July 3 - 16, 2022: Issue 545


County Road reserve - Nandi Reserve: finalised designs made available - works expected to be completed by end of 2022

Parks for People: fly-through of Nandi Reserve and County Road reserve - published by the Department of Planning on March 15 2022
On June 23rd the NSW Department of Planning updated their webpages on County Road Reserve at Belrose and Nandi Reserve at Frenchs Forest to make available the finalised concept designs, announcing the works for both are expected to commence mid 2022, and completed by the end of 2022 and, secondly, that the Development Applications have been lodged and are currently under assessment. 

On July 23rd 2021 then Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes released the Frenchs Forest Place Strategy for public consultation. A town centre, 2000 new homes, road upgrades, 1.5 hectares of public space.

“The Frenchs Forest plan is about providing more employment on the beaches so our community doesn’t have to travel vast distances for work. A town centre next to a brand new hospital is an incredible opportunity for more jobs where people live.” Mr. Stokes said

Then Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said a key part of the strategy was a new home for The Forest High School at Allambie Heights.

“The new location of The Forest High School is a fantastic result for the local community with the school moving 1.5km into new, state-of-the-art facilities,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The community will be able to provide feedback on the new facilities and I am incredibly excited about opportunities this project will offer current and future students of The Forest High School.”

The relocation of Forest High School has had $16.193 million directed towards this project in the 2022/23 NSW Budget, announced June 21st.

The Frenchs' Forest Place Strategy was approved by the the State Government's Planning Department on Christmas Eve 2021.

Newly appointed Minister for Planning and Homes Anthony Roberts stated the finalised strategy was the result of extensive community consultation.

"The plan will deliver 2,000 new jobs as well as the infrastructure and services needed to support the growing Frenchs Forest community over the next 20 years," Mr Roberts said.

"The Department of Planning and Environment worked for several years to achieve a positive outcome for this area. I'm delighted that 2,000 new homes are on the way, including 250 right next to the hospital set aside for key workers."

More than $6 million has been allocated to Frenchs Forest under the Government's Precinct Support Scheme to deliver upgrades to three local parks.

"The community will benefit from new local facilities including a new community playground, mountain bike track, half-court basketball facility, and regenerated natural areas for walking and relaxation," Mr Roberts said.

"Northern Beaches Council has been given a $9 million grant under the Government's Parks for People program to upgrade Nandi Reserve." the newly reappointed Minister for Planning stated.

The plan includes, under ''R3 Medium density'', residential buildings of up to 12 storeys at 39-40 m, 11 storeys / 36-37 m, 10 storeys / 32 m,  7 storeys / 32 m,  6 storeys / 21-26 m,  5 storeys / 16-17 m,  4 storeys / 13-16 m,  3 storeys / 10-13 m and  2 storeys / 3-7 m. 

Despite community feedback objecting to this scale of buildings, particularly on a ridge where they will be visible in all directions, this remains a part of the plan.

This provides some insight into what may occur via the 'medium density' slated for Mona Vale, Newport and Avalon as those plans are pushed through via announcements and despite what feedback is clearly enunciated through 'extensive community consultation'.

The Plan for a mixed use centre on the current Forest High School site to support a range of retail, civic, commercial and residential uses - the opening up of more than 60,000 sqm of ideally located land for a new town centre - with around 1,000 new dwellings in the town centre and 1,000 dwellings in transition areas, including 15% affordable housing in the town centre and 10% in surrounding areas, equating to up to 250 homes for key workers such as hospital staff, will be facilitated through the relocation of The Forest High School and the sale of the site for the purpose of local open space, with the Council’s local contributions plan including a contribution toward the embellishment cost of the open space.

Readers can read the finalised Frenchs Forest Place Strategy for more information at: https://pp.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/frenchsforest

The precinct’s new planning controls began in June 2022 to allow Northern Beaches Council to finalise its development control plan for the precinct and to exhibit and finalise a local contributions plan before new planning controls are introduced. A  Frenchs Forest Town Centre Section 7.11 Contributions Plan was adopted by council at its May 2022 Meeting. Council's webpage on this states this will be submitted to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal for review and that review is anticipated to take 6-12 months.

