ALMA CLUB DEVELOPMENT – MOOT COUNCIL DECISION (PART 2)

This posting, which focuses on the Alma Club Development’s Traffic and Parking analysis, is a continuation from our previous posting entitled “Alma Club Development – Council Decision (Part 1)”.

As previously mentioned Cr. M. Lipshutz was the only Councillor who mentioned the Traffic and Parking impacts of the development. Cr. Lipshutz commented that every development will bring about increased traffic and on street parking demand and therefore these should not be considered issues. While residents accept that the Alma Club site will be developed and that increased traffic and parking will result, the size of the proposed development combined with the site’s the limited vehicular access, will result in significant traffic congestion and on street parking demand which will have a major adverse impact on residential amenity and safety. Unfortunately, Cr. Lipshutz’s comment and the “Car Parking and Traffic” analysis included in the Officer’s Report, does little to assure residents that their concerns are being given due consideration and/or will be addressed in the future.

Map

TRAFFIC

Council’s traffic analysis included in the Officer’s Report, is as follows (Council Meeting Minutes 2/7/2013 – page 499)

“In relation to traffic, the expected traffic generation can be considered in the context of the traffic generated by the Alma Club (when it was operational). Therefore,whilst there will be a noticeable increase in traffic during residential peak times (ie weekday mornings), there will also likely be less traffic at other times when the Alma Club would have generated traffic, such as weekends. Furthermore, Council’s Transport Planning Department is satisfied Wilks Street can accommodate the traffic generated by the development. On balance it is considered an increase in traffic movements within Wilks Street as a result of this development is not unreasonable”.

After reading the above and the ”Transport Impact Assessment” prepared on behalf of the developer by GTA consultants, residents asked the following public question and received the following response (Council Meeting Minutes 2/7/2013 – page 566)

“ Council Meeting agenda item 9.1 “Officers Reports – 1 Wilks Street, Caulfield North”, under the heading “Car Parking and Traffic”, the following statement, which relates to an estimated 450-500 vehicle movements per day generated by the proposed development, is included:

“In relation to traffic, the expected traffic generation can be considered in the context of the traffic generated by the Alma Club (when it was operational). Therefore, whilst there will be a noticeable increase in traffic during residential peak times (ie weekday mornings), there will also likely be less traffic at other times when the Alma Club would have generated traffic, such as weekends”.

Since this statement is contrary to the experiences of long term Wilks Street residents, could Council please advise the date and data of the traffic analysis Council undertook to substantiate this statement.”

The Mayor read Council’s response. He said:

“Traffic engineering advice submitted with the application and verified by Council’s traffic engineers is that Wilks Street carries approximately 250 vehicles per day. The counts were undertaken in December 2012. Wilks Street is a local street. The State Government’s ResCode stipulates that ideally local streets should not exceed 3000 vehicles per day.”

In the absence of information from a Council undertaken traffic analysis (and the above response raises serious doubts about Council undertaking its own analysis), it is necessary to revert to the developer provided traffic analysis. This analysis was undertaken on Tuesday, 4th December, 2012 during the morning (7.30-9.15 a.m.) and afternoon (4.30 – 6.30 p.m.) peak periods and yielded the following results

• AM 2 Hour Peak Period (actual vehicles)

o 10 vehicles turning into Wilks Street from Alma Road (4 left, 6 right)
o 9 vehicles accessing Alma Road from Wilks Street (3 left, 6 right)

• PM 2 Hour Peak Period (actual vehicles)

o 14 vehicles turning to Wilks Street from Alma Road (7 left, 7 right)
o 9 vehicles accessing Alma Road from Wilks Street (4 left, 5 right)

• Based on traffic stream gaps along Alma Road additional vehicle turning access to/from Wilks Street per hour during morning and afternoon peak periods is

o Left turn from Wilks Street into Alma Road – 867 per hour
o Right turn from Wilks Street into Alma Road – 324 per hour
o Right turn from Alma Road into Wilks Street – 860 per hour

Please note the above turning estimates are per hour vs. the 2 hour period for the current actual vehicle turns.

