David Aitken ~ 13 Feb 2012

posted 13 Feb 2012, 03:52 by Friends of Erskineville

As a local resident and a member of the Friends of Erskineville, I have serious concerns with the new Draft Amendment which seeks to replace the current controls for the precinct with a document that is seriously flawed in that it proposes to raise the density of the site from 1:1 (the western sector) and 1.25:1 to 1.75:1 (in the eastern or Goodman sector), a 75% increase to the western half of the site and a 40% increase to the eastern half of the site without any serious regard to the traffic and transport needs or urban design quality and servicing of the new residential development. I and other residents in the area are concerned that Council’s proposal to amend the current Development Control plan (DCP) and increase the residential density of this site by increasing FSR and building heights is being driven by developer pressure on the Department of Planning, rather than on a thorough understanding of the form and servicing of a livable and sustainable city of villages


The scale of the development


The amended DCP proposes to increase the height of the buildings from a maximum of five storeys to nine storeys, based upon the supposition that the 8 and 9 storey towers will be only marginally visible outside of the precinct. However, we would question this philosophy of encouraging development above 4 or (maximum) 5 stories, based upon sustainable design and livability.  It is argued by many socially aware urban designers such as Christopher Alexander et al in A Pattern Language, that high buildings have no genuine advantages, except in speculative gains for banks and developers. They are not cheaper, they do not help to create open space and they destroy the townscape, the social life and make life difficult for children. In addition, buildings above 4 or 5 levels are expensive and energy intensive to maintain, impact upon the quality of nearby open spaces and alienate adults and children from the ground where social intercourse is likely to occur.


It is quite clear that Council’s planning officers arrived at appropriate density provisions of FSR of 1.25:1 and maximum 4/5 stories through proper process and that the currently proposed increase in the FSR and height of the buildings is being driven by external opportunistic forces and not by the interests of future sustainable living.  , We call upon the City to engage the services of the highly respected Urban Designer, Jahn Gehl, to help prepare a thoroughly researched and socially sensitive design for the new village within the city. Such a design could reconsider the scale of the proposal and the availability of existing infrastructure including alternative transport, schools, hospitals, shops deliveries and waste services that would be required to support the new residential development. In addition, such a design could identify the need for new transport means, such as light rail which once serviced and linked this specific development site into both tram and rail networks. Moreover, such an urban design and transport study would inform the scheduling of the new developments to follow the provision of essential services and infrastructure.


The need for a Traffic and Transport Study


The entire Ashmore precinct, which covers 17 hectares, contains large industrial buildings surrounded by late Victorian and Federation terrace houses. Access to the specific site is severely limited, both now and in the future by the Huntley Green and Coulson Street residential developments to the south, the rail line to the west and tiny roads and laneways which access Mitchell Road and Coulson Street to the south and east.


As the local community has been informed by Council’s planning staff that the new development model, recently proposed by Council’s Urban Design Team, with an FSR of 1.75:1 or greater, allows for 3200 new apartments for an estimated population of 6200 residents, with onsite parking arrangements for 1,950 vehicles, the need for a comprehensive Traffic and Transport study to support the massive increase in the Alexandria and Erskineville population would be mandatory in any Environmental Assessment.  


It is noted that at densities of 1.75:1 or greater, Traffic Planners anticipate a higher level of vehicle ownership and a higher level of car dependency, which is likely to increase the numbers of vehicle movements added to the network.


We, therefore, call upon Council to undertake and complete a comprehensive traffic and transport modeling study to assess how a total of 6,200 new residents and their support services will move into and out of the site and the impacts this new development will have upon the movement, servicing and circulation patterns of the existing nearby community and surrounding suburbs. Such a study would require a full network analysis to examine the ability of the existing road, bus, rail, pedestrian and cycle networks to cope with the additional volumes of people and traffic and would use micro simulation modeling.  Its scope should take in the peak periods occurring on Saturdays (all day) and Thursday evenings (?)


In addition, we question Council’s submitted planning evidence that the nearby location of the rail line will cope with the additional needs of the expanded population. As Sydney Rail has already reached full capacity in peak travel times, we would request that the Traffic and Transport Study include a Mode Share analysis and take into account the low level frequency of the adjacent rail stations at both Erskineville and St Peters.




In conclusion, we would request that Council does not consider any changes to the Ashmore DCP until it is informed by:


1.                  A full Traffic and Transport study which has been undertaken to assess the ability of the area to absorb the circulation requirements of this massive increase in population.


2.                  Council undertakes an urban design study for the site and its surrounds by seeking the services of the city’s Urban Design consultant, Jahn Gehl, in order to promote an alternative, sustainable and socially responsible design for the new Ashmore residential village, destined to become one of “Sustainable Sydney 2030” centres in its City of villages initiative;


3.                  Regarding the loss of an important employment generating centre, an analysis of the social, economic and environmental impacts on the capacity of the existing physical and social community infrastructure and jobs market is undertaken to support the very large number of additional residents.