Background on the Leura Cascades precinct and the Blue Mountains Southern Escarpment.

    The Leura Cascades precinct is one of six precincts along the Blue Mountains Southern Escarpment that are popular places for residents and a major destination for visitors (see map here). 

    The Blue Mountains Southern Escarpment is the area that extends along the southern edge of the plateau from Wentworth Falls to West Katoomba.

    Council is progressively developing plans for each of these precincts.

    Find out more about the Southern Escarpment Masterplan.

    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. 

    Having a plan for the precinct means that Council can:

    • Coordinate and prioritise the upgrade of infrastructure for nature-based recreation – for residents and visitors – for example, walking tracks, parking, accessible amenities and connections. 
    • Determine the location, scale and standard for the upgrades.
    • Be well-positioned for grant funding opportunities.

    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 visitors 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. 
    •  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 lighting.
    • 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.

    It is important to note that Council is not looking to change the role of Leura Cascades or Carrington Park as public spaces and access points to walking tracks. The purpose of the proposed upgrade is outlined above.

    Where is Council up to with this precinct plan?

    Draft Concept designs are now available for community review and feedback. 

    This follows community consultation on the first stage of planning for the Leura Cascades Precinct Plan and the Solitary Restaurant Locality Plan (incorporating Carrington Park) which took place earlier this year.

    View a summary of previous community and stakeholder submissions.

    As part of the precinct panning process, 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. 

    Additional studies and investigations that have also informed development of the Draft Concept Design include:

    • European Heritage review & recommendations
    • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment
    • Geotechnical Investigations
    • Preliminary Tree Assessment
    • Traffic Planning & Design review and recommendations

    What does Council have money to do?

    Council has secured grant funding to deliver several components including:

    • New accessible toilet facilities and accessible parking
    • Walking track upgrades
    • Precinct lighting including reinstatement of the former night-lit walk.

    The detailed planning work being undertaken will guide delivery of these elements and ensure we set up a framework for delivery of future upgrades.

    What happens next?

    All community feedback on the Draft Concept Designs will be considered  by the project team before a Final Concept Design is developed for adoption by Council as the Leura Cascades Precinct Plan (expected in November 2023).

    Detailed design and construction documentation will be developed for the currently funded elements of the precinct plan for delivery during 2024/2025, following completion of the Leura culvert works.

    The timing for delivery of the funded elements of this Precinct Plan (new accessible amenities, walking track upgrades and precinct lighting) is closely related to the Leura culvert replacement and will follow on from completion of the culvert works in the first half of 2024.

    All current funded works are proposed to be complete by mid-2025.

    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 do not 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. 

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

    In addition to the preparation of an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment, consultation with Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal stakeholders is on-going for this project.

    Why is the Leura Cascades Precinct Plan being progressed separately to the Solitary Restaurant Locality Plan (incorporating Carrington Park)?

    The development of Draft Concept Designs for the Solitary Restaurant Locality Plan (incorporating Carrington Park) is currently on hold to allow for detailed site investigations to take place to further understand the feasibility of possible options. These investigations include but are not limited to traffic, ecological and heritage studies. The outcome of these investigations will determine what options can be pursued further - or not – and the development of a Draft Concept Design for further community consultation. 

    Council will be engaging with the community over the coming months on options for the Solitary Restaurant Locality.

    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.

    What is happening with Cliff Drive and Leura Culvert?

    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.

    Updates on Cliff Drive and Leura Culvert works are available on Council’s website.