12 August 2020

Turner residents sound alarm over bus layover plans

| Ian Bushnell
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Aerial photograph of the new bus layover

An aerial photograph of the new bus layover site. Images: ACT Government.

The proposal for a new city bus layover in Turner has sparked a Legislative Assembly petition from local residents who are not on board with the idea and fear the ”city is coming for their neighbourhood”.

Turner resident Sarah Edson launched the petition, sponsored by Liberal transport spokesperson Candice Burch, as she was alarmed at the potential loss of green space, and the traffic management, noise and pollution issues it would have on the area, particularly as there is a child care and seniors centre nearby.

Plans for the new City West Bus Layover were lodged last June, replacing the current facility on Marcus Clark Street near the Australian National University.

The 9000 square metre site on the corner of Watson Street and Barry Drive (zoned PRZI Urban Open Space Zone) consists of Sullivans Creek open space and a Territory-operated surface car park of about 60 spaces.

The new layover will provide parking spaces for 25 buses and driver facilities, and support changes to the City Bus Station as part of a realignment of platforms and routes integrating with light rail, while minimising the number of buses sitting within the City Bus Station precinct.

It will be twice the size of the current facility and its northern section will eat into the Turner Parklands.

Layover from the DA

A plan of the layover from the DA.

The government identified the Turner site in 2013 but Ms Edson said there had been little recent consultation.

”Residents, businesses and workers, a childcare centre, seniors centre, commuters, ANU North Oval, bike skills track, churches, and pedestrians and cyclists using the popular shared pathways would be impacted, and amenity lost once construction commenced,” the petition says.

”Canberra is one of the world’s most liveable cities. This urban open space connects to other green corridors in the inner north and should remain protected.”

Opposite the site in Watson Street is the Goodstart Child Care Centre and the Canberra Seniors Centre, while the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the National Seventh Day Adventist Church are also nearby, as well as the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission.

”There are going to be huge traffic management issues, fumes and noise,” Ms Edson said.

”It’s not going to be pleasant for the little kiddies playing outside opposite hundreds of buses coming and going.”

READ ALSO Plans lodged for new, bigger bus layover in Turner

She believed the site selection was the thin edge of the wedge of development and evidence of a creeping citification of the inner north

”The way I see it the city starts the other side of Barry Drive, but it’s coming for Turner,” she said.

Ms Edson said the government was disingenuous saying the layover will just be replacing a car park ”because you can’t fit 25 buses and a staff amenity block on that little car park there. It is going to be more expansive”.

”It’s completely at odds with their policy to make the parks more livable and safe and enjoyable for everyone to suddenly put a bus station in there,” she said.

Ms Edson said the corner was a major thoroughfare for cyclists and pedestrians, and the start of bike paths through the inner north.

”It’s going to be quite dangerous having hundreds of buses, cyclists and pedestrians all in the same area,” she said.

The petition has so far garnered 278 supporters, and Ms Edson hopes it will reach the 500 required for the Assembly to take up the matter.

The North Canberra Community Council has also made its concerns known in its own representation to the planning authority.

Ms Burch said that while a new and expanded layover facility was necessary, Turner residents did not feel they had been properly consulted about the proposed location for this development.

”It’s important that any future development of this site is subject to genuine community consultation to ensure concerns around parklands, traffic and safety considerations are heard and addressed,” she said.

”Labor’s well-documented history of ramming through development in the face of community concerns is one of the reasons why Canberra has fewer trees and less green space.”

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The proposed site is also a Floodway. This was initially pointed out to TAMS years ago when they first proposed that location for an interchange. TAMS was unaware that the site is a FLOODWAY until it was pointed out to them by a resident who drew the TAMS engineers attention to an existing sign on the site proclaiming it as such. Years later we get the same proposal from ACTPLA, also apparently unaware of the FLOODWAY sign. This site will flood if heavy rains occur, and the close proximity of the bund along Sullivans creek (which must never be breached) make the site unsuitable for the proposed layover. Moreover, in addition to the nearby Child Care and Aged Care Centres in Watson Street (an accident waiting to happen if the bus layover is co-located in this street) buses out of Watson Street may only turn left into Barry Drive from Watson street, due to the divided nature of Barry Drive at that access point. For all these reasons the site is unsuitable.

The proposal does take account of the Floodway eg. improved stormwater outcomes, reducing the impacts and frequency of flooding. If people care to look it is on the City Services website. Sounds good to me

I have I have no doubt what so ever that who ever is planning this knows the flooding risks and are mitigating against them. And besides when was the last time the carpark went under?

Also if you look at the map in this article it looks like buses won’t be using Watson street what so ever. It looks like the entry and exit to the layover will be an extension of Kingsley street which is already the road the buses use coming from Belconnen to access the city.

There is a driveway off Watson street but that would appear to lead to a carpark for support staff etc rather than any bus parking and appears unsuited for buses which would make sense as they have their own entry.

Just wondering t2owe did you actually look at the image in the post above?

It quite clearly shows they quite clearly intend to align the entry and exit to be built into the lights just near that spot, so buses could primarily go straight ahead and down through the back of ANU, as the majority do right now when heading towards the city. While there will be an entrance on Watson St, there is already one there now for the carpark (And I’d assume it will likely only be for vehicles to use). I can’t see how the risk profile is changed at all for Watson St from this proposal, as long as the entrance on Watson St is not the primary entry/exit, which clearly from the image it appears to not be.

