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Castlecrag residents have been increasingly inconvenienced by the weekend traffic congestion associated with sporting events at the Shore School Playing Fields and Bicentennial Reserve in recent years. Our frustrations are minor, however, compared with the significant inconvenience suffered by residents in South Willoughby and Northbridge who are more directly affected by the increasingly chaotic situation.

Alpha Road and Sailors Bay Road are now virtually gridlocked on Saturdays as many hundreds of pupils, parents and spectators attempt to arrive, park and depart the area. At a recent meeting of the Northbridge Progress Association, residents complained that surrounding streets are completely parked out on Saturdays and they were regularly unable to leave their houses because of gridlocked traffic or because desperate parents park across their driveways for hours.

They were among the large numbers of residents who attended a special meeting of the Association on 12 July to hear the Principal of Shore School outline a Development Application it has before Council to upgrade the facilities on the playing grounds. The proposal covers improved drainage, the construction of a new large grandstand to replace two smaller ones, new perimeter fencing, the construction of nine new tennis courts and the removal of 65 trees (with 94 new trees to be planted). While the Progress Association stated it has no objection to Shore improving its facilities in Northbridge for the benefit of its pupils and their parents, it called for more rigorous action to address the traffic situation.

The Shore submission states: “The proposed upgrade will not alter the periods when the facilities are used or increase the intensity of use.” Similarly, Shore’s traffic report concludes: “The upgraded facilities would not generate any new activity in terms of traffic generation and parking demand”. In its submission to Council, the Northbridge Progress Association states that it expects there will be growth of use, especially through the additional tennis courts (and their new use for competition tennis) and the increasing popularity of soccer. Even if there were no increase, Shore’s playing fields already have a serious adverse impact on traffic and parking in the area.

Accordingly, the Northbridge Progress Association has called on the Shore School, Council and the RTA to work together to reduce the considerable traffic and parking problems caused by the playing fields and which have inconvenienced Northbridge residents for decades. The Progress Association also called on Shore to more rigorously address the chaotic traffic situation that has developed in Sailors Bay Road on school days since Shore’s early learning centre and lower primary school opened in 2004 without any changes to cater for the new traffic conditions they generated.

The Castlecrag Progress Association has supported its Northbridge colleagues with a submission to Council on this matter. Our submission expresses concern is that the proposal will inevitably generate still further traffic activity in Alpha Road and Sailors Bay Road between Eastern Valley Way and Alpha Road thereby affecting Castlecrag residents as they drive between Castlecrag and Northbridge using Alpha and/or Sailors Bay Roads. It urges Council, before consenting to this proposal, to ensure that as many car parking spaces and drop off zones as possible are provided on Shore land. The submission states that the proposal provides Shore School with an opportunity to ameliorate the traffic chaos generated by its Saturday sporting events that have increasingly clouded the otherwise good relationship existing between the school and its Northbridge, Willoughby and Castlecrag neighbours.

The Shore School Playing Fields and Bicentennial Reserve are just two of the many traffic trouble spots that have erupted across Willoughby City in recent years. The increasing ownership of vehicles and the increasing trend to drive children to school and sporting events have put tremendous pressure of our local street that have been provided for the movement of vehicles, but are increasingly being usurped as private parking lots. Recent meetings of the Willoughby Traffic Committee have been dominated by requests from residents to impose parking restrictions in narrow streets that are ‘parked out’ in a manner that seriously impeded traffic flow and hinders residents accessing their properties. As noted in the Smart Transport Show report (page 5), we all need to walk, cycle or use public transport much more to get to our destinations.

Bob McKillop