Update - 28 January 2022
Update on South Lawson Park upgrade – 28 January 2022
We know the community continues to have questions relating to the South Lawson Park upgrade.
More consultation will be held on site over the coming weeks, including more visuals that will show what the final upgrade will look like, but we hope the following answers assist in the meantime.
Please note: Parts of the area are currently a construction site that have been impacted by intense storms and persistent wet conditions in recent weeks. We understand that some who visit the area frequently have been distressed by the sight of this, and we understand this.
Some parts of the site have not been able to be properly compacted before some intense storms. This has left the working area soft and boggy. Work cannot continue in these areas until the site has dried out, and trying to do this work too soon will cause erosion, but this work will occur as soon as site conditions allow. See information below relating to sediment control issues, the removal of trees and bushland regeneration.
There is still a long way to go before we can finalise this new, accessible shared space for our community and we ask for your patience and understanding at this time.
Timing of the project
Council was required to commence this project in November/December 2021 – in order to finalise the project and meet the grant deadline of June 2022. It would have been nice to be able to postpone the upgrade, after the La Nina summer, but this was not an option.
Sediment control measures
Please be assured, since the contractors set up on site at South Lawson Park, there have been no failures of the sediment fence that was erected. But the number of intense storms and persistent wet conditions in recent weeks have impacted the site. Following inspections after rain, sediment and erosion controls have been installed this week.
Contractors have now installed:
- additional erosion control along the low points (along the partially constructed path).
- additional protection in the locations where there is a high risk of stormwater bypassing a narrow section of the silt fence.
- extended sections of silt fence where there is a risk of the silt fence damming stormwater which will flow around the sides.
The contractor will continue to improve the sediment controls next week when materials are available.
The team will also continue to review the locations and quality of the sediment control fences and hay bales to ensure they are appropriately protecting the bushland and Lawson Creek.
Removal of trees
Parts of the circular walking path are too steep to be wheelchair accessible, but the route has been designed to ensure that the grades along the path are easily walkable with no steep sections. This makes it a suitable walking option for community members who use a wide range of mobility aids.
This is why parts of the path are being built through trees and some smaller trees will be removed for the shared path. (Where the path is being built through pockets of bush, Council’s Principal Landscape Architect has ensured that the path has been placed to avoid removal of significant, rare and habitat trees.)
Building the path through trees will also provide a variety of landscape along the path for walkers and shady places on very hot days.
Bush regeneration and protection of creekline, swamp and wet areas
Along the eastern edge of the park, there will be a large area which will be reclaimed as bushland through a natural regeneration process which will increase the habitat for native animals and birds.
Increasing the edge of the riparian zone will create a wider protective buffer for Lawson Creek and Adelina Falls to further improve the water quality flowing into the Blue Mountains World Heritage National Park.
Vegetation which is removed from the dog agility area and the path construction will be used for the bushland regeneration to ensure that local seeds are used to retain the local genome for these plants.
Overall, 35,000 plants will be added to this area in time and 5,000sqm of bush regenerated. This will take 2-3 years to establish, but it will provide better protection for waterways than what exists now.
Protection of our biodiversity
This week it was discovered that a turtle’s nest was destroyed in the area, during upgrade works. One of Council’s highest priorities is caring for the environment and the City’s precious biodiversity.
Staff, who also care deeply for our previous World Heritage Area, are upset that this incident has occurred and we are looking at current processes – and how contractors are briefed on environmental matters – to ensure this type of thing never happens again.
Leading expert in turtles WSU’s Dr Ricky Spencer did report this week that he believes the planned upgrade of South Lawson Park has a lot of potential for integrating community conservation, and protection of turtles, with recreation. We support this view.
A new circular path is being built at the park. This shared path is wider than a standard footpath and allows walkers with dogs and cyclists to use the path at the same time, safely. The standards for shared paths are from a national set of construction standards and depend on how busy the site is. The surface of the shared path will be 2.5 metres wide.
To construct the shared path, the clearing will be at least 3.5 metres wide, so grasses can be planted along the edge of the path. Where the path needs to be constructed on ground across a slope clearing it will be wider, but no wider than necessary, to ensure that there are no steep drops on the low side of the path.
The path will be made from asphalt which is extremely suitable for use in natural areas. Asphalt paths are more flexible than concrete and will not be cracked by roots growing underneath. Concrete paths were also considered to be unsuitable for construction near natural waterways as they cause significant changes to the acidity of runoff water.
Many people who participated in the community consultation also objected to bright white concrete paths which would be hard on the eyes on really hot summer days.
Previous consultation has also included options for the type of fencing to be used on site.
Following a large number of questions from the community about the type of fencing which will be used for the dog off leash area, completion of the fencing has been put on hold so further consultation can take place.
While the fencing is on hold it is important that construction for the rest of the project is able to continue because construction delay costs are significant.
The upgrade to South Lawson Park is being done after extensive community consultation and the finalisation of both the South Lawson Park Masterplan and Plan of Management. These plans were endorsed by large numbers of stakeholders.
The dates and times of further consultation about this project on site, will be publicised next week. We urge any members of the community who are concerned to come to these events, to get more information, as there is a lot of incorrect information about this project in the public arena currently.
We also urge the community to get updates on this project from Council. You can subscribe here https://yoursay.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/lawson.
Features of the new park will include:
- Accessible paths will go from both Ferris Lane and Wilson Street towards the new dog area and continue around as a loop walk so you can enjoy the quieter outskirts of the park.
- Once inside the fenced dog off-leash area, you can choose from several tracks and play zones with opportunities to play and run and rest.
- The nature exploration area will offer opportunities for families to discover and be led by the natural features.
- Close by, grass terrace seating creates a natural amphitheatre for informal gatherings and small community events.
View the completed designs for the fenced dog off leash area and accessible path.
While construction is taking place the site will remain open to the public, however, some paths will be temporarily closed for safety, including the Ferris Lane gate. You will always be able to access the site from Wilson Street.
Construction traffic will also need to access the site to deliver materials and these trucks will travel along Staples Crescent, New Street, Adelaide Street and Wilson Street.