Infrastructure concerns over plans for 5000 new apartments in 20 storey towers at Turrella

A proposal to rezone an industrial precinct at Turrella for nearly 5000 new homes in buildings up to 20 storeys high is meeting strong community resistance.

The Save Our Valley group and Wolli Creek Preservation Society are strongly opposing the Girrahween Point project, which also includes a shopping centre, offices and areas for “urban services” businesses and a community centre.

The groups are concerned about the impact the huge development would have on infrastructure, including roads and rail, and the adjoining Wolli Creek Regional Park.

Bayside Council wrote to property owners in the industrial precinct on both sides of the train station, advising of the rezoning application by Turrella Property Pty Ltd.

The M5 East exhaust stack is also located in the industrial area.

You will have concentrated exhaust emissions from the 43 metre high, unfiltered stack belching out next to apartment blocks.

Deb Little, Wolli Creek Preservation Society

The development company revealed in a submission to the Greater Sydney Commission’s Eastern City District Plan it met with Department of Planning and Environment officials just four months after Turrella was declared a priority precinct in June, 2017.

Bayside Council has engaged a consultant to help prepare an assessment of the project, which will go to the regional Bayside Planning Panel.

The panel will recommend to the council whether the proposal should be submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment for fast-tracking under the Gateway planning process.

Opponents are heartened by the planning panel recommending to the council last month that a similar rezoning of the northern precinct of Cooks Cove be rejected.

The panel found the Cooks Cove site should be retained for employment purposes, instead of 5364 homes in a variety of building types, from three-storey townhouses to 25-storey towers.

It also found Bayside local government area was more than meeting the residential targets set by the state government, and would continue to do so based on approvals issued and future developments.

A council spokesman said the Turrella proposal could go to the Bayside Planning Panel by the end of this year, “but this is not certain as it is a complex proposal that has to undergo many  technical assessments, which will take time”.

The developer’s submission described the proposed Turrella project as “a vibrant mixed-use, transport oriented development” around the train station and on the banks of Wolli Creek.

Under the porposal, an area of 3.37 hectares would be rezoned from light IN2 industrial to  B4 mixed use and B7 business park.

The development submission said new homes would have "sweeping views along Wolli Creek". Picture: Chris Lane

The development submission said new homes would have "sweeping views along Wolli Creek". Picture: Chris Lane

The development would include 4883 new homes, capacity for 33,158 square metres for urban services, a new neighbourhood centre, up to 3462 square metres of retail floor space and 3000 square metres of commercial floor space.

”Turrella has historically been largely overlooked in metro, district and local planning strategies,” the submission said.

“The Turrella Precinct is well serviced by transport infrastructure – rail and bus. 

"The T2 rail corridor has existing capacity for growth and has not been the focus of growth like the T3 and T4 corridors

 “Within the T2 rail corridor, Turrella represents a significant opportunity for large scale renewal.”

The submission said the project would cater for “a diverse range of housing suiting different life stages and lifestyles”.

There would also be “a diversity of employment uses (including urban services)”.

Examples of urban services included “maintenance and repair (vehicle, building, pest control), construction (residential and non-residential building, heavy and civil engineering, building trades services), wholesale and retail of homewares, garden supplies, hardware, clothing/footwear, food product manufacture and distribution.”

“The operation of traditional industrial uses is highly constrained within the precinct that will affect the long term occupancy of these types of businesses,” the submission said.

”Such constraints include limited access for heavy truck movements and land use conflicts that arise from existing residential areas surrounding the precinct.”

Peter Stevens, a committee member of Save Our Valley, which was formed to fight the Bardwell Park and Turrella priority precincts, said the proposal would have an enormous impact on infrastructure and open space.

Mr Stevens said local roads were narrow and twisting, and traffic was very heavy during peak periods as motorists were increasingly cutting through Turrella.

“Turrella station and trains on the T2 line would not be able to handle the more than 10,000 new residents, who would move in to the  almost 5000 new residences proposed,” he said.

Mr Stevens said the number of people catching trains from stations further along the line, such as Bardwell Park and Bexley North, was increasing and commuters were having to park further and further away.

“You also have to ask whether 1920s sewage infrastructure will be adequate,” he said.

Vice president of Wolli Creek Preservation Society Deb Little said the proposal was “gross overdevelopment”.

“I also question why they think industrial estates are expendable,” she said.

“People need to work somewhere, and a lot of small businesses in light industry are based here”.

Ms Little also questioned whether the implications of the M5 East stack, which is is in the area proposed for rezoning, had been considered.

”You will have concentrated exhaust emissions from the 43 metre high, unfiltered stack belching out next to apartment blocks,” she said.

Ms Little said the developer was talking up the benefits of the site adjoining the Wolli Creek Regional Park, while proposing a project that would severely impact on the natural environment.

The industrial area adjoins Turrella Reserve, which is part of Wolli Creek Regional Park. Picture: Chris Lane

The industrial area adjoins Turrella Reserve, which is part of Wolli Creek Regional Park. Picture: Chris Lane

“The local topography is distinctive,” she said.

“We have a valley with lovely rocky escarpments, and the visual impact of the development would be such an intrusion.”

​James Sen Gupta, a committee member of Wolli Creek Preservation Society, said the area was a flood zone and unsuitable for such a development. 

He also questioned the need for 5000 new apartments when there were many empty units in the 6-7 storey blocks built recently.