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Report finds Thirroul development will further impact roads at “near capacity”

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of Thirroul Plaza. Picture: Loucas Architects 

AN independent consultant’s report has found the $60 million redevelopment of the Thirroul Plaza shopping centre will have significant impacts on the road network north of Bulli Pass.

The report was one of several consultants commissioned by the Save Thirroul Village Group regarding the redevelopment of the shopping centre.

A development application has been lodged with Wollongong City Council for a residential and commercial redevelopment of the old Thirroul Plaza shopping centre site.

The applicants, Loucas Architects, propose the demolition of the existing shopping centre and its replacement with a three storey commercial and residential complex.

The application proposes a mixed use development comprising two levels of basement car parking, with commercial premises on the ground floor and 82 residential apartments on the upper floors.

The development, between Lawrence Hargrave Drive and the South Coast Railway, sits between King Street and the Beaches Hotel on the north, and W.F. Jackson Park on the south.

The proposal has been highly criticised by community groups, residents and political leaders, who say it will further congest an already choked Lawrence Hargrave Drive and block escarpment views.

Thirroul Village have hosted a series of community information sessions in September 28 in its battle to prevent the current proposal moving forward.

In the latest move to stop the redevelopment application, Save Thirroul Village Group have commissioned four consultants reports that have found the proposal will have negative impacts on the suburb.

A spokesperson from the Save Thirroul Village Group said the reports raise many concerns with the compliance and impact of the proposed Thirroul Plaza Development on the safety, flooding, integrity and small business viability of Thirroul Village.

The reports include a flood study, two traffic reports and an urban economic/impact assessment. The reports highlighted the following concerns:

Flood Study

  • All street front shops fail to comply with the Wollongong Development Control Plan.
  • Flood mitigation measures (‘flood protection gates’) proposed to deal with non-compliance are likely to impede safe and effective evacuation of flood affected areas.
  • Details are lacking in the DA documents to demonstrate that these measures adequately provide the desired flood protection.
  • Anyone inside shops when ‘flood protection gates’ are activates will be ‘trapped’ in the shop until water levels recede.
  • The 40m2  shops are unlikely to provide water, supplies and toilet facilities during the period of flooding where occupants are ‘trapped’ behind the ‘flood protection gates’
  • Not satisfied that development will not have detrimental impact on adjacent properties due to potentially altered flood flow and water velocity and consequential effects of erosion within the flood plain.
  • The proposed stormwater management system is significantly different from typical civil engineering design.
  • Question raised about the capacity of the stormwater detention system to adequately manage storm water inundation due to its design.

Traffic

  • Development will have significant impact on surrounding road network.
  • Proposed access arrangements for the development for both service vehicles and general vehicles are inadequate and unsafe.
  • The effects of lost street parking and the associated loss of amenity and local business have not been accounted for in the DA documents.
  • Road Safety impacts have not been considered for a road that is currently at or near capacity.

Urban economic Impact and planning Assessment

  • Thirroul Village is being asked to pay for the problems caused by the development.
  • The economic assessment provided in the DA ignores the impact of loss of street parking and effect on existing successful local businesses.
  • Justification for increased Coles assumes Stanwell Park residents shop at Thirroul. This is highly unlikely.
  • The project’s components are too large for the site, resulting in negative design and function effects on the wider environment.
  • The DA requires sensitive urban qualities of the existing village to be compromised in order to deal with the additional traffic generated by the project.
  • The removal of street parking removes a safety barrier for foot traffic and will compromise the street-based amenity and the viability of outdoor dining on cafes and restaurants on LHD.

In a statement, Thirroul Plaza said the aim of the development is to rejuvenate the suburb’s business centre by balancing a broad range of social, environmental and economic considerations.

“Designed to work within existing structures and heights, this project will deliver 82 residential apartments, double the floor space of the existing supermarket, offer space for 13 retail and commercial shops, improve parking and incorporate plenty of open public space in the central courtyard,” the statement reads on Thirroul Plaza’s website.

“Thirroul Plaza is set to generate $70 million in direct and indirect economic activity for the suburb. The development will support 2,000 construction jobs during the life of the project and 100 permanent jobs through its completed retail services.”


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About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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