Document Sample


                     Prepared by Peter Seamer
                              for the
                    NSW Department of Planning
Review of Warnervale Town Centre Options


The location of the proposed Warnervale Town Centre has been the subject of much discussion and
many consultancies over many years. In July 2006 the Minister of Planning announced that
Warnervale Town Centre is a potential Site of State Significance.

There are a number of statutory steps to be taken prior to listing this site under the major Projects
SEPP and these are being undertaken at present with the input and assistance of Wyong Shire Council
(WSC), staff from the Department of Planning (DoP), other Departments, landowners and other

However before this can proceed there has to be a decision on the location of the Town Centre within
the Study area, as a matter of priority to allow the area to develop.

This report looks at the options that have been considered and recommends a location, which if
adopted can be used for the finalisation of planning work which can then lead to Amendment to the
SEPP which will establish the broad planning framework for the Centre.


The site is shown on Att. 1. The key landholdings are shown on Att 2.

There have been three key options for the location of the centre and plans for each of these, as
discussed below are shown in Atts 3, 4, and 5.

An analysis of the options is shown in Att. 6.

September 2006                                              Review of Warnervale Town Centre Options

                                                                                             Page 1
The Options

Firstly this report does not attempt to summarise all the work that has been undertaken over many
years on the development of the site or to delve into all aspects of the broader site. It is an urban
planning review of the options that have been considered, and seeks to recommend the best long term
option for the site based on town planning and urban design principles taking into account relevant
local issues and the economic feasibility of the options.

Three primary options have been considered during this review, and a further one has been looked at
during the study. They relate to the location of the town centre and retail use locations in relation to
their position on the hill to the east of the rail line, and the north of Sparks Road. The site for the
proposed rail station is approximately 500m north of Sparks Road adjacent to the “Top of the Hill”

These are:

1a. Bottom of the Hill (BOH), Att 3.

This site is on land owned by Landcom, and the WSC. The concept design presented (by Stockland,
working in conjunction with Landcom) is for a broadly spaced shopping centre in four quadrants
around a central Main Street, on a site relatively distant from the rail line but close to Sparks Road.

1b. Bottom of the Hill: Compact (BOHC)

One of the concerns about option 1a was that it is spread over a larger area than other options with
more of a car based feel. Therefore consideration was also given to a variation of the bottom of the hill
option but on a more compact site. There has been no specific design undertaken for this option as part
of this review.

2. Middle of the Hill (MOH), Att 4.

This site is closer to the rail line and somewhat further up the hill on land largely owned by Landcom.
It is more compact than option 1a with a Main Street running diagonally to Sparks Road, attempting to
follow the contours to give a flatter grade to the Main Street. However grades of roads running off the
Main Road are steep. This is the option preferred by the Council in its decision of the 28 June 2006.

3. Top of the Hill (TOH), Att 5.

This option arose from a study requested by the Project Control Group set up by WSC, Landcom and
the Premiers Department to investigate the most appropriate location for a town centre and
subsequently whether a site at this location would be feasible. It is further to the north and west than
the other options and immediately adjoins the proposed site of the rail station on the site of a disused
plant nursery, on land owned by Fabcot Pty Ltd, which is associated with Woolworths.

September 2006                                                Review of Warnervale Town Centre Options

                                                                                               Page 2
Analysis of the options

The key factors to be considered in making the decision and ratings on how each site addresses these
factors are set out on the attached table (Att 6.) The factors chosen are those seen as being important in
planning terms, and values have been attributed to how satisfactorily each option addresses these

This technique, while open to discussion about individual ratings can be valuable in making overall
assessment of planning issues.

Transport Analysis

The “bottom of the hill” (BOH) options are poorly linked to the proposed rail station, the location of
which is broadly fixed due to the geometry of the rail line in the vicinity. In the long term this is
clearly a disadvantage for a centre that is planned to be not only a retail precinct but a town centre with
all the services that go with that for a wide range of people…doctors, government services, cinemas
etc; all services likely to be used by those with limited access to personal transport.

However the BOH options are closer to Sparks Road and have less potential impact of traffic intrusion
on adjoining areas. However this offset in part by the impact of the east west link road through to the
Wyong Employment Zone.

