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SSC Newspaper : April 2013
Strathfield Scene 5 news www.ourstrathfield.com.au “This is definitely great news for our local community. Clearly the PAC was unconvinced about the traffic, safety and amenity mitigation proposed in the green travel plan.” — Strathfield MP Charles Casuscelli By Peter Lynch The campaigning Strathfield Residents Action Group held a “mini celebration” when the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) published the results of its inquiry into the Australian Catholic University’s expansion plans last month. To most, it looked like a stunning victory for people power in Strathfield. Local MP Charles Casuscelli declared it a major milestone in the battle to halt a $55 million expansion. Residents are still not sure. On the face of it, the PAC rejected a bid to increase student numbers, hours of operation and put six new buildings on the campus. After a marathon meeting during which commissioners listened to six hours of residents’ complaints, the PAC ruled the Australian Catholic University (ACU) should build a 436-space car park first. And while it agreed to a four-storey library, it rejected the remainder of the development until the ACU could show it had a workable green travel plan to reduce traffic. The move means the ACU would have to spend millions on parking before they could increase student numbers and boost revenue. A university spokesman told the Scene: “The university is reviewing the decision and is considering its position.” The man who has become synonymous with the ACU’s implacable face, vice chancellor Greg Craven, is on sabbatical and unavailable for comment. Mr Casuscelli said: “This is definitely great news for our local community. Clearly the PAC was unconvinced about the traffic, safety and amenity mitigation proposed in the green travel plan. Local realtor Steve Devine, who gave evidence to the PAC and lives near the university, said: “I can’t see them spending $16 million on a car park if they can’t increase student numbers.” Strathfield Council will continue its case in the Land and Environment Court NSW, claiming the university has already increased student numbers beyond the permitted level. It has allocated more funds to continue to the battle. Evidence coming from inside the university campus in Strathfield poses serious question marks about how long it can continue to obfuscate student numbers. The PAC is scathing about relations between the university and local residents, calling for a mediator to be brought in to try to resolve the problem. PAC chairperson Gabrielle Kibble said: “Approval for the increase in student numbers, extended hours of operation and building envelopes in Precincts 2, 3 and 4 should only be contemplated once the university can demonstrate effective and ongoing implementation of the green travel plan.” Jane Pistolese, leader of the Strathfield Residents Action Group (SRAG), formed to fight the ACU expansion, is encouraged by the PAC report. But she also believes the four-storey library will set a dangerous precedent. The group issued a cautious statement: “The SRAG implores the ACU to recognise that the historical Strathfield site is too small to accommodate an over-intensification of the site in the residential location. “ The PAC’s decision acknowledges that the community has been experiencing intolerable conditions currently and that there are real safety concerns as a result of the Australian Catholic University ’s current student enrolment practices. “ The approved car park will provide 436 spaces for staff and students of the ACU, including 30 spaces for neighbouring St Patrick’s College. The PAC hopes this will ease on-street parking woes. But Councillor Daniel Bott believes the fight will continue. “I don’t anticipate the ACU will take the report lying down,” he said. “I will be surprised if they ’re not livid with some of the recommendations and opinions in the report.” People power triumphs over ACU The Australian Catholic University (ACU) had this to say in response to the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) report: The ACU has a long history of close involvement with the Strathfield community. It has collaborative partnerships with local schools and has continued to develop facilities to benefit our students. As we have evolved, our campus has needed to grow and we are planning for the future to improve our learning and teaching spaces for staff, students and the whole community. We recognise that growth and change can affect our neighbours, so we have tried to include community concerns in our plans to minimise the impact of the development on residents. The revISed PlAn for oUr CAmPUS InClUdeS: • An on-campus car park to reduce the number of cars parked in residential streets. • Changed timetables to reduce the turnover of students on campus and to reduce the traffic in the area. • An ongoing commitment to the shuttle service between Strathfield railway station and the ACU to encourage students to take public transport. With the decision of the PAC to approve part of our project, we are now reviewing our position and hope to share our intentions with the community shortly. what the said about the ruling ALLAGESALLFITNESSLEVELSSUNDAY23JUNEFRESHWATERPARKSTRATHFIELDFORMOREINFORMATIONORTOREGISTERVISITWWW.COOKSRIVERFUNRUN.COM.AU5KMRUN5KMWALK10KMRUN A new Strathfield primary school will open next year on the former Sydney Adventist College site on Albert Road. It will cater for up to 600 students. Education Minister Adrian Piccoli (seen right with MP Charles Casuscelli and the school key) said the State Government paid $25m for the site and will spend $1.5m on refurbishment. ToP of The cLass