What RobertsDay has to say

John Gorton Drive by Whitlam looking towards Belconnen

The Estate Development Code and Molonglo 3 Stage 2 are a poor mix. The local terrain is working against the ACT Government. Something’ gotta give!

Molonglo Stage 3 has two problems and both stemming from an outdated Estate Development Code (EDC).

The first is that the vast majority of Molonglo 3 is south facing and rather steep. Planning blocks that comply with the Estate Development Code (EDC) is hard to do. This leaves the ACT Government between a rock and a hard place: do we change the code or reduce the yield?

If the slope is greater than 15% to the south for blocks in the incorrect orientation, they can not be made compliant regardless of size.

MOLONGLO 3 STAGE 2 PROOF OF CONCEPT by RobertsDay (26 March 2019)

The second problem lies with the huge amount of space set aside for road reserves due to the very wide roads in the ACT.

The yield assumes a TCCS compliant 34% land take for local road reserves, but does not consider land take for higher order roads such as sub-arterial or IPT corridors.

MOLONGLO 3 STAGE 2 PROOF OF CONCEPT by RobertsDay (26 March 2019)

Under the best of circumstances, this is an enormous waste of space! Motor vehicles are not space efficient. Just because we never think about it doesn’t make it any better. The road problem is made worse by the outdated assumptions (also TCCS) applied for traffic predictions. From these predictions the roads are dimensioned unnecessarily large and over provisioned.

Traffic Generation in the ACT is currently specified in the Estate Development Code as 8 veh/d (vehicles per day) for single residential dwellings, 7 veh/d for single residential blocks 360m2 or smaller, and 6 veh/d per dwelling for multi-unit developments. These figures have been utilised in the ACT for over 10 years.

MOLONGLO 3 STAGE 2 PROOF OF CONCEPT by RobertsDay (26 March 2019)

Smaller roads are good.

This reduction of road category has benefits for the community as the neighbourhoods are more walkable if pedestrians are not required to cross major roads such as arterial roads. The additional benefits come from an increased availability of developable land, and a reduction of long term maintenance with smaller roads

MOLONGLO 3 STAGE 2 PROOF OF CONCEPT by RobertsDay (26 March 2019)

At the heart of it, the TCCS provides lip service to active travel, but its traffic prediction models speak loudly and sadly justify spending more on roads – more than any reasonable person wishing to future proof Canberra would be comfortable with.

The current vehicle numbers are out-dated and don’t consider transport modal shifts or active travel. By reducing the vehicle movement numbers per dwelling it can reduce the categories of many of the streets, which will increase yield, but also change the character of the areas.

Summary page 41 Active travel mode shifts, MOLONGLO 3 STAGE 2 PROOF OF CONCEPT by RobertsDay (26 March 2019)

The propensity to build roads is systemic of our planning system. The Estate Development Code (EDC) needs to be updated and the Active Travel standards better codified in statutory documents to enable the investment in active travel infrastructure and, in particularly, prioritise the construction of much cheaper cycle highways. More and more people consider buying electric bikes for commuting to work. Where are they going to ride safely?

Transit boulevard, Molonglo 3 Stage 2 Proof of Concept report by Roberts Day (March 2019)
Transit boulevard, Molonglo 3 Stage 2 Proof of Concept report by RobertsDay (March 2019)

Extract: report text

The report is long, but it does not contain that much text. The issues with the Estate Development Code (EDC) are in this text.

Extract of the text from the MOLONGLO 3 STAGE 2 PROOF OF CONCEPT by RobertsDay FOR EPSDD (26 March 2019).

Introduction

RobertsDay were commissioned by EPSDD to provide a review of the previous Molonglo 3 Stage 2 Concept Design, and provide planning/design advice on key components of the subject precinct.

Key components of the project:

• Provide advice on the alignment and interface of the Bindubi Street extension including a potential Intertown Public Transport (IPT) route
• Group Centre interface with IPT and Coppins Creek
• Yield advice – including solar access requirements and limitations

The review of the master plan and yield scenarios identified limitations in the current Estate Development Code (EDC) with difficult terrain such as Molonglo, and potential opportunities to update codes for both planning and infrastructure.

