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A view of Marrickville Golf Course from across the Cooks River

I’ve thought about how to write about this and all I can come up with is that Marrickville is at risk of more loss as a community.

We have already lost the ability to drive around the area in peak driving times and on weekends without significant gridlock and serious parking difficulties.

Marrickville appears to have been marked to become another Hurstville in terms of high-rise development.

We have lost employment zones to high-rise development and more is planned.

We are losing what many in the community would regard as heritage houses, again to high-rise development.

Despite $2 million spent on two years of community consultation to decide the Local Environmental Plan (LEP), high-rise in Marrickville is being planned outside the perimeters of the LEP.  ‘Infill,’ high-rise development outside the agreed areas is already happening.

When we moved to Marrickville there was a hospital and a large popular swimming pool.  These are other amenities that were lost to this suburb.

Now for the second time since I have been writing this blog, Marrickville Golf Course is being targeted by Council to either keep it as 18 holes with changes to the course or to reduce it to 9 holes so that more playing fields can be created for the young to play soccer. 

Am I against soccer?  Absolutely not.  However, I am against losing what is the most significant green space of the area and one that does an incredibly good job providing amenity and services to the community.  Can it be expanded in services?  Of course, and I am pretty sure the Club is keen to add to the significant amenity they provide to the community.

Young people learn to play golf here as part of school curriculum. Any age can play.  What I like to see continue is the patronage of older people – those who cannot run around playing soccer.

I’ve been at the Marrickville Golf Club and been surprised to see the Club House filled to the brim with older men socialising after a morning playing golf. Find me somewhere else locally where this happens.  A few men use the Marrickville Men’s Shed, but mostly, in my observation, retired men stay home.

The Marrickville RSL, which was also lost to high-rise development, was another place where older people congregated.  They went to socialise and have a hearty hot lunch, often their only real meal of the day.  I don’t know of any other place in Marrickville where older people are catered for in such large numbers as the Marrickville Golf Course and this is something for our community to be proud of and hold on to.  We will all grow old one day.

The Marrickville Golf Course provides considerable amenity to the community and you don’t need to play golf to benefit.  I know many community groups meet at the Club House.  There is also live music, a restaurant serving great cheap food, trivia nights and other social functions that those in the know frequent regularly.  It is not fancy, but it is a friendly and convivial place to have a meal, socialise with others and it is very important to many in the community.

If the Marrickville Golf Course is reduced to 9 holes, the Club believes it will be its death knell and yet another amenity lost to the community.

I’ve read arguments on Facebook that people can play golf elsewhere. The same can be said for sports on playing fields.  Travel along the river and you will see that playing fields are dotted all along the river and much of the time they are empty.

There is nothing wrong with keeping a golf course, but there is plenty that is wrong by chopping it in half.  If I remember correctly, the Marrickville Golf Course has already lost; from a 21 hole course it was reduced to 18 holes to make the playing field at Mahoney Reserve.

The Marrickville Golf Course is a truly significant green space and incredibly important for wildlife. 

This is the only place that I know where one can walk on bare earth instead of a concrete footpath.   To me this is a luxury and I love doing it.  It is not dangerous to do so because the walking path is out of the way of golfers.  Yes, I suppose you take a risk, but I have not heard of any walker who has been hit by a stray golf ball here.  We take risks every day by getting into cars and the statistic show that this is way more dangerous than walking on the edge of a golf course.  Besides, Council has plans to put a concrete shared path along the river’s edge through the golf course, so they can’t be too worried about this.

People come to the golf course to walk alone, with others and/or with their dog.  People cycle through the golf course.  The road is a great shortcut.  People bird watch here.  People come to learn and to play golf.  People come to meet others, eat, drink, listen to music and make friends.  People come for the amenity, to get out of their homes and into fresh air.  People come to regain their health and to keep their health.  People come because it makes them happy.  People come.

With over 20,000 games played every year it is not a fallow underutilised place despite what some argue.  Anything that happens here should be building upon the amenity, not reducing it.

Council is well aware of the need for more green space, especially as we are having a significant population increase in Marrickville.  This will likely be in the areas of 31,000 more people by 2036 and with the rate of development in Marrickville, this will likely be sooner rather than later.  These people will need somewhere to play and not all people need playing fields.

