Image caption: Work is well under way on a safer connection to SH3 which will link with a new east-west suburban road in Peacocke
Last week Council announced the contract award for a new bridge and connections to the new Peacocke neighbourhood. It’s an exciting time for the city, opening a new growth area which has been anticipated for decades, enabling much-needed new housing, and launching the major construction phase for a project which has been planned for many, many years.
Heightened interest in the project has seen more discussion on social media, as people look forward to safer and better connections for all road users. It’s also meant more questions around specific aspects of the programme, including how the road layouts were designed and how we secure the land needed to provide for the roads, pipes, footpaths, cycleways and water management.
Part of the east-west road passes through a property which is now being promoted as ‘Shaws Bird Park’. The property owners, and others, have made public statements about the project which need correction. While the Council continues to work with landowners throughout our programme, we also have a responsibility to provide the public with the right information.
Below is a statement from our Chief Executive Richard Briggs.
There’s a lot of misinformation being circulated about the Council’s Peacocke programme, and particularly how it relates to the Shaw property.
For a start, it is definitely not a road for a private subdivision. It’s a key connection for the Peacocke growth area, which has been planned for many years. It will connect to a new roundabout at SH3 already under construction. An east-west connection was part of a structure plan in 2007 and a three-year planning process settled on the final roading layout for the entire area in 2014.
The Shaws were fully involved in both processes and were involved in the submission process with the Council as the designation was developed.
The Shaws knew exactly where the road was going and did not oppose the plans, in fact they congratulated the Council for its foresight and discussed how their property could interact with the new road.
That designation process was incredibly robust, with millions of dollars spent identifying the final road layout and ensuring all landowners had the chance to be involved. This process including heritage, environmental, safety, transport and cultural assessment by expert teams and individuals. Independent commissioners reviewed and approved the plans after public hearings.
The planning was so thorough because future decisions needed absolute certainty around where the roads and pipes were going. In the years since the designation was started, land has been purchased, contracts agreed, existing landowners and developers have invested and the Government has provided a $290.4M support package to enable much-needed housing in the area. The Council now owns, or has agreements in place, for most of the designation for the east-west road.
Several years after the designation was agreed, the Shaws decided to open their property to the public and publicly oppose the road.
It would be unfair and unreasonable for Council to attempt to change the designation and planning now, costing ratepayers tens of millions of dollars, impacting other property owners in the area and delaying the entire Peacocke growth programme, just because one landowner has now changed their mind.
As well as roads, pipes and networks for cycling and walking, the Council is also investing in the environment. In fact, Peacocke is the city’s biggest-ever environmental spend.
Gully restoration, wetlands, habitants for native species, more than 100,000 new trees and plants are either planned or already under way. Bat research funded by the Council as part of the project has produced nationally-recognised new information. We’re working on joint projects to study water quality. We’re working with a local weaver to create a heritage flax resource for future generations.
The road itself impacts only two areas of the Shaw property and avoids the majority of the ponds.
Unfortunately, more trees will now need to be removed than originally planned because the Shaws have planted more in the route for the road since the plans were finalised.
Our Peacocke programme will deliver an attractive and sustainable new neighbourhood for almost 20,000 people.
We continue to try to negotiate with the Shaws to ensure we reach the best environmental outcomes for this part of our Peacocke project.