This discussion paper has been prepared by the Leighton Action Coalition (LAC) as a submission to the Department of Transport (DoT) to coincide with their integrated transport study of the Leighton peninsula. The first part of the discussion paper sets out transport planning principles supported by LAC and provides general comments on the "Fremantle to Cottesloe Transport Plan" options paper issued by DoT.
The second part of this discussion paper provides specific comment on the proposed extension of Curtin Avenue. LAC does not support this option as it is likely to fundamentally compromise good coastal planning. The juxtaposition of this proposed road to the coastal zone will need to be considered by the Ministry for Planning (MfP) as part of the preparation of planning guidelines for the area. Until such time as the MfP have completed these planning guidelines, the proposed Curtin Avenue extension can not and must not be finalised.
Constructive comment has been provided on the Curtin Avenue extension option in the hope that it will be modified so as to overcome some of the more negative aspects of the proposal. These comments should not be taken as tacit support for the proposal to construct an enlarged road network through the Leighton peninsula. Rather, they should be considered as pursuing a suite of issues on many aspects of the proposals contained in the options paper. Equally, the comments may be relevant to other options that should now be pursued and which may also have an inter-relationship to issues such as public amenity, coastal management, environmental and heritage considerations for the region.
LAC fully expects that DoT will need to seriously consider alternative transport options, including improved public transport and minor modifications to the configuration of Stirling Highway, so that the benefits and negativities of all options can be fully compared. LAC expresses dissapointment that alternative strategies have not formed part of the DoT's documentation to date, and will continue to demand that such options be properly considered.
2.0 GENERAL ISSUES
2.1 LAC's transport planning principles
LAC suggests that the following planning principles should be developed as part of the integrated transport planning process for Leighton:
1. The function of Leighton as a regional beach should be enhanced by establishing a larger coastal reserve to allow for the sustainable management of the environment and the provision of suitable regional recreational facilities within the coastal zone.
2. Regional roads, whether existing or proposed, should be removed from the new coastal reserve.
3. Access to the Fremantle Port should not be directed through the new coastal zone.
4. Public transport access to the coastal zone should be maximised, especially access by passenger rail.
5. Passenger rail stations should have direct physical and visual connection to the coastal zone.
6. A public transport corridor, preferrably rail, should be developed along the coastal corridor up to Scarborough and through to the northern passenger rail line.
7. Local traffic should gain access to the coastal zone without the need to travel along regional roads.
8. Cycling through the peninsula should include a veloway adjacent to the railway line, on lane cycle facilities on regional roads and the coastal access road, and dual use paths within the coastal zone.
9. Safe east-west cycling and pedestrian connections between the coastal zone and adjoining urban areas should be provided for at frequent intervals.
10. All of the recommended improvements in the vicinity of the transport corridor required as part of the implementation of the Vlamingh Parklands, should be incorporated.
11. No regional road within the peninsula should be wider than a four lane road and traffic speeds should be no higher than 60 km/hr on regional roads.
12. A continuous scenic drive access road with a maximum speed limit of 40 km/hr should be provided in the coastal zone and be linked to Marine Parade in Cottesloe.
13. Park-n-ride facilities at railway stations should be made available for beach parking on a reciprocal basis.
2.2 Integration of Coastal requirements.
Concern is expressed that the Transport Study effectively precedes the development of planning guidelines for Leighton beach and the Leighton marshalling yards. These planning guidelines are currently being prepared by the MfP and are not expected to be completed until December 2000.
It is noted that a conflict exists between the recommended coastal setback requirements and the proposed extension of Curtin Avenue. WAPC Planning Policies DC 2.3 "Public Open Space in Residential Areas" and DC 6.1 "Country Coastal Planning Policy" recommend a minimum coastal setback of 100 metres, measured from the first line of vegetation. This generally applies to local beach areas. However, Leighton is a regional beach and the coastal policy indicates that a reserve larger than the 100 metre benchmark should be provided for.
Preliminary assessment by the MfP associated with determining an appropriate setback at Leighton has indicated that between 94 metres and 132 metres will be required just to satisfy biophysical factors. Recreational needs, which must be considered over and above the environmental requirements, have yet to be determined but will obviously add significantly to the required coastal setback. LAC has estimated that these recreation requirements will warrant a further average setback of approximately 66 metres. LAC's considerations indicate that the coastal reserve should be at least 180 metres wide for most of the central section of the site (measured from the first line of vegetation) and wider at the regional node.
Assessment of the proposed Curtin Avenue extension highlights that a large portion of the road reserve is setback from the first line of vegetation by less than 100 metres, and it is likely that most of it will be within the final setback zone determined for Leighton.
Clearly, coastal management requirements, once properly considered, will severely constrain the ability to extend Curtin Avenue along the western edge of the passenger rail reserve. The transport planning process must deal with the reality that coastal setback requirements may result in Stirling Highway being the only environmentally acceptable route for regional traffic through the Leighton peninsula. (This should not be read as tacit support for a six lane road on Stirling Highway.)
It is imperative that the coastal planning and transport planning issues be properly integrated and therefore no decision on transport planning issues should be made until the extent of coastal reserve requirements has been properly established. Alternative approaches to transport planning that do not require regional traffic to pass west of the passenger rail reserve should be considered more thoroughly than has been evident to date. These could include options which focus on improving public transport or which take inter-regional traffic through routes other than the Leighton peninsula.
2.3 Integrated Transport Planning
The incorporation of road planning into a process of integrated transport planning is welcomed. Equally important has been the recognition that a large majority of vehicular usage in this area is intra-regional, and not inter-regional. However, the transport planning processes currently underway do not appear to provide an adequate assessment of the need for, and the opportunity to develop, a high quality public transport linkage along the northern coastal corridor. The connection of regional and sub-regional destinations by an extension of the passenger rail network must surely be a higher priority for government than the transformation of the existing functional road system into an extravagantly refined super road.
It is evident that Fremantle, Claremont, Swanbourne and especially Scarborough are already blighted by too much traffic. Forecasts that suggest a 15 - 30% increase in road usage to and through these destinations must not automatically be provided for by constructing new or wider roads without first questioning whether the impact on the local and regional centres will be too devastating. Priority should be given to transport options that will directly improve the prosperity and vitality of these centres. Integrated transport planning should not seek to encourage travel to far away destinations whilst destroying the civic hearts of existing local and regional communities.
If the proposal to construct a new road is primarily for the use of residents and business people in the vicinity of this transport corridor, as has become increasingly evident, then surely these communities will best be able to judge whether it is worth sacrificing their own neighborhood environment and town centres in order to facilitate easier travel to the adjoining suburbs.
The promise of this new appoach to transport planning must now be delivered by addressing the complexity of these planning issues in a truly integrated and sustainable manner.
3.0 SPECIFIC COMMENTS ON DoT DISCUSSION PAPER
Notwithstanding the general issues raised above, LAC raises the following specific issues in direct response to the "Fremantle to Cotteloe Transport Plan - Issues and Options Discussion Paper". The following dot points relate directly to the sections of the discussion paper identified below, as follows:
3.1 Key Issues Listed by the Participants (ref. 2.4)
* In identifying the need for east-west connections, due consideration should be given to the requirements of the Vlamingh Parklands strategy.
* The study should seek to ensure that east-west connections for local traffic are provided without the need for vehicles to enter into the north-south regional traffic flow.
* In addition to the requirement to determine an acceptable number of lanes through the peninsula, the study should determine the preferred location and configuration of these lanes.
* The study should determine necessary improvements to public transport within the north south coastal corridor, now and for the future.
3.2 Regional Road Network Traffic Volumes (ref. 3.1)
* The study conducted for the combined local authorities affected by this highway identified significant problems with the vehicle forecast figures used by Main Roads. The figures identified are in all probability somewhat excessive and continue to be based on the philosophy of "build it and they will come".
* If it is assumed that the 5,700 v.p.d figure represents local traffic primarily accessing the beach, then the regional traffic using the existing Port Beach Road amounts to approximately 15,000 v.p.d., increasing to 26,800 v.p.d. on the new Curtin Avenue. This equates to a significantly greater increase in regional traffic than the 30% indicated. The figures equate to an 80% increase in projected regional traffic on the Western Suburbs Highway. Such an increase in an already developed area would indicate a significant increase in inter-regional movements. On one hand, this brings into question whether the new road continues to be planned to supplement the function of the Mitchell and Kwinana Freeways. This approach is not justifiable, especially given that the capacities of the Freeways are being increased with projects such as the Narrows Duplication Project. It also raises the option that this increase would be better catered for by improving public transport through the coastal corridor.
3.3 Figure 2 - Traffic Volume 2021
* The use of the proposed Walter Place/Port Beach Road access to Fremantle Port continues to place regional traffic, and particularly heavy vehicles, too close to the existing coastal reserve which has a negative impact on the recreational landuse of the area. It is anticipated that a new coastal reserve will need to incorporate all of the land between the oil industries and the beach and a regional road through this coastal zone is unacceptable. Notwithstanding that special arrangements may be required to provide for "high & wide" transport needs to service the Port, it would be more appropriate if access to and from the Port was limited to Tydeman Road. The removal from the proposed road of the signalised intersection at Walter Place would be beneficial to the flow of traffic on the Curtin Avenue extension.
