Sunday, May 26, 2013

Beecroft Shopping Village - letter to council

The attached letter was copied to the Trust and is printed here for community information:

The Town Planner – Beecroft Precinct,
Hornsby Council,
PO Box 37,
Hornsby.  NSW. 1630.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I attended the information evening to hear details from the architects on proposed changes to the Module site in Beecroft Village.  My wife and I live across the road from the site and I have undertaken design aspects of small multi-unit developments in the past.  I must say I was appalled at the design and logistic aspects the development architects presented on the night.  Below are my major issues in point form.

1.       Did they read the Council DCP?  Their concept does not come close to the guidelines; sacrificed commercial space in favour of very small residential units.

2.      Details were given that the 146 residential properties have a total of a 144 or 146 car spaces.  Where are all the extra cars to be parked, already there is no parking within one kilometre of the railway station due to commuter parking.
3.      MOST IMPORTANT: How is it acceptable for cars (from over 300 car spaces) and delivery trucks to have an entrance and exit from Hannah Street?  This street is steep, has many pedestrians, both elderly and school age, and is not a main road even though it is a regular bus route to the railway station.  Even now there are queues past the proposed entry/exit waiting for lights at Beecroft Road. 
4.      A few years ago I built a small café in a commercial zone and Council (not Hornsby) forced me to undertake a professional traffic survey, costing over $5,000.  A traffic survey is imperative and I’m confident it will show that Hannah Street CANNOT handle this extra traffic.  Keep in mind that there have been pedestrian fatalities already in Hannah Street.
5.      Traffic entry from Hannah Street may be acceptable, however, every effort is to be made to secure an exit to Beecroft Road.  After all, Beecroft Road is a main road designed to handle traffic.  Left turn only !!  Alternatively, encourage the Module owner to purchase the residential site currently for sale in Chapman Avenue and combine an exit from the Module site with an entry/exit for residential units on this site.  Hannah Street exit will have limited visibility for pedestrians and the street CANNOT handle the congestion and safety aspects of an exit from over 300 car spaces.  Beecroft Village also serves as a bus hub particularly for school students.

6.      The architects say they have approached RMS on three occasions to have entry or exit onto Beecroft Road.  Have they really tried to achieve this or are they just happy to have entry/exit on Hannah Street because this option is simply cost effective and convenient to their design?

7.       During demolition and construction, all materials that will be transported by trucks MUST use Beecroft Road for access.

8.      I suspect the architects spent little time in the Village, their only correct observation was that Hannah Street had nice ornamental pear trees in the street.  Their only purpose of the meeting was to tell Council that “they consulted with residents”.  In response to a question, one of the architects indicated that a three (3) bedroom unit would have a floor area of 100 sq metres !!!  Really?

9.      The architectural block design displayed does nothing to fit in with the village concept proposed in the DCP or that of those residents who attended the meeting.  Locals are vocal that Beecroft Village have new buildings that are in a modern heritage style; not a rectangular, ultra modern block design.  Hornsby Council has approved residential buildings with an excellent modern heritage design located in Wahroonga Village adjacent to the Post Office.  The presence of a tiled roof section would be sympathetic with the Beecroft environment.

10.  Where are the awnings over the footpath?

11.  The Hannah Street façade is harsh and would benefit from more staggered areas, rather than a long façade.  Also will shadow diagrams be prepared to show the effect on properties across the street and in the green areas of the site?

12.  Hornsby Council has been strict with modifications to existing heritage buildings in Beecroft, hence should also be strong about new buildings, whether large or small.

13.  A narrow, long walkway is proposed between the old Westpac building and the proposed Hannah Street building.  This dark access way has potential after hours problems and may disappear when the old Westpac building is incorporated into the Module site.  Vehicle access to the old Westpac site is in the architects plans.

It is my hope that Council can be strong and listen to those who live in, appreciate and respect the current lifestyle found in BEECROFT VILLAGE.  The traffic issue has to be dealt with before approval or Council will have a disaster on their hands.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

NWRL Emergency Egress

A number of people have expressed concern about how passengers would escape if there was a problem with a train in the tunnel.  Some people seem to think they might have to walk several kilometers to reach the next station, and imagine walking in possibly a smoke filled tunnel.

The NWRL project confirm that there will be safety access tunnels at least every 300m along the twin tunnel system, so if there is a problem then passengers will be able to exit into the other tunnel where vehicles can be provided to carry them to safety.

This blogger is exploring a number of such specific concerns, and invites comments or questions from the public on such issues.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

NWRL - Questions for the Minister

The following is an extract from a letter received by the Trust after the NWRL open meeting:

Why do you maintain the half truth that leading capital cities have a metro when the truth is that most of those metros were built over a century ago as solutions to a problem Sydney does not have,  namely having to terminate outer-suburban trains at the edge of the CBD, & it is publicly acknowledged by, amongst others, Howard Collins that those cities would be far better off if they did not have the metro "we have small trains; I'm pretty impressed by the double deck 2000 capacity trains in Sydney" (ABC interview 21 March 2013)

Why do you maintain that metro style trains can carry more passengers than double deck trains, which have twice as many seats as metros, when your proposition is only achievable by assuming all the seats to be occupied & the rest to be occupied by standing passengers at the unpleasant rate of 4 per square metre? It is not frivolous to note that in Japan there are segregated carriages to avoid groping & on many packed metro systems pickpocketing is rife.

Why do you continue to maintain that double deck trains are incapable of achieving the frequency of metros when, eg in Paris, double deck trains achieve 30 trains per hour?

