Pennant Hills District Civic Trust Inc.

Are commuter traffic and parking key issues for residents in the Pennant Hills District/Hornsby Shire?

In the Australian on 24 February 2018 (‘Sydney and Melbourne the focal point for a nation of commuters’) the demographer Bernard Salt, states that 2016 ABS Census data indicates “that 120,000 workers flow south into the greater Sydney metropolis in the morning, only to return exhausted in the evening.”

This is 14,000 commuters more than the estimate made in the 2011 Census, with the number of commuters growing by almost 3,000 a year. These commuters, as well as 7,000 from Newcastle, pass through and perhaps even park in the Shire.

Key questions for the Shire include: how many commuters travel to the area by train and by car? And how many drive a car from the Central Coast or Galston, Arcadia or the north west to a railway station between Brooklyn and Cheltenham? Answers to these questions will help us to better understand and respond to traffic and parking issues in the Shire and Pennant Hills in particular.

The 2016 Census indicates that 8,484 residents in the suburbs between Cheltenham and Brooklyn commute by train in the morning peak hour (6 to 9:30am). However 2014 data from Transport NSW suggests station suburbs in the Shire had more travellers (14, 520 gate entries) than the number of morning peak hour local commuters indicated by the Census.

The stations which double the number travellers entering the station are Cheltenham (113%), Pennant Hills (118%), Asquith (103%) Berowra (223%) and Hawkesbury (226%).  Some of the higher number may be accounted for by locals going to school or on day trips and the many commuters who park at stations in the Shire. The percentages are higher the closer the stations is to the Central Coast.

While it may be possible that more specific data on commuters could be gleaned by conducting spot surveys at Shire stations, we could ask: do we really need more information at all when anecdotal evidence, visual inspections and inferences from Census and Transport NSW data suggest that a large number of commuters park at Shire railway stations.

We could start a strategic approach to manage this now and into the future. We hope to work in close partnership with the relevant local, state and federal authorities to develop a strategy jointly to manage the main transport hubs with specific focus on the number of commuters, and the volume of traffic and parking at Shire railway stations.

What do you think ? Are commuter traffic and parking key issues for residents in the Pennant Hills District/Hornsby Shire? Let us know via email or via facebook, follow the links below. We’d love to hear from you.

/plu

This article appeared in the Monthly Chronicle, our local independent newspaper.

Civic Trust members meet local Councillors

Members of the Pennant Hills District Civic Trust met with the mayor of Hornsby Shire, Philip Ruddock in late February.

The Trust had one agenda item only, -the next steps in developing the Pennant Hills Town Centre Plan- although we were also there to listen to what Council had to say. The Trust’s ideas for this had already been flagged in our article published in the March issue of The Monthly Chronicle. We also circulated the article to our members via Gmail and Hornsby Shire Councillors

After opening the meeting, the Trust was told that the town plan would not progress. The main reason we were given was lack of money available for the project. Other reasons included that there would be no new housing targets until mid-2019, and a lack of take-up of units already completed and available in Epping and Beecroft. We were also told that the current plan is for further residential building to be near the Hornsby railway station.

Other discussion at the meeting included:

  • The council is working with the state government to address the negative financial impact on Hornsby Shire Council arising from the transfer of the Epping precinct to Parramamtta Council.in the council amalgamations of 2017..The aim is to make Hornsby a financially viable council again.
  • The desire for more trees to be planted in the streets.
  • How to manage increased traffic from commuters, the Fisher Road development, and parking for shoppers in Pennant Hills.
  • Buildings and shops should be painted in concert with other buildings in the area.
  • The Council is open to redevelopment of the Pennant Hills Market Place, especially if this will improve pedestrian flow and shopper parking.

The reason the Trust wants a documented plan in place for Pennant Hills is to ensure our suburb is not subject to the whims of future State Governments and Councils, and pressure from developers. This plan would set out what Pennant Hills will look like in the future. Development of a plan was a promise by our elected councillors before the council elections.

While there may be no Council need, or developer pressures, for more residential development in the life of the current council, this is not a reason for not creating a town plan. In fact, this is the right time to draw up a proper plan, not when there is pressure for more housing. Once Hornsby is again a financially viable council, there should not be funding issues.

The Trust will discuss the response to this at the next meeting on Tuesday 13th March and advise of the action planned. / no

Pennant Hills to Epping Cycleway funding announced

On Friday 2 March 2017 State Member for Epping, NSW MP for Epping Damien Tudehope announced that the Cycleway from Pennant Hills to Epping will receive $5.1 million from the NSW Government Cycling Infrastructure Fund. The funding requires that the Cycleway is completed by 2020.

