Fears more green space will be lost under Penshurst Park Masterplan

Lost lawn: Residents are concerned that proposals to provide a parking bay for buses at the Hurstville Aquatic Centre will take up valuable green space. Picture: Chris Lane
Lost lawn: Residents are concerned that proposals to provide a parking bay for buses at the Hurstville Aquatic Centre will take up valuable green space. Picture: Chris Lane

Penshurst residents say valuable green space will be swallowed up in a plan to reduce of the pool lawn and garden of the Hurstville Aquatic Leisure Centre (HALC) to provide a bus bay and car parking.

The proposal is included in the development application for Stage 3 of the Penshurst Park Masterplan.

A Georges River Council spokesperson said that in response to local resident and visitor concerns, council has revised the plans for Stage 3 of the Penshurst Park Sporting Hub project to provide 31 additional car parking spaces and a bus set-down area for three buses.

“The revised plans address resident and customer feedback which requested safety improvements to the bus set-down area for school children visiting the centre and also requests for more car parking spaces.

“The revised plans propose to utilise redundant garden beds and approximately 25 per cent of the 1200sqm existing grassed area.

Green space concern: The lawn area, part of which will be taken up by 31 car spaces and a bus turning bay. Picture: Chris Lane

Green space concern: The lawn area, part of which will be taken up by 31 car spaces and a bus turning bay. Picture: Chris Lane

“While the loss of a small amount of lawn is not ideal, the council has prioritised the safety of school children and visitors to the centre who arrive by bus, over the retention of some of the grassed area.

“The majority of the grassed are will remain and continue to provide an area for visitors of the Leisure Centre to use for activities and relaxation.”

But residents say that closer to 50 per cent of the 1200sqm lawn will be lost in the plan along with 29 trees including mature gums.

Save Our Parks, Trees and Wildlife spokesperson Kathryn Skelsey said there was no need to remove any pool lawn, for the sake of buses or cars.

“We agree that children safety is paramount, however the council's design actually fails in this respect,” Ms Skelsey said.

“If 31 car spaces are included in the design then children will still be at risk of injury, or even at higher risk, from passing car traffic entering and leaving the bus bay.”

She added that the plan’s traffic Report maps show car parking placed just next to the bus drop off area.

“Surely this defeats the purpose of the bus bay being recessed away from the road, to protect children from passing traffic on Cambridge Street,” she said.

“If provision of safe entry and egress of stadium users, and the addition of extra car parking spaces are important considerations, but the council also had regard for green space, then they would design multi-level car parking or place the bay, pathways and entries elsewhere rather than spreading pavement across precious grass and gardens.”

“If there is a problem with space, then to offset the above re-addition, the following  sentence-section can be removed if necessary to manage word count;

“In this design the children would be just as unsafely exposed to car movements, especially backing cars with reduced vision.”

“In this design the children would be just as unsafely exposed to car movements, especially backing cars with reduced vision.

“The pool lawn may be regarded as only a small part of Stage 2 and 3 of the Penshurst Park Masterplan but it illustrates the council’s overall negative attitude to and disregard for green space.

“If provision of safe entry and egress of stadium users, and the addition of extra car parking spaces are important considerations, then they would design multi-level car parking or place the bay, pathways and entries elsewhere rather than spreading pavement across precious grass and gardens.

“There will be about 29 trees removed, including some mature gums. There is no evidence of them being replaced elsewhere close by.

“The removal of garden is not 25 per cent but considerably more than that, perhaps even up to 50 per cent of the grass space.

“Considering there is so much natural grass that is likely to be lost on the main oval of Penshurst Park under pavement, buildings and artificial turf in the proposed Stages 2 and 3 of the Penshurst Park Masterplan, then every opportunity should be being taken to retain grass elsewhere in this massive project.

“The pool lawn and garden is not ‘redundant’ as stated by the council statement.  The lawn’s current expansiveness allows children to run freely after a swim in the pool, get some cool fresh air after being in the heavy warm chlorinated atmosphere of the pool, or to dry out and to bask in the sun in a safe, unobserved environment surrounded by bushy and tall vegetation of trees and gardens.

“The garden offers privacy to the pool patrons which will be lost by the open aspect of the bus bay.  

“Fumes from the buses will be closer to the open doors of the pool than they currently are, and more likely to enter the pool building.

“I'm not sure that pool patrons will be happy about this, especially in the light of the fact that the air in the pool area itself can already be heavy with chlorine.”

Ms Skelsey added that on the plan’s map there is no provision for the existing recessed public bus stop on Cambridge Street.

“Plans indicate that no recess will exist for the bus stop, which means there will probably be obstruction of traffic flow when the public bus stops here in the line of the road, and increased congestion along Cambridge Street near the busy intersection with Forest Road.”

Brian Shaw Hurstville Residents Association said it was concerning the council was removing so much grass surface from the park.

“With more storm events, the stormwater will cascade into the Wolli Creek stormwater system which often floods during rain events.

“Grasses area absorb stormwater into the water table which gradually goes to creeks and the ocean. Council would do well to retain and expand the grassed areas instead of concreting and asphalting to hard surfaces,” he said.

Ms Skelsey urged residents to sign a petition to save the green space before the Sydney South Planning Panel meets to decide on the DA for stages two and three of the Penshurst Park Masterplan.

The petition is at: www.change.org/p/preserve-our-natural-green-space-and-backyard-on-penshurst-park

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