The Proof of Concept Code Reform looks at providing best case scenario design outcomes and compares that with an ACT ‘code compliant’ scheme to understand the limitations the current codes impose of development within the ACT.

The proof of concept has been prepared on the basis of the Planning and Design Framework (PDF) for Molonglo Stage 3 and as such, is consistent with the intent of the PDF. The proof of concept provides more information on a number of aspects but it does not constitute an indicative design plan required through the PDF. The proof of concept will assist further with planning and in the potential consideration of Territory Plan code reforms, which are discussed further in this document.

Development Pattern

A preliminary updated master plan was developed based on combining the original RobertsDay Master Plan and the EPSDD Planning Design Framework.

The local road layout was developed based on providing the bulk of the roads perpendicular to contours to provide the best streetscape and built form outcome and to reduce bulk earthworks.

This initial layout demonstrates one way of many that the site could be developed and was used to understand the potential compliant yield the site could achieve based on the orientation of the blocks in relation to Appendix A – Block Compliance in the Estate Development Code (2013).

Block compliance is determined by the combination of orientation of blocks to the street, and the direction and % grade of the slope.

A block with its street address to the north can achieve blocks of almost any size regardless of slope. Whereas a block facing north-east or south-west for example is limited to very large blocks. If the slope is greater than 15% to the south for blocks in the incorrect orientation, they can not be made compliant regardless of size. The requirements of block compliance puts a limitation of the development potential of any site, but the significant topography and large quantity of south facing slope increases that burden on Molonglo 3.

Orientation

The preliminary road layout highlights that a significant portion of the site falls outside the ideal orientation of N/S or E/W. 66% of potential developable area falls within the NE/SW or SE/NW orientations, which limits yield significantly as blocks must be larger than 500m².

The layout of roads curve to follow contours where possible, which results in blocks that are somewhat ‘fan’ shaped. Block compliance requires that a ‘test block’ fits perfectly within each block, which as shown below greatly increases the size of a block without increasing the quality of development. The test block for large blocks needs to be 500m² in size, so the additional space surrounding it can result in blocks greater than 600-700m².

To understand the compliance for the site a slope analysis was undertaken to understand the quantity of south facing land. 40% of developable area has south facing slope, which limits block compliance. When you combine this with the orientation of the blocks 80% of potential developable area is either south facing slope or within the NE/SW & SE/NW orientations. These constraints of the land greatly limit the development potential of the site when looked at through the lens of EDC Block Compliance.

Preliminary yield – compliant

A high level yield analysis was undertaken based on the Development Patterns. Code compliant densities were allocated to each orientation/slope combination to understand the yield. The yield assumes a TCCS compliant 34% land take for local road reserves, but does not consider land take for higher order roads such as sub-arterial or IPT corridors. Additional land for larger road reserves will reduce the developable area. The 34% is an assumption based on benchmarking of local RobertsDay projects and development/ land budgets.

The yield excludes areas for apartments and mixed use retail.

TOTAL PRELIMINARY YIELD 5,603

Concept layout

The concept layout builds upon the master plan previously completed by RobertsDay, the Planning Design Framework (PDF) by EPSDD, and discussions with EPSDD about desired outcomes for the precinct.

The key changes in this layout include:

• Create distinct neighbourhoods
IPT alignment travels between retail group centre and Coppins Creek decoupled from roads
• Relocate the southern school/retail centre north of the proposed east-west arterial road. This provides multiple access/egress points for the school during an emergency as the southern neighbourhoods have only one entry point.
• Include a key landscape link to the Arboretum that provides a direct visual connection to Coppins Creek.
• Provide schools with limited frontage to residential land uses to limit land-use conflicts
• Where properties face arterial roads acoustic treatments will need to be considered

IPT alternate alignment

Providing an alternative alignment for the IPT that travels in the centre of the retail group centre. This alignment could function as a street in the interim until the light-rail is built in the future.

Design principles

CENTRES / SCHOOLS ARE LOCATED NEAR WATER OR LIGHT RAIL STOPS

Centres and Schools are located adjacent proposed light rail stops to create a community hub. Where there isn’t a light rail hub, they are located near water for a unique local centre experience.

Schools are to be located on collector roads near light rail stops, and provided with vehicle access away from residential zones.

