Why upgrade the Gordon Falls Reserve precinct?

    We want Gordon Falls reserve to be a place that:

    • offers nature based recreational experiences to everyone 
    • meets the current and future needs of residents and visitors
    • is accessible, safe, and compliant with current standards

    The planning for the Reserve Upgrade is part of a wider planning process – The Southern Escarpment Masterplan. This looks at an integrated approach to the management of the natural and cultural assets across the escarpment areas from west Katoomba to Wentworth Falls.

    The upgrade is consistent with other reserve and track upgrades that form the Grand Cliff Top Walk between Wentworth Falls and Katoomba. Gordon Falls Reserve sits at the mid-point of the Grand Cliff Top Walk. The Grand Cliff Top Walk is a joint Council / NPWS project.


    What is being done as part of the upgrade?

    The first stage of the upgrade will be the constriction of a new amenities building. The new building will provide two accessible cubicles (one with a baby change table), two ambulant cubicles and two standard cubicles. The building features a well-ventilated design with views through to the bush beyond.

    After the amenities building is complete, the second part of the upgrade includes providing improvements to the carpark, footpaths and landscaping, including the planting of local native trees, shrubs and groundcovers grown from locally sourced seed. Before work commences on the second stage of the upgrades, updated plans showing what will occur will be provided to the community.

    When will work start on site at Gordon Falls Reserve?

    Work to prepare the site will start in early September 2023. The initial work in the reserve will be in preparation for a new amenities building and will involve the removal of some trees. 

    Construction of the amenities building is anticipated to start in early October 2023. View an artist’s impression of the new amenities building.


    Will access to toilets be provided during construction at Gordon Falls Reserve?

    Yes. Council will provide temporary toilets in the reserve for the duration of the period that the permanent toilets are not in use.

    Are any trees being removed as part of the upgrade?

    Initial work in the reserve will be in preparation for a new amenities building and will involve the removal of some trees. The following trees are being removed:

    • Gum Tree: One dead tree, one smaller tree near the footprint of the new building, and two larger trees that are not structurally sound.
    • Pittosporum: A number of shrubs of varying ages - these are an opportunistic, invasive native plant that prevents naturally occurring bushland species from occurring.
    • Banksia and Teatree: A few in the footprint of the proposed building.

    It should be noted that the park upgrades will include the establishment of local native trees, shrubs and groundcovers grown from locally sourced seed.


    What is a precinct plan?

    A plan that provides a precinct-level framework to guide and prioritise future upgrades of reserve and visitor infrastructure in the short and long-term.

    Why have a precinct masterplan for the Gordon Falls Reserve?

    The purpose of the precinct masterplan is to coordinate planning for future nature-based recreation and to prioritise and guide the delivery of recreational infrastructure upgrades.

    What will the precinct masterplan achieve?

    The aim of any future upgrades to the Reserve is to protect the environmental and cultural values of the site, improve residential amenity, meet current safety standards, meet current and future visitor demand, improve the experience of both residents and visitors, support local economic development, and provide universal access for all abilities.

    What is being considered in a precinct masterplan?

    •    renewal and replacement of things like public toilets, picnic facilities, and play equipment

    •    upgrades to walking tracks and Elysian and Olympian Rock Lookouts

    •    car parking arrangements on the site and surrounds

    •    the feasibility of an accessible walking track to a lookout within the Reserve


    What community enagagement has occurred on the Gordon Falls Reserve Precinct Plan?

    Community engagement on the development of the Gordon Falls Reserve Precinct Plan consists of five phases.

    Phase 1 - Preliminary Design (scoping): community and stakeholder consultation to identify insights, issues, and ideas to inform the development of draft concept designs.

    Phase 2 – Draft Concept Design: community and stakeholder consultation to see if we got the balance right after considering community and stakeholder feedback as well as other influencing factors including, policy, planning, legal, technical, compliance requirements.

    Phase 3 – Concept Design: presented to the elected Council for endorsement as the Precinct Plan. The report to Council will include a summary of the consultation and submissions and indicate how community and stakeholder feedback was considered and / or incorporated. Members of the public can address the Council Meeting.

    Phase 4 – Precinct Plan: Community and stakeholders notified of the decision of the elected Council.

