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Norwood ratepayers question council spending on Parade court stoush

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UPDATED: A group of Norwood ratepayers, including a former State Government minister, are calling on the Norwood Payneham and St Peters Council to publicly reveal how much it has spent fighting the Government in the Supreme Court over a contentious Parade intersection upgrade.

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The council in December took the State Government to court over plans to install a scramble crossing and two dedicated right-turn slip lanes at the busy George Street and Parade intersection.

It follows a long-running dispute over intersection upgrades at the Norwood Town Hall for both east and westbound traffic.

The council only wants to install a scramble crossing at the intersection, which would stop traffic from all directions to allow pedestrians to cross diagonally, to improve pedestrian access and safety along the retail and hospitality strip.

But the State Government and the Parade’s two largest traders – Norwood Place and the developer behind a $110 million revamp of Coles Norwood (Australasian Property Developments) – argue right-turn slip lanes are needed to improve car access.

Norwood Place, Australasian Property Developments and the Government, which owns The Parade as an arterial road, have agreed to fund the intersection upgrade on the condition that the right-hand turns be included.

Local resident and former Norwood MP Greg Crafter, who served as Local Government and Education Minister under the Bannon and Arnold Governments, is one of several Norwood ratepayers who support the State Government’s proposed intersection upgrades.

The group is calling on the Norwood Payneham and St Peters Council to publicly reveal how much money it has spent on legal fees to fight the proposed upgrades.

Crafter, who lives near the intersection, told InDaily that the council was spending “large amounts of money” on a legal case that was “contrary to the interests of the residents… and the traders”.

“The council seems to way out of step,” he said.

“To spend ratepayers money fighting against something the community has championed is unconscionable.”

Crafter said The Parade had recently lost about 300 car parks due to the Coles redevelopment, meaning there were more cars seeking to park on residential streets.

“There’s parking and car chaos in the streets around The Parade and that will continue for the next couple of years, so it’s very important that Council protect the residential amenity of the area during this time,” he said.

He described the parking situation around The Parade as a “nightmare”, adding that not including right-hand turns on The Parade would make the situation worse for pedestrians as cars would find it more difficult to access remaining car parks.

“It’s dangerous for pedestrians – there’s aged-persons accommodation around Norwood and people like to walk to shops and so on,” he said.

“To take a decision like this and to fight it in the courts, the Council seems to be not in the residents’ interests and certainly not in the interests of the traders and major investors.”

Norwood Place co-owner Spero Tsapaliaris said installing right-turn slip lanes at the George Street and Parade intersection was a “commonsense outcome for a longstanding problem”.

“That intersection is the primary access point for the four major car parks servicing The Parade retail precinct, so this will provide greater accessibility for local businesses and shoppers, while the broader community will benefit with improved road safety performance,” he said.

Norwood resident Margie Faseth said she would submit a Freedom of Information request with the council to find out how much it had spent so far on legal fees.

“The Council has to be accountable for its decision,” she said.

The court case is ongoing.

InDaily contacted Norwood Payneham and St Peters Council for comment but it did not respond before deadline.

The council has since sent a statement to InDaily saying the government had reversed a previous agreement with council about the corner and the current plan would turn it into a “major intersection” and “likely result in the death of two protected trees”.

“Th council has today made an urgent application to the Supreme Court for an injunction to prevent the roadworks from occurring in an attempt to save the trees and the current visual amenity of the Parade,” the statement said.

Council CEO Mario Barone said the current Department for Infrastructure and Transport plan risked pedestrian safety and the “wider community’s interest in preserving The Parade’s main street look and feel”.

“As well as The Parade losing some of its civic identity and main street identity, there is a very grave risk to two protected trees, one of which is significant. The Council is completely baffled by the sudden change in direction in relation to this project,” he said.

“In 2019, the Council accepted the Department’s condition that the installation of a scramble crossing with a peak hour ban on right hand turns (a condition imposed by the Department and not the Council) was an appropriate traffic measure for the intersection – and agreed to a 12 month trial period of these arrangements.”

Barone said that in June 2020, after former Transport Minister Stephan Knoll formalised the arrangement, two property owners launched legal action to stop the scramble crossing.

Barone said the council suspended the crossing installation to allow the legal process to occur and now questioned any new agreement.

“The Council has always been consistent with its position. We want pedestrians to be safe. We have listened to the local community through three rounds of consultation when preparing a Master Plan for The Parade. We also don’t want any trees to be damaged, nor do we want The Parade’s civic and main street identity to be negatively affected.”

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