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.
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.”
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.”