CENTRES / SCHOOLS ARE SHARED BY MULTIPLE NEIGHBOURHOODS

Retail Centres and Schools are located between neighbourhoods to be shared by the widest group. The southern school has been moved north due to the constraints on accessing the southern neighbourhoods via a single road.

GREEN SPINES DEFINE NEIGHBOURHOOD EDGES

Neighbourhoods are defined by green buffers that align with existing natural features, including Coppins Creek. Some of the buffers will function as narrow linear open space connections.

ACTIVE TRAVEL NETWORK LINKS LOCAL CENTRES

Neighbourhoods and Retail Centres are linked via an Active Travel network.

Each neighbourhood will have either a Central Neighbourhood Park or a Local Park at it’s centre connected via the Active Travel network.

FIRST STAGE INCLUDES DAILY CONVENIENCE

A small portion of retail is located within the first stage to provide convenience to the first residents.

CREEK CORRIDOR WIDTH TO BE DECREASED TO CREATE AN INTIMATE RETAIL EXPERIENCE

Decrease the width of the creek between the two retail areas to create a retail experience that crosses both sides of the creek.

Bindubi Street alignment

PREVIOUS MASTER PLAN (dropped)

From William Hovell Drive the Bindubi Street extension connects directly west to John Gorton Drive, with a ‘T’ intersection directing traffic south towards the Group Centre. The alignment of this intersection prioritises traffic west which mimics the alignment of William Hovell Drive.

The major road continues through the middle of the Group Centre, which limits opportunities for a pedestrian friendly environment as the bulk of traffic heading south will move through the community heart. From John Gorton Drive, the road terminates at the Group Centre, creating a sense of arrival at the heart of the community, before providing opportunities to continue south or east.

Aligning the light rail and Bindubi Street extension creates a wide corridor through the middle of the community heart that limits pedestrian permeability

PLANNING DESIGN FRAMEWORK (PDF) (dropped)

The Bindubi Street alignment changes the alignment of the ‘T’ intersection and prioritises traffic towards the centre of Molonglo 3. The large radius curves of the road alignment prioritises traffic speed and limits any sense of arrival at either the major Group Centre or the smaller Local Centre.

Additional collector roads near the Group Centre provide alternative paths of travel south without going through the heart of the community.

Aligning the light rail and Bindubi Street extension will create a wide corridor through community heart between the retail centre and the school, limiting opportunities for easy pedestrian connectivity.

UPDATED MASTER PLAN (current)

The proposed alignment of Bindubi Street combines components of the previous concepts and introduces the concept of decoupling the light rail from the street when entering the heart of the community. The ‘T’ intersection at the Local Centre provides a sense of arrival at a local community centre, whilst also providing a traffic calming measure through the estate by limiting the road radius.

Bindubi Street travels past the High School and Group Centre to provide access to the neighbourhoods further south, with a secondary collector road providing access to the community heart.

At this point, the light rail diverts from the road, and travels past the Group Centre along the edge of the retail in a promenade along the edge of Coppins Creek. The light rail will be de-coupled from the road for some part in a narrower corridor, including in a plaza space between the creek and the retail centre. By separating the road and rail passengers on the tram will have an experience that can’t be replicated via driving.

Public Transport

INTEGRATED PUBLIC TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

The proposed master plan provides for multiple public transport opportunities, include a potential light rail alignment through the northern portion of the site. The concentration of activity in the northern portion of the site includes the Group Centre, a Local Centre, High School, and Primary School. These community facilities are served by the proposed IPT from William Hovell Drive through to John Gorton Drive as well as the bus route.

INTERTOWN PUBLIC TRANSPORT (IPT)

Proposed through the site is an alignment for the future Intertown Public Transport Route which can be either Rapid Bus, light rail, or trackless trams. This route connects key community infrastructure and covers a wide section of the site.

BUS ROUTE

The alignment of the bus route provides a single bus stop that serves each neighbourhood and is located adjacent central neighbourhood parks or local centre.

Centre activation / IPT future-proofing

The following spreads provide an indicative layout for both IPT alignment options in order to demonstrate an integrated land use/ transport planning solution that focuses on place activation balanced with functional centre and movement principles.

