I have to admit I didn’t know anything about the location of Westleigh until the Westleigh Park Master Plan development was announced by Hornsby Council. Westleigh is a small suburb on a ridge surrounded by Berowra Valley National Park and bushland along Waitara Creek and the biobanking site of Dog Pound Creek. The only road into Westleigh is Quarter Sessions Road with access via busy Duffy Avenue.
For the past two years Hornsby Council has been developing a plan for the development of the land known as Westleigh Park. This area of 36 ha was bought by council from Sydney Water in 2016. The water reservoir next to the park is still managed by Sydney Water. Currently council land has:
- a 26 ha area of bushland that is riddled with unauthorised mountain bike tracks – see STEP Matters Issue 217 for a story about what should be happening here
- a cleared area of 10 ha that was a land fill site and is predominately tufted grasses and unmaintained Kikuyu and weeds
- a Rural Fire Service building on the northern side so that land has been used for training
There has been community consultation and now it is expected that a final draft of the master plan will go before council soon.
The plan is for the creation of an extensive sporting field complex on the cleared land including three sporting fields, small areas for passive recreation and road access and parking areas. One of the fields may be synthetic which is inappropriate for an area so close to bushland. Preparation of the land for this development will be a major expensive exercise owing to contamination, its topography and need to control run-off into the nearby bushland.
Major traffic issue
One essential prerequisite for the creation of the park is improved road access. Council is expecting to get approval from Sydney Water to extend Sefton Road from Chilvers Road around the reservoir to Quarter Sessions Road. This will increase traffic significantly along Sefton Road through the industrial area of Thornleigh and the quiet suburban areas of Westleigh. A traffic study has forecast an extra 1,500 car movements a day at the Sefton and Chilvers Road intersection.
One possible solution for the problems the development will cause is to reduce the number of sporting fields and make the road only open for emergency access.
New alliance of community groups
A group of ten local community groups (including Westleigh Progress Association, Friends of Berowra Valley, Protecting Your Suburban Environment and STEP) have formed a new alliance called Save Westleigh Park to keep both residents and businesses updated on council's current ill-planned schemes, as well as the significant impacts the development will have.
Council's community engagement with Westleigh residents has been poor. A recent council-run public meeting about the traffic impacts was only attended by 11 residents with seven apologies, as the meeting was by council invitation only. Yet obviously the traffic impacts are much wider than just those residents. Click here for the latest traffic study.
Make your concerns about this proposed enormous regional sporting complex and its significant lasting impacts known through the traffic petition and the save Westleigh Park petition.