The National Capital Authority has approved Geocon’s proposal for a 356-unit mixed use development on Allara Street in the city despite concerns from neighbours about traffic congestion and pedestrian and cyclist safety at the laneway access.
Residents of the Forum Apartments has also raised concerns about privacy and overshadowing but the NCA believes that changes to refine facades, enhance setbacks, and include privacy screens agreed to in June should minimise these impacts as best can be expected in an inner city environment.
But the Forum excecutive committee had mounted a last-ditch against the development, arguing the traffic modelling for the project was flawed.
The development giant wants to build three mixed-use residential blocks up to 25 metres tall, varying between seven and nine storeys.
The complex will include two levels of basement parking and a mezzanine level with 409 parking spaces and access for vehicles and services from a laneway off Allara Street.
But the Forum executive committee contended Allara Street would not cope with the increased traffic, its residents would not be able to get out of the driveway, and the laneway exit would pose a danger to pedestrians and cyclists coming off the Parkes Way overpass.
It had traffic analyst Graeme Shoobridge look at the traffic impact study, which he said underestimated the amount of traffic that will use an already overcapacity Allara Street, not just from the development but vehicles entering off Parkes Way.
Mr Shoobridge said the report made unsupportable and counter-intuitive assumptions about the development not proposing a significant impact on the local traffic and parking network despite the development generating 146 vehicles per hour in peak times and traffic from Parkes Way increasing over time.
He said it was more what the report did not say that was disturbing.
“There is almost no detailed discussion about how vehicles in that Allara lane get out,” Mr Shoobridge told Region.
“You put 150 vehicles per hour into the exit from the Geocon site and you superimpose that onto Allara Street’s 5000 odd vehicles a day with more than 500 per hour coming in off Parkes Way, you’ve got a situation where the Geocon traffic will be crossing the trunk cycle route and pedestrian way from Commonwealth Park and giving way to traffic on Allara Street.
“Now the chances of anyone getting out of the Forum apartments in that scenario are very low.”
Mr Shoobridge said Allara Street would likely be in gridlock with traffic backing up to Parkes Way.
The report also made little comment about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists other than to suggest TCCS will need to address the existing conditions to ensure all safety measures are provided.
Mr Shoobridge said there was no evidence to support the claim in a note provided to a query from the NCA that the performance of the Allara Street/Constitutional Avenue intersection will actually improve due to the development causing external vehicles to re-route away from Allara Street.
He said that despite an apparent TCCS veto, Geocon should have considered a London Circuit entry/exit, leaving Allara Street for service arrangements only.
But the NCA accepted the traffic impact report, with the only condition that Geocon undertake a Road Safety Audit (RSA) Analysis, to be endorsed by TCCS and submitted to the NCA prior to works commencing on site, to ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists has been sufficiently assessed and appropriate mitigation measures implemented.
Mr Shoobridge said the laneway would need a dedicated raised pedestrian crossing giving priority to those walking and cycling over Parkes Way from Commonwealth Park.
The NCA said in its consultation report that other issues raised include building heights, poor building design and dwelling diversity, lack of landscaping, deep root planting and canopy cover, tree protection and noise impacts on adjoining properties.
But it said the building heights or 25m met the maximum limit and Geocon had worked with it to improve the building design.
The NCA was satisfied with the landscape design which it said integrated the development with Civic, creating a unified and accessible ground plane that responded to the civic nature of London Circuit and the residential nature of Allara Street.
Mature trees would provide canopy cover across the site and amenity buffers between the proposed development and adjoining properties.