Lastly, some say that the golf course is targeted for development. I don’t know if this is correct, but I have seen high-rise built within 10-15 metres of the river recently, so I would not be surprised if this is in future plans.  Incremental loss seems to be the way things work.  Being in a flood prone area does not stop development these days.  I cite the plans for Carrington Road Marrickville to house 2,600 new dwellings despite being known to flood regularly when it rains.

Marrickville Golf Club is holding a rally to appeal to Council to keep the golf course at 18 holes this coming Sunday and they would like community support.

WHERE:        At the Marrickville Golf Course, probably outside the Club House.  Just head down Wharf Road and you will see people congregating.  It is impossible to get lost there.

WHEN:         Sunday 7thApril 2019

TIME:             1pm

Australian Wood ducks walking along the Cooks River in Marrickville Golf Course.  I was thrilled to see these.  

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Showing the boundary of the proposed Victoria Road Precinct. Click to enlarge.

Showing the boundary of the proposed 18-hectare Victoria Road Precinct. Click to enlarge.

Call me naïve, but what much of what I learnt during the Council Meetings I observed came as a surprise. One of the most important insights was the incremental changes, brick by brick, & the Victoria Road Precinct is a great example.

The developers came to the May 2012 Council Meeting & said what they wanted to do with the 18-hectare site.  The Councillors voted as follows –

Clrs Olive (Greens), Phillips (Greens), Byrne (Greens), O’Sullivan (Labor) & Wright (Labor) against the proposal.  Mayor Hanna (Ind), Clrs Macri, (Ind), Iskandar (Labor), Tsardoulias (Labor), Thanos (Ind) for the proposal with the then Mayor Hanna (Ind) using his casting vote to pass the vote. See – http://bit.ly/1rF1roi

During the extensive consultation process for the Local Environment Plan (LEP), the community was shown things like height restrictions & floor-space ratio & together with Marrickville Council, agreed on a development plan for the future. I have been very surprised that the LEP has been changed a number of times post approval & is still being amended to allow for more rezoning, development & higher buildings.

Since the LEP was finalised, the total for new dwellings for Marrickville has increased from a government required 4,150 by 2031 to a Councillor increased amount of 12,000 whenever these dwellings can be built.   The debate in Council Meetings went something like, though don’t quote me – “I remember when Marrickville had 110,000 residents & it was busy on the main street. Marrickville can cope.”

Once the LEP was finalised development started & many in the community went into shock with the ugliness of some of the developments, the loss of heritage buildings & the application for 16-storey high-rise in a location where 8-storeys was the maximum in the LEP.

“But how can this be allowed?” was a very common response from the community & they had to start fighting Council to prevent this. Thankfully Railcorp saved the day & stopped the 16-storey development because it encroached on Railcorp land.

In response to community outrage over a high-rise development in Dulwich Hill, Mayor Haylen lobbied for an Architectural Excellence Panel & thankfully, this was established.  Problem is though, this panel cannot be employed to assess every development because of the costs to rate-payers & if the Councillors don’t vote to send the DA to the panel, it doesn’t get assessed.

Earlier this month I sat in a Marrickville Council Meeting & watched the Councillors vote to allow for one-bedroom apartments that were a whopping 40% BELOW the floor-space ratio requirements.  My question is how can this be allowed?

The “Victoria Road Precinct” development is on the agenda for next Tuesday’s Infrastructure, Planning & Environmental Services Committee meeting on 2nd September 2014 & for the first time I see mention of 14-storey buildings planned for this massive 18-hectare site.  This is vastly different from the 6-storey buildings shown in their proposed images of the site that was provided to the Councillors in the Council Meeting of May 2012.

One other point that I think is important is that the development of the Victoria Road Precinct will be razing most of the area to the ground.  Also in Tuesday’s Infrastructure, Planning & Environmental Services Committee meeting is the attempt to save the lovely Beynon & Hayward building in Livingstone Road Petersham to be demolished to extend a Council car park. The community does not want to lose this iconic building, judging by the numbers who signed the petition & the comments left on the local Facebook site. See – http://bit.ly/1skfXi2

Both the National Trust & the Australian Institute of Architects have criticized Marrickville Council over this move. Also an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the proposed demolishion said –

“London or New York might salivate at the prospect of reviving an inner-city heritage landmark, but in Sydney it seems we’d still just as readily swap character for a car park.”

