Let’s have the vision before the Plan

Will the Town Centre Plan reflect the wishes of our community?
Will the Town Centre Plan reflect the wishes of our community?
Noel Oxley

When the Council invited landowners, business owners, and community progress associations in Pennant Hills and Thornleigh to participate in the Picture Pennant Hills online survey, unsurprisingly, the responses were that there should be little or no development in Pennant Hills.

But, people added, the Council should facilitate the creation of a welcoming village atmosphere supporting successful local business, with adequate shopping and professional services, through investment in long overdue improvements to shopping centre parking, community and social infrastructure.

In today’s world Councils don’t have unlimited money to spend, and there are pressures on Councils from State and Federal Governments to build more dwellings in already developed suburbs. We have all seen recent debates in our metropolitan newspapers between the “Sydney is full” side and the “get used to more dense living in our capital cities” side. What seems to be missing is a whole of government vision for our capital cities (and indeed for our local communities). Too much of what we see today has been built in an ad hoc and fragmented way. The results are not pretty.

We accept that if we want to improve Pennant Hills there will be downsides. What we ask is Council first produce an integrated vision for comment from local residents before steps regarding more dense housing are commenced.

Increasing density works when, and only when, it builds incrementally and hand in hand with amenity. We need more people: people are our wealth, our creativity, our community. The job of good town planning then is to make this evident. We need to think of community and not make the mistake of thinking it’s about the buildings

In May last year Council announced the results of the Picture Pennant Hills survey and resolved “An economic feasibility study [is to] be undertaken as the next step in the master plan review process.” There has been no other visible progress on the town centre plan in the 16 months since November 2016.

Apart from the glacially slow progress with the town plan, we have to fear for the outcome if the town centre plan is to be based only on economic criteria. This is likely to result in indiscriminate high-rise development without any sense of community needs as is happening in many Sydney suburbs.

Pennant Hills needs a creative plan which meets the social and environmental needs of the community (not the developers) and integrates with the road and rail infrastructure now under construction. For this a strategic vision is needed. This strategic vision and the economic imperatives of the Council will become the objectives of the town plan. We all know from our own life experience that if you don’t ask the right questions in the first place, you’ll never get the right answers.

This strategic vision must be developed in conjunction with the community so there’s consensus. Without consensus, most of the community are likely to be unhappy with the final plan and the outcome and the result will satisfy few.

The development of a strategic vision is a huge opportunity to make Pennant Hills a wonderful community for future generations. We owe it to them to get this plan right. Your Trust is committed to working collaboratively with Council so we don’t waste this once in a lifetime opportunity.
_________________________________________________________________          The PHD Civic Trust is a not for profit volunteer community organization to preserve
and enhance the residential amenity of Pennant Hills and West Pennant Hills.

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