Planning for the new Robin Thomas Amenities block is finally underway.
Our current facilities, dating from the 1960s, are in poor condition and we have been working with council for some time to have them replaced. Planning was underway around 2014 before the light rail project started. That put a stop on it all. Whilst we disagree with various parts of light rail design and its impact on Robin Thomas, the plans are now set and our new facilities are being planned.
The existing club house and amenities buildings will be removed and a new building built, we think behind the existing amenities building. This is currently expected to happen from September 2019 and be ready for the 2020 season. Of course this is dependent on a lot of things and we are hoping the existing amenities building can be kept until the new building is ready. But hopefully just one more season with the old stuff and then in 2020 our facilities finally move into the 21st Century!!
As people have been asking for more details, here are some of the ways the light rail response to our submission has let us down:
Our main submission point was that the route should be reconfigured to avoid a serious impact on Robin Thomas and provide a better environment for Parramatta residents into the future. We proposed a particular reconfiguration related to, but different from the option 4 in the EIS. Their response talks about the various EIS options but not our particular proposal. (See section 5.8.2, page 5-74, section, Page 126 in the response PDF). They note:
That it would negatively impact traffic on George Street:
But our proposed route is along side George Street, not on it, so this does not make sense! Something we reinforced when we met with them.
That it would impact the operation of the intersection of George/Harris/MacArthur Streets.
We had pointed out that this is likely manageable via rail linked traffic lights, similar in the way the Buses are handled at some intersections. No attempt was made to discuss this or show why it wasn’t possible.
That our proposal negatively impacts the “heritage listed Albion Hotel”
The Albion Hotel is NOT heritage listed. Publically available information we have found is proposing the building be removed and replaced by a large office tower and a totally new Hotel building. But Robin Thomas Reserve is heritage listed, and our proposal would reduce the impact on that heritage.
That it would negatively impact the development site on the corner of Macquarie Street and Harris Street.
This is just plain wrong. Our proposal does impact this large block, but on the Argus Lane and George Street sides. And as we pointed out, that site is currently empty and it is a once in a generation opportunity to make better use of the block. Since we made our submission several ideas for minimizing the cost of our proposal in this area have become apparent and there are plenty of possibilities – as the block is empty!
Additionally, on the 1st of March, before the Planning Department has responded to the EIS, a contractor for light rail arrived at Robin Thomas Reserve to drill test bore holes along the line of “their” preferred route option. This has us very worried the decision has already been made.
The Parramatta light rail project have responded to the various comments on the EIS, including our. The document, known as the “Submissions Report” is available here.
This document is disappointing to us in many ways.
The next stage of the process is for the Department of planning to respond, it is that department which as the final say. We are putting together documentation to point out how poor this document is.
The document is also hard to navigate. The image below, taken from Appendix B, gives an index to the parts of the document where they claimed to have responded to our input. Use the “Page #” to find the page in the large PDF document where the referenced section can be found. For example, for the first item, you want section 5.4.5, on page 70 of the PDF.
In December, Parramatta Council have released a draft Masterplan for the future of Robin Thomas Reserve. This will have a big impact on us. See council’s plan here.
The club is generally supportive of this plan, which includes a new amenities building and club rooms, as well as significant landscaping changes. But we would like to see it better support the area into the future – here is our submission.