On the spot: Damien Tudehope

Damien at the Cenotaph in Boronia Park, Epping which the MP helped deliver to the community
Damien at the Cenotaph in Boronia Park, Epping which the MP helped deliver to the community

Last week Damien Tudehope, Liberal MP for Epping, revealed that the long-awaited lift at Beecroft station has the go-ahead. Now two years in the seat, what else has this 64 year-old former solicitor, WEst pennant Hills resident and father of nine, delivered to his electorate?

Successes

*A lift at Beecroft station – I’m delighted to announced this week that an accessibility upgrade at Beecroft station has been approved. Lots of other stations throughout Sydney have them and with our aging population it’s long overdue. It’s one of the key projects I’ve sought to deliver to my electorate but could not have achieved this without local residents lending their voice to this fight.

*The Cenotaph at Boronia Park (pictured) – I got the Government to put $20,000 into this. It’s an important focus for people to come and remember our veterans.

* New classrooms at Cherrybrook Tech – this is millions of dollars in additional funding and I feel very fortunate that it’s being delivered in my electorate and at such a great school. Principal Gary Johnson the team do an outstanding job.

* Pressuring for new educational facilities at primary state schools in Epping and Carlingford – I continue to push for additional classroom space in my electorate, particularly in Epping. With the increasing housing density and the population growth in the town centre we need to take the pressure off some of our schools. This is something I have to be able to deliver very soon.

* Convinced the then Planning Minister Rob Stokes to do a community consultation of the heritage nature of Beecroft and Cheltenham around a year ago, as these are two of Sydney’s oldest suburbs with many very old homes and gardens and now I’m pressing the new Minister to declare Beecroft and Cheltenham as heritage suburbs.

Local issues

Epping as a residential and transport hub: One of the benefits for Epping to come out of the amalgamation process is that Epping town centre now falls under one Local Government Area, which I pushed for during the amalgamation process because the previous divided town centre was untenable.

I think we’ve been really successful at ensuring the various decision makers are fully aware of the challenges facing Epping. From the Greater Sydney Commission, to Urban Growth, to Parramatta Council’s administrator, and the Planning Minister  – I’ve had them all visit Epping for the opportunity to explain the challenges we’re facing, and let them see the impacts of rapid change in the town centre.  The new Planning Minister Anthony Roberts will be visiting Epping next month and I’ll show him around and discuss planning issues in the town centre.

I’m really encouraged by the four studies currently being undertaken by Parramatta Council on traffic, commercial density, heritage, and social infrastructure, and have worked closely with the administrator to see that they’re undertaken before she finishes up in September.

South Dural: The proponents want to build nearly 3,000 new homesBut New Line Road needs upgrading – it has a significant level of congestion and existing communities are crying out for the upgrade, let alone with at least 3,000 new South Dural residents. The other big problem with this development is that with these new homes, everyone will be travelling one way to work. We need to encourage people to work in the area too and so the developers need to provide a commercial hub so people are driving in the opposite direction to the already congested traffic.

There are those that say South Dural shouldn’t be developed at all, but I’m not in that camp – there is the need to release greenfield sites in Sydney to increase supply of homes, provided there are enough schools, access to work, hospitals, shops and transport – then it’s a viable development.

*The big issue is congestion and overdevelopment: Around Epping and North Epping and parts of Cherrybrook there’s high density development with lots trucks coming in causing disruption, and I get complaints of builders starting work too early and blocking streets, and commuters not being able to get a parking space.

While council rangers have blitzes to book people for parking infringements, developers just factor these in as part of the cost of the building work. So we need to introduce a Contractor Accreditation scheme similar to the one in the UK where as part of the DA, the contractor provides answers about parking, transport movements and noise. If they don’t do the right thing, they don’t get accreditation and the council can impose far greater restrictions or penalties on the contractor – I have broached this with Matt Kean, the Minister for Better Regulation and Hornby MP.

*Lack of community facilities with all these developments: We need a new lane over Epping Bridge but its interdependent on how we develop Epping as a whole because Beecroft Road and its shops may be earmarked for redevelopment as part of a vision to join one side of Epping station and the other with a walkway across – that would allow a widening of Beecroft Road and potentially Epping Bridge would come into this. I’ve never stopped pushing for this project and raise this with the Minister and the Premier regularly.

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