City of Melbourne must act to avoid poor planning

The City of Melbourne must act to ensure contracts for the East West Link are not rushed through before the Victorian state election while large parts of the project, including Part B and impacts on Ross Straw Field and Parkville, remain unconfirmed and have not been rigorously assessed.

In order to avoid mopping up the impacts of rushed planning, the Council should demand it be provided with sufficient time to be consulted on Development Plans for Part B and connections across Ross Straw Field given the severity of the impacts of this large-scale development on existing and future city infrastructure.

Part B of the East West Link proposal is flawed in its design and has not been rigorously assessed in terms of the impact it will have on residents, businesses and the local environment.

In the interests of good planning, contracts and approvals should not be rushed through ahead of a state election. 

If the Napthine government were successful in winning the state election, they can continue to improve and develop the plans in consultation with community and councils.  If they are unsuccessful, having rushed through contracts, they will have left a legacy of poor planning in their wake.

Given the severity of the impacts of a poorly designed and rushed project on the City of Melbourne, particularly Kensington, Parkville, West Melbourne, Royal Park and the Moonee Ponds Creek, the council must do all it can to slow down processes to facilitate good planning.

The Assessment Committee found:

Part B has not been adequately assessed, and should be set aside until the proposed widening of CityLink and the Tullamarine Freeway, and the proposed WestLink connection is better understood and resolved.  This should take into account a number of issues, including:

(a)  Resolution and development of Part B with greater integration with the Arden-Macaulay Structure Plan

(b)  Key locational impacts such as the Vision Australia premises, SP AusNet site, the Flemington Housing estate (and its playgrounds, gardens and the community centre), and the apartments at 18 Bent Street;

(c)   The alignment of the Moonee Ponds Creek and the potential to enhance its function as an open space corridor as part of the Arden-Macaulay redevelopment;

(d)  The reservation of the proposed WestLink alignment

This may require a new or supplementary CIS, but it could be undertaken as part of the WestLink and the CityLink/Tullamarine Freeway upgrade planning processes.

Despite these findings, the Minister has approved Part B of the project in his determination to approve of the East West Link, Eastern Section.

He has “included a requirement for a Development Plan to be prepared to my satisfaction for Part B of the Project” and has set as a requirement that the contractor must:

Investigate an alternative to the Reference Project’s viaduct Part B alignment and connections from and to CityLink south to the Western Portal of Part A, including consideration of the alternatives of a road in-tunnel or an elevated road on the east side of CityLink.

While this condition allows for further work to Part B, it gives no certainty to the City of Melbourne, its residents and businesses, and should not be the basis upon which contractual commitments are considered.

At the 2010 election, the Liberal National Coalition promised that it:

  • Would “allow for a more consultative relationship between the state government, developers and local government”
  • “Acknowledges that councils and planning and development communities want policy certainty. The community also wants an end to the political haggling that has surrounded planning decisions since the inception of Melbourne 2030.”

Rushing through approvals, plans and contracts for the East West Link does not meet these stated standards of good planning practice.

The City of Melbourne could consider seeking legal advice on options to ensure there is no further commitment to Part B and the connections across Ross Straw Field until design work and impact assessments have been completed.  This is in line with the expert recommendation that:

The impacts of the southbound connection of Part A to CityLink, and its connection to Part B of the project have not been adequately addressed.

The Committee concludes further work should be undertaken to better resolve these connections through the identification of a more appropriate location outside the Proposed Project Boundary.  This further work should occur in association with identifying an appropriate Part B alignment.

 

 

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