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Strathfield Council and ACU reach a settlement

A concept plan has been approved by the Land and Environment Court in relation to a staged redevelopment of the Australian Catholic University (ACU) campus at Strathfield.

This requires that any increase in student numbers by ACU is contingent on a number of matters including construction of additional on-site parking. Additional increases in student numbers will be governed by an independent Campus Travel and Monitoring Plan incorporating targets set out in a ‘green travel plan’ which aims to reduce the number of private vehicles attending the campus.

In 2012 Strathfield Council had commenced proceedings in the Land and Environment Court concerning ACUs alleged breach of the existing approvals related to student numbers and the corresponding impact on the surrounding residential areas. Council and ACU recently participated in the Land and Environment Court formal mediation process and reached an agreement to settle these proceedings.

The negotiated outcomes of the settlement focus on strengthening the components of the court approved Concept Plan in order to reduce the transport and parking impacts on local residents in exchange for allowing ACU to maintain its current population of approximately 1450 persons until they can achieve the 1800 and 2200 persons allowable under the court’s concept plan approval.

The key outcomes of the settlement in relation the court approved ACU concept plan include:

• The use of an independent expert to be agreed between Council and ACU to prepare the ‘Green Travel Plan’ which aims to reduce car traffic and encourage university staff and students to adopt more environmentally friendly modes of transport to the Strathfield Campus

• The use of an independent expert to be agreed between Council and the ACU to prepare the Campus Travel and Monitoring Plan which will provide a framework for monitoring transport impacts.

• Construction, within two years of the date of court approval, of the new underground car park (capacity 292 vehicles), to reduce the number of cars parked on the street.

Council is pleased to have successfully come to agreement with the ACU to have independent experts prepare the ‘Green Travel Plan’. This will ensure that any such plan is robust and provides realistic and achievable alternative transport outcomes, and will ensure the ‘Campus Monitoring Plan’ can provide a robust and accurate monitoring system.

Council was also pleased that a ‘fast-tracked timetable’ had been established to implement key elements of the concept plan approval such as the on-site parking which aid the amenity of surrounding residents. The mediation also provided a cost-effective outcome to the court proceedings rather than the matter continuing to a court hearing.