By Janet Wahlquist, Transport and Traffic Subcommittee Convenor, 3 September 2020
Infrastructure NSW has released the Traffic and Transport Strategy1 proposed for the new Fish Market and Blackwattle Bay Developments. This article will attempt to summarise what is proposed and what it might mean for Glebe/Forest Lodge. Presently there are three possible development designs. It is anticipated that the two sites, the new Fish Market and the residential/retail development will add between 2,050 and 3,340 residents to Blackwattle Bay and between 3,320 and 6,550 employees. It is anticipated this will result in a number in the vicinity of 7,205 to 9,756 trips on a weekday between 7am and 9am.
Based on 2016 Census data for the residents of Pyrmont/Ultimo, 44% of residents walk or cycle to work, 30% catch public transport and 24% drive. The data for people who work in Pyrmont/Ultimo shows that 11% cycle or walk to work, 54% catch public transport and 35% drive. The method of transport presently used by visitors to the Fish Market is not included in the material.
The new Sydney Fish Market will have the same amount of parking on site as the current Fish Market for both workers and visitors, so an increase of employees and visitors, unless the movement is by public or active transport, will result in a serious parking problem in the surrounding area. The report recognises that the surrounding road network is ‘highly constrained’ and that there is little scope to accommodate new traffic demands during peak periods. The report envisages that by improved public transport and active transport facilities, more people will attend by this means than by private vehicle.
The material does set out that presently transport to and from Pyrmont/Ultimo is split 65% public/active transport and 35% by private vehicle. The transport plan recognises that this will not be sustainable, and the aim will be to change the balance to 80% public/active transport and 20% private vehicle. It is clear from these figures that without significant changes to traffic and transport structure the approval of the developments will result in gridlock.
Presently the available public transport that conveniently services the Fish Market is the light rail network which has two stops that can be used, Fish Markets and Wentworth Park. There are two bus routes, the 389 which stops in Harris St and the 501 that stops in Miller St, Pyrmont. Neither of these stops is particularly close to the Fish Market. Walking or cycling to the Fish Market from Glebe involves walking/cycling on a narrow, shared path.
The new Fish Market is closer to Glebe at the head of Blackwattle Bay making the Light Rail stop at Glebe and perhaps Wentworth Park the most convenient for people attending the Fish Market. It is proposed that services could be increased. It is proposed that bus stops will be reconfigured to improve connections (details yet to be determined). A privately run ferry service is proposed.
The new metro from Central to Parramatta will have a stop at Bays West. (The exact place has not been made public, but my understanding is that Bays West is White Bay) There is also pressure for a stop in Pyrmont.
Proposed Active Transport
The Fish Market/Blackwattle Bay Development Plan includes a waterfront promenade. The proposal is for improving walking and cycling facilities from Pyrmont Bridge Rd to Miller St and Wattle St. It is also proposed that walking/cycling facilities be created along Bank St to Glebe Island. This would involve the renovation and rejuvenation of Glebe Island Bridge and a connection through to Balmain/Rozelle. It is also proposed that there be improved pedestrian and cyclist connectivity to Broadway and Central Station. Investigation of an underground connection between Fish Market Light Rail Stop and Blackwattle Bay is proposed. There is to be bicycle parking at Blackwattle Bay.
It is proposed that there be no increase in the number of parking spaces for the Fish Market. It is suggested that staff parking may need to be reduced. A new signalised intersection at Wentworth Park Rd and Pyrmont Bridge Rd will be needed to allow access to the new Fish Market for both trucks and cars entering the car park and loading bays. This will undoubtedly increase traffic and delays on those roads.
A new access is proposed to the current Fish Market site (this will be the retail and residential development) from Miller St and Bank St and Wattle St and Bridge Rd intersections. This is referred to as a new local street which will provide pick up and drop off facilities and access for public transport. The use of car share programs will be encouraged. It is proposed that parking be discouraged by the car park charging maximum car parking rates. It is also proposed that parking for residents, and employees of the residential/retail development be minimal. This proposal will create parking problems for residents in nearby streets.
There is little doubt that the approval of the Fish Market/Blackwattle Bay Developments will greatly increase the density of the current Blackwattle Bay area, and have a flow-on effect of increased vehicle, cycle and pedestrian traffic in Glebe and Forest Lodge. The extra signalised lights will also create traffic delays for local traffic. The proposals for scarce and expensive parking will result in parking problems for Glebe residents as visitors and residents of the new development look for parking. There is no doubt that these developments will impact Glebe and Forest Lodge.
The upside is the possibility of improved and more attractive facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.
1. The report was sent by Infrastructure NSW to one of our committee members. It does not appear to be publicly available on the internet. Some information about the Strategy can be found in other material here: http://infrastructure.nsw.gov.au/blackwattlebay.