To the Precinct Committees of Randwick City Council concerning light rail, urban activation precincts (UAP), Westconnex congestion and demand management solutions to parking competition in Kensington and Kingsford.

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Greens Councillor Murray Matson recently made the following observations on urban planning issues in the Randwick City Council area to the Kensington Precinct Committee. They have some relevance to all the precinct committees of the Council area.

The Committee approached Councillor Matson following a media release he issued about the debate around a Councillor motion that might see the Council buying up land in Kensington for a public car park.

The debate quickly turned to related issues and a criticism of light rail.

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NSW GOVERNMENT’S URBAN ACTIVATION PRECINCT HEIGHT AND DENSITY INCREASES. My local Greens group, The Randwick-Botany Greens, do not support the as yet un-finalized density or height increases suggested under the Liberal State Government’s UAP proposal.

Our group’s adopted position on local urban density is still that which was expressed in our formal submission made during the Council’s recent redrafting of its Local Environmental Plan well before the UAP was floated. I believe that this present LEP, which went through an exhaustive community consultation process, should not be amended by the Government to allow further dramatic up zonings.

LIGHT RAIL AS NEEDED PUBLIC TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE EASTERN SUBURBS. Randwick Council’s pre-feasibility study on light rail assessed bringing in public transport infrastructure for a population size reflecting  the previous Labor State Governments targets for new dwellings of 8,400 for Randwick City Council. My recollection is that the state election promise made by the Liberals’ to return light rail to Randwick did not come with any announced string that it would be linked to the dramatic further density increases above 8,400 now being flagged under the UAP after the election. This was not transparent by the Liberals. I now urge the Government to disengage light rail from the UAP process which should itself be shelved until the Liberals can win a mandate for further density increases at the next state election.

CARRYING CAPACITY OF LIGHT RAIL VERSE BUSES ALONG ANZAC PARADE. The present passenger numbers along Anzac Parade are around 10,000 per hour at peak (source Randwick pre-feasibility Light Rail study 2011). As I presently understand it, the State Government is proposing a hybrid public transport system for Anzac Parade based on 9,000 being carried by Light Rail and 6,000 being carried by buses.

This net increase in capacity to 15,000 should work from what I have read in the Council’s pre-feasibility study that predated it. I think that it is a misunderstanding to focus on the published target figure of 9,000 for light rail and declare that this is somehow evidence that light rail can not match the present carrying capacity of buses.

My technical understanding of light rail is that it can be pushed above 9,000 relatively easily by the addition of multiple carriages if required. I think that it is a sensible idea to maintain flexibility by retaining the 6,000 capacity of the buses.

RECENT RANDWICK CITY COUNCIL CAR PARKING MOTION. For the further interest of the committee I attach a draft extract from the Council meeting of this week at which Ms Whitehead spoke from the public gallery to Councillor Starvrinos’s motion on public parking.

Please note that during the subsequent debate I offered an amendment to his original motion. Councillors Stavrinos and Andrews (the seconder of the motion) then both accepted my proposed amendment and it thus became their motion without being forced to a vote.

Labor Councillors Moore and Garcia then moved an amendment of their own to add points b, c and d to my original text (which is point a). They won this on a vote and the motion thus became theirs and, when voted on, the final resolution. I was aware that they were going to move this amendment and was intending to support it.

The gist of it all is that the Councillors will now workshop their position on this issue to arrive at an agreed on common understanding which may or may not become a formal Council policy.

INCREASED CAR CONGESTION – WESTCONNEX. Please note my real concerns about the traffic impacts that the WestConnex motorway may cause in Randwick via improvements to the M5 East. Improved freight movements in the Botany area should have been sought from improvements to freight rail and not the addition of another major motorway system.

DEMAND MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS TO URBAN PLANNING PROBLEMS. You will note from my amendment to the Council motion that I favour a demand management approach to solving urban issues such as parking competition and road congestion. This is why I support rail improvements to reduce car congestion rather than simply seeking to add further supplies of car space on roads via new motor ways such as the WestConnex.

Likewise I favour reducing competition for car parking via strategies such as resident preferred parking schemes and phone apps rather than buying up valuable land to use for further supplies of car parks. I accept the “induced traffic” theory that improvements to motorways just encourages  a movement by commuters to cars.

Not-with-standing this, my specific view on parking in Kingsford and Kensington is that Council should investigate every available option other than new car parks to maintain parking levels currently available to local shops, businesses and residents. This should include the introduction of angle parking where possible.

Randwick City Greens Councillor Councillor Murray Matson

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