Item 8.9 - Attachment 1

Detailed Report Epping Town Centre Study






Epping Town Centre is focused around the Epping Railway Station, with the railway line and Beecroft Road dividing the centre into eastern and western precincts. The topography of the land is such that the eastern side of the railway line is substantially elevated above the western side and this along with the physical road and railway barriers, serve to disconnect the two parts of the centre. Furthermore, the centre is divided into two local government areas, with the south-western corner lying within the Parramatta Local Government Area (LGA) and the remaining area lying within the Hornsby LGA.


In 2007, the requirement for a joint planning study for the Epping Town Centre was raised by the Minister for Planning at the time and was also identified in the draft West Central and North subregional strategies prepared by the NSW State Government as part of the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy.


The Metropolitan Plan for Sydney for 2036 identifies Epping as being within the Global Economic Corridor extending from Sydney Airport/Port Botany to Parramatta, and each of the subregional strategies identifies Epping as a ‘Town Centre’ in the hierarchy of centres.


Epping has also seen recent upgrades to the rail network, including the Epping to Chatswood Railway Line, and is also earmarked for inclusion in both the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link and North West Rail Link.




While Parramatta City Council (PCC) had already completed its draft planning work for Epping as part of the draft Parramatta comprehensive LEP, at its meeting of 26 November 2007, Council resolved (in part):


That Council agree in principle, to join with Hornsby Council and the Department of Planning to formulate planning controls for the Epping town centre for both sides of the railway line.


The Department of Planning & Infrastructure (DoPI) established a Working Group and Project Control Group, and developed a draft brief for the study. Both Councils raised concern with regard to the funding of the project. The Department suggested that Parramatta City Council and Hornsby Shire Council (HSC) jointly apply for Planning Reform Funding from the Department to cover the full cost of the proposed study. This was reported to Council on 25 August 2008 and Council resolved:


That Council continue to participate in the joint planning work for the centre.


On 30 January 2009, PCC and HSC made a joint application to the Department for funding under the Planning Reform Fund for the joint Epping town centre study. Funding of $300,000 was sought based upon the estimated costs to deliver the brief.

On 12 August 2009, the Minister for Planning announced the Planning Reform Funding. HSC received written notification offering $125,000 towards the joint Epping planning study. This amount was insufficient to cover the costs of delivering the project brief. A Mayoral Minute on 24 Aug 2009 resolved:


That Council defer a decision of the offer of Planning Reform Funding pending further discussions with Hornsby Shire Council and the Department of Planning with regard to the ability to vary the project scope and the timing of the joint Epping planning study.

Further, that as part of the proposed discussions, an actual meeting be held between both Councils and the Department and all councillors be invited to attend such meeting.


On 19 October 2009 Council resolved that it would accept a funding offer of $125,000 from the Department for the Joint Epping Town Centre Study, subject to it being used for an integrated traffic and transport plan.


In February 2010 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was entered into between PCC, HSC and the Department to complete a joint planning study for Epping Town Centre. Following a tender process, JBA Planning Consultants (and sub consultants) were engaged to undertake the study.


The preliminary draft study was completed in late April 2011 and presented to Councillors at a workshop in mid May 2011. Subject to comments from Councillors and Council staff, a final draft of the study was completed in July 2011 and has been provided to Councillors under separate cover.




The study brief required the holistic investigation of the Epping Town Centre comprising land generally within 800m -1000m radius (10 minute walk) of the railway station, and including land within both the Parramatta and Hornsby LGAs (see study area map at Attachment 2). The key aim of the study was to explore the potential of the Epping Town Centre to accommodate increased residential and employment growth.


The study was premised by dividing the study area into a ‘town centre core area’ and ‘surrounding residential area.’ The brief also sought to nominate a short term growth scenario (to 2020) and a long tem growth scenario (post 2020). Underpinning the study, the brief required the preparation of an integrated traffic and transport analysis; opportunities and constraints analysis; retail and commercial analysis; and establishment of potential residential, retail and commercial growth options under each scenario.


The objectives of the Epping Town Centre Study were to:

·    analyse transport issues within the study area and model transport outcomes;

·    analyse the opportunities and constraints for the study area;

·    explore two growth scenarios (short term and long term) for the Epping Town Centre identifying additional dwellings, employment (commercial) floor space and retail floor space available under each scenario;

·    identify infrastructure upgrades required to accommodate each scenario:

·    deliver an urban structure plan, including the development of new planning controls for the Epping Town Centre; and

·    identify funding sources for the provision of any proposed works and facilities associated with development.


The study was prepared by JBA Planning Consultants (and sub consultants) including Halcrow & Hughes Trueman (traffic and transport analysis and costing), Hill PDA (economic analysis) and KJA (consultation/community engagement).


The project was managed by Hornsby Shire Council however; a Working Group, Steering Committee and Government Agencies Group were established, to provide feedback to inform the consultant team. These groups comprised representatives of PCC, HSC and the Department, and included Councillor representation on the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee was consulted on the recommendations of the study and provided appropriate feedback throughout the process. Councillors were provided update memos throughout the study process


Community consultation was undertaken in the form of community street stalls held in Epping in early December 2011 (to understand the community’s issues and to understand how the community would like to see Epping develop). In addition a Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) was established comprising representatives of local stakeholder groups and local residents. The SRG met with the consultant team in November 2010 and early March 2011.


Should Council adopt the draft study, further public community consultation will be undertaken via public exhibition. This is discussed in further detail in this report under the heading Public Exhibition.




As stated above, the study area comprises an area of between 800m - 1000m radius from Epping Train Station and is identified as a predominantly suburban residential centre in Sydney’s north-west region. The summary below identifies the key land uses within the study area.


Existing Housing

4,100 dwellings including 1,610 houses, 175 town houses/villas and 2,370 apartments, accommodating approximately 10,000 residents.


Existing Retail & Commercial


Approximately 55,000 sqm commercial office space and 13,000 sqm retail space, providing approximately 3,400 jobs.


Other existing uses

The centre includes a number of public open spaces and community facilities including library, community centre, Council owned car park, as well as schools and places of public worship and entertainment type uses including the Epping Club, Epping Hotel and Boronia Park Conference Centre.



