The Westleigh Park draft Master Plan was developed and endorsed by Council for exhibition in April 2021.
A broad reaching and extensive eight-week community engagement program was undertaken between April and June 2021 as part of the exhibition period.
The exhibition was advertised on Council’s website, included in the rates notice to approximately 42,000 ratepayers and through Council’s communications channels including social media, advertising in local publications and monthly eNews. During this time, we heard from a total of 1,147 people via submissions, stakeholder meetings and 'swing bys'.
The results of a Shire-wide phone/online survey by Micromex, completed by 300 participants, showed a high level of community support for the balance of
‘active’ and ‘passive’ recreation activities and there was also support for a balance between restoring
and protecting the natural environment while also providing a diverse range of recreation activities.
At the Council Meeting on 14 July 2021, Council resolved to defer further consideration of the draft Master Plan until further consultation was carried out to resolve or clarify issues raised during the consultation period regarding the mountain bike trails at Westleigh Park and the proposed Sefton Road link.
These two streams of engagement were completed between March and October 2022 and more details on these can be found by expanding the blocks below.
Visit the Westleigh Park webpage for further information on Westleigh Park.
Stakeholder engagement (Mar – Oct 2022)
Concern was expressed during the public exhibition of the draft Master Plan in 2021 about the extent of mountain bike and other trails proposed within endangered ecological communities, particularly the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest (STIF) and Duffy's Forest. This was seen as being inconsistent with legislation and policies regarding the protection of these vegetation communities. Some argued that mountain biking should be excluded from the endangered ecological communities altogether.
During the exhibition of the draft Westleigh Park Master Plan in 2021, Council undertook consultation with the community which identified significant competing interests between key stakeholders of the park, the local mountain biking community and environmental groups. Following that exhibition and in response to the community concerns, Council, with Captivate Consulting, delivered a comprehensive program of activities over four months to better understand the stakeholder groups' perspectives. Included in this program was a co-design process which sought to determine if stakeholders with competing interests could reach a consensus on a formalised mountain bike trail network at Westleigh Park.
To give all stakeholders equal opportunity to be heard on the engagement process, a two-stage approach was adopted. The first stage included broad engagement activities which included:
- 1 on 1 phone calls
- 4 evening workshops
- a webinar (with expert ecological advice from Professor Catherine Pickering, a presentation from a mountain bike representative and a Council update)
- project updates on the website.
Significant feedback was provided through this first stage; received from the formal engagement activities, as well as unsolicited submissions from individuals and stakeholder groups.
Stage 2 of the engagement process was deliberately targeted to provide a select group of representative stakeholders an opportunity to discuss the mountain bike trail network in greater detail. An Expression of Interest (EOI) process was held with the objective of bringing together a group of people to represent the various positions that were put forward in the first stage of engagement.
Once selected, a final panel with equal representation from environmental and mountain biking stakeholders was established. The panel provided significant input during the three co-design workshops which were completed in June 2022.
The co-design participants did not come to a consensus regarding the trail design and did not reach agreement (and in some cases there was strong opposition) on many key principles relating to mountain bike trails at Westleigh Park. The outcomes of the co-design workshops have to the extent possible, guided the proposed mountain bike trail network included in the updated draft Master Plan. This proposal aims to avoid, minimise and mitigate environmental impacts to the bushland areas whilst finding a way to facilitate a rider experience similar to the one currently available.
Aside from mountain bike trails on the site, traffic impacts and concerns stemming from road changes were very prominent throughout the 2021 community engagement process. The majority of these were concerned with the proposal’s impact on traffic congestion and the volume of traffic that would be generated.
These concerns included:
- safety concerns (the bend at Sanctuary Gardens, it’s camber, the point where it narrows near the roundabout and the right of way not being clear)
- parking (overflow on surrounding streets)
- the Sefton Road link becoming a 'rat run'.
A smaller number of residents supported the proposed road extension and roundabout citing the need for a second exit. In 2021 the Westleigh Progress Association and the Westleigh Waterboard Alliance supported a connection to Sefton Road for access during an emergency only.
A majority (85%) of on-line surveys supported a proposal to extend Sefton Road to Quarter Sessions Road and indicated that they would use this connection (57%).
Two workshops were conducted where 18 individuals, representative of the issues raised and the local community, were invited. After some late COVID and other withdrawals, seven individuals / local community group members attended the first workshop on 7 May 2022 along with the three B Ward Councillors. Eleven individuals and the three B Ward Councillors attended the second workshop on 14 October 2022.
