Save Epping’s Forest Park – Find Out Why it Matters

Epping, NSW currently has a number of major developments underway in excess of the planning controls for the Epping Town Centre. To date much of the development has been piecemeal and lacking in a coordinated approach to ensure Epping is a sustainable and liveable suburb. The lack of planning for Epping is resulting in insufficient infrastructure to support the rapid increase in dwellings and population. For example, there is no open space designated for the 20 storey unit blocks in Cambridge Street and high-rise buildings currently
underway in Oxford Street. There is minimal outdoor open space made available within these new complexes. Epping’s traffic problems, shortage of parking space and the need for more space in the local schools are yet to be resolved.

The character of Epping is also being changed as trees, gardens and quality homes are removed and replaced with poorly built, generic looking high-rise unit blocks. The new unit blocks have little set back from the street and space between buildings. They do not provide sufficient root space to replace the
numerous mature trees which have been removed. Epping is also rapidly losing the commercial space, it needs to remain a vibrant community, to make way for residential towers. Local residents want to see better planning for Epping.

In December, 2015 the Austino Property Group lodged a planning proposal for 2-18 Epping Road, 2-4 Forest Grove and 725 Blaxland Road, Epping (Forest Park Planning Proposal). The Forest Park Planning Proposal represents a large development which will significantly change the current Local Environment Plan (LEP) zoning for this land and the configuration of the Town Centre. This includes rezoning the public recreation land on the former Epping Bowling Club site to allow a 20-storey unit block. There will also be increases to the building heights from eight storeys to 22 and 18 storeys on other parts of the Forest Park development site. It proposes 654 dwelling, 860 car spaces and 1,637 new residents. This represents a large proportion of the 3,750 additional dwellings approved for the Epping urban development and is a gross overdevelopment of the site.

Save Epping’s Forest Park, a local action group, has major concerns about the impact of this development on Forest Park and the local infrastructure. If the development is allowed to go ahead as originally proposed it will remove useful public recreation space from the site, decrease open space for Epping, create overshadowing to Forest Park, and a tiered garden for the development is likely to result in the removal of a row of trees in the north-east end of the park. The developer has also said they want to ‘embellish’ Forest Park and it is unclear if this will take into consideration the heritage aspects of the park such as the War Memorial. This development will bring additional traffic to Forest Grove which is a 50 km per hour street which is not designed for the level of traffic this development and other additional buildings in this locality will bring. The need for safe pedestrian access to the site across Epping Road is yet to be addressed. The development is not in the public interest and does not provide community benefit.

Save Epping’s Forest Park action group have developed 5 aims for achievement including:

      1. To keep the former Epping Bowling Club site as public recreation land, with preference for it providing green open space to accommodate the needs of the growing population. The reconfiguration of this land, with tiered gardens and a walkway between high-rise buildings, does not provide the community with useful recreation space.
      2. To keep the height restrictions for 2-18 Epping Road and 2-4 Forest Grove as per the current zoning under the Local Environment Plan (ie. 2-18 Epping Road is 8 storey/26.5m; 2-4 Forest Grove is 5 storey/17.5m).
      3. To prevent any development that allows overshadowing of Forest Park.
      4. To prevent any development that allows damage to, or removal of existing trees and peripheral vegetation within Forest Park. Epping has already seen a huge loss of trees and vegetation and this is negatively impacting on this suburb.
    5. To prevent approval for rezoning and development of the site until the relevant Epping Planning Reviews are completed (ie. traffic and social infrastructure reviews). The road network is not capable of servicing the additional vehicular movements this level of development will bring nor is on street parking adequate.

Participants and friends of the group would also like to highlight that there is insufficient commercial space being built in Epping and that having an adequate ratio between commercial and residential floor space is essential to maintain the vibrancy of Epping.

We believe as the population of Epping grows the need for public recreation land and open space will grow and we do not want to see the public lose access to the public recreation land at the former Epping Bowling Club site. Nor do we want to see Forest Park, an important asset for Epping for passive recreation, destroyed by overshadowing and loss of trees and vegetation.