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HomeNewsWakehurst Parkway floodproof funding commitment confirmed

Wakehurst Parkway floodproof funding commitment confirmed

A pre-election promise to invest $13 million in flood mitigation works along the flood-prone Wakehurst Parkway was confirmed in parliament today, 25 May.

The confirmation was made by Transport Minister Jo Haylen in response to a question from new Wakehurst MP Michael Regan. It was the Independent’s first question in state parliament.

Minister Haylen, who spoke on behalf of Roads Minister John Graham, unequivocally affirmed that an additional $13 million, on top of what had already been committed, will be allocated to Northern Beaches Council to facilitate the completion of flood mitigation works.

“I am also delighted to share that the previously committed sum of $75 million has also been confirmed to enhance safety and capacity along the Parkway,” Mr Regan said.  It is understood the Federal funding component of equivalent value has been withdrawn by federal Labor.

Jo Haylen

“The upgrades to the Wakehurst Parkway are something I have pushed for both as Mayor of the Northern Beaches Council and during the NSW election. Now that funding has been confirmed, the works should begin as soon as is practical,” Mr Regan said.

Newly elected Liberal MP for Pittwater, Rory Amon, was critical of the confirmation and questioned the NSW Roads Minister’s accounting.

In a social media post he declared, “The NSW Labor Government has just announced what seems to be a $31 million cut to the Wakehurst Parkway funding. They might have got their numbers wrong but I will continue to advocate for the full funding to be delivered.”

However, Manly Observer is informed there’s no such cut from the state government and all funding is accounted for – the $75 million for upgrades plus the $13 million promised, and $18.1 already provided from the Liberal Government. 

Pittwater MP Rory Amon’s Instagram post questioning NSW Labor’s commitment to Wakehurst Parkway flood mitigation.

“Working in good faith, I wrote to the Roads Minister over a month ago about seeking confirmation of the funding arrangement and have received no reply. I will continue to advocate for the full funding for the Parkway so that all necessary flood mitigation and safety upgrades are undertaken without delay,” Mr Amon said.

Manly Observer also wrote to the new Roads Minister John Graham’s office five times on 29 March, 4, 18 and 27 April and 9 May to confirm their promise was binding and asked when might they initiate the flood mitigation. After an initial “I’ll get you something in the morning,” they wouldn’t reply.

Mr Regan said he was pleased to get the confirmation today.

“The upgrades to the Wakehurst Parkway are something I have pushed for both as Mayor of the Northern Beaches Council and during the NSW election. Now that funding has been confirmed, the works should begin as soon as is practical,” he said.

First promises

The initial promise was made on Monday 20 March, when John Graham MLC, the then-Shadow Minister for Roads, visited Wakehurst Parkway, five days before the NSW State Election, to assess the measures in place to control stormwaters.

Whilst there, and accompanied by Sue Wright and Jeffrey Quinn, Labor Party candidates for Wakehurst and Pittwater, respectively, he announced NSW Labor’s $13 million plan for flood mitigation works.

The promised funding would be given to Northern Beaches Council under a new Labor government headed by Chris Minns. The contribution would be added to the existing budget already allocated to the project, to enable a speedier outcome and provide more finance for upgrading the works.

“The local roads that people use every day to go to medical appointments, to work or to take their kids to sports have been neglected under a government obsessed with toll roads,” John Graham said. “NSW Labor is committed to ending the traffic nightmare for residents using the Wakehurst Parkway.”

John Graham, NSW Shadow Minister for Roads (right), visited Wakehurst Parkway on 20 March 2023 to announce an incoming Labor Government would give $13 million to Northern Beaches Council to fast track flood mitigation works on the Wakehurst Parkway. With him were Labor candidates Sue Wright and Jeffrey Quinn. Photo: Alec Smart

Wakehurst Parkway, a 15km forested conduit from North Narrabeen south to Seaforth, is particularly vulnerable to being submerged by stormwaters around Middle Creek at its northern end, in the vicinity of the Academy of Sport and Recreation. During the La Nińa rains that inundated Sydney over the 2021-2022 summer, Wakehurst Parkway was frequently closed to traffic to allow surplus water to recede and flow into nearby Narrabeen Lagoon via Middle Creek.

Stormwater flooding the Wakehurst Parkway forces its closure. Photo: Alec Smart
Rainwater submerges the entrance to the Sydney Academy of Sport on Wakehurst Parkway, Narrabeen. Photo: Alec Smart

Flood prevention forthcoming

In the wake of Shadow Transport Minister John Graham’s 20 March 2023 promise of $13 million for flood abatement works on Warringah, the Independent MP for Mackellar, Dr Sophie Scamps, sent Manly Observer a statement.

“I welcome NSW Labor’s election commitment to provide $13 million in funding to the Northern Beaches Council for flood mitigation works on the Wakehurst Parkway. I met with Shadow Roads Minister John Graham on Wednesday 25 January to brief him on the issues facing the Wakehurst Parkway and to discuss the shortfall in funding for flood mitigation works, so it’s incredibly pleasing the NSW Labor party has listened to the community’s concerns and promised to provide this funding.

“Council can and should now prioritise these works, which will reduce flooding on the Parkway to just one to two times every two years…”

“Council can and should now prioritise these works, which will reduce flooding on the Parkway to just one to two times every two years…”

Wakehurst Parkway closed to traffic again due to flooding. Photo: Alec Smart

While all State funding commitments for the Wakehurst Parkway have been kept, the Federal Labor government did pull Liberal-allocated funding of $75 million for other road works, including for the intersection at Seaforth.

You can read more about Council’s plans for Wakehurst flooding works in our story here and here.

Wakehurst History 

Wakehurst Parkway is currently submerged by stormwaters on average six times a year, with the road dangerously impassable around Middle Creek region where it is closed by steel gates.

Dr Scamps continued, “I have been working hard behind the scenes over the past several months to ensure every relevant minister both at the state and federal level, Liberal and Labor, and every relevant infrastructure body was well aware of the issues facing the Wakehurst Parkway and the people of Mackellar’s anger at the decades long failure to act on them.

“I met with the Federal Infrastructure Minister and her staff multiple times to advocate strongly for the restoration of federal funding to the Wakehurst Parkway…

“I also welcome and note NSW Labor’s commitment to work with the Federal Labor Government to reinstate federal funding for the Wakehurst Parkway – this funding should be fast tracked and complement the $75 million the NSW Government has committed to safety upgrades on the road…”

Jeffrey Quinn, the unsuccessful NSW Labor Candidate for Pittwater in the recent State Election, added, “The people of Pittwater get cut off so often by flooding, from work and school and, even more importantly, from essential medical services. I’m thrilled a Minns’ Labor Government will fast-track this flood mitigation.”

The official opening of Wakehurst Parkway on 1 September 1946. Photo: NSW Govt Records

Wakehurst Parkway was named after John de Vere Loder, 2nd Baron Wakehurst, the last British Governor of New South Wales, from 1937 to 1946 (although it was actually named four months after Loder left office, in May 1946).

Twelve months earlier, a similarly-named road, Lady Wakehurst Drive, the main route through the Royal National Park from Waterfall to Stanwell Tops, was named after his wife, Peggy.