problem;
Option B is … OK.

Safety is, of course, the central issue and Option B, according to Council, ticks a lot of the boxes in regard compliance and improved pedestrian access. The main “challenge” with Option B is the deletion of 41 car parking spaces.

Imagine if you will – the Saturday “Shore School” home game days; the pre-festive season shopping rush; the knock on effect that current high-rise developments and realigned parking restrictions around the Chatswood CBD will have on local consumers wanting to do a “quick” grocery shop;
Imagine the effect that the Kiah Development apartments will soon have – 140 dwellings with double garages, yet to be fully operational; and, add to that, the impact that the Channel Nine apartments will have when built. A reduction in parking spaces …. What a mess we will have!

More consumers, more visitors, more traffic snarls and bottlenecks and less parking!
Are the additional consumers all going to battle the queues to get into the Chatswood CBD – we doubt it;
Are they all going to travel on public transport or ride to the shops on bicycles to do their shopping – some might – but the majority – we doubt it.

If the Woolworth’s proposed Smith Street East Chatswood development had been approved, a great deal of pressure would have been taken away from the Northbridge Plaza retailers and the reduction of car spaces would be … ok. The Smith Street DA gave Council an opportunity to spread and disperse the demand away from the Local Government Area CBD and away from congesting the main intersections of Eastern Valley Way, Sailors Bay Road and Strathallan Avenue, in Northbridge – the virtual gateway to the Willoughby LGA.

The central issue here is that something has to be done. Council has to bite the bullet and come up with a long-term solution to traffic growth in Northbridge.

The NPA has previously requested proper traffic studies to be carried out around Northbridge but to no avail. It is unjust and unfair that funds should be expended, as now recommended by Council officers, on exploring Option B until proper traffic studies, especially around the main Northbridge intersections are performed.

The Community, Council, the Plaza owners and AMP (the Plaza Managers) need to reach some form of compromise to arrive at a workable long-term solution. Coming to the community with extremes (8 & 10 storey buildings options) does Council a disservice in community interaction. Coming to the community with a short-term solution may placate neighbouring residents but can also be seen as a waste of Council resources and ratepayers funds.

Community opinion is that the Northbridge Plaza is well overdue for redevelopment – especially in regard access for the elderly and those with prams – and especially with the management of retail trolleys. The Plaza may be a neighbouring entity – but it would make economic sense (and better utilise the proceeds from the sale of Council Assets) if all entities could “put their cards on the table” and establish a workable common ground.

We respect the work that Council has undertaken over the past many months in devising this current solution – but the community note that they have again been given only four days to respond.

The community would prefer to achieve the best outcome rather than a short term solution. Just like the other suburbs within Willoughby LGA – we want to retain the Northbridge “Village atmosphere”.
It is said in the report that

AMP staff recognise the need to upgrade the car park but would only be in a position to offer financial input in regard a redevelopment option

The Northbridge community are realistic. We reiterate our submission of September 24th 2014 – A common ground needs to be found.

We do need Council to address our Infrastructure and traffic issues on Eastern Valley Way, Sailors Bay Road and Strathallan Avenue and Alpha Roads seriously. Reducing car spaces in car parks has repercussions. We need your assistance to address this issue and engage the State Government and RMS if need be.

While not a long term solution, we feel Option B is … just OK.

Thank you