Councillors have voted to implement a new pedestrian path along Nepean Avenue, despite pleas from local residents to go back to the drawing board.
The controversial path is planned to address safety issues given the ever-growing popularity of the bridge to bridge walk, which takes in Nepean Avenue.
There is no specific footpath along the road. The new pedestrian pathway is designed to formalise how the existing route is enjoyed.
The proposed path would be built on the western side of Nepean Avenue, between Tench Reserve and Memorial Avenue, at the road level and within the existing road verge. The pathway would feature a textured separation and bespoke lighting bollards to protect pedestrians from passing traffic. The bollards will be adequately spaced along the path to allow safe entry and exit from driveways.
The draft design proposes Nepean Avenue become a two-way quietway with a reduced speed limit to provide a safe integration of cyclists on the road and encourage active transport and calm traffic.
The road will be resurfaced, and the three current speed humps will become permanent. New traffic-calming bands will send visual and tactile cues about appropriate speeds and behaviours. The speed humps and traffic calming paver bands will be designed with cyclists in mind so they can navigate comfortably along the road.
Other design features include planting and uplighting new trees to provide an inviting environment and enhanced atmosphere for residents and visitors and to create a green corridor that helps to provide shade and keep people cool.
Council received 71 formal objection letters from Nepean Avenue residents, along with email responses and phone calls.
Most Nepean Avenue residents are against the proposal, citing new trees, bollards and road width as primary concerns. They do not believe safety of pedestrians will be significantly improved by the proposal.
Residents would prefer the current arrangement – which sees no parking on the western side of Nepean Avenue – be retained, or the footpath to be built up from the road, along the existing nature strip.
Nepean Avenue resident Paul Dukes addressed the Council meeting on Monday night, saying residents wanted the footpath to be located away from the road.
“None of the residents are actually opposed to a foothpath on Nepean Avenue, we’re just opposed to where it is going,” he said.
“We live in the street. We see it day in, day out. We should take count of what the residents are saying.”
Dukes said he would embrace further communication with Council on the issue.
“We’re not unreasonable people – not by any means,” he said.
Dukes acknowledged the popularity of the street but urged fellow locals to consider how they would feel if such a proposal was planned for their street.
This is just the latest chapter in the ongoing debate over the proposed pathway, which has been discussed since 2016.
Councillor John Thain said Council needed to get on with it, and moved that the proposal be rubber stamped.
“Sometimes you have to make decisions that aren’t popular, and that’s the reality,” he said.
“This is about the third time we’ve had it before Council. There’s been a number of iterations of it, there’s been a number of deferrals.
“I think it’s time we did get on and do it, because there is risk on that street.”
Councillor Ross Fowler said the proposal as it stood was “the best we’re going to get” and said he supported the plan “with somewhat of a heavy heart”.
“I think what is proposed is going to more formalise a pedestrian route on Nepean Avenue and whilst it’s going to be on the western side and I do appreciate the minor inconvenience that will be caused to the residents there in relation to access to their property, I think that minor inconvenience… the risk that is going to be alleviated is going to far outweigh that minor inconvenience,” he said.
“There has to be something done.”
Councillor Bernard Bratusa urged Councillors to allow further consultation to occur.
“It is a premium street,” he said.
“Tonight we heard a willingness from one of the lead residents that they want to sit down with Council and find a solution.
“My simple solution is we put a time limit on it, and we come back with a solution.
“This is their homes. I think we need to respect that. We need to have one more roll of the dice here.”
His comments received applause from the Nepean Avenue residents in the Council chamber.
The matter was put to a vote and the majority of Councillors voted to support the proposal.
The decision sparked an angry response from the public gallery, with Mayor Hitchen urging residents to leave.
The State Government is contributing $1.25 million to the project.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.