The compact nature of the centre, the good potential for a strong nodal interchange between public and
private transport around the station and the strengths of the links to the west (see next analysis) gives
the TOH option a clear advantage in this area, with the MOH being better than the BOH options.

Design and Aesthetics

The protection of the green ridge is an issue often discussed. In this and in environmental matters
generally there is little difference between the options. The BOH options have residential
development, of a medium to high density nature on the area around the ridge which will be little
different to the massing of the TOH option. The latest revision of the TOH option, which is what is
being reviewed here is compact and keeps to the west of the ridge.

As this is a long term plan one item that seems to have been down played previously is the aesthetic
value of the rail being in cutting alongside the town centre. By and large rail lines and town centres do
not meld well together and the huge opportunity of having a rail line that does not visually clash with
the town centre is a great advantage of the TOH option.

The design for the TOH option is clearly a more fully developed town centre/retailing design, whereas
the BOH scheme proposed is a conventional car based retailing centre similar to a number that already
exist in the area The TOH option aligns more closely with the stated desires of Council in the
principles adopted for the Centre than the other options.

Finally, as briefly mentioned in the transport analysis the link to the west is a key issue for the future
and this is enhanced by the TOH option, this being at grade without any conflict with the train lines.

Economic Issues

While for the two preceding categories the TOH option is clearly superior, this option is less clear cut
with the bottom of the hill being marginally preferred primarily due to the fact that this is closest to the

September 2006                                                  Review of Warnervale Town Centre Options

                                                                                                 Page 3
existing major entry at Sparks Road (but further from the future link road) and the fact that the design
is for a conventional car based centre that is similar to existing shopping centres and less of a town
centre, therefore easier for a developer to move ahead in the short term.

The cost of the TOH option will also be marginally higher due to the earthworks involved however
Council reports show the difference to be not significant.


In this analysis emphasis has been placed on the long term health of the town centre, as a focal point
for the local community for social, business as well as shopping purposes.

The analysis undertaken has attempted to take into account input from as many interested parties as
time has permitted as well as the written reports previously produced.

In 2002 a working group was set up to assist Council in the design of the town centre. This comprised
Landcom and Council. Following a series of studies and an exhibition of a variant of the MOH option,
the working group appointed BN consultants to undertake a peer review of the exhibited masterplan
and this identified some significant concerns with the proposal. Following a further series of
consultancies BN produced a master plan for the Middle of the Hill option. Landcom were not in
favour of this option.

Following this a working party comprised of representatives from Council, the Premier’s Department
and Landcom set up an expert design committee to review all the options and make recommendations
on the best location of the centre. This review recommended the TOH option exhibiting a new
approach: a shorter Main Street which allowed the centre to be more compact, reduce earthworks and
reduce the impact on the main ridge. The Working Party endorsed this proposal and in collaboration
with the Department of Planning (DoP) employed GM Urban Design Pty Ltd to detail the TOH

This proposal was recommended to Council in May 2006 by Council officers but rejected by Council
in favour of the MOH option.

The recommendation of the design review and subsequently Council officers to proceed with the TOH
option is noted as is the position of the Council in its recent resolution.

The TOH option is clearly the best in design and planning terms with this having the best potential to
be an exciting vibrant centre for a wide range of users that provides, as well as good shopping, an
interesting town centre for the community.

One point previously used against this location is the ridge line argument. However there is unlikely to
be significant difference between the residential proposed in the BOH options for the ridge site and the
commercial uses proposed in the TOH option. With the shorter Main Street than considered in earlier
options the town centre keeps to the west of the key part of the ridge.

The BOH option is the simplest to put into place in the very short term but its distance from the
proposed railway station, poor relationship with the rail line, poor access to the west of the rail line
and lack of difference from many others centres in the area are its drawbacks. In the long term this
option is seen as being inferior.

The compact bottom of the hill option did not have significant benefits over the BOH option.

The MOH option provides a compromise between the other options but is seen as not having the
benefits of either of the other two schemes while not addressing their shortcomings.

September 2006                                               Review of Warnervale Town Centre Options

                                                                                              Page 4
In summary, the TOH option is the clearly the best overall option and this is exemplified by the
scoring set out in Att 6 where there is a very significant difference between the top of the hill option
and the others.