Back to the Victoria Road Precinct, a new modern glass, steel & concrete precinct is not at all in keeping with the character of Marrickville in my opinion.  Many of these buildings could be repaired & repurposed to make the area similar to those in London or New York. However, the plan is to make this area of Marrickville look like what is happening to Alexandria at the moment – a suburb of high-rise square blocks.

Demolishing all the buildings may be easier for the developers, but I personally think it will be a loss to the community & to Sydney itself.  The Meatpacking District in Manhattan was once regarded as a slum, but since it has been rejuvenated it is now a marvellous place to live & work. Part of the charm is that the buildings were retained & repurposed into housing & employment.

I am in total agreement with this recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald.  It is about the Beynon & Hayward building, but it could just as easily be about the proposed plans for the Victoria Road Precinct.

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Marrickville Council is under heavy fire from heritage experts, who fear “ill-informed” decision makers are repeating Sydney’s errors of last century in the race to redevelop increasingly valuable inner-city space.” See – http://bit.ly/1k8JINc

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Now I must state clearly that I am NOT against development & that I believe that we need more housing.

I just would like development to conform to the height restrictions & floor/space ratios in the LEP, not be substandard housing & also retain as much of the streetscape character of the area. It can be done well & beautifully. See my post on The Gantry in Camperdown http://bit.ly/1sR1PMg for an example of great housing that retains the façade, yet provides housing of a great standard of modern housing for the same or similar financial outlay as other recent housing developments in Marrickville & Dulwich Hill that are currently polarizing the community.

I would also like the so-called “affordable housing” to actually be affordable & for those that are rental “affordable housing” to be given to actual finacially poor people & not to people based on what job they have.

My greatest fear is that I will end up living in an area that has lost much of what motivated me to move here in the first place.  I fear that traffic, which is already becoming unmanageable, will be horrendous. I believe that, if this push for  concrete, glass & steel high-rise goes ahead, the community will be asking why were these developments allowed just like they do about many of the local monstrosities built in the 1970s.

We are in the hands of our Councillors. Let’s hope they do not destroy Marrickville for the profit of developers.

Planning diagram of the development proposal for the Victoria Road precinct back in May 2012 - nothing like the current 14-storeys proposed.

Planning diagram of the development proposal for the Victoria Road precinct back in May 2012 – I can’t see the 14-storeysas currently  proposed.

The planning diagrams for the  Victoria Road frontage of the Victoria Road precinct as part of the development proposal.  Again, nothing like the 14-storeys currently proposed.

The planning diagrams for the Victoria Road frontage of the Victoria Road precinct as part of the development proposal in May 2012. Again, nothing like the 14-storeys currently proposed.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole -  a biodiversity hotspot & returned to being one of Marrickville's really beautiful historic places.  There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole – a biodiversity hotspot & returned to being one of Marrickville’s really beautiful historic places. There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

Marrickville Council are holding another free ‘Microbat Walk and Talk’ after a successful event last year.  I participated & can say it was a very enjoyable & informative experience. See – http://bit.ly/1mL83er

The walk starts at the A C Croft Playground & if Council takes the same route, includes a look at the newly re-vegetated Dibble Avenue Waterhole, which is looking quite beautiful these days.  The walk then goes along the Cooks River in the direction of Illawarra Road.

After the sunset walk, a bat specialist & a bat carer will give a free talk about microbats at the Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre.

MICROBAT WALK –

WHEN: Wednesday 16th April 2014.

TIME:  5pm – 6.30pm

WHERE:  Meet at the A C Croft playground, Dibble Avenue Marrickville.    Note: Council asks that participants wear suitable walking shoes & clothing as the walking track is uneven & unpaved.   They also ask that you bring a torch or headlight.

MICROBAT TALK –

WHEN: Wednesday 16th April 2014.

TIME:  6.30pm – 8.00pm

WHERE:  Function Room, Level 1, Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre,
Illawarra Road Marrickville.


Both events are suitable for adults & children 8-years & over.   You will need to book a place for the microbat walk, talk or both,
 as places are limited.   RSVP by Wednesday 9th April – biosup@marrickville.nsw.gov.au or phone 9335 2222.


This is what was proposed - 16-storeys, but not ethereal  like the images make out to be.

This is what was proposed – 16-storeys, but not ethereal like the image makes the tower out to be. Peer Review said the proposal would likely create a windy space, lack of shade due to limited shade trees …. a corporate image with little amenity.

Marrickville Councillors knocked back this development proposal, which many residents, including myself, believed would have killed Marrickville & set a precedent for many more tower developments.

I have cherry-picked some of the more interesting items in the ‘Post Gateway Report on Station Street Precinct Planning Proposal.’  It’s a large document that makes interesting reading & you can download it here (Item 27) – http://bit.ly/MyvniP

In essence the planning proposal for 2-18 Station Street & 1 Leofrene Avenue Marrickville sought to amend the Marrickville Local Environment Plan (MLEP) to change the zoning, floor/space ratio, as well as increase building height limits from 8-storeys to a whopping 16-storeys & develop 120 units & approx 510-sq-metres of retail floor space.

The developer also wanted to enter into a Voluntary Planning Agreement (where they give something in return for consent) & this was to be a small plaza/courtyard area under the awning of the building & part of the above ground access to the railway station.  It was suggested this will be a great place for the community to meet & perhaps hold markets.

I have taken some of the comments from my post on the Council Meeting of 17th September 2013 & added them below.  To read all of what was said see – http://bit.ly/1cXSPwi

The Architect said at the September 2013 Council Meeting, “At the moment, it’s the hole of Marrickville.”

The speaker representing the owner said, “This masterplan provides new public space.  It’s an income providing asset, well-designed public space & a landmark building.  It does come at a cost of increased height to offset the public plaza.  Solar access are generally non-issues & no different to 8 storey building currently allowed.  An 8-storey building is not in the interests of the Marrickville community.”

The then Mayor, Clr Macri was particularly keen on the development saying,  “We shape the buildings & the buildings shape us. …. This building delivers great things for Marrickville. It’s a dynamic, inviting & exciting open space.  I want to see this happen.” 

The Proposal was sent to the Department of Planning & Infrastructure for a Gateway determination.  This was approved in December 2013.  The proposal was also sent for Peer Review & to Transport NSW.

Transport for NSW had significant concerns with the current draft concept plan.  Some of their concerns were –

  • Ease of access, lack of accessible car parking spaces close to the station, safe, logical access for all commuters, access for emergency service & maintenance vehicles, management of pedestrian thoroughfares & adequate management of stormwater.
  • They also found that the concept plan encroached in TfNSW land & this has not been consented to.
  • Importantly, the raised plaza is incompatible with the proposed Marrickville Railway Station upgrade.
  • TfNSW has also committed to funding public domain improvement works in Station Street, which may not be available if the raised plaza goes ahead.

Peer Review –

  • The area is too small to create a successful two level plaza approach.
  • Problems with Australian standards for access.
  • Regarding retail space – “Coupled with large building undercroft space, this would create an ambiguous space with negative microclimate & amenity issues.”
  • The proposal would likely create a windy space, lack of shade due to limited canopy trees, need for more soft landscaping & inclusion of seats & bicycle parking.
  • Security & safety concerns of commuters.

Also –

  • Suggested substantial amendments to “remove blank walls, dead spaces & excessive tiered stairs.”

Further –

  • Proposed building is over-scaled, overbearing & out of character.
  • No justification of a landmark building.  “The very notion of a landmark building is contestable in general.  ….the question should be asked; a landmark for what purpose?”
  • “The overall rationale is questionable.”
  • The plaza would “present a corporate image with little amenity.”
  • Location of public parking is inconvenient, poor passive surveillance & likely to be considered unsafe.

Also –

  • The proposed design is an overdevelopment of the site.
  • Significant visual & overshadowing impacts.
  • Public space compromised by sloped areas, stairs & building structure.
  • Laneway is too narrow & unsafe.
  • Plaza would be in shade for most of winter.
  • Lack of public benefit of a ‘memorial park’ at 2 Leofrene Street, as it is small & would be overshadowed by the building.
  • Height, bulk & scale would dominant views & is out of character.

I was not present, but received the following update from a resident who attended the Council Meeting.

“Attended the Council Meeting earlier this evening. [There were] three excellent speakers; Laura & Matt from Schwebel Street & Jeanette from Leofrene Avenue. The developers were in attendance, but did not speak.

Information from the Business papers follows;

Based on the findings (from Peer Reviews & Council Officers) & recommendations of the Peer reviews and with the benefit of the final plans for the upgrade of Marrickville Station this report recommends a revised option for the maximum development potential of the land.

Key features of the [Council’s] preferred option are:

  • Allow amalgamation of Nos 2-18 Station St, the eastern part of Station Street & 1 Leofrene Avenue & require the dedication of a 6m wide rear lane adjacent to No 3 Leofrene St
  • Retain Council ownership of the balance of Station St road reserve.
  • Upgrade the public domain of the existing street rather than construct a raised plaza structure.
  • No encroachment of the building onto or over the Council-owned reserve, &
  • Limit the building to a maximum height of 9 storeys.

Recommendation was that Council requests the proponent submit an amended planning proposal for Council’s consideration prior to public exhibition that addresses the issues & is consistent with the preferred option outlined in this report.

The Mayor [Haylen] added an amendment, which was related to integrating the station upgrade.

Greens South Ward Councillor David Leary moved an amendment that the building should be within the MLEP 2011.

The debate then spiraled downward. Clr Woods talked about Process.  Clr Gardiner

Clr Gardener had a go at the Greens for not voting for the LEP & now trying to use it & had a go at all those people who use social media to say bad things about him.

Clr Macri & Clr Tsardoulias talked about process & at length about how the Save Station Street group [a local residents action group] were all Greens stooges & they didn’t think it was right that people didn’t say nice things about them on Social Media, when they sent the proposal off to Gateway rather than follow Council Officers recommendation that Peer Reviews be conducted BEFORE sending to Gateway process.

Clr Hanna talked about how he talks to residents all the time and had been fined for speaking on his mobile about the development whilst driving.”

The votes supporting Clr Leary’s amendment to require resubmitted plans to comply strictly with the Marrickville LEP: Clrs Leary, Phillips, Brooks & Ellsmore.  Against: Mayor Haylen, Clrs Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Woods, Gardiner Gardener, Tyler, Hanna & Macri.

The votes supporting Council’s recommendation: Mayor Haylen, Clrs Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Woods, Brooks, Ellsmore, Gardiner Gardener, Tyler, Hanna & Macri.  Against: Clrs Leary & Phillips.  Recommendation passed.

St Peters

Sign in St Peters

Up till now, Marrickville residents who wanted to learn to ride on-road safely had to join courses provided by the City of Sydney Council, so it is wonderful to see Marrickville Council follow suit with their own course.

Called the City Cycle Confidence Course, it is for those who can already ride a bicycle.  It is not suitable for beginners.

The 4-hour course covers –

  • “Theory – rights & responsibilities; route planning; traffic & positioning yourself.
  • Off-street – control skills; starting & stopping safely; balance & braking, turning & corners.
  • On-street – cycling in traffic between destinations; establishing sensible positioning; showcasing the benefits of good route selection; typical scenarios.”

Currently there are two courses available.  Both start at the lovely Johnson Park, Constitution Road Dulwich Hill.   Places are limited & you must register to attend –

 

 

Amy Street Playground Marrickville used to look like this.

Amy Street Playground Marrickville used to look like this. 2011.

Now it looks like this . Marrickville Council can be proud of the work they have done here.

Now it looks like this.   Marrickville Council can be proud of the work they have done here.

Just part of the new play equipment - bright, vibrant & lots to do.

Just part of the new play equipment – bright, vibrant & lots to do.

I first came across Amy Street Playground in 2011 & looking at it made me feel sad.   It was an unattractive space with two to three average children’s play equipment on a grass lawn.  In fact, I would have listed it in the top five worst green spaces in the municipality.  No longer though.

Marrickville Council upgraded Amy Street Playground with input from local residents earlier this year.  I have been slow in going to have a look at the finished work.

What I saw surprised me.  Marrickville Council has completely transformed this little patch into a space that is both beautiful & useful.  Now it is a great playground that offers safety, serious play equipment & the opportunity for children to play in the gardens as well.

A gated waist high metal picket-like fence surrounds the playground.  This provides safety for the children & allows supervising adults to relax.  The seating is interesting & looks good too.  It’s nice to se the Council is moving away from the old style park benches into bench seats that are modern & more comfortable.

Colourful play equipment is scattered throughout the middle of the space & a concrete path winds around the playground.  The middle is mostly woodchip with spongy plastic flooring under the play equipment ensuring soft landings. The playground looks quite natural.

Around the exterior of the playground is a garden with a variety of colourful plants & it looks very attractive.  They have yet to fill in the spaces, but this will happen in time.  Pavers & sandstone rocks have been put through one section of the garden to encourage little ones to explore.  There is an area of lawn & the grass is lush.

Little carved Possum - one of the two sculptures in the garden.

Little carved Possum – one of the two sculptures in the garden.

There are also two very lovely sandstone sculptures at the edge of the garden – one of a possum & another of a frog.   I imagine these would be quite exciting to a toddler.  I wouldn’t mind either in my garden.

Five trees have been planted in the garden that should provide both shade from the western sun as well as a windbreak.  This playground is located above Henson Park & the wind can be quite strong here.  All trees will eventually grow to a good size.

I am pleased that Council is starting to plant new trees of 3-5 metres in height as I believe this greatly reduces the chance of vandalism.  I think this is money well spent.

What was once an uninviting space has now become a place both children & adults would enjoy visiting & it will only get better as the garden fills out & the trees grow.  This little junction in Marrickville is a great area & has now been improved no end.

If you have children I would recommend a visit to the Amy Street Playground.  Parking is easy.  The playground is safe, beautiful & has lots for the children to do & explore.

Marrickville Council has done the community proud with this upgrade & I thank them for this.

This area has been created to encourage children to explore the garden.   Paver in the lawn lead them to this area.  I think it is a lovely addition.

This area has been created to encourage children to explore the garden. Paver in the lawn lead them to this area. I think it is a lovely addition.  I think the tree is a Cottonwood (hibiscus Tiliaceus Rubra).  These produce soft yellow flowers that fade to orange & they flower spring through summer.  This is a waterwise evergreen tree that grows 6 metres high x 6 metres wide.  Being broad-leafed it will provide good shade & act as a wind break.

I am very glad Council planted a Pepper tree here.   These were once standard trees in school playgrounds as they provide fantastic soft shade & kids like the smell of these trees a lot.  I have great memories of the Pepper tree at my school.

I am very glad Council planted a Pepper tree here. These were once standard trees in school playgrounds as they provide fantastic dappled shade & kids like the smell of these trees a lot. I have great memories of the Pepper trees at my school.

Very nice benches beside the lawn area.  The tree will eventually provide shade.

Very nice benches beside the lawn area. The tree will eventually provide shade.

 

 

Is this the future for Marrickville South?

Is this the future for Marrickville South?  Screenshot taken from a+ design groups’s website.  Click to enlarge.

This image of a ‘maybe one day’ [my words] development for Carrington Road Marrickville South was posted on Facebook recently.  It was a shock to see two 23-storey towers in the plan.  The site is between Carrington Road, Richardsons Crescent, the rail line & ending just past Myrtle Street.  Note:  this proposal has not been submitted to Marrickville Council as a Development Application as far as I am aware.

I thought it would be good to share, especially as we have an application for a 16-storey tower for Station Street Marrickville that has been sent to Gateway for the first step.   See – http://bit.ly/18dbumc  It’s also good to know what might be coming.

Towers seem to be de rigueur, despite the height restrictions in our Marrickville Local Environment Plan (MLEP).   The image came from a+ design group – http://www.aplusdg.com.au/project/carrington-road-marrickville/

The red shows the boundaries as far as I understand.  The two red circles indicate the two 23-storey towers.

The red shows the boundaries as far as I understand. The two red circles indicate the general location of the two 23-storey towers.

This is the Victoria Road Marrickville swale just after it was created in December 2009.  Once the plants grew it changed considerably.

This is the Victoria Road Marrickville swale just after it was created in December 2009. Once the plants grew it changed considerably.

This is how the Victoria Road Bushpocket swale looked like late in the day on the 21st March 2013.

This is how the Victoria Road Bushpocket swale looked like late in the day on the 21st March 2013.

On 21st March 2013 I drove down Victoria Road Marrickville & saw earth-moving equipment with Marrickville Council workers digging up the swale on the bushpocket site.  I returned at the end of the day specifically to have a close look.  The swale had been totally removed & what was left in its place was a large hole, a flattened area that looked suspiciously like a footpath & paint markings on the dirt also looking like the outline of a footpath.

As Marrickville Council have recently built what I call ‘a footpath to nowhere’ under the railway bridge & around the curve of Victoria Road to Myrtle Street, I assumed the swale was destroyed for an extension of this footpath.

The ‘footpath to nowhere’ ends in Myrtle Street where street trees start.  To continue the footpath three good-sized street trees planted around 8 to 10-years-ago will probably need to be removed.  That is unless Council make the footpath thinner in this area, but I doubt they will because the rest of it is wide & they tend to like wide paths.

There is a footpath on the opposite side of both Victoria Road & Myrtle Street so pedestrians are okay.  There has never been a footpath on the other side of this section of Victoria Road that I am aware of.  The area is located beside the goods line & coupled with the hill, made an excellent site for a swale & a bushpocket.  There are also 3-4 large mature trees here that screen the railway line.

The swale is a major part of the Victoria Road Bushpocket site.  It was built by Marrickville Council in 2009 as part of a community environmental initiative led by local resident Micheal Easton & supported by other local residents.  The residents met regularly to plant, weed & clean the bushpocket site. Together they transformed it from a relatively empty, verging on an unsightly litter-attracting patch of land to something that was green, functional & quite lovely.

Council even installed a park bench placed under the shade of a tree.  The pathways were loose gravel & it was nice to walk here & have a look to see what was in flower at the time.  In March 2011, the project was handed back to Marrickville Council who said they would continue to manage the bushpocket.

Apparently the swale has been destroyed to accommodate a bicycle path.  As a cyclist, I think a bike paths are very important & much needed.  I question however, with this section of Victoria Road being so wide & already a Council designated on-road cycle route, why Council would need to destroy a swale that was part of local stormwater management & important for biodiversity.  The swale was built in this location to capture & clean stormwater before it entered the Cooks River, less than a kilometer away.

Something else to consider is that the bushpocket was thriving & great for biodiversity & habitat creation.  Now we will have yet more concrete.

If it costs Council $1,000 to plant a sapling, imagine how much the Bushpocket & swale cost to create & manage & how much it cost to remove it.

Will this area be concreted?

Will this area be concreted?  

Showing Myrtle Street, the new footpath & the curve of the road going under the railway line.

Showing Myrtle Street, the new footpath that stops because trees are in the way.  The outside lanes are marked with bicycle symbols.

 

 

 

 

 

Local community group Marrickville Mudcrabs have organized a clean-up event along the Cooks River at Marrickville Golf Course.

  • Saturday, 12th May 2012
  • 9am – 12MD.  Everyone is welcome.

All equipment, gloves, bags & grabbers will be provided, as well as morning tea.  Meet in the small reserve at the bottom of Alfred Street, off Beauchamp Street Marrickville.  Wear sensible shoes & a hat & bring some water to drink.

Plastic bottles & other material floating down the Cooks River – it’s always sad to see this.

Google Street View image of one small section of Addison Road Marrickville with thanks to Kate Webster. There appears to be plenty of opportunities for planting street trees on both sides.

I don’t know whether Marrickville Council reads Facebook, but considering the heaps of comments from locals, both good & bad, about living in the municipality there is a lot for Council to learn if they are interested.

The title of this post comes from local resident Kate Webster who a couple of days ago posted a series of 13 photographs on Facebook & linked them to me.  The photos show the streetscape traveling along Addison Road from Victoria Road to the Crystal Street turnoff.  She wrote, This is Addison Rd Marrickville. It’s very sad. It has been ignored for too long. Even the shop keepers have been denied planter boxes outside their shops. There is not a nature strip or verge garden in sight. I’d like to know why Marrickville Council have neglected this street for so long? Are they Green or Grinch? Please Help!”  

Some of the comments that went with her photos were as follows –

“Can you believe we are still travelling on the same road – its been about 300 metres with just 1 tree! How sad!!!

Now wait a minute….. is that a tree that I spot on the left? But what about the right!

A big stretch of pavement next to the driveway to the service station….surely a tree could fit here? 

Any chance of a tree here?  Or a verge garden?  Any green at all????

Where are the trees???

Still no trees – plenty of room for them but not a single tree… 

…. what about the bare footpaths, they are CRYING out for some life!  Why no trees?

But wait…. there’s more….. more of NOTHING!!!  Where are the trees???? 

Marrickville Council are you GREEN or GRINCH?? Please help!!!”

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.399946683369825.93430.100000634897313&type=1&comment_id=4878695

I met with Kate yesterday & after a chat about her concerns we talked to shopkeepers along this strip.  What we discovered was very interesting & a little confusing.  Within the last 18-months or so $60,000 was spent to do up the streetscape outside the small group of shops located between the corner of Illawarra Road & the entrance to the Addison Road Community Centre.  The footpath was tiled & 3 planter boxes installed. A section was left untiled & a verge garden was created & planted with Nandinas.  Recently the verge garden was dug up & the plants are expected to be replaced very soon.

Cross Illawarra Road on the same side & walk 20-metres towards Enmore Park.  Shopkeepers in this section have the option of phoning Council & having planter boxes installed on the footpath.  Cross the road at this location & the shopkeepers here cannot have any planter boxes. One recently received the following email from Marrickville Council on this issue.  The bold font is my emphasis –

“Dear _______,

As per your request regarding your shop premises at ___ Addison Rd. I have been advised by Councils Design and Investigations Section that there are no plans to undertake streetscape works in that area within the next 3 years. Additionally, Council has no plans to purchase any additional planter boxes and is not in a position to offer you these.

Planter boxes are outside of the scope of my Sustainable Streets program which is to focus on residential areas only and not commercial business districts. However, your request for planters may be addressed in the future as part of the Public Domain Strategy.

Even though I personally think that plant boxes would help to improve the look of your shop and Addison Rd, I am unable to help you on this occasion.

Kind regards”

______________________

Can you see why we are confused?

I would consider Addison Road one of Marrickville’s gateway connections & a high thoroughfare road.  This means it has high visibility & this visibility gives people passing through a perception of what Marrickville is like as a suburb.  The perception they get is one of concrete & any beauty is gathered at the small stretch connecting to leafy Crystal Street.

I think Kate is correct in her opinion that Addison Road is in desperately in need of street trees.  Verge gardens like those along Sydenham Road (another gateway road) would also help improve the streetscape.  The businesses along Addison Road would very likely benefit financially from a greener streetscape because, as I have written here often, shoppers tend to go where it is green & a green leafy shopping area results in around 11% more spending.

Marrickville Council’s tree-planting season has started & lasts until September. Perhaps Council could seriously look at adding some street trees along Addison Road as a priority, with an aim to have the street green within 2-3 years.  Everyone I have spoken to grimaces when asked how they feel about the streetscape of Addison Road. It’s not good to have such visible ugliness in a main corridor for more reasons than just pure aesthetics.  There are health issues for the people who work & live close-by as well.

This is the collection of photos posted on Facebook by Kate Webster with thanks. The images show Addison Road as being a mostly treeless & harsh landscape. Click to enlarge this image or click the link to be taken to the Facebook page where you can view each photo in more detail – https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.399946683369825.93430.100000634897313&type=1&comment_id=4878695

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