Role of Epping


The study envisages Epping Town Centre’s role as a residential origin, rather than an employment destination. Redevelopment of Epping would provide housing growth and choice to serve nearby employment centres at Parramatta, Macquarie Park, Chatswood, Norwest and Hornsby, and would be unlikely to compete with these areas for economic growth.


In the short term scenario there would be no increase in commercial floor space within Epping, with a likely reduction in commercial floor space in the longer term (between 30,000 – 47,000sqm reduction by 2036) due to potential conversion of existing commercial floor space to residential or retail purposes. This is due to the fact that the bulk of Epping’s commercial floor space is comprised of three main ‘business centres’ which may not be viable in the longer term. Also the demand for commercial office space is likely to change from large companies occupying whole buildings to smaller office spaces accommodating small businesses.


Service retail would however be likely to increase in both the short and long term scenarios to serve the existing and expanded residential population. The study assumes an increase of 5,000 – 7,500 sqm of retail floor space by 2036.


Town Centre Core & Surrounding Residential Areas


The study area is split into two investigation areas being the ‘town centre core area’ and ‘surrounding residential area’. The core generally comprises the current commercial/retail areas sounding the railway station, while the surrounding residential area comprises the existing low and high density residential areas within the study area boundary.


A.      The Town Centre Core


The study proposes a compact mixed use core centre area that is proposed to be zoned B2 Local Centre, allowing for a mix of retail, commercial and residential uses. This is proposed along both sides of the railway station to ensure consistency across each local government area. Development within this area would be up to 72 metres (22 storeys) in height and would require active ground level frontage (particularly along Beecroft Road, Rawson Street and parts of Bridge Street), with residential and some commercial in the form of slim line towers above.


A number of key sites are identified for redevelopment within the core area, including the Rawson Street Car Park site , the Coles Supermarket site (53 Rawson Street), the Epping Hotel site (53-53 Beecroft Road & 54-54A Rawson Street) and the land between Epping Hotel and the Genesis development (56A-72 Rawson Street & 59-77 Beecroft Road).

Within the Hornsby LGA, key sites are identified as 246- 250 Beecroft Road (service station on the corner of Beecroft/Carlingford Roads); 240-242 Beecroft Road (commercial development north of service station), 12-22 Langston Place & 8-10 Pembroke Street (including Hornsby Council owned land); 3-5 Pembroke Street & 32-42 Oxford Street (owned by Uniting Church); and 37-41 Oxford Street (Cambridge Business Park).


The study also seeks to improve connectivity within the town centre core, both across the railway line, and within the eastern and western precincts, including improved connections between Beecroft Road and Rawson Street.


B.      Residential


Having regard to the opportunities and constraints of the area including topography, flooding, vegetation, bushfire risk, heritage items and conservation area, land ownership patterns, lot size, infrastructure corridors, walkability and proximity to transport, open space and services, the surrounding residential areas were analysed to determine the potential to accommodate residential growth in the short and long term scenarios.


Within the Parramatta LGA, none of the residential areas were identified for growth as part of the study recommendations. This was primarily due to the constraints of heritage, existing strata subdivision and small lot sizes, making the area less viable for redevelopment purposes. The area generally bound by Kent Street, Grandview Parade, Boronia Avenue and Carlingford Road was identified as having potential to be further investigated for redevelopment in the future, but was not considered the best location for development within the life of the study time frames and therefore no change to the planning controls are recommend by the study for that precinct.


It is noted that the existing residential flat buildings in the area bound by Carlingford Road, Kent, Bridge and Victoria Streets (generally surrounding Boronia Park) is identified as being highly constrained by existing strata subdivision and therefore as a whole is unlikely to achieve significant redevelopment potential. The study recommends this area be zoned R4 High Density Residential, reflecting its current predominant use.


Within the Hornsby LGA, five individual precincts were identified for redevelopment as part of the study. These are discussed further in Section 5.10 of the Study


Dwelling Targets


The study proposes an additional 3,195 – 4,320 dwellings across the study area between 2011 and 2036. This is based upon planning controls recommended in the study and assumes a 50 – 80% take up of development potential to 2036. It is also assumed that most redevelopment within the core area would include residential development (other than say ground/ first floor).


Of the total number of dwellings, approximately 1,800 – 2,925 additional dwellings will be located within the town centre core (both Parramatta and Hornsby LGAs), and further 1,295 additional dwellings proposed within the residential areas (Hornsby LGA only). An additional 100 dwellings comprising subdivisions, seniors housing development etc across the study are is also assumed (both LGAS).


Within the Parramatta LGA, the total number of additional dwellings will range from 675 – 1090 within the core area, and an additional 25 dwellings within the residential areas due to subdivision or other infill development. In comparison, the draft Parramatta LEP controls for Epping assumed approximately 762 additional dwellings (at 100% uptake) within the Epping Residential Development Strategy Area (area bound by Kent Street, Bridge Street, Beecroft Road and Carlingford Road).


Building Height & Urban Form


The approach to built form proposed by the study had regard to the existing street block pattern, existing built form and streetscape, views and vistas, topography and the relationship between topography and tall buildings.


Tallest buildings (55m to 72m or 16 – 22 storeys) are proposed along Beecroft Road, and Rawson Street (east side), as well as key locations on the Hornsby LGA side. Mid-rise buildings (28m – 48m or 8 – 14 storeys) are proposed on Rawson Street (west side) and the northern side of Bridge Street. 21m high buildings (6 storeys) are proposed on the southern side of Bridge Street (near Beecroft Road).



The tallest building height of 72m is recommended within the cental point of the Rawson Street/Beecroft Road block (Epping Hotel site) as this is identified as a key marker of the Epping Station, as well as the northern corner of Carlingford/Beecroft Road (Hornsby LGA)  and corner Langston Place Beecroft Road (Hornsby LGA).


With regard to the tall buildings within the core centre area, the study recommends a low level podium (2 – 3 storeys) with slim line towers above (up to 20 storeys) oriented away from major roads/railway line. The predominant justification of this particularly along Beecroft Road/ Rawson Street includes reduced bulk of development, improved streetscape and pedestrian amenity, improved solar access, improved residential amenity (better solar access and less exposure to noise impacts, access to district views), and best economic utilisation of land.


It is noted that the built form proposed within the study area, provides for a slightly different outcome on the eastern and western sides of the railway line. While both sides accommodate high rise slim line towers, the majority of these would be located along Beecroft Road (within both Parramatta and Hornsby LGAs).


The justification for this is that the existing streetscape and street block pattern provides different characteristics on either side of the railway line and the form proposed attempts to be sympathetic to this, and seeks to retain the village streetscape in Oxford Street (Hornsby LGA). The study also identifies the western side of the town centre as the more dominant side and the study seeks to respond to this.


For the high density residential zone surrounding the core, a 12m (3 storey) height limit has been proposed, which reflects predominant existing building height in this area.  Building heights within the low density residential area will remain at 9m (2 storeys).


Heritage Items & Conservation Areas


The study recommends the adoption of the draft heritage items and heritage conservation areas that Council had previously resolved in July 2008. This includes the extension of the Epping/Eastwood Heritage Conservation Area, creation of the Boronia Avenue Heritage Conservation Area, and addition of new heritage items at 6-14 Bridge Street, 61 Kent Street, 17 Grandview Avenue and 100 Midson Road.


Road, Cycle & Pedestrian Network


The Transport Study undertaken identified that the existing road network within parts of the study area carries high volumes of traffic particularly along Epping Road, Beecroft Road, Carlingford Road and Blaxland Road, carrying (in parts) similar volumes to sections of Parramatta Road. Accordingly, a number of roadways and key intersections within the study area are highly constrained during the peak periods. Significantly, 89% of all trips using the rail overpass bridge during peak periods do not originate or have destinations within the study area (i.e. it is through traffic).


Given the existing traffic issues, the study identifies that in order to accommodate growth within the Epping Town Centre, vehicular, cycle and pedestrian improvements including improved east west connections across the railway line are required.


Particularly the study recommends road upgrades at the intersection of Beecroft and Carlingford Roads; widening of the road bridge over the railway to accommodate an additional vehicle lane and to create two additional pedestrian footways on either side of the railway bridge; provision of an at grade pedestrian crossing at Beecroft Road; upgrade Epping/Blaxland Road intersection; upgrade Epping Road/Essex Street intersection; and remove the right hand turn from Langston Place on to Epping Road. These improvements have been valued at approximately $16.6 million.


It is noted that as part of the study, a Government Agencies Group was established including representatives of the RTA and Transport NSW. While some of these matters were discussed at the high level, the suggested road improvements would need to be further investigated and agreed to in consultation with the RTA (and Railcorp where the works could impact upon the railway line). Funding for these works would also need to be determined and this is discussed in further detail below under the heading Infrastructure Funding.

Changes to the local laneway network are also recommended including additional east-west connections between Beecroft Road and Rawson Streets, possible deletion of north-south laneways between Beecroft Road and Rawson Street and further improved pedestrian connections from Rawson Street and Carlingford Road into Boronia Park.


Open Space, Community Facilities and Rawson Street Car Park


The study identifies the opportunity for the Council owned Rawson Street Car Park to be redeveloped, with any future redevelopment potentially including a basement car park, at grade town square, provision of community facilities, and private redevelopment opportunities above.  The zoning, height and floor space ratio for the site are recommended within the study, however, it is noted that the future redevelopment of the site would be subject to further master planning and investigation by Council.


All existing open spaces and community facilities are to be retained under the study, and opportunities for additional open space and facilities are proposed as part of future redevelopment of the Rawson Street Car Park. Additional opportunities for open space and community facilities are also identified within the Hornsby LGA including parts of the existing Bowling Club on Blaxland Road and the possible redevelopment of the existing Epping Library and surrounding land to provide a new public plaza, and upgraded community facilities.


Public Domain Improvements


The study includes a Public Domain Improvement Plan which identifies opportunities for new town square (Rawson Street) and plaza (Pembroke Street), public open spaces (Bowling Club site), active ground building frontages (including Beecroft Road, Rawson Street and Bridge Street), landscaping and street tree planting (throughout the centre), footpath enhancement (including Beecroft Road and Rawson Street), and improved pedestrian and cycle connections (throughout centre).


Funding of these public domain improvements would need to be resolved and may include development contributions, planning agreements, and State government funding as detailed further below under the heading Infrastructure Funding.


Public Transport & Car Parking Strategy


While Epping Railway Station is identified for inclusion in both the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link and the North West Rail Link, the study suggests that this would not increase commuter parking at Epping, and that commuters would likely park at locations of new railway stations. Accordingly, there is no recommendation within the study for a formal commuter car park in Epping.


As the town centre is well serviced by public transport, the study does suggest that car parking rates within the town centre be reviewed within the next 5 years, particularly as the modal split changes towards improved public transport use, walking and cycling.




A simplified comparison of the planning controls proposed under the study in comparison with those previously adopted by Council under the draft Parramatta LEP 2011 is provided below:



Draft LEP



B2 Local Centre (Beecroft/Rawson/Bridge)


SP2 Infrastructure (Rawson Street Car Park)


RE1 Public Open Space & W1 Natural Waterway (Boronia Park, Duncan Park etc)


R4 High Density Residential (Bridge/Victoria/Carlingford/ Kent)

Same as draft LEP with the exception of the Rawson Street Car Park site which is proposed to be zoned B2 Local Centre.




Heights range from 10-40m (2-12 storeys) within the B2 Local Centre Zone.


No height limit prescribed to Rawson Street Car Park site.


11m height limit (3 storeys) within the R4 High Density Residential Zone.


9m (2 storeys) within the R2 Low Density Residential Zone.

Heights range from 21-72m (6-22 storeys) within the B2 Local Centre Zone.


Part 28m & part 48m maximum height for Rawson Street Car Park site.


12m height limit (3 storeys) within the R4 High Density Residential Zone.


9m (2 storeys) within the Low Density Residential Zone.

Floor Space Ratio (FSR)

FSR range from 2:1 to 4:1 within the B2 Local Centre Zone.


No FSR limit prescribed to Rawson Street Car Park site.


0.8:1 within the R4 High Density Residential Zone.


0.5:1 within the R2 Low Density Residential Zone.

FSR range from 2.5:1 to 6:1 within the B2 Local Centre Zone.


3.5:1 maximum FSR for Rawson Street Car Park site.


0.8:1 within the R4 High Density Residential Zone.


0.5:1 within the R2 Low Density Residential Zone.

Heritage Items & Conservation Areas

Existing Heritage Conservation Areas (HCA) (Wyralla Avenue and  Epping /Eastwood)


Existing items at 31 Bridge Street (Church of Christ) and Duncan Park/Croquet Pavilion at 43A & 47 Kent Street.

Existing Items and HCAs


Extension to Epping/Eastwood HCA


New Boronia Avenue HCA

Listing of new heritage items at 6-14 Bridge Street, 61 Kent Street, 17 Grandview Avenue and 100 Midson Road.

Minimum Lot Size

Minimum lot size 550sqm to R2 and R4 zones.

Minimum lot size 550sqm to R2 and R4 zones.









Traffic congestion is a known constraint of Epping Town Centre and the Transport Study undertaken by Halcrow has revealed that many of the existing roadways within the study area (particularly Beecroft, Blaxland, Carlingford and Epping Roads) carry high volumes of traffic in peak periods, and that a number of key intersections are already at or beyond their capacity, leading to long queues and significant delays during peak periods.


There is a high volume of through traffic in the Epping Town Centre with 89% of all peak traffic on the rail bridge having trip origins and destinations outside of the study area. This high proportion of through traffic is characteristic of arterial routes carrying longer distance traffic between metropolitan centres, with sections of Epping and Beecroft Roads carrying traffic volumes comparable to parts of Parramatta Road. These high traffic volumes cause congestion in the Epping Town Centre that impacts local traffic on many of the side streets.


Substantial delays to traffic movements in Epping Town Centre are caused by two significant bottlenecks on the road network at Epping Road/Blaxland Road/Langston Place intersection; and at Beecroft Road/Carlingford Road intersection. Travel time surveys undertaken by Halcrow indicate that on average (in peak periods) it takes almost 12 minutes to cross the study area from west to east and 9 minutes from north to south. The worst delays occurring within the study area occur at Beecroft/Carlingford Roads in the AM peak and at Blaxland/Epping Roads in the PM peak.


The Transport Study modelled two growth scenarios within Epping, being the short term scenario to 2020 and the long term scenario being post 2020. The traffic model was based upon a midway point (2016 for the short term) and (2026 for the long term) to provide indicative impacts of growth upon the capacity of the local road network.


The short term scenario was modelled in 2016, and the following assumptions were made for the purpose of the traffic model:

·    900 additional dwellings;

·    3,000sqm additional retail space;

·    no change in commercial floor space;

·    no new major public transport works or highway works;

·    M2 widening complete;

·    Strategic bus corridor serving Epping implemented;

·    Background traffic growth of approx 1% (due to surrounding redevelopment including former Channel 7 and Eastwood Brickworks sites);

·    Reduction in the proportion (modal split) of car travel to work by 4%; and

·    2% of all local and district trips undertaken by bicycle.


Under this scenario the study identifies that total volume of peak hour traffic generated by the development in the AM peak is 270 and 315 in the PM peak. Given the existing congestion levels within the study area, any increase in traffic will significantly impact those intersections close to or exceeding their capacity unless intersection improvements or signalised timing adjustment are undertaken.


Should no improvements/timing changes be undertaken, the additional traffic linked to development and increased traffic will lead to delays increasing by 29% in the AM peak and 22% in the PM peak. These upgrades are detailed below and are estimated to have a value of $16.6 million excluding land acquisition costs:


1.   North Epping traffic that currently turns right from Langston Place should be re-directed to Essex Street by banning the right turn for general traffic at Langston Place.

2.   To facilitate increased traffic volumes due to the re-routing from Langston Place, Essex Street/Epping Road intersection should have the pedestrian crossing facility moved to the Eastern side and Essex Street approaches should be widened to accommodate additional turning lanes.

3.   Rail bridge carriageway widening is undertaken by removal of footpaths on north and south sides to accommodate additional westbound lane.

4.   New shared pedestrian/ cycle bridges are constructed on the north and south sides of the existing rail bridge.

5.   An additional lane is created on the southern side of Epping Road at approach to Blaxland Road.

6.   The Beecroft Road southbound approach to the Beecroft Road/Carlingford Road Intersection is widened to accommodate an additional two lanes (one through lane over a distance of at least 150m and one turning lane over a distance of 50m).

7.   Provision of an at grade pedestrian crossing over Beecroft Road linking to the railway station stairwell.


For the long term scenario, modelled in 2026, the following assumptions were made for the traffic model:

·    3,000 additional units (total);

·    6,000sqm additional retail space (total);

·    Reduction of 37,000sqm commercial floor space;

·    Completed North West Rail link, Parramatta Epping Rail Link and Western Express Line;

·    M5 duplication;

·    M2 to F3 tunnel;

·    M4 east & M4 widening;

·    Reduction in the proportion (modal split) of car travel to work by 14%;

·    5% of all local trips undertaken by bicycle;

·    Substantial increase in background traffic growth of approximately 14% (from 2016); and

·    All recommended short term traffic intersection upgrades have been undertaken.


Under this scenario the study identifies that the total volume of peak hour traffic generated by the development in the AM peak is 374 and 617 in the PM peak. Therefore the net increase in development trips between the short and long term scenario is 104 in the AM peak and 302 in the PM peak.


The Halcrow report suggests that the recommended short term traffic improvements will go some way toward providing capacity for the long term scenario as well as the short term development capacity proposed by the study. However, the substantial increase in background traffic growth between 2016 and 2026 is identified as the main cause as to why the short term traffic upgrades will not cope with the long term growth scenario and efficiencies will begin to decline between 2016 and 2026. Accordingly, the study recommends that the State Government should be approached to fund long term infrastructure solutions.


Two long term infrastructure solutions were tested by the traffic model. Firstly the provision of a tunnel constructed between Epping Road (east of Pembroke Street) and Beecroft Road (north of Carlingford Road) to accommodate all traffic that currently travels between these two points. The second long term option tested focussed around through trip removal and assumes that significant policy measures are introduced and/or significant redistribution of through trips away from the study area is achieved by substantial new infrastructure provision outside the study area. 


The study concludes that these long term infrastructure scenarios are unlikely to occur due to financial constraints (2km tunnel could cost up to $250 million) and other implementation difficulties and therefore the Transport Study suggests that the long term solutions are unviable at this time.


The study does however state that to accommodate traffic from 2016 to 2026 there will need to be road upgrades on the eastern side of the railway line (Hornsby LGA) and additional carriageway widening at the following locations:

• Epping Road westbound from Terry’s Creek to Blaxland Road;

• Carlingford Road eastbound from Kent Street to Beecroft Road  (NB - a reservation should be created on the HSC side of the road as a priority).; and

• Beecroft Road southbound from M2 to Carlingford Road.

HSC has also suggested some additional works on Epping Road near Pembroke Street.  


For the long term on the eastern side of the railway line (PCC & HSC) the following road improvements are suggested by PCC:

·    Signalised intersection at Carlingford Road (opposite Cliff Road) to provide access for properties on the west side of Rawson Street (behind Coles Supermarket). Note: This is also suggested in the JBA Study.

·    A signalised exit from basement car parks of new development in block between Beecroft Road/Rawson Street, leading onto Beecroft Road. This could also provide a bus route from Rawson Street bypassing other congested intersections.

·    Tidal flow at the intersection of Carlingford and Beecroft Roads.


Modal Split


Current transport mode share for Epping Town Centre is currently dominated by car drivers. 61% of people that work in Epping arrive as a car driver, likewise of those trips that originate in Epping, 47% are as car drivers. However, of trips that originate in Epping, a large proportion (49%) travel to work by non-car methods (public transport, walking and cycling), with 4% working from home.


Combining journey to work trips of residents and workers, Epping has a mode split of 31% by non-car modes. In the longer term, the Transport Study assumes a 45% non-car mode split for Epping. This assumption is reflective of significant increased public transport investment and changing travel behaviours, as well as increased densities surrounding the Epping railway station.


To achieve the targeted modal split, the Transport Study recognises the need to change travel demand patterns and therefore recommends the following travel demand management measures:


1.   A car share scheme should be introduced with support from HSC and PCC covering the Epping Town Centre.

2.   An Active Transport Strategy is developed by HSC and PCC covering the Epping Town Centre in a consistent way that also accords with each Council's respective LGA.

3.   Green Travel Plans should be required to be paid for by developers within the Epping Town Centre.

4.   Best Practice Land Use Planning principles should be followed to ensure Active Transport Networks are supported and highest densities are sited adjacent to public transport.

5.   HSC and PCC should support measures to remove existing on-street public transport bottlenecks.

6.   HSC should immediately move towards PCC's more restrictive car parking standards and increased minimum bicycle parking requirements within the Epping Town Centre.

7.   PCC should continue to develop restrictive parking standards based on PTAL specific to the Epping Town Centre and HSC should also adopt these in the longer term; and

8.   HSC & PCC should support on-road public transport schemes that provide priority over general traffic.


It is recommended that Council further investigate the suitability of these recommendations to potentially inform new controls within Council’s Development Control Plan or other codes and polices.


Rawson Street/Ray Road Intersection with Carlingford Road


As part of the traffic modelling undertaken, the capacity of the Rawson Street/ Carlingford Road intersection was investigated and currently found to experience average delays of 47 seconds in the AM peak and 28 seconds in the PM peak as a result of signal timings of this intersection. However, much greater delays are experienced as a result of blocking vehicles from congestion on Carlingford Road by the intersection with Beecroft Road.


The study claims that any intersection improvements at Rawson Street/Ray Road would have little or no impact upon the operation of the intersection when blocking back continues to exist from Carlingford/Beecroft Road intersection as there is limited queuing space between the two intersections. However, it does note that there may be some merit in introducing left and right turn phase filter arrows from a safety perspective if pedestrian protection is thought to be warranted. Council’s accident data does not justify the provision of a right turn phase from Rawson Street. A right turn phase from Rawson Street would be inefficient and would adversely affect other movements.


In relation to this intersection the traffic model highlights that in the short term development scenario if no traffic upgrade works were undertaken, then the AM peak average traffic delays in Rawson Street would increase from 47 seconds to 63 seconds, with the PM peak delay being unchanged at 28 seconds. However if the recommended short term traffic upgrades are undertaken, the AM and PM peak delays would both reduce to 25 seconds in the AM peak and 24 seconds in the PM peak by 2016. By 2026, the traffic model suggests that these delays would begin to increase to 28 seconds in the AM peak and 27 seconds in the PM peak, but would still be lower than the existing delays.


In regards to the right turn from Rawson Street onto Carlingford Road, the model shows that the current delay in the morning is 104 seconds in the AM peak and 71 seconds in the PM peak. In the short term scenario (by 2016) it is forecast to become 58 seconds in the AM peak and 72 seconds in the PM peak. By 2026 t is forecast to become 54 seconds in the AM peak and 73 seconds in the PM peak.


The increased residential densities in Rawson Street and surrounds are not suggested to reduce the efficiency of the Rawson Street intersection. However, this is based upon the RTA agreeing to proposed road works and signal timing changes.  In the AM peak, signal times allocated to exit Rawson Street/Ray Road would need to more than double (from 23 seconds to 48 seconds) and the time for Carlingford Road would need to be reduced by 20% (from 125 seconds to 100 seconds). In the PM peak, signal times allocated to exit Rawson Street/Ray Road would need increase (from 33 seconds to 46 seconds) and the time for Carlingford Road would need to be reduced from 115 seconds to 102 seconds).


It is recommended that Council further investigate the traffic modelling provided for Rawson Street intersection and further analyse the impact upon left and right turn movements more specifically to determine the likely impact of developments.


Commuter Car Parking


The Transport Study reviewed the impact of commuter car parking on the Epping Town Centre and found that there is high demand for commuter parking on local streets, and that demand is generated equally by people from within the station catchment and outside. 95% of all unrestricted parking spaces within 800m of the railway station are used for long term parking by commuters. However, the study suggests that the implementation of the Parramatta Epping Rail Link is likely to see only minor increases in commuter parking demand, while the implementation of the North West Rail Link will likely see a reduction in demand for commuter parking at Epping Station as commuters are likely to access new railway stations. Accordingly, the study does not recommend the construction of any formal commuter car parking area within Epping.


