Burswood Peninsula Master Plan Submission

Perth, 27th July 2010

Burswood Peninsula Draft District Framework, Department of Planning

468 Wellington St, Perth WA  6000

As WA’s leading bicycle advocacy organisation the Bicycle Transportation Alliance often have found ourselves critiquing urban designs, road layouts and urban connectivity when the main engineering and planning concerns have been resolved at a very early stage of the planning process. Any attempt to effect substantial change for better cycling infrastructure is treated by planners, urban designers and engineers as almost ‘retrofitting’ their designs rather than ensuring the appropriate infrastructure is ‘hard-wired’ from the beginning.  We welcome the opportunity to contribute to design considerations that will provide a stronger sustainability outcome for WA.

In the case of Burswood peninsula, the WAPC document and process is setting the scene for a potential brownfield development within 2.5km of the Perth CBD. The document does not set zonings, road layouts, lot sizes, view lines, public space or provision of public river access. It is very much a blue-sky realistic assessment of what is possible for residential and commercial development over the entire Burswood peninsula. The document discusses the Belmont Park Racetrack, the Casino and Hotel, the golf course, the Dome and the urban blight on the east of the Armadale rail line in Rivervale.

20,000 residents, all dependent on single occupancy cars is a very poor design and planning outcome for a major centre within 2000m of the Central Business District of Perth.  Major steps to avoid this outcome must be put in place at the very start to prevent this from occurring.

The Gateway project for Perth, 4.5km of six lanes of Great Eastern Highway from Ascot to Belmont is also going through preliminary construction work after survey and design. It is vital that the Burswood design framework is comprehensively integrated within this project.

There is no equivalent sized brownfield urban redevelopment likely to occur in Western Australia in the next fifty years. The site is 286 hectares. It is being sold as an opportunity for Transit Oriented Design (TOD) – which includes concepts of high density, high quality building and public open spaces, walkable and designed to reduce dependence on cars. It is located on the Swan River on previous wasteland and industrial land.

COMPONENTS OF TRANSIT ORIENTED DESIGN

-Walkable design with pedestrian as the highest priority
-Train station as prominent feature of town centre
-A regional node containing a mixture of uses in close proximity including office, residential, retail, and civic uses
-High density, high-quality development within 10-minute walk circle surrounding train station
-Collector support transit systems including trolleys, street-cars, light rail, and buses, etc.
-Designed to include the easy use of bicycles, scooters, and rollerblades as daily support transportation systems
-Reduced and managed parking inside 10-minute walk circle around town centre / train station (1.)
Leading urban designer Peter Calthorpe describes TOD as being on the nexus of three trends in the US

  1. Resurgence of investment in downtown cities. A look at Perth’s skyline and the number of apartments being brought onto the market confirms this for the WA context.
  1. The growth and maturity of suburbia and the need for urban centres showing diversity – commerce, residences, business, retail.
  1. A renewed interest in rail investment in the US, this is not as strongly felt here in Boom Town WA but we have had a $1billion spent on the Mandurah rail line with embryonic TODs being gradually developed around stations. The same can be said for densities around existing stations. The Butler to Brighton rail line Act just went through Parliament.

For TOD principles to be highlighted at the design framework stage, the Burswood document should mention cycling as part of the transport mix required. Additionally it should not only highlight the need for public transport availability, the document and basic design guidelines should emphasise and synergise this through active disincentives for car usage.

There is unfortunately very little in this document that hard-wires such environmental resilience from the very start.

This clearly is an oversight of appalling short sightedness.

There is a clear need to accommodate existing barely adequate cycling infrastructure in the Burswood region within their planning scope and also to augment cycling infrastructure in all stages of the development.

Making a submission at this time does not require detailed design commentary regarding streetscape, parking, merge zones, road width, street furniture or any other more precise environmental considerations. That will occur at the District Structure Plan stage which Town of Victoria Park will commence whilst taking into account comments and submission made on this specific Burswood Peninsula Draft District Framework.  The BTA will retain a watching brief over the development and continue to make submissions.

What our submission at this time will do is draw attention to the international intent of TOD and the fact that the WAPC have not included cycling as a necessary inclusion in the transport mix for this TOD to fully deliver the desirable energy, density and sustainability outcomes.

We suggest some examples of international best practise regarding Transit Oriented Design that refer to cycling as an important aspect of TOD.

  1. Planning and provision for cycling as commuting as well as cycling for recreation/pleasure.  Burswood is an important nexus of many cycling routes that originate across the eastern and western suburbs.  It is vital that planning is put in place to accommodate through traffic as well as trips originating within the precinct itself.
  2. Cycling commuting traffic should be segregated from pedestrian and recreational traffic as much as possible to avoid potential conflicts.
  3. During event days at Belmont Park it is vital that cycling commuting traffic is not unnecessarily impeded by event traffic. Careful planning for the train station precincts is required.
  4. Cycling traffic should be privileged within the precinct to promote the TOD sustainability outcomes desired.  Consideration of aftermarket free shared bicycle schemes such h as Ve’Lib (Paris), Ve’Loh(Luxembourg) and many other cities worldwide.  Recently Melbourne and Brisbane commenced the roll-out of such infrastructure.
  5. Plaza zones for unstructured passive and active use of public space should be clearly identified within mobility corridors.
  6. The development of Vauban, a suburb of Freiberg in southern Germany has shown how it is possible to have high density, safe and sustainable residential and commercial neighbourhood that combines walkability, public transport infrastructure and some provision for private car usage through clever design. Information regarding the design, planning and building of Vauban can be found here: http://streetswiki.wikispaces.com/Quartier+Vauban.
  7. Strong linkages to the train stations and the Causeway bus station are highly desirable. Not only will the Burswood precinct be a residential zone, it will be a place for people to work and play, and this requires sufficient public transportation throughout all hours of the day. Likewise the train stations should provide transportation options for people using the area, not act as a car park for people wishing to avoid high parking rates in the City.

Of the two scenarios both have positives, if the primary consideration is for maximum density and population then the redevelopment of the golf course, and tennis centre would deliver greater sustainability outcomes.  Provision of publicly accessible public open space is not necessarily guaranteed in scenario two, with a large area being given over to pay-per-use recreation.

Steven McKiernan

Convenor

Bicycle Transportation Alliance of WA (Inc.)

1. http://www.transitorienteddevelopment.org/

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Promoting everyday cycling