3.4 The Fremantle Regional Strategy (ref.3.2)
* In addition to the impacts of the Fremantle Regional Strategy identified in the DoT discussion paper, it must be recognised that the FRS process failed to give due consideration to any coastal planning requirements and that these are only now being considered by the MfP.
* Walter Place as an access route into the Port - see comments under previous section.
* The location of east-west pedestrian linkages requires further consideration. For example, the DoT discussion paper indicates Walter Place as being an appropriate urban link to Leighton Beach, however this has not been substantiated. Existing landuses along Walter Place are of an industrial nature and it is therefore unlikely to be developed as an urban link with interactive landuses flanking it. Such an approach will not maximise the inter-relationship and connectivity of the coastal destination to the public transport network. This issue should be further considered as part of the MfP's planning guideline process and then integrated into the transport study.
* The retention of Port Beach Road as a local scenic drive and beach access road is supported in principle provided that the road is traffic calmed and that in the medium to long term its location is adjusted to allow for a wider coastal recreational zone. The detail of this should be determined throught the MfP coastal investigations and the subsequent development of structure plans and coastal management plans by the local authorities. The access road should be to the eastern edge of any new coastal reserve.
* It is envisaged that the down graded Port Beach Road would have a similar function as Marine Parade in Cottesloe. The two roads should provide for continuous scenic access to the coast. However, the concerns of the Town of Cottesloe with regard to avoiding through-traffic are acknowledged. It is critical that both Port Beach Road and Marine Parade be heavily traffic calmed and that intersections between these two local roads and the connection through to Wellington Street are handled sensitively. Options for these should be addressed as part of this study, and the details finalised to the satisfaction of the local authorities.
3.6 Tydeman Road (ref 4.3)
* As stated above, Tydeman Road should be the primary access to the Port from both the south and north.
3.7 Wellington Street to Curtin Avenue (ref. 4.4.1)
* An option that provides for direct local traffic access from Mosman Park to Port Beach Road is supported. However, directly connecting this new link road to Curtin Avenue may not be the best solution in terms of managing local traffic movement, especially in the light of the concerns expressed by the Town of Cottesloe regarding too much traffic entering into Marine Parade.
* The link between Port Beach Road and the Curtin Avenue extension should be considered separately as part of the MfP's coastal guidelines study.
* Other important objectives for this area should include creating a direct link from the relocated railway station to the Old Cable Station which is envisaged to be used as an important public facility, perhaps in association with the Vlamingh Parklands, surf reef and South Cottesloe marine protection area. This link would ideally be coupled with a footbridge that connected the eastern and western sections of the Vlamingh Parklands at or near the old Cable Station. Perhaps the railway station should be renamed Vlamingh, or Vlamingh Parklands to give impetus to the creation of a public destination at the Cable Station. Such a link should also provide for safe and direct access to the beach.
* It is noted that the community vision prepared by LAC included an option to relocate Port Beach Road behind the old Cable Station to maximise the potential of the protected open space area between this building and the beach. Whilst this is only an initial concept, it is an option worthy of further investigation. To some degree, this issue, and the above related issues, should be pursued as part of the MfP's study and during the local authorities structure planning process.Traffic options in this area should be left flexible enough to allow for these opportunities to be considered in greater detail.
3.8 Pedestrian/Cyclist Linkages (ref. 4.4.4)
* The proposed pedestrian link across the railway south of the North Fremantle Station provides access to the beach via Walter Place. Walter Place is currently the only link between the station and the beach. Westrail's previous development plans for the area attempted to restrict the option of linking the station to the beach further north, presumably as they perceived this to negatively impact on their proposed exclusive residential enclave. As previously noted, the Walter Place link, whilst useful, may not prove to be the best urban link from station to beach. There is also concern that any east-west link should not impact on the heritage of the old North Fremantle Primary School and its curtilage.
It would be highly desirable that when alighting from the train there be a direct physical and visual link from the station platform to the beach node. From a microclimate consideration, this would best occur on the northern side of the station. From a landuse aspect this link will benefit from occurring through an area with potentially more interactive landuses compared to utilising the link through an industrial area. Partially sinking the Curtin Avenue extension and partially raising the railway line (i.e. the opposite of that which has been proposed) may allow for direct pedestrian links from the platform of the station across Curtin Avenue and through to the beach.
* Retention of the pedestrian footbridge is strongly supported.
