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Developers' Norwood junction works to begin despite court action

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A contentious upgrade of one of Norwood Parade’s busiest intersections is set to begin next week, with the State Government handing responsibility and $330,000 of taxpayer money to developers to oversee the project while the local council fights it in court.

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Construction of a scramble crossing and right-hand turn lanes at the George Street and Parade intersection is set to begin next Monday, despite objections from the Norwood Payneham and St Peters Council.

The proposed upgrade has been the subject of a long-running dispute between the council, the State Government, ratepayers and developers representing the Coles Norwood and Norwood Place shopping centres.

The council earlier this year launched court action in an attempt to halt the upgrade from proceeding – arguing the installation of right-hand turns would impact the amenity of The Parade – but its case was dismissed by Justice Greg Parker last month.

It is now appealing Parker’s decision in the Supreme Court, but it is yet to receive the judgement outlining why its case was dismissed.

Meanwhile, developers Parkade Pty Ltd (Norwood Place Shopping Centre) and 166 The Parade Norwood (Australasian Property Developments), which lobbied the State Government to install right-hand turns at the intersection, are gearing up to start construction on Monday.

In a letter to Norwood residents and business owners last week – seen by InDaily – they wrote that they were carrying out the works on behalf of the Department for Infrastructure and Transport.

“Our construction contractor (CAMCO) will commence early works on Monday, August 16, 2021, with works anticipated to be completed by mid-October, 2021, weather permitting,” the developers wrote.

“These works are designed to improve motorist, cyclist and pedestrian safety, and deliver safer an easier access for local businesses, residents and the wider community.”

The developers wrote that the construction would involve “some disruption to normal traffic flow”, with works scheduled to occur when possible after 7pm.

“Lane restrictions will be in place throughout these works, however vehicle access in each direction will be maintained.”

The council has not put an injunction on construction while it appeals Parker’s decision in the Supreme Court, meaning the works are able to be carried out.

InDaily asked the Department why Parkade and Australasian Property Developments were carrying out the intersection upgrades on its behalf.

A spokesperson did not respond directly, but said approval was granted after the Supreme Court ruled in the Government’s favour.

“While the ruling has been appealed, there is no legal impediment to prevent the works from proceeding,” the spokesperson said.

“Works are planned to commence on 16 August 2021 to deliver this project as quickly as possible to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.”

The spokesperson said the Government is providing $330,000 towards the project, with “any costs over this amount to be borne by the developers”.

Lawyer Tom Game of Botten Levinson, who is acting on behalf of Parkade and Australasian Property Developments, said he was unable to reveal the total amount the developers were spending on the upgrade, but it was a “substantial contribution”.

He said the developers were under time constraints set by the Department to complete the upgrade, and it was not unusual for developers to fund and undertake infrastructure upgrades to council or government-owned roads.

The council’s general manager of governance and community affairs Lisa Mara described the situation as “unprecedented” and an “egregious example of the private interests of a few being given preference overly nearly 400 other Parade traders and property owners, the broader community and the council”.

“When this unnecessary work leads to gridlock and motorists rat running in local streets because of long delays caused by the increase in light phases – as inevitably will happen – people will understand why the Council simply wanted to introduce a scramble crossing at the intersection,” she said.

“It is beyond comprehension to think that several months of night works will have minimal impact on Parade traders, particularly when the cinema complex and hospitality venues, already being heavily impacted by COVID, heavily rely on the night-time economy to keep their doors open.”

Mario Boscaini, whose family owns the Parade Central complex at the north-eastern corner of The Parade and George Street intersection, said his tenants would be adversely impacted by the construction and resulting upgrade.

“There’s just no information – it’s all just this is what we’re doing, this is when we’re doing it and to minimise disruption it will be undertaken after 7pm at night, but that’s when the cinemas and restaurants are at their peak,” he said.

But a group of Norwood ratepayers who are in support of right-hand turn lanes being installed at the intersection argue the upgrades will improve safety and access issues along The Parade.

The group, which includes former government minister Greg Crafter, estimate the council has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the Government in court.

“How does the council justify its decision to fight that using ratepayers’ money?,” Crafter said.

“The Department of Transport and Infrastructure approved plans for the intersection, now upheld by the Supreme Court, which will make this a much safer and more usable intersection 24 hours a day. In this way traders, residents and visitors to the Parade will all be winners.”

A petition supporting the right-hand turn with 126 signatures was presented to the council before it launched court action.

Alongside the installation of a scramble crossing the right-hand turn lanes, the works also include road resurfacing and lighting upgrades.

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