Stage One of the Draft Highfields Cultural Precinct Master Plan includes:
• ‘a robust grid of city streets” which is an attack on our current road system that is actually a huge attraction of Highfields. The Master Plan states, “Because the bespoke cul-de-sacs mean that local trips are unnecessarily convoluted and perceived as distant, pedestrian and bike options are not possible.”;
• extending Clarke Rd to the New England Highway to allow an alternate route to and from the town centre. The plan indicates this by placing a dotted line through the sports oval and clubhouse on Kuhls Road. The map provided does not extend far enough to indicate that houses will be resumed by the additional connection onto the Highway;
• page 12 of the draft plan states that the road situation in Highfields at present “reduces mode of choice (car, bike or walk) and route choice (only one way to go in any direction) when making local trips”. If a change of venue is forced from Kuhls Rd Oval you will necessitate children being transported to and from sporting activities by car on the one in/out route available to the complex to the north, reducing incidental exercise and having negative impacts on social cohesion, connectedness and safety… the very things this draft plan purports to improve;
• Page 12 of the Master Plan states that there “is an existing fabric of disconnected streets and this needs to be addressed”. The plan states these “have a negative impact on social cohesion, safety, legibility, flexibility in land use, development redundancy and other effects that will be investigated”.
It is widely perceived that the quiet cul-de-sacs actually contribute to social cohesion, safety and flexibility in land use. These statements do not consider the permeability of Highfields streets provided by the many interconnecting walking and cycle paths which join these cul-de-sacs and streets.
Special notes here is in regards to the Highfields, Meringandan and Meringandan West Local Plan which the Master Plan refers to on a number of occasions.
• On Page 5 of the Local Plan it states “Consideration should be given to creating seamless linkages between the existing road network and the network of future residential developments. The most desirable outcome would be a grid network, where topography and constraints permit.” The proposed connections in the Draft Master Plan destroy sporting facilities and up to 12 residential homes which are major constraints. Recommendations are made for creating new connections between the existing road network and future developments. There is definitely no suggestion to change any of the existing roads in developed neighbourhoods.
• The new connections proposed on page 20 of the Local Plan are not mentioned at all. These proposed connections are in undeveloped areas, will have minimal impact on existing residents and reduce congestion on the existing main roads, especially the New England Hwy by providing alternative routes to Toowoomba
There is very little evidence of the implementation of the Local Plan in the Master Plan which was endorsed by Council on 17 June 2014: