A proposed major upgrade of one of Byron shire’s busiest streets in the heart of Brunswick Heads, in which the middle of the road will be dug up for car parking and tree planting, has some residents seeing red.
As details emerge of the Tweed Street Project, initiated by the town’s business chamber, locals say little or no community consultation has taken place despite substantial ratepayer (developer contribution) funds allocated over the past few years.
A recent meeting of the project taskforce held specifically to ‘refresh’ members on the project heard of concerns by some locals that the project, for which almost $20,000 has been spent on a ‘master plan’.
But safety concerns over the narrowing of the street have been raised, including encouragement of a ‘rat run’ through other suburban streets as drivers to look for quicker routes in and out of the town, especially during tourist season and festivals.
Brunswick Heads local Patricia Warren told Echonetdaily the Tweed Street Project (TSP) was given to council eight years ago, after the new highway was built, so planners could draw up a master plan for the project, at a cost of $18,900.
However, Mrs Warren said she feared the loss of integrity of the wide street which was once the Pacific Highway.
The Tweed Street master plan was adopted by Byron Shire Council in August 2012.
Mrs Warren said Tweed Street was built by the then RTA as ‘National Highway No 1’ and built to a standard ‘that Byron Shire Council could never afford to do’.
‘Testament to its quality is that is the lack of potholes as compared to other roads in Brunswick Heads and indeed the shire,’ she said.
‘My objection to digging up the centre of Tweed Street to plant 19 large trees between Booyun and Mullumbimbi Street stands, as it will take from the integrity of the road construction,’ she said.
Mrs Warren contacted Sydney’s Waverly council about a similar project there but was told ‘they do not plant in the centre of roads, the only road that has central planting is that immediately opposite the beach and this is planted with palm trees, which have a circular (root) bulb.
She said trees should not be planted on the centre isle and raised planter boxes or similar should be used.
‘How are these proposed plantings maintained, e.g. clearing of leaves, mulching and watering?’ she asked.
The re-zoning in July this year of a section of Tweed Street (from Minyon Lane to the end of the motel opposite Massey Green caravan park) from residential to a B4 mixed-use zone has also raised concerns, she said,
‘This zoning invites a range of land uses, albeit with consent. Such uses are boarding houses, dual occupancies, group homes, hostels, multi dwelling housing, residential flat buildings, seniors housing, shop top housing, backpacker accommodation, B&B, serviced apartment etc,’ Mrs Warren said.
‘The overwhelming types of invited uses are commercial as opposed to residential use.
‘It is peculiar, if not bizarre that a “beautification” project has been given such status in determining the gazettall of Tweed Street to B4 above all other land use options.
‘While some may argue that parking (for business) will be on site, developers have the option of making in lieu s94 contributions to council for parking.
‘This will inevitably lead to parking on the road shoulders. However, it would appear that option is reduced with the proposed plantings,’ she said.
Mrs Warren said traffic volumes had increased since the plans were drawn up and not relevant to today’s conditions.
‘The project’s analysis of 2004 traffic data of 5,344 vehicles, argued that the volume of ‘general’ (unexplained term) traffic is relatively low and does not suggest the need for turning lanes or other measures to promote traffic movement,’ she said.
‘Since that analysis, the Chinderah bypass and Tugun bypass (of the Pacific Highway) have opened. I would strongly suggest that we are all aware of the increase in traffic, both in terms of volume, densities and timing that we haven’t experienced in the past.’
Mrs Warren said ‘decking is proposed outside the shopping centre, Brunswick Sails and KC’s. This, like Yami’s deck in Park Street, gives up public space for commercial purposes’.
‘My understanding is that Yami’s deck is a council asset and leased to the adjoining restaurants. In the case of the Tweed Street Project, is the community being asked to pay for the decks and then have them commercially leased while foregoing parking spaces?’
She said the previous history of tree-planting along Tweed Street left much to be desired with the new master plan.
Previous plantings of tuckeroos on the nature strip there in 2002 and 2004, at considerable cost to ratepayers, were vandalised or died because of lack of maintenance, but some still survive.
’It was heart wrenching to see them pulled up, broken and finally dying. On the east side of Tweed Street, only five of the original plantings remain and 30 remain in various stages of health on the west side.
‘There is relatively more residential dwellings on the west side of Tweed Street which may explain the difference in these surviving numbers,’ she said.
Echonetdaily is seeking comment from the Brunswick Heads chamber of commerce and council.