The announced closure of Austral’s Bowral Brickworks site on the corner of Kirkham Road and Oxleys Hills Road in the near future creates an exciting new opportunity for a major urban renewal project for the Shire.
The project we are asking Council to support envisages the State government acquiring the Austral Brickworks site to create a 20-hectare urban park and lake. The parkland would incorporate the Austral land as well as the former quarry, currently owned by Bowral Landfill Pty Ltd and used as a land-fill site. Austral’s currently active quarry would be re-developed as a lake and, in addition to its recreational use, would provide a body of water available to the RFS in case of a bushfire emergency.
This urban renewal proposal for our Shire is similar in concept to the redevelopment of the former brickworks site in St Peters in inner-city Sydney which created Sydney Park, now a 42-hectare recreation area and lake.
The Brickworks and land fill area are currently subject to extensive rehabilitation and clean up provisions under the EPA conditions of consent, which reduces the commercial value of the site. This potential reduction of market value particularly applies to the present active quarry, which would become a lake.
The kiln building on site could be re-purposed as a facility for community events, exhibitions and performances. We are aware that Council is looking for a new venue for Tulip Time once the present site in Corbett Gardens closes in a couple of years. As the new Brickworks Park is within easy walking distance of the Bowral railway station, it could be a suitable new location for this iconic festival.
At present there is no major public park in the centre of Bowral. The opportunity offered by Austral vacating the site is unique and never to be repeated.
Recreational use of the Park could include a 2km running track, exercise and picnic areas. Access and parking would be off Kirkham Road and additional pedestrian access could be developed from Bowral using the two existing underpasses off Railway Parade.
The proposal also provides for rehabilitation of the riparian vegetation along Mittagong Creek that would run through the Park. This could form part of a nature reserve to protect the native fauna presently using the riparian zone as habitat. The area between the creek and the new lake offers the opportunity to provide a wetland component of the nature reserve.
A Brickworks Park also provides the space to construct a new road bridge crossing over the rail line in the vicinity of Funston Street that would address the issue of serious congestion at the existing rail crossing at Bowral Station. This benefit applies whether or not the Station Street Stage 1 upgrade is completed. This is particularly advantageous for the residents of Berrima to Bowral and all other traffic seeking to access the freeway near Berrima.
It is regrettable that the Council’s plan for Stage 1 of the Station Street project does not provide for a second crossing of the railway that would improve access from Bowral to West Bowral, to the industrial zoned land at New Berrima (Boral, and Austral’s new brickworks site) and the Hume Motorway at Medway Road.
A second crossing of the rail would also provide better emergency access to the hospital for the residents of West Bowral, Berrima, New Berrima, Medway and like western areas.
With further development of the Industrial zoned land and the construction of the New Berrima diversion bridge on the rail line between Boral Cement Works and the Ingham’s Facility, a second rail crossing at Bowral becomes an essential component of the orderly development of the Shire. We believe that a joint State Government and Council initiative to achieve this crossing is required.
A second crossing, if developed in conjunction with an upgraded role for Kirkham Road and Stage 2 of Council’s Station Street project, would provide an alternative route for north and south bound traffic to and from Burradoo and Mittagong. The vehicular roundabouts at each end of the proposed new railway crossing allows vehicles the choice between continuing into Bowral on Station Street or bypassing Bowral using Kirkham Road to the west of the railway line.
If Railway Parade was extended (as provided for in Stage 2 of the Station Street project) and linked with a new rail crossing near Funston St, and if Kirkham Road were extended south through the Brickworks Park to the new rail crossing, both northbound and south bound traffic would have the option of avoiding Station St between Bowral St and Bundaroo St.
If this alternative traffic route through Bowral were considered sufficient to achieve the Bowral bypass objectives of Stage 1 of the Station Street project, this Stage could be shelved releasing funds that could be redirected to purchasing the Brickworks site, as well as avoiding the loss of commuter parking at Bowral Station and the environmental loss of trees and heritage camellias.