The feature of metro carriages to which you most frequently refer is that they can load & unload more quickly than our double deck trains because they have three doors. Are you aware that our carriages could be progressively replaced with double deck three door trains such as are being put into service overseas?

Northern line considerations -

Another feature upon which you focus is that the NWRL will have a frequency of twelve trains per hour in peak times. It goes without saying that a private operator will only run trains out of peak times at a frequency which will turn a profit per train. Using Cheltenham as an example the scheduled travelling time to Wynyard is 38 to 40 minutes. What assurances can passengers travelling to & from the city on the Northern line have that trains, out of peak, will be co-ordinated at Epping so that the present travelling time, which has been the same for about 100 years, will not be exceeded by the privately run system?

One of the reasons for taking Northern line passengers to the city via Chatswood was to reduce overcrowding on the lines between Strathfield & Redfern. Why do you euphemistically state that to avoid changing at Epping & Chatswood, Northern line passengers may travel to the city via Strathfield when, if this offer is taken up in sufficient numbers, you will reintroduce overcrowding between Strathfield & Redfern & why do you fail to observe that the train will terminate at Central where those wishing to travel further will have to extend their journey time by changing trains?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Module Development Plans

Just a reminder that the developers proposing to demolish and rebuild The Module, Beecroft Shopping Village, will be giving a presentation in Cheltenham Rec Club Monday 13 May at 7 for 7:30pm.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

NWRL contracts signed by NSW Government

Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today announced the North West Rail Link is another step closer with the contract process to operate the new line reaching a major milestone.  The NSW Government has shortlisted two consortia to move forward to the next stage of the Operations, Trains and Systems (OTS) contract following an extensive Expressions of Interest process over the past five months.
The two shortlisted consortia, made up of almost 30 companies from across Australia and around the world, in no particular order, are:
Northwest Rapid Transit – MTR Corporation (Australia), John Holland, Leighton Contractors, UGL Rail Services, Plenary Group; and

TransForm – Serco Australia, Bombardier Transportation Australia, SNC-Lavalin Capital, McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust), John Laing Investments, Macquarie Capital Group.
The OTS contract includes:
 Building the eight new railway stations;
 Delivering the commuter car parks for 4,000 cars;
 Supplying the new generation rapid transit single deck trains;
 Building and operating the stabling and maintenance facility at Tallawong Road;
 Installing tracks, signalling, mechanical and electrical systems;
 Converting the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link for the new rapid transit system;
 Operating the North West Rail Link – including all maintenance work.

Over coming months, the two consortia will be formally issued with a Request for Proposal, where they will put forward how they would deliver the OTS contract. The proposals will be due at the end of this year, with the contract expected to be awarded in the third quarter of next year.

Development of The Module, Beecroft Shopping Village

As promised earlier, the Trust is hosting a meeting on Monday 13 May to discuss the proposed development of the Module, Beecroft Shopping Village, to five storey mixed commercial, retail and residential.  We are expecting the developers of the proposed building to present their plans.  All are welcome to attend, at 7 for 7:30pm, at Cheltenham Recreation Club.

Epping to Chatswood NWRL Conversion

The Trust has been asked how long it will take to convert the Epping to Chatswood tunnel to cater for the new NWRL single decker trains.  This is actually a very significant issue, and any answer from the NWRL project must be treated with caution.

The present CityRail service carrying commuters from Epping to the city via Chatswood will cease when the tunnel conversion begins.  Commuter trains on the western loop will revert back to the long route via Strathfield.  The service to Chatswood will not recommence until those new single decker trains have been fully tested and proven.  And what is the chance of that going to schedule?

The delivery delays of the CityRail Waratah double decker rolling stock have not inconvenienced commuters because the older Tangaras continue to provide the full double decker heavy rail commuter service, including between Epping and Chatswood.  It will be totally different with the NWRL when the tunnel conversion commences. 

Australia's track record in timely completion of major projects like the Waratah trains and the Collins submarines raises the prospect of long term delays for city bound commuters from Beecroft and Cheltenham, who could find themselves going via Strathfield for years.  All because of the decision to go away from using double decker trains.

New Development Approval Regulations

The Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust officers who understand these things have been analysing the proposed new planning rules, aimed at speeding up development approvals.
The main thrust of the planning system is to speed up the development approval process. In simplified terms developers have argued that the current legislation is slow and complicated.
A counterargument that has not been raised in the White Paper is that the current development approval process is delayed because developers are greedy and are continually pushing and exceeding the planning controls. If all developers kept within the current planning controls approvals would follow the fast track complying development process.

Review of NWRL Meeting 29 April

About 130 people attended the meeting last Monday, at which EcoTransit showed their excellent video and gave an impressive talk about the apparent contradictions in the State Government's plan to go for single decker trains on the NWRL, not just from Rouse Hill to Epping, but also from Epping to Chatswood, rendering that key commuter rail unusable by the main commuter double decker trains. 

Many serious questions were raised but no answers were available.  Greg Smith MP gave a good explanation of the financial problems facing the State Government, as inherited from the previous government.  He explained why this had forced the new Government to go for a privately funded project.  He promised to convey the feelings of the meeting back to cabinet, but gave no hint that he thought the decision might be reversed.

It has been implied that the narrower tunnels, 6m instead of 7m for CityRail double decker trains, would be cheaper, but against that saving must be added the cost of special maintenance facilities for the single decker trains, and the cost of converting the Epping to Chatswood tunnel.

Concerns were raised about safety, including the consequence of massive crowding on the Chatswood CityRail platforms as all the commuters from the north west pile into Chatswood on the NWRL metro trains and struggle to board the already-full main line double decker trains coming south from Hornsby and the north.

This blog will post more on this topic as further information becomes available.