NSW MP Damien Tudehope, Hornsby Mayor Phillip Ruddock, Councillor Emma Heyde, executive members of Bike North and the Pennant Hills, Beecroft Cheltenham and Epping Civic Trusts at the funcding announcement for the new Pennant Hills to Epping Cycleway

NSW MP Damien Tudehope, Hornsby Mayor Phillip Ruddock, Councillor Emma Heyde, executive members of Bike North and the Pennant Hills, Beecroft Cheltenham and Epping Civic Trusts at the funcding announcement for the new Pennant Hills to Epping Cycleway

The Pennant Hills District Civic Trust first approached Mr Tudehope about the cycle path in 2015.

Also present at the announcement at Beecroft Village Green on Friday was Hornsby Mayor Philip Ruddock, Emma Heyde a Hornsby Councillor with the Greens, representatives from Pennant Hills, Beecroft Cheltenham and Epping Civic Trusts, plus a number of cyclists from Bike North and the local community.

The proposal is for a Shared User Path between Pennant Hills and Epping, that is, it will also accommodate parents with prams, kids on scooters, pedestrians, people with disabilities using wheelchairs and the elderly on mobility scooters.  This is transport infrastructure for the whole community – not just lycra clad cyclists.

Hornsby Council is currently in the planning phase to develop and build the $5.1 million cycleway project.  They will immediately start the feasibility study to determine the best route.

The Community Preferred cycle route from Pennant Hills to Epping

The community preferred route is shown here.  From the pedestrian bridge over Pennant Hills Rd at the top of Hampden Rd the preferred route goes along the rail access road in the rail corridor, east of the rail line to Sutherland Rd Beecroft, then past Beecroft Station, behind Beecroft Community Centre and tennis courts, along The Crescent past Cheltenham Girls High and Cheltenham Station, Old Beecroft Rd, over the M2, through the tunnel under the railway to Cambridge St Epping and Epping Station.  From Epping it links to bike routes to Macquarie Universtity, Lane Cove, North Sydney, Carlingford, North Rocks and Parramatta.

The Monthly Chronicle has published an article on this great success as well.

With Hornsby Council, Bike North, Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust, Epping Civic Trust, and Damien Tudehope MP / ajw

Pennant Hills Town Plan – Let’s have the Vision before the Plan

In November 2016, the Council invited landowners, business owners, and community progress associations in Pennant Hills and Thornleigh to participate in the Picture Pennant Hills online survey. Not surprisingly, the responses were that there should be little or no development in Pennant Hills, but the Council should facilitate the creation of a welcoming village atmosphere supporting successful local business, with adequate shopping and professional services, through investment in long overdue improvements to shopping centre parking, community and social infrastructure.

In today’s world Councils do not have unlimited money to spend, and there are pressures on Local Councils from State and Federal Government policies to build more dwellings in already developed suburbs. We have all seen recent debates in our metropolitan newspapers between the “Sydney is full” side and the “get used to more dense living in our capital cities” side. What seems to be missing is a whole of government vision for our capital cities (and indeed for our local communities). Too much of what we see today has been built in an ad hoc and fragmented way. The results are not pretty.

We accept that if we want to improve Pennant Hills there will be downsides. What we ask is Council first produce an integrated vision for comment from local residents before any precipitate steps regarding more dense housing are commenced.

Increasing density works when, and only when, it builds incrementally and hand in hand with amenity. We need more people: people are our wealth, our creativity our community. The job of good town planning then is to make this evident. We need to think of community not make the mistake of thinking it’s about the buildings

In May this year when the Council announced the results of the Picture Pennant Hills survey they resolved “An economic feasibility study [is to] be undertaken as the next step in the master plan review process.” There has been no other visible progress on the town centre plan in the 15 months since November 2016.

Apart from the glacially slow progress with the town plan, we have to fear for the outcome if the town centre plan is to be based only on economic criteria. This is likely to result in indiscriminate high-rise development without any sense of community needs as is happening in many Sydney suburbs.

Pennant Hills needs a creative plan which meets the social and environmental needs of the community (not the developers) and integrates with the road and rail infrastructure now under construction. For this a strategic vision is needed. This strategic vision and the economic imperatives of the Council will become the objectives of the town plan. We all know from our own life experience that if you don’t ask the right questions in the first place you will never get the right answers.

This strategic vision must be developed in conjunction with the community so there is consensus. Without consensus, most of the community are likely to be unhappy with the final plan and the outcome and the result will satisfy few.

The development of a strategic vision is a huge opportunity to make Pennant Hills a wonderful community for future generations. We owe it to them to get this plan right. Your Trust is committed to working collaboratively with Council so we don’t waste this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Noel Oxley / President PHDCT