New South Wales
I am writing to raise my concerns regarding the development application for the establishment of a pre-school & infants primary school, including after-hours care, at 1 Rosemead Road, Hornsby. If approved, this development would have a substantial negative impact on the Mt Errington heritage area and local residents, and result in real & significant reduction in amenity & increase in risk for local residents and the attending staff, students & their carers.
My key concerns & objections are:
• Inconvenient, inappropriate & illogical location. There is not a particularly high proportion of young couples and families with children in the relevant age groups for this facility in the nearby area. As such, it would be primarily serving people from outside the area (adding to & resulting in the traffic issues detailed below) and therefore seems to be a very illogical, inconvenient & inappropriate location for this type of facility. It would be more appropriate for Government & Hornsby Council to support this kind of development in closer proximity to the larger numbers of couples and young families in areas of medium & high density residential buildings in Hornsby, which are also much more likely to be accommodating young families. The Hornsby area is already very well served for lower age & primary schools, particularly private schools, and it would be much more appropriate to enhance capacity & facilities at existing schools;
• Traffic congestion & disruption. With the proposed development seeking to accommodate up to 80 students and associated staff (estimated to be at least 12-20 given type of facility), it can reasonably be expected there would be close to 80-100 additional cars in and around this residential area. In many instances, there would be multiple movements in and out of the area to accommodate both drop-off and pick-up of children. This would place a very substantial additional traffic load in an area that is not suited to such traffic;
o Dural St and William St are already heavily congested during weekdays, with increasing numbers of cars parking on these streets for commuters accessing Hornsby station, and reducing traffic flow to one way only. In addition, both streets have unusual kinks & narrowed sections, due to having been built around old trees & other features, resulting in ‘chokepoints’. The additional traffic volumes would result in a further worsening of the current situation and present significant challenges to traffic flow for attendants at the facility and residents of the nearby streets;
o Many parents/carers would be likely to seek to park their cars near the facility and walk to Hornsby train station, further exacerbating existing congestion in the Dural St, Williams St, and Rosemead Rd area;
o It is also important to note that large semi-trailers regularly use William St & Rosemead Rd to service the Sydney Water treatment plant at the bottom of the valley – worsening the traffic congestion challenges in this area is likely to present real difficulties & risks for such large vehicles to be able to safely navigate these streets;
o The provision of a proposed ‘kiss & drop’ facility is unlikely to alleviate the above issues, as it is highly unlikely to be able to accommodate the volumes of arriving & departing cars at all times and would likely result in cars queueing to enter the facility, thereby worsening the traffic flow further by fully blocking the nearby streets which are often restricted to one-way flow;
• Associated increased risk of damage, injury & death. Due to the issues detailed above, the incidence of damage to cars (both due to accidents between moving cars, and also impact on parked vehicles) is likely to increase greatly. Of even greater concern is the high potential for injury or even death due to young children and their carers seeking to navigate the congested roads nearby. Visibility would be low between & around parked cars, and the established trees & other vegetation, increasing the likelihood of accidents between passing cars & children;
• Heightened risks to local residents in bushfire periods. The surrounding area is rated as either ‘Bushfire Prone’ or even ‘Flame Zone’, with the real risk of bushfires approaching through the Berowra Valley National Park, and requiring the evacuation of local residents and attendants at the facility. Again due to the likely significant increase in congestion in the immediate area, which is the primary route for entry & exit for residents of Rosemead Rd, Lowanna Place, Lockinvar Place and sections of Valley Road, there is a heightened risk to local residents in times of high fire danger. Such a risk should not be under-estimated or ignored considering the recent events experienced in Australia;
• Negative impact on heritage property & surrounding area. ‘Errington House’ at 1 Rosemead Road is the most prominent heritage building in the unique Mount Errington area, with the surrounding area itself subject to a conservation order to preserve the unique character. Significant alterations to Errington House would undo the significant restoration & renovation work that has been undertaken to the interior & exterior of this significant ‘Arts & Crafts’ style building, and turning it into a commercial facility would also significantly detract from the heritage character of the area. I am aware that owners of a beautiful nearby heritage property on Dural St were prevented from erecting a new fence unless it was of a particular style, a seemingly very minor 'heritage' issue – I find it totally incongruous that the NSW Government and/or Hornsby Council would then allow such major changes that would detract so significantly on the most prominent property in the locale.
This proposed development is not in keeping with the area, does not serve the needs of the local residents & community and presents significant inconvenience and loss of amenity to local residents, and I strongly urge you to reject the application in full.