Parking Standards


The Transport Study recommends that parking rates be reviewed across the study area in the short term (next 5 years) as a means to assist the change in modal split towards the targeted 45% of non-car trips. Furthermore, the Economic Feasibility Analysis undertaken as part of the study identified that current parking controls prescribed by Council, may reduce development feasibility and therefore also recommends a review of the parking rates within the study area. This is discussed further below under the heading Economic Feasibility.




Road works


As discussed under the heading Traffic and Parking, the study identifies the need for traffic, cycling and pedestrian upgrades that are required to facilitate any increased densities within the Epping Town Centre. A high level costing exercise was undertaken by the consultant team and the value of the required works is estimated at $16.6 million (excluding land acquisition). It is emphasised that these estimates are preliminary only and further site investigation and surveys would be required for a more accurate cost schedule.


The Halcrow Transport Study states that all of the required traffic upgrades would need to be implemented simultaneously, rather than on a staged basis. The reason for this is that due to the relative close proximity of the intersections, implementation of one improvement will only redirect/exacerbate the bottleneck to the unimproved intersection further ‘downstream’. A possible implementation programme is suggested by Halcrow in the event that all works cannot be delivered simultaneously.


Prior to any works programme being finalised, agreement of the RTA would be required as the identified works are located predominantly over RTA controlled roads. Furthermore, any amendments to the railway over bridge will require the agreement of the Railcorp as the owners of the stratum (air space) over the railway corridor.


While the study identifies the need for these works, it does not adequately address how these works will be funded, nor whether these works will be agreed to by State agencies including the RTA. The study suggests that the RTA should fund those improvements that improve through traffic movements on State controlled roads through their works programme. However, the study also implies that these works could be funded under the development contributions regime, specifically recommending development contributions collected under s94 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act as a funding source.


While s94 development contributions can in principle be collected and used to undertake road improvement, the underlying basis for those contributions is that there is a direct relationship between new development and additional demand for service, which is termed ‘nexus’.


Given that many of the existing bottlenecks and suggested intersection upgrades are already at or near capacity, it is likely to be difficult to demonstrate the direct correlation between the demand for the road improvements and the new development, particularly given the high proportion (up to 89% of through traffic). Furthermore, the expected increase in background traffic growth between 2016 and 2026 is suggested to be the primary cause of further failure of the short term traffic improvements and therefore this further suggests that nexus is somewhat questionable.


Should a reasonable argument for nexus be demonstrated, S94 development contributions can only pay for the portion of demand generated by new users, which is termed ‘apportionment’. Given the existing and predicted high volumes of through traffic within the study area, apportionment is likely to be low and the remaining proportion of the cost of works would need to be funded by other means.


While S94A development contributions (such as Parramatta Council’s current plan) do not rely upon the same nexus and apportionment tests, a S94A contribution is still required to be reasonable and delivery of works should also be within a reasonable time.


While the short term works are needed to facilitate growth in Epping, it is demonstrated that background traffic increases would reduce the efficiency of these improvements between 2016 and 2026; therefore levying the cost of these works entirely upon new development in the Epping Town Centre would be unreasonable. Furthermore, the study advises that all the short term works would need to be delivered in their entirety by 2020, which may be difficult for both Councils to collect enough contributions in that time period to deliver the works.


The delivery of the traffic upgrades is considered to be a significant issue in relation to the delivery of growth in the Epping Town Centre. As it will be difficult for either PCC or HSC to be in financial position to deliver these works within a reasonable time and furthermore, the imposition of the cost of these works entirely upon new development is considered unreasonable.


It is suggested that high level discussions will need to be undertaken with senior managers from relevant planning infrastructure bodies including DOPI, Infrastructure NSW, the RTA, Railcorp and both Councils to establish the best way forward in delivering both short and long term infrastructure improvements for the Epping Town Centre and the broader road network.


Public Domain Improvements, Community Facilities Open Space, Laneways


In addition to the traffic upgrades required, any new development within the town centre will generate demand for improvements or enhancements to existing services including new or improved open spaces and facilities, new or improved community facilities, upgrades to the public domain including footpath upgrades, landscaping, improved pedestrian and cycling links throughout the centre, and the like. Much of this can be funded through the development contributions regime where it is primarily the result of new development.


As the Rawson Street Car Park is identified for potential redevelopment to include a basement car park, town square and community facilities, this could be funded through development contributions, or alternatively all or part could be delivered through the means of a development agreement or planning agreement and would be subject to future negotiation.




As detailed above, the study recommends the provision of a high density mixed use centre, with a series of tower buildings of 20-22 storeys along Beecroft Road and Rawson Street, dropping down to 8-14 storeys along the western side of Rawson Street and 6 storeys at the eastern end of Bridge Street. Existing residential flat development along Bridge and Kent Streets (generally surrounding Boronia Park) will remain as 3 storeys, with low density areas at2 storeys.


The high rise development in the town centre is intended to take the form of slim line towers over low (2- 3 storey) podiums, with towers oriented east west (with the short face to Beecroft Road). The tower element would have a limited footprint of 700sqm with maximum dimensions of 22m x 45m to limit the overall bulk of development. These elements would be achieved only with site amalgamations. The study identifies a potential for approximately four (4) towers along Beecroft Road and five (5) towers in Rawson Street as shown in Section 5.6 of the study.


In considering the future built form of Epping, the study considered existing street block patterns, existing views and vistas, existing built form and streetscape patterns, topography, and the relationship between tall buildings and topography. The study recommends the proposed building height and form as being suitable on the following basis:


There are a number of benefits to taller building forms, when combined with low scale street podiums that will be achieved in the Town Centre. These benefits include:

·    Improved residential amenity - taller buildings allow apartments to achieve better views, solar access and daylight, particularly as taller buildings require greater building separation (24m when buildings are greater than 25m in height). Taller buildings in Epping will also raise the majority of apartments above noise sources (road and rail). Further improving residential amenity;

·    Greater intensification within a smaller urban footprint – the taller building heights provide greater floor space potential on sites and therefore limit the land area required for significant redevelopment in the Town Centre Core. If building heights were reduced, additional land would be required to accommodate a similar amount of floor space;

·    Redistributing building bulk upwards - combined with low podiums (i.e. 2 storeys), taller buildings enable a greater sense of openness at street level with better opportunities for more daylight and sunlight between buildings at street level;

·    More residents using local services - taller buildings will introduce more residents into the Epping Town Centre Core. Locating taller buildings on retail podiums will provide the opportunity for improved retail services in the Town Centre Core and introduce more people into the Town Centre Core during off-peak times (nights and weekends), improving vibrancy and patronage in shops and restaurants;

·    New housing choice not provided in Epping - there is a small number of apartment buildings in the Epping Town Centre, and the taller buildings will provide a new style of high rise living that is currently not available to Epping residents; and

·    Enhancing the skyline - taller buildings will help create a stronger visual identify for the Town Centre Core. Epping is located at a high point in the region and the taller buildings will provide a visual marker for the Town Centre.


