Moderator.I suppose this morning we had lots of comments which gave a strong sense of hope about things that can be fixed, made to work, and as we're going through the day we're getting closer and closer to the coalface where it really becomes quite challenging to work out exactly how these visions will be implemented. We now have Allan Jeffrey, from the Rhodes Peninsula Group, who will be addressing "Rhodes – Localities That Entail Risks".
I'm glad that David asked for an age breakdown of the audience, because it means that many of you will be able to recall the late 1960s. Vietnam War was on, and we were "all the way with LBJ" and America was spraying the defoliant agent orange over Vietnam. It is generally considered that agent orange left a legacy of cancer, serious illness and birth deformities in Vietnam, but it sadly also came home with some of our veterans.
A major contaminant and by-product associated with agent orange – the one that is claimed to be the main cause of the medical concerns – is dioxin. Dioxin has been ranked as one of the most poisonous substances known. Union Carbide manufactured agent orange at its factory at Rhodes, the small suburb about 12 kilometres west of Sydney on the Parramatta River, not too far from the Olympic site.
A large quantity of dioxin and other chemicals was placed in fill used in the reclamation works, and as a result this, together with the adjacent Homebush Bay, it has been labelled one of the most contaminated sites in the world. With the industry now all but gone, the State Government has identified this 43 hectare site as ideal for high density development, mainly due to proximity to the railway line.
Before development can proceed, there's around 400,000 cubic meters of soil which will have to be remediated. This is about 1,000 times what was remediated at the Olympic site. It has caused much concern with local residents and will take around five years to complete. For over two and a half years, the Rhodes Peninsula Group has been representing fellow residents who are concerned that the need to recoup the remediation cost, which could be around 100 million dollars, is one factor that could result in the livability of our community being severely degraded.
DUAP's vision for this site is around 3,000 units, housing about 7,000 residents, with offices and shops employing about 2,300 people and attracting some 20,000 visitors a day. It is planned as an apartment-only development, with buildings up to 10 storeys. This town will have a residential population larger than Cooma, Mittagong, Nambucca Heads, bigger than Eden and Bega combined – on land the size of a golf course, about half a square kilometre! It will have an end-worth of about 3 billion dollars and result in a 12-fold increase in our suburb’s population.
Council rejected DUAP's proposal for this site, which is covered by the site specific Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 29. However, under the SREP the Minister for Planning is the consent authority and the Minister also has the responsibility of deciding whether there is sufficient infrastructure provided, particularly transport infrastructure.
In December 2000, DUAP exhibited drafts of the Development Control Plan, Community Development Plan and Transport Management Plan, but final versions of these plans have not yet been released, yet correspondence says that the Minister seems quite satisfied with impacts that I'm about to relate to you on both the local and wider communities. I ask you to keep in mind here that there are around 15 other recent and proposed major developments within 5 kilometres of Rhodes and they will produce another 30,000 residents. Yet the impacts of each of these seem to have been considered largely in isolation by our planners. I only have the time to mention a few of our concerns here, but there's a display in the foyer which might provide more information.
Obviously the safety of the remediation process, which is yet to be finalised, is a paramount issue. The risk of contaminated dust is a major concern. The proposed on-site remediation process will actually collect the contaminants in a concentrated liquid and it is currently envisaged that that liquid will be transported, possibly by many trucks, to North Queensland for final treatment.
Traffic is a major, major concern of our community. It is critical to appreciate that vehicular access to Rhodes is very restricted. All traffic entering and leaving Rhodes has to do so on one major ring road, which is the road that goes basically from Mona Vale down to Hurstville and down to here (Sutherland) if you want to come that way. The transport plan predicts the following impacts by the time this development is finished: traffic flows on the Ryde Bridge currently exceeds its designed capacity by up to 50% for 7 hours a day, yet flows will increase by a further 70%. The average delay at just one major intersection will increase 8-fold to over 12 minutes which, according to the same consultant, is more time than it takes to get to the middle of the CBD in the morning peak, from Moore Park, North Sydney, Paddington, Edgecliff – one set of lights is going to take longer than that! The estimated future traffic flows will require all vehicles to travel at around half the RTA's own recommended safe distance between vehicles. Yet there are effectively no road improvements planned for this area, apart from more traffic lights and turning lanes to provide access to this development. The delays on this road will greatly affect the 3% of Sydney's population that use Ryde bridge daily.
So is public transport the solution? Buses will be subject to similar delays, but as Rhodes has a railway station, the Government sees that as the answer. But it does acknowledge that there is a need for increased capacity. Increased capacity can be obtained by an additional rail line between Strathfield and Epping. However, while this has been mooted for many years, there has been no commitment by Government. The transport management plan sees a pretty station as the most important need.
There could be enough children to fill a high school. The local high school is over 5 kilometres away, and not on a direct public transport route. That's the only school mentioned in DUAP's Community Development Plan. Yet DUAP has no plan for an additional school. So people will have to drive to get to school, or catch trains for schools 10-15 kilometres away. There are no dedicated sports playing fields planned and the feasibility study considers that it is appropriate to provide around only one-third of the open space that is likely to be required by the Land and Environment Court, and that to provide more would risk the development’s viability.
The Rhodes Peninsula Group is concerned that almost all the legitimate questions that we are asking of the Premier and ministers and their departments, are not being answered. The mere fact that this development is located within an established area does not mean that there is adequate infrastructure available. We ask that DUAP work with the local and wider communities to arrive at a suitable development instead of one it appears they are either unwilling or unable to justify.
DUAP denies that the Rhodes density is related to the remediation cost, so is your community next on the hit list? If you live within 800 meters of a railway station, which this land is, or next to valuable land, when will your turn be? In closing, when this development is complete, Rhodes will have around 8,000 residents, and shops to service the suburb. It will have a main road through it. It will have a railway line through it. It'll have churches, open space… Yet the residential density of Rhodes as a suburb will then be equal to fitting the future population of Australia in the rest of the City metropolitan area and I ask why are such densities necessary in our suburbs? Hopefully through such vehicles as this forum, we can establish strategies to work together with governments to develop a nation and not choke a city.
Moderator. What we have now is a very strong and clear set of challenges.