* The Vlamingh Parklands document calls for links to be created at two additional locations. The first is at Craig Street next to the Dingo Flour Mill. This link is at the narrowest point between the river and sea. It would allow for a significant connection between the coastal zone recreational facilities and pathways, and the existing dual use path along the river. It would also provide a safer pedestrian/cycle route for many Mosman Park/North Fremantle residents trying to reach Leighton Beach.
* A pedestrian link between the eastern and western portions of the Vlamingh Parklands is needed at the Cable Station as mentioned above. Also desirable is a safer pedestrian link across Stirling Highway at a point located between Boundary Road and Vlamingh Parade.
3.9 Relocating North Fremantle Station (ref. 4.5.2)
* The relocation of the North Fremantle railway station back to Tydeman Road does not appear to be warranted.
* The relocation of the North Fremantle Station slightly south of the present location would appear to be a "leftover" from the unacceptable development proposals put forward by the Westrail/Leighton Shores developers. Notwithstanding this, the final decision regarding the location of this station should be linked to the MfP's coastal guidelines study.
3.10 Reopening of Leighton Station
* Public support for the reopening of Leighton Station is high, and this option deserves serious consideration. Options include the re-establisment of a permanent station through to developing a special station stop for summertime weekend usage.
3.11 Relocation of Victoria Street Station to Wellington Street.
* The relocation of this station is supported, as noted above. It should also be positioned to maximise access to the old Cable Station, the surf reef, the marine protection area and the Vlamingh Parklands. Linkage through to Buckland Hill via pathways south of the new station would be highly desirable. Park-n-ride facilities could be developed in conjunction with parking for the Cable Station area as usage would probably be somewhat reciprocal.
3.12 Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities - Regional Network
* The construction of a regional Principal Shared Path (PSP) (read veloway) on the east side of the passenger railway is supported in principle. The detail of the proposal should incorporate quality landscape buffers between Stirling Highway and the passenger rail line. It should be positioned so as not to interfere with heritage environments. Most importantly, it should not compromise the ability to implement improvements to the configuration of Stirling Highway.
* Bicycle paths in the coastal zone should accommodate four types of cycle usage, i.e. commuter cycling (veloway), cycling as a sport (cycle lanes on Curtin Avenue and Port Beach Road), recreational cycling (on a traditional PSP intended primarily for bicycle, rollerblade, and jogging usage in the coastal reserve), and a casual pathway (designed primarily for pedestrians but allowing for young children on bicycles etc.).
3.13 Size and Scale of Roads (ref. 4.7)
* Prior to the creation of the existing MRS reserve for the extension of Curtin Avenue, Main Roads developed preliminary designs for the road in order to determine the necessary width of the reserve. As part of the Main Roads considerations, a pre-requisite was to ensure the road reserve be limited in width as far as possible so as to maximise developable land on the marshalling yard site. Land swaps of railway marshalling yard land and the existing Port Beach Road reserve were an integral part of these, and subsequent, considerations.
The consequences of this process were to produce a road reserve that allowed for inadequate landscape opportunities along road verges, and a comparatively narrow median strip. Landscaping would have been restricted to low shrubs and groundcovers. A cross section through this corridor was to include a very barren Stirling Highway, an equally barren railway line, with a veloway and another 4 lane road abutting it, all with limited landscape opportunities. To exacerbate this a sound wall was to be constructed on the western edge of the road which was to act as part of the enclosing estate wall for the future Leighton Shores proposal. The urban design consequences of this would probably have been worse than constructing an airstrip through the middle of North Fremantle.
The landscape environment of the existing area needs significant attention and any new road or veloway reserves should allow for adequate land to create a well landscaped corridor. This is critical to compensating for the negative impacts of such a transport corridor. The requirements of high and wide transport routes make it all the more essential that adequate area is provided for trees on road verges and medians. (The limited landscape in the median of the Servetus Street section of the Western Suburbs Highway is an example of inadequate median strip size. The median strip that occurs on West Coast Highway between Rochdale Road and Oceanic Drive is considered more acceptable.)
* The community may prefer that the road reserve be kept narrow to ensure road widenings to a four lane road are not just re-initiated in a few years time. Notwithstanding this, landscape buffer zones should occur between each transport function, i.e. between each of Stiring Highway, the proposed veloway, the railway line, and any extension to Curtin Avenue. Opportunites to provide a median strip in parts of Stirling Highway, where land and heritage issues will allow this, should also be examined. These transport reserves could be kept to a minimum if land between them was zoned for parks and recreation and vested in the local authorities. In particular, this approach should be used to partially overcome community concerns about any future widening of Curtin Avenue.