Conversations with the community
The draft concept design was shared with community and key stakeholders during the public exhibition period, 10 February to 10 March 2021. Letters were sent to more than 330 residents, land owners and businesses in the area inviting them to learn more and join the conversation. Emails with this information were sent to community, the Our Wollongong Register of Interest (Flood – 540+ emails), business, government and emergency services stakeholders. The public exhibition was promoted via a notice published in the Advertiser, while information session details were listed in the Events section on Council’s website. The information was also available through Council’s Customer Service Centre.
The following opportunities were offered for people to learn more and provide feedback:
- Information sessions:
- Online presentation with Q&A held on 23 February.
- Appointments were offered for a COVID-safe face-to-face information session held at Bulli Senior Citizens Centre on 24 February.
- Email and phone submissions.
- Site visit held at Bulli High School with Department of Education stakeholders.
- This project webpage.
We asked people for their thoughts on the recommended measures and priorities for detailed design.
Four people attended the online information session, 24 attended the face-to-face information session and two Department of Education stakeholders participated in the site visit. Fourteen submissions were received, including from all affected landowners. References to “affected landowners” refer to those who own land that measures in Combined Option 3 are proposed to be located on. Residents, landowners, business and government representatives provided comments via the information sessions, site visit, phone, email and online feedback form.
A diversity of views was expressed in the feedback. Several acknowledged the flooding issues, saying it was important these be addressed and they are pleased to see Council working towards this. Feedback themes included a mix of both general support for and objections to the concept design or recommendations. Most, but not all, affected landowners provided in-principle support for the draft concept design and recommendations, with some on the condition they be included in future conversations as the detailed design is developed. Concerns were expressed regarding the accuracy of the information in the report or that the measures may increase flood levels on some properties. Some felt the recommended Scheme does not address the main contributors to the existing flooding problem.
Some indicated general support for the Franklin Avenue, Spinners Way and Benelong Street levees. Requests for certain design elements were made by some affected landowners, such as retention of green space, proximity to fencelines and aesthetics.
Some expressed general support for the Trinity Row overland flow path. A request was made for the provision of a gentle slope access to the beach as part of the design.
Doubt was cast on whether Council would adequately maintain the levee at Bulli High School, with concern expressed about how the measures may impact school assets, and whether there would be ongoing liabilities or associated costs. Building a wall was not supported. A solution minimising the risk of water ingress into school buildings was preferred. The retention of school staff car parking spaces was requested and for the design to avoid creating a graffiti fence or hangout place for young people to loiter.
Responses to the proposed detailed design schedule were mixed. While some were supportive, others felt the priorities should be re-ordered.
It was requested that sewerage infrastructure, retention of pedestrian access from the athletics field alongside houses to Farrell Rd, and creek bank erosion protection be considered as part of the design development.
Several suggested other measures for consideration. These included a concrete dish drain at Bulli High, increasing the capacity of the swale and stormwater system on the north side of Ursula Road, a levee along Whartons Creek instead of the school, combining construction of the Ursula Road shared pathway with an upgrade to the stormwater system, installing a levee between Waniora Public School and Bulli High and creating a shallow gutter/drain from Bulli High’s Alroy St entrance south to the existing drain, to direct water out to Ursula Road.
Some felt that measure WCO7 (upgrading the existing Franklin Avenue culverts and increasing the waterway area for the downstream channel) should still proceed to detailed design, despite not being one of the recommended measures.
Creek maintenance advice was sought by an affected landowner. Some residents expressed frustration regarding private landowners not maintaining waterways on their land. A request was made for Council to do creek maintenance downstream of Franklin Avenue, to provide an access point for an affected landowner so they can get creek maintenance equipment in.
Other feedback included concerns relating to planning, environmental and water quality issues as a result of stormwater flowing into the ocean.
Consultation has concluded