Issues Going Forward

There are a number of points that should be carefully considered in the development of detailed plans
on the site and these are:

1. A careful analysis of the operation of the modal interchange around the railway station with the
location of bus stops, commuter parking and parking for employees and shoppers and customers of the
centre needs to be analysed.

2. Analysis of the servicing requirements of the Centre.

3. The preliminary design of the rail station does not appear to be harmoniously designed with the
surrounds and in particular does not make best use of the topography. This should be reviewed.

4. More detail is required on the treatment of the public spaces in the Main Street.

5. Careful attention has to be made to the activation of the frontages on to Main Street and the
“sleeving” of the DDS and Supermarkets.

6. The “underground” parking should be a key feature of the site from its outset.

7. The vista from Sparks Road is crucial and should read as a “village” town centre rather than a
conventional shopping centre.

8. Careful treatment of the rail line in the areas on the base of the hill will diminish the poor
appearance that this will have on the area.

9. The overall design of the centre should be commensurate with a significant town centre rather than
the more common car based shopping centre.

10. Consideration has to be made about mechanisms that will enhance an appropriate level of
competition in the centre.

11. The design of the town centre should take into consideration any implications of the review being
chaired by the Premier’s Department of the provision of Social Infrastructure in the region. The key
issues arising from this relate to the need for the Centre to have the key Social Infrastructure services
located in close proximity to shopping and the transport nodal interchange for the centre.


This review recommends the “top of the hill” option be adopted for the development of the
centre and the basis of further planning for the State Significant Site at Warnervale.

September 2006                                                Review of Warnervale Town Centre Options

                                                                                               Page 5

I wish to express my thanks for the support given to this review by Councillors and staff at the Wyong
Shire Council, the Department of Planning, and the Premier’s Department, and local landowners, their
representatives and their professional consultants.

Peter Seamer
15 September 2006

List of attachments:

Attachment 1
The site. [Note: not available in this electronic version.]

Attachment 2
Key landowners. [Note: not available in this electronic version.]

Attachment 3
Option 1a – Bottom of the Hill (BOH). [Drawing titled: Warnervale Town Centre – Option 750B.]

Attachment 4
Option – Middle of the Hill (MOH). [Drawing titled: Warnervale Site Masterplan.]

Attachment 5
Option – Top of the Hill (TOH). [Drawing titled: 3 Developed Masterplan.]

Attachment 6 – Analysis of the options.

September 2006                                                Review of Warnervale Town Centre Options

                                                                                               Page 6
Attachment 6

                               Options:               1a                         1b                                         2                           3

                                            Degree of                            Bottom of the Hill
Factor:                                    Importance Bottom of the Hill            (compact)               Middle of the Hill        Top of the Hill

Strong nodal interchange                       2              -3           -6           -3            -6            0             0          3               6
Public Transport access                        3              -2           -6           -1            -3            0             0          3               9
Access to Link Road                            2              -1           -2            0             0            1             2          3               6
Pedestrian accessability                       2              -2           -4           -1            -2           -1            -2          2               4
Access to Sparks Road                          3               3            9            2             6            1             3          0               0
Traffic intrusion in adjoining areas           2               0            0            0             0           -1            -2         -2              -4
                        Transport Total                                    -9                         -5                          1                         21

Design and Aesthetics
Green Ridge Protection                         3              -1            -3          -1             -3          -1            -3         -2              -6
Aesthetics of Rail line                        2              -2            -4          -2             -4          -2            -4          3               6
Integrated town centre                         3              -3            -9           1              3           1             3          3               9
Strength of the link to west of the rail       3              -3            -9          -3             -9          -1            -3          3               9
                          Design Total                                     -34                        -18                        -6                         39

Economic and Practicality Issues
Will the concept delay process                 1               1            1           -3            -3           -1            -1          1               1
Cost of Development                            2               2            4            1             2            0             0         -1              -2
Options for growth                             2               1            2            1             2            1             2          2               4
Viability of retail                            3               2            6            1             3            1             3          0               0
Can retail competition be achieved             2              -2           -4           -2            -4           -2            -4         -2              -4
                      Economic Total                                        9                          0                          0                         -1

TOTAL                                                                      -34                        -23                        -5                         59

Ratings: 3 very good, 0 neutral,-3 poor
Degree of Importance: 3 most important, 1 relevant but not most important

Shared By: