SUTHERLAND SHIRE COUNCIL REPORT

27/04/2004 FIN238-04

Submission on the Use of the F6 Corridor, South of Rail Line at Gymea

File Number: 97/0979

Division: Environmental Services (CP)

REPORT IN BRIEF

Purpose

To establish council's position for the use of the abandoned F6 corridor, south of the rail line at Gymea.

Summary

The State Member for Miranda, Mr Barry Collier, has been requested by the previous Minister for Roads, the Hon Carl Scully, to chair a Committee to consider the use of the now abandoned F6 corridor south of the rail line at Gymea. Mr Collier, in a letter dated

14 January 2004, is requesting a submission from council.

Staff from various Divisions across council have been involved in a detailed review of the corridor and have prepared a draft submission for council's consideration.

REPORT IN FULL

Background

The previous Minister for Roads has issued a direction, pursuant to Section 49 of the Transport Administration Act 1988, that the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) not construct any road or transport development of any type in the portion of the corridor south of the rail line at Gymea, so that this portion of the F6 corridor can be preserved, as much as possible, for open space. Furthermore, the Minister has assured the Member for Miranda,

Mr Barry Collier MP, that the existing open space in RTA ownership in the corridor south of the Cronulla railway line will not be sold to developers.

The State Member for Miranda, Mr Barry Collier MP, has been requested by the previous Minister for Roads, the Hon Carl Scully, to chair a Committee to consider the use of the now abandoned F6 corridor and is requesting a submission from council.

A draft submission has been developed following review and consultation with various Divisions of the council, including Engineering, Environmental Services, Property and Community & Recreation Services. The draft submission is consistent with the Minister's intention.

The draft submission's general objectives are to utilise the land within this abandoned corridor for the maximum benefit of the community, whilst enhancing and protecting the local biodiversity and environment.

Matters to be Resolved

Factors to address when determining the future land use of the corridor include:

- are there any existing tenures or proposed tenures on the RTA land?

- are there any easements or rights-of-ways, licences, covenants, permissive occupancies within this corridor?

- the method in which council would acquire the land needs discussing. It is highly unlikely that council funding would be sufficient to purchase, let alone maintain this land. Negotiations would need to be undertaken to establish whether ownership of this land would be transferred or given under a trust. The outcome of these negotiations will determine the amount of land that can be re-zoned for public open space.

Proposed Landuse

The proposed land use for the southern portion of the F6 Corridor is illustrated on a lot by lot basis in the attached Map "1" (hard copies have been made available - under separate cover). The land use has been divided as follows:

- Land adjacent the National Park be returned to National Park;

- Public open space (including passive and active open space eg playgrounds, cycleway and footpath);

- Public open space (bushland) to reflect and protect currently vegetated areas;

- Proposed residential;

- Special use (carpark on Gymea Bay Road, educational establishment -

Montessori School on Manchester Road).

The general position is to utilise as much of the RTA owned land within the F6 corridor as Public Open Space. The proposed re-zoning takes into account the characteristics and surrounding land use, and considers that the suggested zoning will allow a number of land uses to coexist and formalise the current pedestrian and bike track use of the land.

Existing Land Tenure

The current tenure of land within the corridor is as indicated on Map "2", attached (hard copies have been made available - under separate cover).

Presently, there are 41 privately owned lots within the F6 corridor. Council proposes to acquire three of these strategically located lots for development of the public open space cycleway/footpath network and potential playground area.

Following review of council's proposed areas to be retained for open space, there are 33 lots currently owned by the RTA that should be re-zoned for residential housing. The zoning will be sympathetic to the surrounding zoning, ie local housing south of President Avenue and generally multi-dwelling housing to the north of President Avenue.

The revenue generated from the sale of these re-zoned lots could be used to offset the transferral and cost of regenerating and development of infrastructure of much of the land nominated for public open space.

Proposed Zonings

Proposed National Park – It is suggested that the land that runs contiguously with the

Royal National Park be rezoned and returned to the Royal National Park. It is also suggested that a buffer remains between the National Park and residential properties and has mapped the poor quality vegetation in the hazard reduction zone as proposed public open space.

Proposed Public Open Space – Land identified as Public Open Space is typically open, grassed land that is only sparsely vegetated. This land would be ideal for passive and active open space and should include the currently leased tennis courts off Singleton Place. Other uses could include dog "off leash" areas, potential playground sites and, more importantly, provide the linkages to allow a cycleway/pedestrian pathway to connect the proposed public open spaces from the Princes Highway through to Gymea.

Proposed Public Open Space (bushland) – Land that has been identified as containing valuable bushland suitable for regeneration. There are only four parcels of land suitable for this classification. This includes the land surrounding the natural stone bridge off North West Arm Road.

By zoning this land Public Open Space (bushland), the existing bushland communities (Sydney Sandstone Gully Forest and Sydney Sandstone Ridgetop Woodland) will be preserved, whilst still allowing complementary activities, such as the proposed cycleway/footpath network, to traverse this zone.

The land between Thacker Close and Houston Street is part of the Sydney Sandstone Forest and has a stand of native trees. Although being quite degraded, there is regeneration potential and is located toward the top of Ewey Creek, and is therefore important as it has the potential to influence regeneration work all the way down the creek to Yowie Bay.

Proposed Residential – Many of the lots within the F6 corridor will be suitable to be rezoned for residential use. Many of these lots are privately owned and most of them have an existing dwelling. Zoning has been determined to minimise the number of houses that will need to be acquired to successfully construct the open space network. There are 71 properties that are recommended to be returned to residential use. Further negotiations between the RTA and the Community Taskforce may need to adjust these numbers.

Proposed special uses – The RTA owned land off Gymea Bay Road, opposite the

Anglican Church, is currently used as an informal car park. It is proposed to retain this land as a car park, due to its proximity to Gymea shops, the church and the station. The proposed installation of a playground in the adjoining land earmarked for public open space would be ideal to utilise this carpark for maximum community use.

In addition, the zoning for Montessori School, located in Manchester Road, would need to be modified to special uses – educational establishment.

Further Information

Installation of a cycleway/footpath

The installation of an off-road cycleway and pedestrian system will encourage Shire residents to cycle or walk for recreation or commuting purposes. This will reduce resident's dependence on motor vehicles for transport and in turn improve air quality.

Council has recognised that current local transport planning and infrastructure development trends, that is, a greater reliance on car use, are environmentally unsustainable and has potential negative aspects in terms of diminished accessibility, delays and lost productivity to the local economy.

Council has also acknowledged that it has a major role to play in facilitating accessibility and encouraging greater public transport use. There is an opportunity for council to improve accessibility to bus stops and railway stations by the provision of footpaths, cycleways and bicycle parking facilities, complemented by good signage and information.

The utilisation of much of the now abandoned F6 corridor south of the rail line as open space incorporating a cycleway and footpath system is in keeping with council's recommendation to prioritise future infrastructure planning and expenditure.

Using much of the corridor as public open space will improve linkages between the existing Greenweb corridors and pedestrian footpaths/cycleways. It will improve the area's scenic and recreational amenity and benefit the adjoining residential communities.

Council has recently been requested by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning & Natural Resources to support the NSW Coastline Cycleway. The cycleway route is to stretch some 1,500 km from Brisbane to Melbourne. Given the Shire's location along the southern boundaries of Sydney, our proposed cycleway along the F6 corridor will provide an excellent opportunity to link in with the Coastline Cycleway.

Bushcare/Greenweb

Several parcels of land have valuable bush regeneration potential that may have the potential to influence regeneration works further along the corridor. There are already several Bushcare Groups operating in the area that would benefit from the assistance of council's bush regeneration team. Once council has received clear indication in terms of ownership and boundaries to be maintained by council, this will assist the resourcing available to its Bushcare Groups.

Council's Biodiversity and Greenweb Strategies aim to identify and manage significant vegetation and vegetated links throughout the Shire so as to ensure the long term conservation of the biodiversity of the Shire and surrounds, while providing for recreational opportunities and improvements in water and air quality.

This is to be achieved via a Greenweb network of habitat nodes (existing bushland) and corridors. This network will enable plants and animals to move between habitat areas within the Shire, and support the viability of the populations.

Existing and potential corridors were identified and selected because they incorporated such features as: existing vegetation, public land, rivers, creeks, foreshores, wetlands, endangered ecological communities, threatened species or acted as buffer zones.

The F6 corridor was selected as a potential Greenweb corridor because of its ability to link isolated remnants of vegetation including wetlands and endangered ecological communities, as well as provide a continuous corridor that links the bushland areas of Woolooware Bay and Taren Point in the north to the Royal National Park in the south at Kirrawee.

Although there are areas of residential development and possible future development within the corridor, council through its Greenweb program can assist these properties in 'bushland restoration works'. This can be as simple as retaining existing native vegetation or adding a few native plants, identifying and removing invasive weeds, installing nest boxes, or using rocks and logs in their garden.

The incorporation of private land is necessary because they can:

link isolated reserves;

provide refuge areas during fire or disease and allow recolonisation after these events;

act as buffer zones which reduce the impact of urban development on adjoining bushland and boost effective reserve size; or

provide significant core habitats in their own right.

Several large parcels of bush have been identified in the portion of the F6 corridor south of the rail line. These bushland communities have been identified as Sydney Sandstone Gully Forest and Sydney Sandstone Ridgetop Woodland. Although not endangered communities, all vegetation is important including common species, understorey and groundcover plants as they provide the habitat structure and ecological processes necessary for the sustainable conservation of rare and endangered species.

Any vegetation planted in these areas for regeneration purposes will be typical of those found in the identified bushland communities.

A detailed survey of the remnant bushland within the F6 Corridor is presented in Appendix "A".

Public Open Space

A review of the land currently used for public open space in the Gymea/Kirrawee region has identified a shortfall of parks and playground areas. Setting aside land within the F6 corridor as public open space, including several well located playground areas will address this regional shortage of active and passive open space.

There is the opportunity to utilise some of this open space for community-related centres and infrastructure. If located within the proposed public open space, this will encourage maximum community support and easy pedestrian and bicycle access.

 

Wetland

The opportunity exists to develop a wetland in the area in the far western portion of the corridor beside the Princes Highway. This will allow the creek draining much of the Sutherland region and the Princes Highway to pass through a filtering system to remove litter, sediment and pollutants before flowing into the Royal National Park.

 

Conclusion

The proposed use of the redundant F6 Corridor provides an integrated approach to landuse, combining public recreation opportunities such as cycleways/footpaths with the preservation and enhancement of the bushland environment.

 

There is a strong emphasis on the retention of as much of the F6 corridor as possible, which is in keeping with the direction issued by the then Minister for Roads.

 

REPORT RECOMMENDATION:

That the use of the redundant F6 Corridor to include an integrated approach to landuse, combining public recreation opportunities such as cycleways/footpaths with the preservation and enhancement of the bushland environment be supported.

APPENDIX

Map 1 Proposed zoning

Map 2 Owners

Remnant Bushland

Committee Recommendation:

That a Briefing on this issue be provided by staff at the next meeting of the Finance, Resources and Management Committee.

Council Resolution:

That a Briefing on this issue be provided by staff at the next meeting of the Finance, Resources and Management Committee.

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