OPTION 1

The layout of the Group Centre is designed to decouple the IPT from the road network for a short period and include it within a public promenade along Coppins Creek. Placing the IPT stop at the Transport Plaza promotes activation along the creek frontage, with a traditional Main Street providing a central heart to the district.

OPTION 2

The layout of the Group Centre allows for the IPT to be included in the future within the road reserve. Parking and travel lanes can be removed to include the light rail within the central core to create a pedestrian friendly area. A public promenade with destination shops will front onto Coppins Creek, creating activation on two key frontages. By locating the IPT and Promenade separately, cross flow of pedestrian traffic will naturally occur and activate the centre.

Traffic generation

Traffic Generation in the ACT is currently specified in the Estate Development Code as 8 veh/d (vehicles per day) for single residential dwellings, 7 veh/d for single residential blocks 360m2 or smaller, and 6 veh/d per dwelling for multi-unit developments. These figures have been utilised in the ACT for over 10 years.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, not being able to access public transport is one of the main reasons people prefer to use passenger vehicles to get to work or study. In 2012, of adults who travelled by passenger vehicle to work or study, over half (53%) stated that a lack of public transport services (at all or at the right or convenient time) was one of the main reasons for not taking public transport. Only a quarter (28%) preferred the convenience, comfort, or privacy a private vehicle provided.

According to the ACT Government, 40% of Canberrans travel less than 10 km to work, a distance easily cycled or made by public transport. With the ACT Government’s concerted efforts in the improvements in public transport (light rail, enhanced bus services and ITP corridors), and the slow rise in congestion levels in the ACT, the appeal for the use of private vehicles has been constantly diminishing.

Discounts to traffic generation rates for the territory and for specific developments therefore should be considered by a case to case basis in light of the above. The review should consider the following: territory wide and development specific

TERRITORY WIDE

• Land Uses
• Census data
• Public Transport policies
• Active Travel Infrastructure
• Traffic Modelling/ Congestion
• Parking Policy

DEVELOPMENT SPECIFIC

• Specific measures introduced by the development to avoid or manage development traffic demand
• Trip internalisation within the site, such that the volume of traffic entering and leaving the site is reduced;
• Presence of public transport within the vicinity of the site;
• Parking availability within the site

As identified in the Road Hierarchy – Modal Shift page, the reduction in traffic generation rates has a significant impact to the category of roads. This reduction of road category has benefits for the community as the neighbourhoods are more walkable if pedestrians are not required to cross major roads such as arterial roads. The additional benefits come from an increased availability of developable land, and a reduction of long term maintenance with smaller roads.

Conclusion

The Proof of Concept report has reviewed the existing ACT controls in relation to the Molonglo 3 Stage 2 site and provided recommendations for code reform to provide improved amenity, increased yield, and better design outcomes. Three key items outcomes were identified: IPT corridor, group centre interface, and code reform.

IPT CORRIDOR

The proposed IPT corridor has been envisioned to provide a variety of experiences from the passengers point of view, and will be included in three main different corridor types:
• Sub-Arterial median – Similar to Flemington Road
• Local Street – Flush with local traffic
• De-coupled from streets – located in a promenade

GROUP CENTRE INTERFACE

The two options for the Group Centre provide public interaction with Coppins Creek in different ways, with either the IPT located in a public plaza and a ‘Main Street’ style retail hub, or located one block back in a street that can be adapted to include rail in the future to allow the public promenade to be free of public transport. These options are designed to provide the most street activation to create a vibrant hub in the centre of Molonglo.

CODE REFORM

A variety of code reforms were investigated to understand what limitations these put on development in a challenging environment. The two biggest code reforms that gain the most increase in yield and impact to development are: block compliance and road hierarchy.

Block Compliance

By removing or revising how block compliance is achieved, significant increases in yield can be achieved on blocks with steep slope, or perceived poor orientation.

Road Hierarchy

The current Vehicle Movements per Day (vpd) calculations are higher than actual use, and much higher than predicted future uses which results in larger streets. By reducing the calculation to a more reasonable number (from 8vpd to 4vpd) road types can be lowered (e.g from sub-arterial to major collector) which increases available land for development

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