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Redfern Station Community Option 5 Presentation Notes

On August 6th 2019 REDWatch and Reconnect Redfern presented Transport for NSW a Community Option 5 for the Redfern Station southern concourse. These are the notes from that presentation and should be read alongside the option 5 presentation slides. The presentation argues for five major issues to be addressed in designs for a southern concourse. The presentation also makes the case for a bike and pedestrian concourse between North and South Eveleigh which is missing from the options presented by Transport for NSW.

Presentation to Transport for NSW by ReConnect Redfern and REDWatch

On 6th August 2019, REDWatch and Reconnect Redfern presented a community option for a southern concourse at Redfern Station to Transport for NSW (TfNSW). This was followed by a discussion of the issues between local residents from Little Eveleigh Street, The Watertower, Councillor Philip Thalis and TfNSW staff. You can see the PDF of the presentation on the REDWatch website. These notes are to add some of the presentation details not taken up in the slides.

Following the presentation of the four options by TfNSW at the Redfern Community Centre, REDWatch met and decided that the best way forward might be to try and formulate a community option that addressed the concerns of REDWatch and the residents from both sides of the railway line who had come together under the banner of Reconnect Redfern. REDWatch Co-ord member Damion Minton undertook to lead the project and did much of the work but was overseas at the time of the presentation, so REDWatch spokesperson Geoff Turnbull was asked by Reconnect Redfern to do the presentation.

REDWatch has had a long involvement monitoring Redfern Station and North Eveleigh. You can find historical proposals and studies for the upgrade of Redfern Station on the Redfern Station tab at www.redwatch.org.au

The material in the presentation reflects a number of meetings both by REDWatch and Reconnect Redfern and numerous conversations with local residents and key institutions.

Key Community Priorities

The groups decided on five key priorities:

1)      Support the improvement of Redfern Station accessibility including to platforms 11 & 12 and to a bus rail interchange

2)      Improve pedestrian rail commuter flow, reduced congestion and improved safety to all platforms including to platforms 11 & 12

3)      Enhance public pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to key local destinations was a key concern. This aspect was considered inadequate in the TfNSW proposals. The TfNSW Future Transport Strategy 2056 says “The Strategy and Plans also focus on the role of transport in delivering movement and place outcomes that support the character of the place and the communities we want in the future.”  Movement and Place are considered a key aspect of future transport planning, and guidelines are currently being developed by the NSW Government Architect. Currently it is the community view that key Movement and Place considerations are not adequately dealt with in the TfNSW options. Key public pedestrian and bicycle connectivity needs to link:

  • Australian Technology Park (South Eveleigh)
  • Redfern business district and transport hubs
  • Proposed North Eveleigh technology and innovation centre
  • Carriageworks
  • Sydney University

4)      Protect and promote heritage and local culture

5)      Retain local residential amenity

Major issues to be addressed

The groups also decided five major issues needed to be addressed by any option:

1)      Connectivity between North and South Eveleigh

2)      Accessibility to platforms 1 to 10

3)      Accessibility to platforms 11 and 12 and to bus train interchange

4)      Impact on Little Eveleigh Street. This includes

  • Discharge of commuters directly on to a residential street within a few metres of front doors
  • Interaction with the major two-way bike way that will see increasing use
  • Little Eveleigh St is the main access point for East North Eveleigh and future construction
  • Without parking, delivery and trades people would be impacted
  • It is the access for Foundry residents to their off street parking
  • A raised walkway to the rear of Southside residences would impact those residents

5)      Impact on Marian Street. This includes

  • No footpath on Marian Street for pedestrians
  • Pedestrian interaction with Watertower parking
  • Kiss and Drops activity and  other traffic conflicting with pedestrian movements

The point was made that residents of Little Eveleigh and Marian Streets had a strong reaction to the visuals from the TfNSW options that showed only a few people in the proposed treatments rather than a peak hour representation. The point was made that traffic and pedestrian studies use peak time movement assessments and that TfNSW needs to do similar analyses and model how the proposed treatments would work with the interactions between bidirectional flows and interactions with cars and bikes. Reference was made to the experience of residents trying to move towards the station of a morning in Lawson Street against a tide of students travelling to Sydney University.

Background and Context

The background and context focused on the broad “Movement and Place” issues:

1)      Lawson Street is the only way across the railway line for pedestrians, bikes and vehicles

2)      The twin arterial of Gibbons and Regent Streets is a barrier that separates Redfern Street from Redfern Station – In the early 2000s a number of studies on tunnels and overpasses were done by The Premier’s Department to try to address this major problem

3)      The lack of a bus rail interchange sees communisers having to cross the twin arterial roads to catch most busses

4)      The railway line itself is a barrier between Darlington and the University, and Alexandria and South Eveleigh.

5)      The need for station accessibility and safe use of all platforms including platforms 11 & 12

The presentation then showed a number of illustrations from the Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) Built Environment Plan One, The North Eveleigh Concept Plan and from the exhibited “Eveleigh Heritage Walk” to show that a pedestrian and cycle connection between North and South Eveleigh had been a key component of RWA planning for the area. This connectivity is missing from the TfNSW options. It was pointed out that:

1)      The pedestrian and cycle bridge was expected to be connected to the rail concourse in some form (see floor space ratio map)

2)      There are strong heritage interpretation reasons to reconnect the former Eveleigh Railyards from North to South as historically there was a bridge at this location.

3)      The Australian Technology Park sale agreement to Mirvac included a covenant that a cross railway bride could land at South Eveleigh. This was one of a number of covenants pushed by REDWatch and others at the time after a City of Sydney risk assessment of the ATP sale.

4)      This connection will be very important in the future for students travelling from the Waterloo Metro station to Sydney University.

5)      A bike connection would allow a Southward connection toward Alexandria to connect to the main Wilson Street bike path and take some pressure off Lawson Street and problems for bikes trying to get up Gibbons Street past the station and the pedestrian holding area.

None of the RWA options directly addresses how this cross line connection connects to the station. Station upgrade plans had stalled by 2008 when the RWA proposed its “Eveleigh Heritage Walk”.

The TfNSW Options and Issues

Each option was assessed against the “Major issues to be addressed” discussed earlier and this assessment was shown on the slide with ticks and crosses.

No option presented connects currently to platforms 11 & 12 or to a bus rail interchange as TfNSW is looking to sell the site above platforms 11 & 12 for an over station development and does not want to pre-empt what a developer might want to do.

The TfNSW options are:

1)      TfNSW Option 1: Little Eveleigh Street Connection – The key issues with this model are discharge into Little Eveleigh and Marian Streets which create the problems earlier mentioned.

2)      TfNSW Option 2: Ground Level Pathway (Wilson St Connection) – This option avoids Little Eveleigh Street but it is not a direct route, goes down and up, and does not address problems at Marian Street.

3)      TfNSW Option 3: Aerial Walkway (Wilson St Connection) - This option avoids Little Eveleigh Street, but to make it more direct, goes over the top of the heritage building and places a privacy barrier at the rear of South side Little Eveleigh St residences. It does not address problems at Marian Street.

4)      TfNSW Option 4: South Eveleigh to Wilson St Connection – this is the only option that addresses Marian Street issues but even TfNSW argues this is not viable as it does not provide a single concourse.

Community Option 5 Journey

The community options were presented as the Journey that people had gone on to develop the proposed option.

Journey – “H” Design – This was an early option from The Watertower. It was in line with the RWA proposal for a bridge between North and South Eveleigh that linked to a southern concourse. It puts the concourse where it needs to be for the platform constraints and the non-paid North South connection where it needs to be and links them. Transport has argued that this is three bridges and  it is only building one bridge as part of an access upgrade. There is a lot of support for this option.

With TfNSW ruling out this option,  the community then set about developing a hybrid bridge model that tries to make one bridge fulfil both purposes. This is a difficult task as the concourse stairs need to be as close as possible to the platform buildings while the North South connection ideally needs to be as direct as possible. Whatever option emerged from this compromise it had to sacrifice some of the desirable features of the “three bridge option”.

Journey - Hybrid Option 2 + 4 (modified) – This was an option after the four TfNSW options were released. Again it came from the Watertower and it is a marrying of Options 2 and 4. The aim was to make a viable option 4 given that TfNSW had not succeeded. TfNSW also sees this as a two bridge option although it is doubtful it involves less construction that their own option 4.

Journey - (Cracknell & Lonergan Architects v1) – This option was produced by Cracknell & Lonergan Architects in response to a brief prepared by Damien Minton after discussions with REDWatch and Reconnect Redfern. It captures the essence of the 2 & 4 hybrid in a more ascetically pleasing form, but it did not address how it connects to Wilson Street.

Journey - (Cracknell & Lonergan Architects v2) – This option was a response to a Reconnect Redfern meeting asking why can’t we go through the heritage building and adaptively reuse it. This was seen as an acceptable alternative to a flyover option that was higher than people’s back fences. While Cracknell & Lonergan drew this as going through the building lengthways this was not necessarily the intention of the meeting.

It was felt by REDWatch and Reconnect Redfern that this proposal was close enough for a concept drawing for presentation as the community option 5. It shows how to combine both a pedestrian and bicycle cross-railway bridge with a paid concourse. It is not an ideal outcome but it fits with TfNSW’s stated aim of only having one bridge. It meets the concerns raised by REDWatch and Reconnect Redfern.

In closing the presentation, reference was also made to the $100m budget for southern concourse work.  During the preparation of the preferred plan REDWatch was contacted by a civil engineer, who said they undertake railway work. That person advised that $100m was a lot of money for this work – It is almost the equivalent of three Tibby Cotter bridges. They also said that they believed the costing was for a concrete bridge and that a metal bridge using the lift cages for support would provide a much cheaper alternative. REDWatch in not in a position to verify this but as cost is likely to be an issue we have provided this information.

TfNSW’s response to the proposal raised concern about its width and size, however Councillor Thalis showed the meeting a number of wider suburban concourses that have both a paid and unpaid concourse.

There was a strong call at the meeting from residents for a master-plan for the site and for a high level connectivity plan that shows how the concourse, North Eveleigh and the over-station development are expected to work together to deliver on the “movement and place” goals promoted by TfNSW and The Government Architect.

The meeting was advised that we would soon see a newsletter from TfNSW about North Eveleigh that will provide some of the information we are seeking. We await this further detail and a further meeting with TfNSW when it has considered the community proposal and the other input from the latest exhibition.

Geoffrey Turnbull

Spokesperson

REDWatch

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