And while the floodway is an obvious issue to deal with, its a bus layover – its exactly the sort of thing that can be built in such a location surely. Yes there will be a an admin building or two involved, but what else/ Primarily its a large open space. Pretty easy to move buses pretty quickly I would of thought, and not much there to damage.

Then you beliefs are sorely misplaced. There is no indication that thought of any kind guides planning in Canberra. Rather dubious plans are rubber stamped. This has led to numerous atrocities which could have been otherwise avoided had ACTPLA’s own rules been avoided. Instead rules are constantly waterered down or avoided. All to the detroiment of residents. Wake up and smell the coffee.

If you look at the `map’ above the entrance to the layover is in Watson Street. Since there are already traffic lights at the Barry Drive/ McCaughy Street intersection another set of lights is unworkable. The buses do not have any scope to ” go straight ahead and down through the back of ANU”, as you claim. You are referring to the Barry Drive. McCaughey Street interesction i.e. the wrong intersection.

I’m not directly affected by this proposal. Aside from loss of amenity and parkland, I’d expect that one of the biggest factors that will determine the impact on neighbours will be whether buses idle when parked. Aside from the background noise of idling buses, the fumes emitted from buses idling can be nauseating and an obvious health risk. I know that the older orange buses frequently had such dodgy old batteries that there was a risk that they wouldn’t restart if their engines were stopped – they’d need jumping to restart – so the ANU layover area was frequently very fumy. I’m not sure how newer buses compare, but I’d hope they’d be better – both in terms of their emissions and their ability to restart. And all of this will be moot as the fleet is replaced with electric buses in due course.

Loss of amenity of the parkland? Other than commuters riding or walking through there to access north Canberra I have never seen anyway using these supposed parklands. It primarily a gravel carpark.

As for fumes how far away are the nearest residents? Closest me would be at the ANU where one would think the constant traffic on Barry Drive will be generating far greater fumes than idling buses. But for what it is worth buses are not meant to idle whilst standing.

It’s a layover for drivers to have a break. No idling buses.

Perhaps it’s because you don’t live in the area?

As long as properly designed, this has the sniff of another ‘dickson parklands’ to me – i.e. a few whinging locals that simply oppose anything every being done anywhere near them.

I live not that far from here and can not see the issue – as long as reasonable precautions are done to ensure appropriate separation form the bike path (Maybe shifting it to the other side of the street for a few blocks if need be or moving the crossing further down), then what’s the real issue here? As shown on the picture, the bus entry and exit from the layover will be from Barry Drive (not Watson St) – so what’s the issue there? It doesn’t magnify the danger already there for pedestrians or cyclists with Barry Dr.

When one has to stretch to talking about Churches and Bike Skills Track (I assume that’s the little kids bike park some 500+ metres up Watson St?) as reason to oppose, the case against looks weak from the beginning…..

And really, what amenity is really there at the moment? Its a messy poorly maintained dirt car park. Yes maybe the parking needs to be replaced elsewhere, but its not like its used for any other purpose as a site – it never will be because of its location next to Sullivan’s Creek.

“She believed the site selection was the thin edge of the wedge of development and evidence of a creeping citification of the inner north”

Has she not been outside for say the past 20 years? Turner is turning into what it should be – a medium to high density suburb right next to the city centre…. this does not change anything to be honest. That shipped sailed a long time ago.

The smell of Nimbyism here is stronger than the smell of rotting green waste in the gross pollutant trap right next door and whatever the hell the ANU are stockpiling on the other side of Sullivan’s creek.

But she is right about the city expanding into areas of Turner. By design.

If you don’t like it, move. And if you own the property, you’ll take a massive windfall gain in property price growth that has been driven by that expanding city and density.

Hahaha its a strange one to get knickers in a knot about Chewy, especially when it isn’t particularly near any residential buildings either (bar the ANU building across Barry Dr)….

As for the changing nature of Turner, you’ve hit the nail on the head…. take it, enjoy your windfall gain and find a place that suits what you want. Even with the move to higher density, its still by and large a nice suburb and plenty to like about it.

Bus layovers don’t improve land values. But bus layovers placed on Floodways and across the street from Aged Care and Child Care centres are accidents waiting to happen. There have been too many poorly built or located constructions in Canberra which never should have been approved. Why were they?

For once, I agree with one of these residents groups. It is hard enough to find parking in the city as it is, without removing yet another carpark. The rest of that parkland is also extremely heavily used for recreation. I haven’t seen a real reason for why this is needed either. Lots of dodging giving a real answer and saying what it’s purpose will be, but zero direct reasons it is necessary to remove more parking and more parklands.

It is simple why it is proposed. Because the huge block where the current layover is down near ANU is on the block to be sold (or has been sold – not sure) and has a very high value in comparison. It makes sense to develop such a site (I assume ANU will buy it?), and so a new location for a bus layover near the city needs to be found.

Get rid of all these car parks and make public transport better and more accessible. What other Australian capital cities do you see car parks spread out all over the place. Canberra city can be so much better. Make the city car-free like some other cities around the world have done . Ghent in Belgium with its city population of over 260,000 and Cordoba in Argentina with a population of 20,000 have made their cities car free with public transport, taxis and permit holders allowed to enter but not exceed speed limits. Cordoba has over 2km of pedestrianised areas with outdoor cafes, shops, plazas, restaurants and parks with buses providing access.

Parklands heavily used for recreation? Firstly what parklands it is mostly a dirt carpark.

Though yes the area does get heavily used by bike riders and walkers who commute to the suburbs along Sullivan’s Creek and this proposal won’t stop them doing that.

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