The ban on traffic turning left into Cronulla shopping centre near the train station has been made permanent.
Sutherland Shire Council, at its meeting on Monday night, endorsed the staff recommendation, which followed a six months’ trial.
A move by Cr Marie Simone to defer the matter until the next council meeting was rejected before a motion by Cr Michael Forshaw to make the ban permanent was supported without dissent.
“I think we have a pretty thorough report from staff,” Cr Forshaw said.
“The trial has occurred during winter and summer months.
“The chamber [of commerce] supports the ‘no left turn’ being implemented.
“Not every business is happy but, other than the initial responses, I have had no agitation or correspondence for quite a long time.”
Cr Forshaw said town centre safety was of paramount importance.
“It was really more of a U-turn than a left turn,” he said.
“Traffic was invariably held up.
“I believe there was a serious risk that pedestrians could be injured by a car stopping suddenly and having another running up the back of it.”
Cr Forshaw said, from the traffic perspective, the flow was much better.
“I haven’t seen any hard evidence business is being affected,” he said.
A move by Cr Marie Simone to defer the matter until the next council meeting was rejected,
The No Left Turn near Cronulla train station should become permanent, a council report recommends.
After a six-months trial, Sutherland Shire Council staff concluded the benefits of the “contentious” traffic restriction outweighed the negative impacts.
A decision on whether the ban should be retained and permanent barriers installed is expected to be made when the council meets on March 19.
The report said, while the ban on turning left into Cronulla Street may have contributed to the loss of trade for some businesses at the southern end of the town centre, it had succeeded in removing the unnecessary circulation of traffic through the centre.
Resulting benefits had included improved southbound traffic flow, town centre amenity and pedestrian safety and accessibility.
The restriction had also led to optimal parking occupancy.
The report said the benefits were consistent with the aims of the Cronulla Town Centre Public Domain Masterplan.
On the issue of traffic flow, the report said the No Left Turn prevented traffic from queuing out of the town centre and blocking the main traffic flow to South Cronulla.
“Traffic count data, site observations and feedback from the community indicate that southbound traffic flow has improved, particularly in the PM peak period,” the report said.
“The data indicates that there has been an average five per cent increase in southbound traffic flow during the PM peak following the introduction of the No Left Turn restriction.
“Site observations indicate that the frequency of extended queuing has been reduced, queue lengths are reduced, and that even with this five per cent increase, traffic is flowing better than before the trial.
“The increase in traffic volume indicates that motorists are more prepared to use this route as they are less likely to experience delays due to vehicles turning left into the town centre.”
The report said while the restriction had been effective in eliminating congestion, there remained an underlying capacity issue at the signalised pedestrian crossing at the station during peak weekend periods.
“Southbound queuing was reported and witnessed during periods of warmer weather of a Saturday and Sunday,” the report said.
“Hence the need to further investigate additional measures to address the issue of traffic congestion in Cronulla.”
The major negative impact was considered to be loss of trade for businesses.
“Face to face surveys were undertaken with 58 business proprietors in the one way section of Cronulla Street, Purley Place and Surf Road at the completion of the trial in January, 2018,” the report said.
“Of those surveyed, 38 per cent of businesses indicated that there had been a noticeable reduction in takings compared to the same period last year.
“This was very slight reduction when compared to the September, 2017 surveys (39 per cent).
“However, it is worth noting that the number of retailers indicating no noticeable reduction in takings increased from 21 per cent in September, 2017, to 48 per cent in January, 2018.
“While the concerns of those businesses identifying the impacts are acknowledged, loss of trade may be the result of a number of contributing factors.
“It is also important that individual businesses and business districts are able to adapt to changes in market forces and/or the environment in which they operate.
“While not ruling out potential business impacts at a local level from the traffic change it should also be noted there was a softening in national retail sales figures during the second half of 2017 as indicated in the extract of ABS data.”