The study provides a comparison of proposed heights with other Sydney Centres including nearby Carlingford, Eastwood, Hornsby, Macquarie Park, West Ryde (and others see Table 10 of study) and concludes that ‘building heights up to 22 storeys in Epping are not out of context for a suburban centre and is similar to other centres with such high levels of accessibility to public transport facilities.


Furthermore, the study reviewed the likely built form outcomes based upon controls within draft Parramatta LEP 2011 in comparison to those proposed in the study for the block bound by Beecroft Road, Carlingford Road, Rawson Street and Bridge Street and made the following comments:


The block bounded by Beecroft Road, Rawson Street, Bridge Street and Carlingford Road is a key block within the Town Centre Core due to its development potential and central location within the centre. It is ideally located to accommodate substantial mixed use residential developments.


The draft planning controls [Draft Parramatta LEP 2011] for this block envisage generally 6-9 storeys built close to the street edge along the full length of the street block, in order to accommodate the floor space proposed for the block (Figure 35) [of the study]. Whilst this height is more consistent with the Genesis building, this form is considered undesirable for the following reasons:

·    residential amenity - the apartments fronting Beecroft Road will have a low level of amenity looking out over Beecroft Road and the railway line without the benefit of district views;

·    streetscape amenity - the mid rise wall of buildings will visually dominate the streetscape and limit the amount of solar access and daylight to the street; and

·    under utilisation of land - this key site is adjacent to the rail station and the draft controls do not fully realise the potential of the block.


Figure 35 (see Section 5.5 of study) provides an indicative elevation of the Beecroft Road Streetscape under the draft Parramatta LEP 2011 in comparison to the recommended controls under the study.


Furthermore, it is noted that provision of high density development within the core area provides opportunity for provision of substantial housing growth and choice without impacting upon the surrounding residential area which are heavily constrained by heritage.

Similarly, the economic feasibility of redevelopment is somewhat aligned to the height and density permitted, and this is discussed further below under the heading Economic Feasibility.


Should Council resolve to exhibit the study, it is recommended that a further review of the Urban Design elements of the study be undertaken by Council in conjunction with consideration of the public consultation comments with a view to informing both LEP controls (height and FSR) as well as DCP controls relating to building envelopes and setbacks, articulation, interface with surrounding public domain and adjoining buildings.


It must also be noted that any future redevelopment of these sites where residential development is proposed would be required to have regard to SEPP 65 and be reviewed by the Design Review Panel in respect of privacy, solar access, building separation and the like.




The existing Council owned car park in Rawson Street (adjacent Coles Supermarket) has been identified by the study as having redevelopment potential and is identified as a key site within the Epping Town Centre. The study recommends that the following principles be utilised in guiding redevelopment of the site.


·    locate existing at-grade car parking below ground with no less than the existing 165 car spaces provided;

·    investigate the potential for direct vehicular access and egress to Carlingford Road (via the rear of the Coles site);

·    provide clear sightlines and pedestrian/cycle links between Rawson Street and Boronia Park;

·    incorporate active retail uses at ground level with community, residential and/or commercial uses above;

·    incorporate a regular shaped public space [Town Square] (approximately 3,000sqm) positioned to receive an appropriate level of solar access with opportunities for outdoor eating, meeting places, public art etc; and

·    integrate the Town Square with Boronia Forest.


This site has previously been earmarked for redevelopment, including a new town square, in the Epping Commercial Centre Masterplan prepared in 1999, again in the Public Domain Plan prepared by UDAS in 2003 and more recently, the Urban Design Study prepared on behalf of Council in 2006 to inform the draft Parramatta LEP and DCP.


As part of the draft Parramatta LEP, height and floor space ratio for the Rawson Street car park site were not adopted to enable Council to undertake further investigation of this land. However, the study has recommended that the site be zoned B2 Local Centre with a maximum height of 28m – 48m and FSR of 3.5:1.


Although Council had previously resolved not to adopt controls for this site, the study brief was to review the town centre in its entirety, and therefore recommendations were required to be made regarding this site. However, it is also noted that the study does recommend further master planning of the site to determine the type and form of future development and to inform future DCP controls.


As a means to undertake the additional review of future redevelopment of the site, should Council endorse exhibition of the study, Council would undertake an in principle review of the study recommendations and any public submission received in relation to the Rawson Street Car Park site with a view to informing any future planning (LEP and DCP) controls recommended for the site. Should this review differ to the study, these controls would be put to Council for consideration as part of a future Planning Proposal to incorporate revised planning controls for Epping as an amendment to the Parramatta LEP.




As part of the study an Economic Assessment was undertaken by Hill PDA. This involved the review of the demand for retail and commercial floor space for the Epping Town Centre over the next 25 years; and feasibility assessment of indicative planning controls across the study area.


The forecast demand for retail space found that there is room for further expansion in retail growth due to both population growth and real growth in retail spend per capita and that this should be shared on both sides of the rail way line. The B2 Local Centre zoning proposed by the study will enable additional retail growth across the centre.


With regard to economic feasibility, there has historically been an argument from property owners and the development sector that the current planning controls within the Epping Town Centre do not allow for feasible redevelopment to occur. In respect of the Parramatta LGA portion of the study area, Hill PDA was asked to review planning controls proposed by the study for a number of sites between Beecroft Road and Rawson Street, namely:


1.   56A – 72 Rawson Street & 56-77 Beecroft Road (Site 1);

2.   3 - 9 Bridge Street (Site 2A); and

3.   33 - 38 Beecroft Road (Site 2B).


