LMA property acquisition tactics come under scrutiny

Tell them they’re dreaming

 By Andrew Herington

The theme for Day 21 was the rights of homeowners and the shocking disregard LMA have had for fair process.  As Ben Hardwick from Slater and Gordon pointed out  – it seems like nothing has been learned from the shambolic property resumption process followed for the Regional Rail Link and the Western Ring Road.

Throughout the day a growing catalogue of bungled negotiations and poor communication was documented by angry residents.

Owners of flats built on unstable soil are still unable to get assurances regarding compensation for any cracking, despite suffering serious problems when CityLink was built nearby.

People sold houses in Parkville Gardens only six years ago on the promise of parkland and natural wetlands – now to face flyovers

Residents outside the proposed project boundary have already received letters telling them the LMA cannot legally acquire their property – despite saying to the assessment committee that they can make recommendations where a case is made.

Slater and Gordon have been approached by around 150 residents looking for advice after being confused by the messages they are getting from the LMA. Last year the message was compulsory acquisition would start in March – now it seems to be on the backburner  and promised meetings have not materialised. The LMA is resisting calls for properties along the tunnel corridor to be inspected prior to work commencing to ensure that  full compensation will be paid for any cracking.

Slater and Gordon proposed a mechanism that has apparently worked well in other situation whereby an independent arbitrator is appointed to seek early resolution of disputes and ensure residents are dealt with promptly and fairly.

The businesses in Hoddle St were next, waving letters promising no impact on parking and truck access only to find these things impossible when one looked at the CIS.

Provans Timber yard have been operating in Alexandra Pde since 1903 but now their site is to be acquired. They thought they could retain their local prominence by moving up the road but despite assurances now are likely to be again marooned by the design of the access roads at Hoddle St.

The committee once again came back to the conundrum that the reference design was only a concept and nobody knows what the actual final design is so how can anyone tell whether they will be impacted or not?

Even the cricketers find they can’t hold onto their pitches. The Mercantile Cricket Club – a major user of Ross Straw Field tore into the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Melbourne and the LMA calling it a ‘beggar your neighbour policy’. It is proposed they temporarily relocate to other grounds at the expense of the clubs currently using them. Some are to be banished as far as Greenvale.

The LMA like to tell a soothing story about this freeway being in a tunnel when the majority is in fact above ground and requires the removal of more than a hundred homes and businesses and impacts on hundreds more.

There is a long queue of over a hundred community groups and individuals waiting to tell their stories over the next eight sitting days.

One can only hope the penny drops and the LMA starts to seriously deal with the problems created by this proposal.

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