The NSW government’s plans to deliver thousands of new homes on Sydney’s northern beaches have been heavily criticised by the state’s transport department, which has refused to support the project until further assurances are made.
In December, the NSW government unveiled its plan to transform 700 hectares of land in Ingleside, near Mona Vale, into a new community comprising 3400 new homes for as many as 9000 residents, while conserving large parcels of bushland.
According to the Department of Planning’s draft strategy, the timing of the development will be “co-ordinated with the increased capacity to be provided by Mona Vale Road upgrades,” which will involve the road corridor being expanded to two lanes in each direction.
But in a submission to the government’s draft strategy, Transport for NSW attacked the assumption as inaccurate, noting there was “no forward budget for these proposed upgrades”.
“The report inaccurately assumes that the Mona Vale Road upgrade East and West would both be completed by 2021,” said the submission signed by Clare Gardiner-Barnes, Transport for NSW’s deputy secretary for freight, strategy and planning.
“Mona Vale Road currently experiences congestion due to the configuration of one lane in each direction for the majority of this road. Adding extra traffic to this road before the upgrade works are complete would lead to an unacceptable level of service.”
In an accompanying letter, Ms Gardiner-Barnes stated the transport department would not support a move to rezone 40 per cent of the land for development without further assurances.
“Without a funding commitment for both Mona Vale Road upgrades and increased bus service levels, Transport for NSW cannot support the potential rezoning,” Ms Gardiner-Barnes said, unless it was shown that the development “will not adversely impact on road network performance and transport customer outcomes”.
Transport for NSW’s submission was among 420 others received by the Department of Planning. Many of the submissions raised traffic and environmental concerns.
Transport for NSW also rejected the Planning Department’s claim that proposed bus services would operate every five minutes in peak periods via Mona Vale Road.
“This is incorrect, there has been no past or current planning for this option,” the submission said.
The proposed Northern Beaches’ B-Line bus service, which is set to operate every five minutes in peak hours between Mona Vale and the CBD, would service Mona Vale via a stop along Pittwater Road, not Mona Vale Road, and there were “no current plans to extend to Ingleside,” the submission noted.
A spokeswoman for the Planning Department said the two departments were “working closely” to “resolve the issues [Transport for NSW] raised in their submission on the Ingleside development”.
Announcing the strategy last year, then planning minister Rob Stokes said the new community would “showcase a high standard of sustainability” and would be developed with environmental protection levels higher than ever seen before in Sydney.
But a separate submission from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage detailed concerns the draft strategy had “missed some key opportunities” to achieve this.
Among them were concerns a wildlife corridor would be severed by the proposed development, and that two other corridors had not be accounted for in the planning.