• Based on peak hour traffic turn counts undertaken by the developer’s consultants and assuming a peak to daily ration of 10% the consultant extrapolates that Wilks Street carries approximately 250 vehicles per day.

Unfortunately neither the residents mathematical prowess nor their long term experience support the 250 continuous daily vehicle flow even when the Alma Club was fully “operational”.

To support their experience residents point to the following Alma Club facts

o In its “heyday” the Alma Club had approximately 500 members (predominantly locals) with most locals preferring to walk rather than drive.
o Squash (2 courts) and Tennis (4 courts) are predominantly individual, not team, sports which do not generate large numbers of spectators
o Bowls (1 artificial lawn area) although a competitive team sport (team numbers are less than a footy team), team members favour carpooling and the sport does not generate large numbers of spectators. As mentioned in our earlier post, residents report the only time traffic volumes in Wilks Street resulted in vehicle banking was on the opening and closing days of the lawn bowls season. Since these were timed events (arrival and departure) this vehicle banking was not a significant disruption.
o The relatively small function centre was primarily used for largish family gatherings (50th Anniversary, 21st Birthday, Small Business functions etc.) and again did not serve large numbers.
o The Alma Club provided adequate off street car parking facilities (52 car parking spaces)

• Contrary to the Planning Conference daily traffic volume estimate (450-500 vehicles per day on completion), the Traffic Impact Assessment indicates the following traffic volumes in Wilks Street

o Existing Average Weekday Daily Flows – 250 vpd (vehicles per day)
o Proposed Development Weekday Daily Flows – 420 vpd
o Post Development Weekday Daily Flows – 670 vpd

It should be noted that the 420 vpd Proposed Development Weekday Flow will comprise many heavy vehicle movements (earthmoving equipment and trucks, cranes, building material deliveries).

Given

  • the traffic volumes included in the developer’s “Traffic Impact Assessment”,
  • Council’s acceptance of the Assessment and the lack of information provided on any assessment undertaken by Council (which should have include planning permits issued, but yet to be completed or granted extensions, which will create additional traffic volumes demand in an already high demand area)
  • the lack of grounds for Council’s assessment that “whilst there will be a noticeable increase in traffic during residential peak times (ie weekday mornings), there will also likely be less traffic at other times when the Alma Club would have generated traffic, such as weekend”
  • the rat run conditions in Norwood Road arising from residents of the Dandenong Road (south side) multi-unit developments using Norwood Road to access their property.

it is understandable that residents of Wilks Streets and the surrounding streets, are concerned that their issues re development traffic are not being given appropriate consideration and that Council, if VCAT approves the development, will endeavour to ensure the adverse impact from traffic is minimised.

PARKING

Clause 52.06, relates to the statutory provisions for the car parking design and number of spaces to be provided. This clause, in line with Rescode (the minimal parking requirements as prescribed in the State Government issued Residential Code), states that the following minimum car spaces required to be provided for a residential development are

o 1 space per 1 bedroom dwelling (18 dwellings)
o 1 space per 2 bedroom dwelling (37 dwellings)
o 2 spaces per 3+ bedroom dwellings (20 dwellings)
o 1 visitor space for every 5 dwelling

Under this Clause, a minimum of 95 residential and 15 visitor off-street car parking spaces are required to be provided for the proposed 75 dwelling development. Yet the developer is seeking a waiver in the provision of on-site visitor car parking – from 15 spaces to 4 – a reduction of 9 spaces. The Planning Scheme enables car parking requirements to be reduced (to zero, if deemed appropriate) or applied to another site (eg. on-street) if the following is considered as justified following a parking demand assessment of

o “The car parking demand likely to be generated by the site
o Whether it is appropriate to allow fewer spaces to be provided than the number likely to be generated by the site use”

These somewhat nebulous statements become marginally less nebulous in Clause 52.06-6 which requires the following factors to be considered in the parking demand assessment

o “Multi purpose trips within an area
o The variation of car parking demand over time
o The short term and long term stay car parking demand
o The availability of public transport in the locality
o The convenience of pedestrian and cyclist access to the site
o The provision of bicycle parking and end of trip facilities for cyclists
o The anticipated car ownership rate of likely or proposed occupants, residents or employees.” …
o “The availability of car parking including – On street parking in residential zones for residential use”

Few would disagree with the developer’s consultant statement that, in assessing the above factors to determine parking demand, “ït is difficult to use the above factors individually in a definitive quantitative manner to establish the likely demand”.   However, we suspect that few would agree with the developer’s consultant’s conclusion that “an empirical assessment based on unspecified surveys of unnamed sites with similar characteristics … allows a better quantitative assessment to be made.”   Using the “empirical assessment” approach has enabled the consultant “to determine a peak residential visitor car parking demand of 11 spaces … demand estimated to occur during the weekday and weekend day/evening period … with a peak demand of 6 spaces estimated during daytime periods.”

The consultant also adds that any visitor car parking requirements, in excess of the 4 proposed visitor spaces, could be provided on-street since it complies with Clause 52.06-6 as it would be in a “residential zone for residential use”.   In determining the availability of on street parking the developer’s consultant undertook an on street parking assessment of Wilks Street, Alma Road and Norwood Road on

o Tuesday 4th December, 2012 at 8.00 pm
o Saturday, 8th December, 2012 at 12.00 noon and 8.00 pm.

This survey indicates a total of  50 on street parking vacancies identified with 22 vacancies being in Wilks Street – a dead-end street.   No mention is made that 28 vacancies identified in Alma and Norwood Roads reflects the high demand for on street parking currently experienced in these surrounding streets.

Additionally, the consultant’s report mentions that “one additional on-street car parking space is to be gained through the removal of the existing crossover to the Alma Bowls car park”.   However, no mention is made of the 4 on street car parking spaces, currently located at the end of Wilks Street, which will be removed and replaced within the site as visitors car parking.

As with the above outline of the traffic issues opponents to the Alma Club Development, raise the following issues regarding on street car parking.

• Council has accepted the developer’s request for a reduction in car parking requirements – the conditions attached to the permit provides for 10 visitor spaces. In the absence of any information on Council’s own survey, by doing so Council has

o not taken into account planning permits issued but yet to be completed or granted extensions, which will create additional parking demand in an already high demand area.
o not taken into account that the development is not located near a transport hub with interconnecting public transport services (buses, trams, trains) that access broad areas of metropolitan Melbourne even though numerous studies indicate this is a requirement for intense residential developments. The development is near a tramline servicing the CBD and two bus lines (three if the Nightrider Service is included)
o Accepted a provision for 25 bicycle parking spaces that are to be included in the basement (17 residential spaces) and on the ground level within the “linear park” (8 visitor spaces) yet these spaces are not included on the development plans distributed at the Planning Conference.
o yet to implement the residential parking permit scheme for local streets impacted by the development during construction and post completion.
o Accepted empirical evidence from the developer’s consultant with regards traffic and parking but has yet to acknowledge the empirical evidence offered by the residents. With regards to on site car parking, residents advise that the 52 on-site spaces (even on the busiest days (opening and closing of the bowls season) was adequate for the Club’s needs.

• While Council’s requirement for the developer to notify potential development residents, and post appropriate signage on the property, regarding the developments exclusion from the residential parking permit scheme is worthwhile, it should be noted that it is a requirement that is unenforceable by Council and has been ruled ruled as beyond the scope of planning law/rules.

As with the Traffic issues outlined above, objectors to the development hope that prior to the VCAT hearing (end September, 2013) Council, the Developer and Residents continue to discuss the issues raised by the residents and that a consensus comprise can be reached.

Advertisements

Comments are closed.