For a number of years I have engaged with the Ashbury Community Group and other Ashbury residents regarding the 149-171 Milton Street, Ashbury proposal.

Over this time I have gained an insight into the strongly held concerns of this community, which far from being anti-development, simply strive for fair, sympathetic growth informed by meaningful community consultation.

This proposal will facilitate residential buildings up to six storeys. This is to be achieved by rezoning the land to R4 High Density Residential, introducing new heights up to 21m and increasing the floor space ratio (FSR) by 0.1:1.

In my ongoing conversation with Ashbury residents and the Ashbury Community Group, the following key issues with the proposal continue to arise:

  • The zoning of R4 High Density Residential is still of significant community concern.
  • The traffic and local infrastructure impacts of the proposal have not been considered to the satisfaction of local residents.
  • The construction of any future development threaten to significantly impact residents adjoining the site and in surrounding streets.

Each of these key issues will be discussed in greater detail below.

R4 High Density Residential

The Ashbury community holds significant concern about the flexibility that the R4 High Density Residential zone affords developers. After years of uncertainty and concern, the community is seeking concrete rules that will prevent the site being sold to a developer who could propose significant residential towers.

While the preparation of a site specific Development Control Plan is heartening, it is clear that the community is not satisfied that this document will provide adequate protection from a more intense proposal on the site. I ask that you offer them a greater level of information as to how this DCP will be enforced and the protection it offers.

I also share the community’s concern that the future development may not be sympathetic with the unique heritage character of Ashbury. It is worrying that no dedicated heritage and conversation advice was sought for this Planning Proposal and that should be a priority for future consideration of the proposal.

I believe there are still some issues regarding the scale of development that require rectification before the community is likely to be comfortable with the proposal: This site comprises a large portion of the suburb and is likely to indelibly change the character of this heritage community.

The community deserves certainty after years of speculation on the future of this site.

Traffic and Local Infrastructure Impacts

Ashbury residents already face significant traffic congestion and a chronic lack of reliable public transport. The proposal to include a significant number of new units in the suburb understandably is of concern to existing residents who are already frustrated by transport options in their suburb.

Many residents have expressed to me clear concern that there has not been adequate coordination between Council and Roads and Maritime Services about the likely significant traffic impacts of this proposal.

Local knowledge suggests that the existing uses on the site have in fact not generated significant traffic impacts and Ashbury residents believe that the residential development will add congestion to local roads, as they have seen occur at sites in Lewisham and Burwood.

Furthermore, this suburb is simply not serviced by adequate public transport. As you would be aware, the area is afforded only one infrequent bus route and is not proximate to any rail station. Until the NSW Government rectifies the isolation of this suburb from public transport routes, driving remains a clear preference for many Ashbury residents, which will only intensify existing parking and traffic pressures.

I ask you to urgently review the concerns of residents, who do not believe the traffic and parking impacts of the proposed development are a like for like change for the existing employment uses.

This proposal will also likely generate significant additional pressure on Ashbury Public School and local medical facilities. Ashbury Public School is already over capacity, with four new modular classrooms promised by the Government unlikely to meet existing demand for enrolment.

With pressure from development along Canterbury Road and the ongoing prospect of high rise along the Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor, it is clear that community infrastructure is already being pushed to its limits.

I urge you coordinate with the Department of Education and other relevant government agencies about how the population growth associated with this proposal will be matched with an increase in the capacity of local infrastructure.

Construction Impacts

This site sits metres from established family homes, particularly close to adjoining homes on Yabsley Avenue, Milton Street and Trevenar Street. If the site is redeveloped it will be a large construction site. It is concerning to see that the Planning Proposal documents do not consider the construction impacts of the future development in any detail.

I have been contacted by one elderly resident who has lived in her home on Trevenar Street for decades. She is extremely distressed at the prospect of intensive construction immediately adjacent to her home.

It is assumed that a residential development of this scale will take many months or years to be completed. Before any changes to the planning controls occur, the Ashbury community should be given details of how construction impacts will be mitigated over this lengthy period. This should include consideration of strict conditions on construction hours, noise and vibration, as well as advanced construction traffic management.

Given the proximity of some homes to the potential construction site, dedicated consultation should be undertaken with these residents about how their quality of life and amenity will be protected during any construction period.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to provide comment on this proposal. I hope the spirit of collaboration between the Ashbury community and Council continues during ongoing discussion about the future of this site.

I also hope Council can work to alleviate many of the serious concerns that the community continues to hold about the potential redevelopment of this site.