Why have a precinct plan for the Leura Cascades precinct?

    The Leura Cascades precinct is a popular place for residents and visitors to enjoy nature-based recreation. 

    The purpose of planning for this precinct is to guide future upgrades that are needed to improve safety, access, and the visitor experience, for everyone – residents and tourists alike. A precinct plan sets the desired future direction of the area to:

    • protect environmental and cultural values
    • meet current and future demand
    • improve the experience of both resident and visitors 
    • meet current safety standards
    • provide universal access
    • improve residential amenity, and 
    • support local economic development.

    What is being considered in this precinct plan?

    Precinct planning identifies and addresses issues (and associated risks) and opportunities (and associated benefits. 

    Planning for the Leura Cascades precinct considers: 

    • renewal and replacement of things like public toilets, picnic facilities, and play equipment
    • upgrades to walking tracks and connections between tracks
    • car parking arrangements on the site and surrounds
    • the feasibility of an accessible path connecting the upper and lower areas of the reserve
    • vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle access and circulation, within Leura Cascades Reserve and the section of Cliff Drive near Solitary Restaurant & Carrington Park


    Where is Council up to with this precinct plan?

    Right now, we are at the beginning of the planning process. - the Preliminary or Pre-design phase. 

    Council has undertaken an initial survey and site analysis, and an assessment of issues, opportunities and constraints relating to the precinct. Also, the results of previous surveys on how people use different places along the escarpment, including Leura Cascades, and what matters to them, have been considered. 

    We have started the conversation with community and stakeholders and are now inviting community feedback to contribute to the thinking and the design of the precinct plan. 

    There are three phases to the plan (and community consultation):

    1. Preliminary Design (Pre-design)
    2. Concept Design
    3. Draft Precinct Plan

    The final draft is then reported to the elected Council for adoption.

    The Project Team will consider community feedback at each of these phases to inform the development of the final precinct plan.

    How will the environment be protected?

    • 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 don't harden tracks or lookout areas e.g., the use of boardwalks or decks.
    • If concrete were to be used to harden tracks, we would investigate techniques to minimise alkaline runoff.


    Does the plan recognise and protect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage?

    •    Council is deeply respectful of Aboriginal cultural heritage and the deep ongoing connection of Gundungurra and Dharug to their Country. 

    •    This heritage mapped so far identifies the European occupation of the site only, and the heritage significance of the place in this context (assessed against the heritage criteria set by the NSW Heritage Council). 

    •    It does not represent a complete history of the place or represent the perspectives of Dharug and Gundungurra Traditional Owners in relation to the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and the colonial impacts on this site. 

    •    Consultation with Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal stakeholders is required, before Aboriginal Cultural Heritage that may be associated with this place, can be recorded.


    What is happening with Cliff Drive?

    Council acknowledges the protracted closure of the section of Cliff Drive affected by a landslide in February 2020 due to an extreme rain event.

    We understand it is frustrating for some members of the community.

    An update on the current situation and timeframe for reopening is available on Council's website HERE

    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.

    What does Council have money to do?

    •    We have secured funding through the Black Summer Bushfire and West Invest programs for delivery of several components including:

        Cliff Drive culvert replacement works

        New accessible toilet facilities and accessible parking

        Walking track upgrades

        Precinct lighting including reinstatement of the former night-lit walk.

    •    The planning work we are doing will guide delivery of these elements and ensure we set up a framework for delivery of future upgrades.



    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.


    Who owns Solitary Restaurant?

    Solitary Restaurant, formerly the Leura Baths Kiosk, was built in 1913 as refreshment rooms to service the increasing numbers of visitors enjoying the escarpment walks and the scenic views.

    The property is on Crown land and managed by blue Mountains City Council. The restaurant is currently under a 21 year lease for commercial use. The restaurant has been closed for over 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to reopen in 2023.