Hill PDA were requested to test the indicative planning controls of the study to determine feasibility and to make recommendations to controls that would improve economic feasibility toward the recognised development margin of 20%. Further, the study was to include discussion regarding the parameters that may affect feasibility.


As part of the feasibility assessment a market analysis of recent land and unit sales prices was undertaken, and a number of assumptions were made with respect to construction timing and costs, other costs, fees, charges and contingencies. It must be noted that even where land is predominantly in single ownership, the feasibility assumes all land at market value.


With regard to Site 1, the economic feasibility suggested that the controls tested (mixed use development, 18 storeys, 5.5:1) achieved a development margin of 10.4%, below the target level of 20% and were therefore unfeasible. Hill PDA suggested that the floor space ratio for this site be increased from 5.5:1 to 6:1 (an additional 2800sqm) to improve the development margin to 19.6%, which is generally considered feasible. The draft study controls were amended to increase the height and density on the sites along Beecroft Road to 20 storeys and 6:1 in line with the recommendation of the economic feasibility assessment.


During the preparation of the study, the Epping Property Owners Group provided an informal submission to the Working Group seeking development of up to 28 storeys within the town centre. Based on this submission, a second scenario was modelled on Site 1 modelling a 28 storey mixed use development with FSR of 8.5:1. The economic feasibly for this scenario was 34.97%, substantially higher than the recognised 20% margin.


Subsequently, each scenario for Site 1 was remodelled with a reduced parking requirement for retail and commercial development and this was found to further improve economic feasibility. As a result, Hill PDA recommends that Council consider a future review of parking controls within the Epping Town Centre.


With regard to Sites 2A and 2B a number of scenarios were modelled (Site 2A: 8 storey mixed use development 3.5-4.5:1) and (Site 2B: 8 storey mixed use development 3.5:1). Modelling suggested that each development scenario would return a loss. A number of further scenarios were modelled on each site, reducing commercial components and reducing car parking, however these development scenarios were still found to be unviable. A fourth option was modelled for each site requiring an increase of FSR to 5:1 on Site 2A and to 6.4:1 on Site 2B to achieve the desired 20% margin. While the increased FSR would be seen to make the development viable, the JBA study concludes that ‘the additional FSR and height on this site is not supported by the urban design analysis undertaken as part of this study.’


The reasoning behind not increasing the FSR (and subsequently height) at this location is because additional height in this location is not considered suitable as these sites are located at a topographical high point in the town centre; are directly opposite a draft heritage item in Bridge Street; and heights in this section of the study area need to transition down toward the low density residential area located south of Bridge Street.


The Economic Assessment concludes that there are a number of variables that affect development feasibility  including land and property value, development density (FSR), development site amalgamation and the proposed development mix (retail, commercial, residential). It is also suggested that that the construction cost of basement car parking somewhat hinders the viability of economic development, and that each Council should consider a review of parking controls in the centre. It is suggested that Council review the parking controls for Epping Town Centre, particularly with regard to retail and commercial development.


Furthermore, it is noted that the feasibility has not had regard to existing site amalgamations and assumes all land needs to be amalgamated at market rates (and this is not necessarily true of all existing development sites). Furthermore, the JBA report suggests that recent land sales may have been artificially inflated in speculation of the outcomes of the joint planning study, and that the market will readjust land prices once amended planning controls are formalised. As these recent sale prices were used in the feasibility assessment, this may have also had the affect of inflating the acquisition costs.


It is recommended that Council consider reviewing the feasibility of a number of other sites within the town centre area prior to progressing changes to planning controls. However, it must be noted that economic feasibility assessments can only be used as a guide as they are based on certain assumptions at a particular point in time and are not likely to mirror the actual circumstances of the eventual redevelopment of that site. Ultimately the cost of land acquisition will become a key factor towards achieving feasibility. By simply increasing height and FSR over a site, it could be argued that this actually inflates the cost of acquiring that land as the land owner would have the expectation of achieving a superior development outcome on the site and would want appropriate ‘compensation’ for that outcome.




The study recommends the adoption of the draft heritage items and heritage conservation areas that Council had previously resolved in July 2008. This includes the extension of the Epping/Eastwood Heritage Conservation Area, creation of the Boronia Avenue Heritage Conservation Area, and addition of new heritage items at 6-14 Bridge Street, 61 Kent Street, 17 Grandview Avenue and 100 Midson Road.


These changes are not able to be implemented on their own, and will need to form part of an amended planning proposal for the study area including proposed change to Council’s LEP controls in the comprehensive Parramatta LEP including zoning, height and floor space ratio. These amended controls will need to be separately adopted by Council and will also be the subject of further public exhibition before final implementation.




As stated above, PCC along with HSC entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with DOPI to prepare a joint planning study for the Epping Town Centre.


The intention of the study was that it would help inform a Planning Proposal to amend Council’s comprehensive Parramatta LEP including zoning, height and floor space ratios and heritage. A Planning Proposal would need to be separately endorsed by Council and be the subject of its own public exhibition, before any changes are made to the Parramatta LEP and/or DCP.


The study itself has no legal weight and whilst its recommendations may not be ultimately adopted by Council in such a Planning Proposal, the study itself does not need to be specifically endorsed by Council. The study is a comprehensive analysis of the Epping Town Centre, which provides a platform for seeking public comment.




This report recommends that Council authorise the public exhibition of the Joint Epping Planning Study. The public exhibition of the Joint Epping Town Centre Study is intended to be undertaken in partnership with HSC for a period of 8 weeks, commencing in late August 2011.







Should Council endorse public exhibition of the study, this would be undertaken between August and October 2011. Following the exhibition, a further report will be put to Council detailing any submissions received and considering a draft Planning Proposal to amend Council’s LEP controls, and potential draft changes to Council’s DCP controls.


Staff review of the study is also recommended to be undertaken to further inform changes to Council’s planning controls. This may also benefit from analysis of the submissions received.


Once Council has adopted a Planning Proposal for amendment of the planning controls in the Epping study area, it would be sent to the Department of Planning for ‘Gateway’ determination.


Once ‘Gateway’ determination is approved by the Department, a further public exhibition of the draft planning control amendments is required to be undertaken for a minimum period of 28 days. This will most likely occur sometime in 2012.