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In Asquith NSW on “Residential - New Multi...” at 18 Baldwin Avenue Asquith NSW 2077 Australia:

Liz Paul commented

Re: Development Application DA/276/2016
Properties Nos. 12-18 Baldwin Avenue, Asquith

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the amended proposed Development application DA/276/2016. The application submitted to Hornsby Council proposes the demolition of existing buildings and construction of two residential flat buildings containing 29 units and 7 townhouses with car parking within a basement.

Discounting the Heritage Listed building on the corner of Baldwin and Royston, there are 22 parcels of land to develop in the Baldwin Avenue Precinct. This application only represents 4 of these parcels. I agree with the statement in the report by Think Planners Pty states that this development will ”set the tone and scale for future comparable developments within the R3 zoned block”. However, I disagree with the assertion that approval of this development would represent “a positive development outcome” for our suburb.

My main concerns with regard to this application are outlined below:

Traffic
The report states that the lower rate for parking spaces has been used to due to the proximity of the development to Asquith Station, resulting in the provision of 47 car parking spaces for this development.

Analysis of car ownership in the 2011 Census (2016 not available yet), indicates 54% of households in the Hornsby Shire had access to two or more motor vehicles, compared to 44% in Greater Sydney. http://profile.id.com.au/hornsby/car-ownership. Taking this pattern of car ownership in Hornsby Shire in to account, the current parking provision in this development application is unlikely to meet demand and we will see a greater reliance on on-street parking.

The housing strategy already recognises the poor connectivity between areas east and west of the railway line and that housing development in this precinct will increase traffic movements.

Baldwin Avenue is referred to in the report as only likely to see a small increase of cars resulting from the addition of 36 units. Putting 29 units and 7 townhouses on these 4 blocks instead of just townhouses significantly increases the density of this development, which in turn, significantly increases the number of vehicles in an already congested area.

This end of the Baldwin Avenue Precinct forms part of the ever increasing commuter parking around Asquith Station which extends along Sherbrook Road, Royston Parade, Victory Street, Haldane Street, Winston Street, Olive Street and Heath Street.

The scale of on-street parking is reaching dangerous and unacceptable levels. Many people who live near stations beyond Asquith park here because the stopping patterns of the trains mean that Asquith has a more regular train service than their local station. The construction of a new car park along the Pacific Highway will not solve this problem and will only encourage yet more commuters to drive to Asquith Station rather than using one more local to them.

Cars entering and leaving this development will do so via Baldwin Avenue. This is a very busy pedestrian area at peak hour as high school students enter and leave the adjoining high school and primary school students make their way to and from school in the adjoining streets.

This precinct is within 1 km of two primary schools and two high schools. Every school day more than 2,200 students are on the move within one kilometre of this precinct. Many arrive by train, some walk and a large proportion of primary school students are driven to school, adding to the congestion:

School Student Enrolments – 2016 (Source: My School Website)
Asquith Public School 374
St Patrick’s Primary 353
Asquith Girls High 899
Asquith Boys High 589
Total 2,215 students within 1km of this development.

These schools are already operating either very close to or at capacity and this is before new residents move in to the units being built along the Pacific Highway and seek to enrol their child/ren. We must also not forget to take in to account students who attend schools in other suburbs who are also on the move at peak periods either by car or train. Congestion in and around this Precinct is only set to worsen as the population increases.

Traffic on Royston Parade is already at capacity at peak hour and there are regular tailbacks over the bridge as traffic tries to filter on to the Pacific Highway. Tailbacks also occur where drivers try to right turn in to Dudley Street off Royston since cars are allowed to park opposite this junction and traffic cannot flow around the car waiting to turn. There is no signalisation at Kuring-gai Chase Road/Royston Road intersection and traffic jams of cars waiting to turn right on to Kuring-gai Chase road often form and tail back past Asquith Golf course. This junction is also very unsafe for pedestrians and who want to cross the road.

Housing Choice & Affordability
Think’s report states that this proposed development will “help to enhance the housing choice within Asquith” and that “the mix of dwellings on offer will help to contribute to affordability”. Given the high number of apartment blocks currently under construction along the Pacific Highway that stretch from Asquith to Mount Colah there is already a plentiful supply of units on the market.

If you really want to enhance housing choice in our suburb in this precinct build townhouses - these would also be more in keeping with the character of the east side of our suburb and provide more ‘choice’ to buyers given the glut of units on offer.

Affordability is all relative, and if the current market is anything to go by most buyers would be hard pressed to be able to afford a new dwelling so close to Asquith Train station.. Here are some random recent examples of prices fetched:

2 Bedroom Townhouse: Heath Street - $716,000
3 Bedroom Townhouse: Haldane Street - $980,000
1 Bed Unit: Jersey Street North - $510,000
2 Bed Unit: Jersey Street: $785,000

Does this proposal make any provision for social housing? It is difficult to see how this proposal addresses the issue of affordability.

The Social & Economic Impact of this Development
The Think reports states that this proposed development will “..help support the growth of the locality….to ensure efficient use of community infrastructure by providing higher residential density at strategic locations…”

As it stands, the density of this proposal will increase the traffic congestion on the East Side of Asquith and this congestion will have negative social and economic impacts on the local community. Increased traffic will deter people from walking and cycling, encourage yet more traffic on to our roads and increase travel times for local trips. Residents living on the East Side of this suburb risk becoming ‘hemmed in’ by high volumes of traffic on Sherbrook Road. They will find it increasingly difficult to make journeys between the east and the west sides of the suburb. This proposal will not have any positive impact for those living on the East Side of the suburb nor those who need to use Sherbrook Road.

Our current community infrastructure is gradually being stripped away and is already under huge strain. Over the last 5 years Asquith suburb has lost the Council run Asquith Long Day Care and Preschool and Seniors Centre (formerly located on Lords Avenue). The community facility at Storey Park whilst currently being revamped (and technically, not situated in Asquith) will not even have a café. The big public park situated at the end of Baldwin Avenue, Mills Park, has no bubblers, no BBQ facilities and the majority of the open space is reserved for formal sport (soccer). There is only ever one disabled toilet open to the public when there are no formal games of soccer being played. When this playing field is being used for formal sport, parking around the venue reaches nightmare proportions. This is the park that proposed development in Baldwin Avenue will rely on for open recreational space.

In conclusion, please stick to the Housing Strategy and build townhouses instead of units.

Thank you for your time.

Liz Paul

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