Once the new planning controls begin, the council will assess Development Applications against its Local Environmental Plan, supporting Development Control Plan and the French Forest 2041 Place Strategy.

Frenchs Forest Town Centre Park Upgrades costed at $6million for Brick Pit Reserve, Akora Reserve and Rabbett Reserve were exhibited by the council from March to May this year, with feedback currently being reviewed by council staff.

Council stated then:

'The landmark Brick Pit Reserve will feature a wetland ecosystem with elevated viewing decks and an all-abilities access path around the waterway.

The upgraded park will include a new playground and nature play area, shared paths, new boardwalks, shade and picnic tables.

Indigenous vegetation will be rehabilitated and regenerated and landscape features will celebrate the history of the area. The existing mountain bike track will be maintained and improved.

Rabbett Reserve will be a nature enthusiasts dream, with new boardwalks, lookouts, loop track, picnic facilities and interpretive signage along the creek and bushland. Mature trees will be retained, water quality in the stream will be improved and more native species planted to support natural habitat. 

On the other side of Warringah Road, Akora Reserve will feature generous open space for recreation and relaxation, with terraced green spaces, new picnic shelters and seating. Children of all ages will enjoy an upgraded playground and basketball court. Access and safety will also be improved with all-ability paths connecting to surrounding streets and lighting.

The NSW Government has provided funding for the upgrades which were identified in the Hospital Precinct Structure Plan.'

Nandi Reserve is a 12.24 ha site in Frenchs Forest that backs onto Nandi Avenue to the west, Wakehurst Parkway to the east and Frenchs Forest Road East at it's northern rim. This is a unique landscape of established trees and bushland with soaring rockfaces. While providing habitat for an abundance of flora and fauna, Nandi Reserve is also part of the key Wildlife Corridor from Garigal National Park into the Narrabeen Escarpment.

Among the Design Principles are 'preserving and integrating the existing environmental assets' and to 'make sure the built form enhances people’s sense of place'.

The Department's Engagement report for Nandi Reserve states that while 43% of respondents supported the Concept Design, 36% disagreed, and 21% were neither for nor against it. 

Feedback stated that access and parking via Nandi Avenue is not suitable - ''this is narrow street with only a single access point via a steep and windy hill - increasing traffic will only increase the likelihood of a serious accident''. This street is home to a number of young residents of our area. 

Others pointed out that the tracks are still too close to the properties backing on to the reserve, despite requests to create a buffer here, and stated it is not appropriate to place 'rest areas' out the back of resident's homes.

''The requested buffer zone to houses has been ignored. The track is way too close to houses on the Western and Northern side of Nandi Avenue. If you walk the proposed track you will be looking into backyards, this is not exciting for walkers or residents.''

Additionally, respondents pointed out the reserve is home to breeding Powerful Owls, which the Council has promoted, and 'as a species whose natural habitat is being impacted by development, so why would you develop this space??'. Another pointed out the design of the track will funnel wildlife, specifically wallabies, straight onto the Wakehurst Parkway. 

''Secondly'', another stated, ''if you really care about preserving fauna you will ban dogs from the park, over the last year more dog walkers have been in there and our lizard population has disappeared as well as wallaby’s being chased away. If you’ve been to any local bush land lately you will see people do not keep dogs on their leash. If you allow dogs please allow in your budget for policing the on leash rule.''

Compliance with this would rest with the council.

While a Fauna Crossing (rope bridge) appears at the southern edge of the concept design, no statement of intent to install the same appears. There is no indication of how many trees will be removed to build the raised paths that are part of the design.

Others wanted to know why a bike track and playground equipment such as jungle jims for youngsters was not part of the plan.

Arcadia Sydney, who authored the now finalised concept design for Nandi Reserve, engaged with First Nations people, including Bush to Bowl, Wannangini Pty Ltd, Koori Kinnections, Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and Guringai Aboriginal Tour Guringai Tribal Link Aboriginal Corporation. Key outcomes of that consultation were expressed as:

'Every part of Country is significant in Aboriginal Culture – history isn’t Country – getting people to sit on Country, stop and listen and connect all the time – is so important for non-Aboriginal people to understand.' - Adam Byrne Balarinji Report, 2021.

'The stakeholders as a whole spoke of ways to Welcome and Acknowledge the Country and convey the message that the spirit of Country still remains today.' - Arcadia, Sydney

The Department of Planning states: 'With input from two rounds of community engagement, the concept design embraces the natural qualities of the site to create a new vision for Nandi Reserve - preserving and strengthening habitat through regeneration and tree planting, while providing a great space for people through a mix of quiet areas for relaxing, nature play, walking and connecting with country.

The site’s undulating contours and existing gentle waterway have provided inspiration for a series of walking trails that would encourage visitors of all abilities to connect and experience nature.

Through a new pedestrian entry on Frenchs Forest Road, visitors will be drawn into the Reserve with raised boardwalks, exercise loops and accessible pathways. Lookouts, rest points and cultural interpretation signage will allow for further immersion.

The Department’s Everyone Can Play guidelines will be incorporated throughout with inclusive nature play elements at key intersections and the existing pocket playground at Nandi Avenue upgraded.

Working closely with environment experts as well as local first nations leaders the bush and creek will be regenerated in harmony with the site’s existing flora and fauna.'

The walking trails materials will be gravel, the raised boardwalks in sections where watercourses flow will, Trefoil Creek for example, be a Raised FRB Steel Bridge with kerb edge with a 2000mm wide raised Mesh path and there is also a large Raised FRB Boardwalk but no specifics on the materials to be used are listed in the Nandi Reserve final concept design (PDF, 5.7MB).

The County Road Reserve at Belrose is home ground for the Wakehurst Football Club has an upgraded soccer pitch as the central point of its design, the New Turf is stated to be washed Turf Santa and retained Anna Couch, the Profile treatment to ensure the growing medium is free draining; Turf to be able to sustain 45 hours of use per week. 

The Reserve is on Forest Way, backs onto Marnoo Place and Seaview Parade, and has Wearden Road at its southern corner.

The removal of over 40 existing trees forms part of this plan, although no specifics of what species, or whether these are homes to wildlife, is provided. The plans show these are to be replaced. Two

The Department's Engagement report for Country Road Reserve states that of those who provided feedback 59% agree with the concept design, 12% disagree and 29% neither agree nor disagree.

Feedback pointed out that Neighbours were not consulted and that the Amenities block is much too close to homes, stating, 'Traffic will be terrible and Marnoo Place greatly impacted with cars and dangerous traffic.'

Once again the impact on the natural environment was in focus, with comments 'It is a green corridor not a park!' and 'Wildlife and environment appear to be overlooked here.'

The Department of Planning states;

'During two rounds of engagement as part of the Parks for People program, the community highlighted opportunities to revitalise County Road Reserve with new and improved facilities, play and open space in harmony with the bushland setting.

A new experience for pedestrian visitors will begin with an improved and safer arrival into the site through Forest Way. For those travelling from further afield, the car park will be upgraded including forty carparks, safety lighting and a drop-off zone.

Visitors will be drawn to a central activity hub with inclusive play and a multi-use hardstand, barbecues and seating, concentrated around a new amenity building which will provide improved facilities for sport with toilets and changerooms, canteen space and a bin store.

Upgrades to the existing sports field will increase durability and functionality including lighting. A gentle slope overlooking the field will be utilised as a natural amphitheatre for spectators and a peaceful place to relax and gather at other times.

In addition to enhancing the functionality and safety of the park, the proposed design integrates the site into its natural setting, regenerating and rehabilitating fauna, providing opportunities for discovery walking trails with bush tucker learning or interpretive signage.'

The Department may more likely mean 'regenerating and rehabilitating of FLORA' - as there is no fauna rehabilitation facility at Country Road Reserve, that's a little further north and west and exists solely due to the work of Sydney Wildlife Rescue Volunteers and through the support of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council allowing the site to be used for the same, rent free.

The Department has made available the Belrose final concept report (PDF, 4.8MB)

A combined $9 million will be spent at Nandi Reserve at Frenchs Forest and County Road Reserve at Belrose. The upgrades are being funded through the NSW Government’s $50 million Parks for People program.