    Phase 5 - Community and stakeholders notified of the completion of the Blue Mountains Southern Escarpment Masterplan – the ‘parent’ plan incorporating all precinct and locality plans.

    Where is Council up to with this precinct masterplan?

    •    Right now, we have a draft precinct plan to be placed on exhibition for public comment

    •    Council, with the expert help of landscape design consultants, have undertaken an initial survey and analysis of the site, and an assessment of opportunities and constraints relating to the site, undertaken initial consultation with the community and Council staff and then developed plans that draw together all those inputs

    •    With the work that has been done, we are keen for the community to contribute with feedback on the draft precinct plan.


    Does Gordon Falls Reserve have a Plan of Management?

    • Draft Cliff Walk Reserve Plan of Management
    • Draft Leura Oval Plan of Management


    How will Threatened Species be protected?

    • Threatened Species - Euphrasia bowdeniae – is known to be present in the precinct – on the cliff line below Gordon Falls Reserve
    • All construction proposals will require approval under Part 5 of EP&A Act 1979. A Review of Environmental Factors will be required for proposed construction on Council managed land.
    • Typically in areas closer to the escarpment council would use construction techniques that harden tracks or lookout areas in ways such as the use of boardwalks or decks.
    • If concrete were to be used to harden tracks, we would investigate techniques to minimise alkaline runoff.


    Safety and Compliance

    Much of the work to upgrade the precinct is bringing existing elements to a level where they are fit for purpose and comply with Australian Standards. AS1428 – Disability Access Code or AS2156 – Walking Tracks: Classification and Signage & ( Part 2) Infrastructure Design Standard.

    Accessibility

    • Council is obliged to meet the requirements of the DDA Act – Disability Discrimination Act
    • The expectation is that, in any new facilities, and the upgrade of existing facilities, if we can make it accessible, then we should.  
    • Everyone should be able to visit, explore, and enjoy these special places. 
    • Providing universal access serves residents and visitors alike – at any age or stage.

    On-street parking

    Council’s Transport Infrastructure team is currently undertaking a review of on street parking to assess the current situation regarding on street parking.

    Off-street parking

    Current Off Street Parking 

    •    Southern Car Park -  11 spaces + 1 Accessible space

    •    Northern Car Park – 12 Spaces ( approx. )

    Total – 23 spaces + 1 accessible space

    Proposed Off Street Parking

    •    Southern Car Park – 10 standard spaces, 1 coffee cart space + 1 accessible spaces

    •    Northern Car park – 14 standard spaces, 2 accessible spaces

    •    Total – 24 standard spaces + 3 Accessible spaces + 1 coffee cart

    •    The bus stop has been  relocated slightly further west  

    •     Two small buses up to 22 seats are provided – in Olympian Parade in front of the park

    •    Based on traffic data from 2019 on street capacity is 180 vehicles with peak use being approximately 50 cars.

    •    Overflow parking for the Grand Cliff Top Walk is proposed to be at Leura Oval 


    Park and Playground

    The Open Space Recreation Strategic Plan – defines this park as a neighbourhood park (themes – Imagine / Create (making up stories and role play games), Explore (observing, finding), Social (any form of play where children meet and interact) & Kinetic (swinging, sliding) these themes lend themselves to more nature play.

    What does Council have money to do?

    •    At a minimum Council has funding at present to put bridges over the two landslips on the Prince Henry Cliff Walk near Elysian Lookout and on the track on from Olympian Lookout.

    •    Clear the current track and undertake some other upgrade work – sandstone step treatments re-establishing drains etc. and open it so that the Grand Cliff Top Walk can open in 2023. 

    •    Council has a $2.4 million to fund the toilet facilities, car park and potentially other elements of the upgrade.


    Why have a masterplan if you don’t have the money to implement it?

    • The master planning process provides an opportunity to shape the future of how local and visitors access natural areas. 
    • Having a masterplan also supports Council bids for grant funding to implement the plan. It is considered better management to have a plan without funding than incidental funding with no plan.


    What is the difference between Council’s proposal and the NPWS proposition for an elevated boardwalk?

    • Both proposals have the same objective to provide universal access for people of all ages and abilities to access and enjoy an experience of nature, the National Park and the stunning clifftop / view.
    • Council's plan applies to the whole precinct and addresses the need for improvements to visitor and reserve facilities – toilets, parking, picnic areas etc.