New South Wales
To the Director Social and Infrastructure Assessments,
I Yuefan Li OBJECT strongly to the modifications submitted as part of the Meadowbank Education and Employment Precinct project.
We have grave concerns about the proposal as it will detrimentally impact student safety getting to and from school.
The original approval for this school and TAFE complex was based on safety requirements that were deemed necessary for an area where the local road network was inadequate in safety terms for the development.
We have listed below a number of points, some which come under the Project Manager’s “Modification 4 – SSD-9343-Mod-4” proposal and some further examples that demonstrate that there is an implementation problem where small, in terms of the total cost, are omitted, but which make a difference, and which affect the physical and mental well-being of students.
o Deletion of the requirement to provide a 2.5m wide shared user path along the western side of Hermitage Road – REJECT - The current footpath on Hermitage Road runs out after about 100m and turns into a grassed section, not level to walk on. It was part of the approvals to install a footpath along this section of road which leads to the school. The project team believe it will be too costly to install due to services that run under that section of ground and have put in a modification to plan seeking to exclude this footpath from being installed.
We have looked into this ourselves and have been told by a Sydney Water expert that this is an everyday simple exercise and that the water main that needs to be moved, in accordance with the plans that the developer submitted to Council, are not complex.
The data the Project Team has used to justify the removal of an upgrade to the Hermitage Road footpath with the reasoning it will not have a heavy pedestrian flow of children is clearly flawed to anyone who knows the area and how teenagers think and act.
The catchment area that the data has been taken from simply does not represent accurately where the students travel from and how they will get to school. This is evident from data the P&C have gathered from current students, who travel from places such as Dundas, Rydalmere, Epping, Carlingford, Telopea, Marsfield, Bankstown, Mount Druitt and many other suburbs outside of Ryde. The safety concerns will remain should the Department of Education change the school catchment areas in the future.
Ideally, the safety works should be completed before the schools open.
We believe this is necessary as our kids will get off buses either at West Ryde train station or outside the 7eleven on Victoria Road and choose to walk down Hermitage Road as it is the most convenient, direct route for kids coming from the Parramatta direction.
Business owners on the block commencing from Hermitage Road to Mellor Street are also hugely concerned with regard to the safety of students travelling on industrial streets with a constant flow of work vehicles and heavy trucks. They have paid for traffic studies by a private company but these are not being accepted by the project team as real evidence in our plight to have the safety concerns heard.
Another issue is the Traffic light timing at the intersection of Victoria Road to Hermitage Road: This timing of the lights is way too short for both motor vehicles and student pedestrians to cross Victoria Road.
Nonetheless, it is even worse for vehicles travelling along Hermitage Road from the north of Victoria Road and turning right (westward) into Victoria Road. Many of these vehicles do a work around which involves going straight through the intersection, then making a U-Turn in the southern part of Hermitage Road, and then turning left into Victoria Road.
This is already a chaotic and massive safety issue which will be exacerbated greatly when both Marsden High School and Meadowbank Primary School are functioning.
Physical Barriers: We would also like to see physical barriers on Victoria Road installed to discourage students from cutting across Victoria Road between traffic lights. This would be so much safer for everyone. This is a standard measure put in place for many schools and areas that are dangerous and assist pedestrians who need protecting from the traffic. There has already been a death on that stretch of road and we feel that without appropriate safety measures it will only be a matter of time before one of our children is killed or injured.
o Changes to footpath upgrade requirements along Bowden Street and Squire Street – REJECT – these footpaths need to safely accommodate the number of children and families who will walk these streets to and from school.
Changes to Pedestrian crossing at/near the following intersection:
o See Street: - REJECT - The Project Team has said that Council have instructed them to not install the pedestrian crossing that was planned for this intersection. The Council have denied this and have written to confirm that they do want this pedestrian crossing included in the scope of the build as per the original requirements. This omission is ludicrous when it is the direct crossing that families will need to take to enter the school when walking from down Bowden Street and either MacPherson Street or up See Street from Angus Street.
o Rhodes Street and Macpherson Street – REJECT - removal of pedestrian crossing in Kiss and Ride area.
Additional Rhodes Street Dangers - This is the allocated street for Kiss & Ride. Having schools that cater for over 2,500 + students, with parents who need to drop children for Primary School,High School or TAFE at the same location is going to cause chaos. Even with different start times, this will not make much difference to the traffic jams that will occur at this point. There will be massive issues with cars doing illegal U-Turns or three point turns on every street from the school to Victoria Road so they don’t have to do the full loop involving coming back onto Victoria Road and back around to the drop zone again. This issue was brought up many times by the Project Reference Group (PRG) representative who suggested a roundabout where Hermitage Rd meets Rhodes Street so that cars can easily return to the direction they have come from. This was disregarded as a possible solution.
The PTC Consultants assessment of the character of Bowden and Macpherson Streets being residential and cafes completely ignores the fact that it is the street where all heavy vehicles and rat run cars turn onto Bowden Street from Victoria Rd. Hermitage Road is too narrow for all industrial heavy traffic to turn onto so they all transit to the industrial area via Bowden Street. Saying this street has less opportunity for conflict is completely wrong.
o Mellor Street and Victoria Road – APPROVE – open to an alternative pedestrian crossing solution to be presented.
· Deletion of the requirement to provide upgrades to streetlights – REJECT – all lighting should be up to standard and available on all access roads to and from the school
· Provide flexibility in the timing for completion of public domain works where existing overhead/inground services or approval cause delays to the required works – APPROVE once conditions that Council have set out on their Attachment 1 document pg. 12.
· Amend timing for the submission External Works Compliance Certificate and Works-as-Executed Plans to Council – APPROVE once conditions that Council have set out on their Attachment 1 document pg. 13 is met.
· The modification application also seeks consent for extension of the approved construction hours to allow construction of the public domain works, where approval has been granted under Section 138 of Roads Act 1993. – REJECT - Extension of construction hours – this build has already caused major impacts to the local community. They can currently work until 7pm but are out of the site before 3pm in the afternoon. How about they just work until 5pm or 6pm like normal people. That is an extension to their work day. Residents in the surrounding streets don’t need anything beyond that. - REJECT
Additional problems with the school build impacting school operations
In addition to the safety concerns of students for the transit to school, we also have concerns about a number of key aspects that we believe needed to be included as part of the build. Unfortunately, we have been continuously told that there would be no additions to (detailed) scope, as perceived by the Project Manager, even though so many decisions made do not make any sense.
We deem the below points are essential to students’ safety and best practice as demonstrated in other new build designs.
· All weather surface: the school has a tiny oval installed at the site, it is at the lowest point on the whole site and is in a flood zone. Due to the fact that it is not a full-sized oval and no full game of field sport can be played on it, it will have a heavy flow of students - at full capacity will have 1,620 students.
We believe it will be either a dust bowl in summer or a swamp when it rains. We had requested right from the start of this process that an all-weather surface be laid so it can be utilized by the children all year round. This is a standard that is already been implemented in a number of new school builds and we don’t understand why this is not possible for our school with a budget of $300M.
This omission will turn into a costly exercise for the Department of Education to maintain, which we are sure won’t be budgeted for in the school’s Annual Plan. We have looked into this, and have found that playgrounds and playing fields that have been installed by Councils and other bodies do not include a concrete base. There are some places on school sites where artificial grass has been laid on concrete, usually for other reasons, such as the fact that the concrete is there for another purpose.