ADJOURNMENT - Mitchell Electorate: Castle Hill
Why is Baulkham Hills Shire Council in such a rush to continue with this eastern ring-road project in circumstances where there has been no pressure from the major developer in the area, QIC, or from the Roads and Traffic Authority?
Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (9.11 p.m.)—I want to talk about things in Castle Hill in the centre of my electorate. The traffic problems in Castle Hill have been notorious for many years, and there have been many attempts to solve these problems—some say they go back to 1974, which I doubt because at that stage the CBD of Castle Hill was only just beginning to develop. There is a traditional Friday and Saturday gridlock in and around the central area of Castle Hill. The two roads through the area that are most affected are Old Northern Road and Terminus Street. Much discussion has taken place about possible bypasses and a ring-road. There have been many ideas developed over the years—some from the public and some from Baulkham Hills council.
In 2000 there were discussions with local businesses in the main area considered for a bypass road, which is Terminus Street, to change the traffic movements by opening up what is currently a laneway to traffic to allow better access. In 2002 the council entered into discussion with property owners and businesses to allow the strata plan for the properties in 15 to 17 Terminus Street and other properties further up Terminus Street to allow access to purchase land and to allow parking. At that stage it was registered in the strata plans that there would be kerbside parking. Imagine the surprise when in 2006 there is a sudden decision that there will be no kerbside parking in Terminus Street and nobody is informed. Suddenly, this year, work has commenced, trees have been chopped down and the residents are suddenly aware that things are happening in Terminus Street. This has been a matter of huge local controversy.
There are approximately 130 businesses in Terminus Street. There are many hundreds of people employed. Suddenly, those business are facing possible closure as work is going to commence in June and follow through for 18 months or more. The work that is going to be done will be disruptive to those businesses, with no plans for alternative arrangements in sight. There has been a complete lack of transparency by Baulkham Hills council. They have kept things quiet and consultation has been by press statement or notices in the newspapers. I believe the plans went on display for the first time on Australia Day this year, when the first plans were shown to the public of what was really intended. Property owners and businesses were shocked when they saw what was going to happen. There has been no consultation at any level.
The plans for parking in the area are inadequate at any time, and the council is going to remove approximately 110 parking places with no plans at this point for their replacement. There has been a history of continual change, with businesses uninformed and nothing to provide for the clients or customers of businesses or restaurants and nothing for the aged or the infirm. There is only one way in which this matter can be resolved, and that is for a delay to be applied until somebody with a competent outlook can act as a mediator between the council and businesses and property owners in the area. They need to establish a certain plan so that people have confidence in the resolution of matters affecting the development and construction of the council car park, the arrangements for street parking and access to businesses and making deliveries, and the clients of those businesses, including those who are aged or infirm.
The central question is: why is Baulkham Hills Shire Council in such a rush to continue with this eastern ring-road project in circumstances where there has been no pressure from the major developer in the area, QIC, or from the Roads and Traffic Authority? One can only suspect that there are business interests behind the council’s rush. I know that one councillor may have interests, and there are other businesses which are said to be pushing council to make this decision. I appeal to Baulkham Hills council and the citizens to delay these disastrous decisions, which will destroy investment, jobs and the opportunity to retain a unique environment. The precinct is one that is valuable to the district. (Time expired)
Author: Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 21st May 2007
Release Date: 21 May 2007