Any relevant traffic or road issues identified during the workshops were documented and included in an action register which was tracked. Minutes and material from the workshops were shared with all invitees with confirmation that these could be shared.
Other actions arising from the workshops have been addressed by staff, including:
- Reviews of the upgrades to other junctions (Duffy / Chilvers / The Esplanade and Sefton / Chilvers) that have been proposed but not driven by the park use
- Vegetation clearing to improve site lines at the Kooringal Avenue roundabout
- Review of the associated operations of the Thornleigh Community Recycling Centre on Sefton Road
- Review of parking alignments on Sefton Road
- Review of street lighting on Sefton Road
- Review of bus service for the Men’s Shed.
At the second workshop a traffic model developed by Bitzios Consulting was presented. The outcome of the model can be summarised as follows:
- The Duffy / Chilvers / The Esplanade intersection will see increased delays and should be upgraded - a suitable upgrade was identified.
- The Sefton Road Link (extension) is not essential to reduce other network congestion for construction of one sportsground (Stage 1).
- The Sefton Road Link (extension) is required to provide an additional local alternative east-west traffic route to address traffic congestion, particularly during the weekends to accommodate a second sportsground and athletics track.
- The Sefton Road Link could carry about 1,500 vehicles per day or about 150 vehicles per hour when the full development occurs.
It is worth noting that traffic impacts associated with the sportsground uses occur on the weekend (currently Saturday) and possibly during night training activities (currently 5-9pm Monday, Wednesday and Thursday). Outside these times and during Stage 1 the link road is not required.
Therefore, it is proposed that the link road through the Sydney Water site be gated to ensure:
- the road is not used as a rat-run
- it can be used as an emergency access under the control of the Police/RFS
- it forms part of a suitable traffic and event management strategy for the conduct of sporting activities as the site is progressively developed beyond Stage 1.
Summary of changes made to the draft Master Plan
Revisions have been made to the draft Master Plan exhibited in 2021 to reflect the outcome of the community engagement between March and October 2022. To see the summary of changes expand the drop down below.
Bushland areas and mountain bike trails
With respect to bushland areas and mountain bike trails, changes were made to the draft Master Plan informed by stakeholder feedback, best practice design principles and on-site investigations. These included:
- validating the onsite vegetation community composition and mapping
- undertaking seasonal flora and fauna surveys
- maintaining a focus on providing easy to intermediate trails
- avoidance and reduction of tracks in areas of high value biodiversity
- creation of additional trails in less sensitive areas
- reusing and upgrading existing tracks to avoid creating new trails and impacts where possible
- establishment of a primary track head that includes wayfinding and auxiliary facilities (e.g., wash bays) at selected sites
- creation of zones and hubs to improve rider experience and environmental sustainability
- ground truthing to ensure constructability
The draft Master Plan also identifies potential connections between Westleigh Park and Hornsby Park. These connections link established fire trails and roadways with Hornsby Mountain Bike Park.
In respect to the traffic matters, particularly on Sefton Road, the updated draft Master Plan refers to the Bitzios report and briefly summarises the matters outlined above.
Other changes to the document
In addition to the above, the updated draft Master Plan:
- Reaffirms Council’s intention to develop an environmentally and culturally sustainable framework for the development of recreational uses that:
- Avoids, minimises and mitigates impacts on biodiversity at every stage
- Poses minimal to no adverse impacts to the local creek system and applies Water Sensitive Urban Design (WUSD).
- Supports sustainable energy
- Designs for bushfires
- Promotes active transport
- Connects with Country
Additional and updated mapping has been included that:
- Shows the extent of contamination
- Shows updated (validated by Eco Logical Australia) vegetation communities
- Provides greater detail on the expected staging of the development.
Additionally, the Master Plan:
- Addresses the approach to landfill
- Provides more detail and updated information on remediation, specifically in environmental areas
- Includes stormwater management and Water Sensitive Urban Design information
- Includes information on Indigenous Heritage.
Comment Form - closed
Comment on the revised Westleigh Park draft Master Plan by:
- completing the feedback form below
- writing to Hornsby Shire Council, PO Box 37 Hornsby, NSW 1630 marked Westleigh Park Plan of Management
- emailing: email@example.com
Comments now closed: Tuesday, 11 April 2023 at 5pm.