The Frenchs Forest Place Strategy will rely on the Beaches Link Tunnel to avoid traffic chaos.

The Frenchs Forest 2041 Place Strategy, released just before Christmas by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), details the plans for a new town centre next to the Northern Beaches Hospital. The plan shows that with increased population and traffic movements, travel times on Warringah Road will increase by up to 25 percent without the Beaches Link Tunnel and a reduced reliance on private transport.

The plan sets out eight objectives:

  1. Provide a clear vision and design principles for the future of Frenchs Forest
  2. Plan for a mixed use centre on the current site of The Forest High School to support a range of retail, civic, commercial and residential uses
  3. Create and identify opportunities for high quality, attractive and welcoming public spaces and green links that positively contribute to Frenchs Forest’s character
  4. Provide a range of housing types and densities, including apartments, terraces and affordable housing, to improve housing choice and create opportunities for key workers to live close to the hospital
  5. Create a new neighbourhood centre on Bantry Bay Road to activate Brick Pit Reserve
  6. Promote Frenchs Forest as a self-sustaining precinct that integrates sustainability at a precinct level using industry-recognised building rating tools
  7. Install green infrastructure, create green spaces, reduce heat island effect, reduce the environmental footprint, enhance ecosystems and create opportunities and spaces for people to relax outdoors
  8. Relocate The Forest High School to create a state-of-the-art education facility that is within easy access of transport connections and recreation facilities

To deliver on the objectives, the plan identifies ‘big moves’, the biggest of which is relocation of The Forest High School to the intersection of Allambie Road and Aquatic Drive.

The relocation of the school from the present site adjacent to the hospital, provides the space for a mixed-use town centre. The new town centre will be made up of four spaces:

  1. The Civic Heart. A public gathering space at the western end of the town centre featuring green open space and a piazza surrounded by cafes and outdoor dining.
  2. The Market Quarter. Close to the hospital, this area will feature taller buildings, up to 12 storeys, with ground floor and underground retail.
  3. Commercial Spine. Running alongside Warringah Road with a pedestrian friendly setback, this area will feature mid-height buildings aimed at commercial tenancies.
  4. The Boulevard. Running alongside Frenchs Forest Road West, this strip will create a high street environment with a mix of shop top apartments, retail and services. It will also feature a pedestrian friendly setback from the road.

In addition to the new town centre, the plan sets out three additional adjacent neighbourhood zones:

  1. Frenchs Forest Road West Neighbourhood. This area is intended to interface the higher density of the town centre to lower density residential to the north. It will include medium rise apartment buildings up to six storeys, integrated with the high street. Uses will include residential, retail, office and medical.
  2. Karingal Crescent Neighbourhood. On the opposite side of Warringah Road, stretching past Forest Way, this area will feature medium density housing up to three storeys. It will be designated for residential use.
  3. Bantry Bay Neighbourhood. Also on the opposite side of Warringah Road, this zone sits between Bantry Bay Road and Hilmer Street. It will support medium density residential up to five storeys, with ground floor retail.

Zoning of the town centre (image above) will accommodate the plan with B1 (Neighbourhood Centre), B3 (Commercial Core), B4 (Mixed Use), R2 (Low Density Residential), R3 (Medium Density Residential), RE1 (Recreational) and SP2 (Infrastructure). Height limits will be established within these areas to the heights shown in the image below.

Over $37m in infrastructure improvements is required to support the plan, including $5.3m in road upgrades, $10.9m for active transport and green links, $1m for public transport, and $19.5m to relocate the high school.

The development of the Frenchs Forest 2041 Place Strategy reflects the role of Frenchs Forest, which has been identified as a strategic centre, in the Greater Sydney Region Plan.

Northern Beaches Council was broadly supportive of the plan, in particular around open space and a development levy to support infrastructure. In response to concerns raised by Council, the plan has identified an affordable housing target of 15 percent in the town centre and 10 percent in the surrounding areas.

Council also called out the impact on transport, highlighting the plan’s own traffic report said that local roads would ‘reach capacity’ once 70 percent of the proposed development had been completed.

In its response to the plan, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) said the plan would ‘create significant transport issues if existing travel behaviours in the area do not materially change’. TfNSW also identified a need to resolve public transport changes and upgrade the intersection at Forest Way and Naree Road.

Images: NSW Government

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