Mt Pleasant Woolies development: Melville working on traffic impacts

A JDAP has approved a Woolworths development on the corner of Canning Highway and Reynolds Road, despite objections from the City of Melville.
A JDAP has approved a Woolworths development on the corner of Canning Highway and Reynolds Road, despite objections from the City of Melville.

LINGERING traffic concerns loom as the biggest obstacle for the proposed Mt Pleasant Woolworths development, which will be decided by a joint development assessment panel (JDAP) on March 27.

City of Melville planning officers are working with Woolworths to examine improvements to Reynolds Road that will alleviate some of the traffic impacts, after a Main Roads WA letter highlighted the likely deterioration of conditions on the local road network surrounding the development.

The letter states that during the evening peak period Reynolds Road northbound could expect additional 10 minute delays and queues stretching a further 200m from the Canning Highway intersection.

The addition of a dedicated right turning pocket on Reynolds Road southbound, to be paid for by the developer, has received the most consideration although concrete plans are yet to be submitted.

A turning pocket would require widening of the existing road and reclamation of part of the verge.

City planning officers have recommended JDAP approve the $23.5 million, 5000sq m development.

At a special meeting of council held to discuss the project on Tuesday councillors appeared unconvinced.

Woolworths representatives endured a barrage of questions, primarily related to the potential traffic implications for Reynolds Road, which provides the only access to the shopping centre.

Adding to councillors’ uncertainty was the absence of a number of attachments listed on the Responsible Authority Report (RAR) prepared by City’s planning officers, including the applicant’s traffic impact assessment and a peer-review of that document commissioned by the City and carried out by Cardno.

Asked why the attachments were not provided, chief executive Shayne Silcox said the RAR provided a summary of the technical evaluation conducted by City officers and included further information requested from Woolworths.

“This coupled with the presentation provided at the meeting itself was considered to be satisfactory in the circumstances,” he said.

Jonathan Riley, the consultant who prepared Woolworths’ traffic impact assessment, stated repeatedly that after a revision to his original report, Main Roads WA was satisfied with the implications for Canning Highway and Reynolds Road.

The letter, penned by Main Roads WA manager statutory road planning Justin McKirdy – and provided to councillors midway through the meeting – hardly presents a ringing endorsement.

“Main Roads is inclined to not object to the development, having regard to the intent to further develop the broader precinct, and the ability to prioritise movement along Canning Highway,” it said.

“The obvious consequence of this will be a further deterioration of the flow of traffic on and along local side roads such as Reynolds Road.”

The Cardno peer review, obtained by the Melville Times, reinforced those concerns, stating that the analysis contained in the report was “unlikely to show the impact of the development generated traffic on the adjacent roads and intersections”.

It specifically calls into question the development generated traffic section of the Woolworths modelling.

The modelling assumes 35 per cent of trade will be drawn from existing traffic passing the site but has failed to include those vehicles in its analysis of the impact on Reynolds Road.

“These vehicles will still need to enter and exit the development and pass through the relevant intersections,” the peer review said.

“In particular, some of this traffic may turn right into the site (from Reynolds Road southbound) which may worsen the results of the intersection assessments.”

Melville council voted narrowly to endorse the City officers’ recommendation that JDAP approve the development.

However, they did add an amendment requesting approval remain conditional until Woolworths provides plans for the provision of off site road improvements (such as a right turning pocket) to facilitate easier access into the development, and that those plans ensure there is no significant reduction in the level of service on the local road network.

They also stipulated the Main Roads WA letter raising traffic concerns be provided to JDAP for its consideration.