Westleigh Park, an ambitious multi-million-dollar project in Hornsby that will create a giant 36-hectare, dynamic park in Sydney’s north, is moving forward after positive community consultation on how the public can use the space.
The project remains in early stages, as more stakeholder and community engagement is needed before the masterplan can be adopted, says Mayor Phillip Ruddock.
What is now a huge area of tufted grass that is sometimes used by dogwalkers and largely unknown to most of the community will become three sporting fields, and could be compared to Centennial park in Sydney’s east, albeit not as large and an irregular shape.
Local sportspeople have identified a long-term shortage of facilities in the area, and will be able to play a large variety of sports at the green outdoor space, including but not limited to soccer, rugby, cricket and AFL.
The bushland on the edges of the huge site, some of which is considered endangered, will be maintained in a sustainable way and will gain new bushwalking tracks. It will eventually connect with Hornsby Park, another large green space in the neighbourhood, potentially via a walking and mountain biking track.
Hornsby Shire Council Mayor Philip Ruddock said that the community has demonstrated very strong support for the major project.
“An engagement survey showed 75 percent of residents believe that the draft Master Plan for Westleigh Park has a good balance of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ recreation activities,” said Mayor Ruddock.
“And 81 percent of residents believe the draft Master Plan has a good balance of restoring and protecting the natural environment while also providing a diverse range of recreation activities.
“Council’s engagement with sporting groups has enabled fine-tuning of the playing field layouts, with further discussions to be held to ensure facilities address stakeholder needs.”
The Mayor said that further stakeholder engagement is to be undertaken to ensure the right balance in managing bushland areas while providing mountain bike tracks and ensuring site access is properly managed.
Council said engagement with stakeholder groups on environmental management, mountain bike tracks and site access will effectively take place once COVID restrictions allow, possibly early in 2022.
“Design and approvals for site remediation will be prepared in late 2021 and early 2022, with a development application for remediation likely to be lodged in early to mid-2022,” said Mayor Ruddock.
After Council purchased the site from Sydney Water in 2016, the NSW Government allocated $40 million to create Westleigh Park.
This will fund remediation, bulk earthworks, retaining walls, intersection upgrades and the creation of a new access road by extending Sefton Road through the Sydney Water site and connecting it to Quarter Sessions Road.
If the community supports the retention of mountain biking at Westleigh Park, state government grant funding for mountain bike trails will be allocated to relocate some of the existing unsanctioned mountain bike trails away from environmentally sensitive areas.
The later stages of the project will be rolled out ‘when funding becomes available’ according to council.
“A draft master plan has been developed and includes playing fields for community-based sport, opportunities for school and club athletics, mountain biking, informal exercising and walking, children’s playground, bushwalking, and passive recreation such as picnic areas,” Hornsby Shire Council’s Manager, Major Projects, Richard Minter said.
“Council recently resolved to defer adoption of the draft master plan to allow further community consultation. So, the next stages of the design process will not commence in earnest until the master plan is adopted.
“Until the master plan is formally adopted, Council is concentrating on the design for site remediation,” he said.