A big week for the East West Link

Last week saw some major developments including contracts being signed, changes to the plans gazetted by the Planning Minister and significant wins in two court cases.

On Monday, Anthony Murphy won his right to appeal his case against the State for misleading conduct.  The judgment can be accessed here: Murphy v State of Victoria (29 September 2014)

Acting President Geoffrey Nettle and Justices Joseph Santamaria and David Beach held that the judge denied Mr Murphy a fair hearing by isolating three questions for determination before trial, and deciding those questions on the limited basis of facts admitted on the pleadings, without affording Mr Murphy discovery of documents or determining the State’s claim to be entitled to resist production of documents on the ground of public interest immunity. From Supreme Court

However, both the Appeal Court and the High Court denied injunctions preventing the signing of contracts. Without delay, following the High Court ruling, Premier Napthine signed contracts for the construction of Stage One of the East West Link.

We later learnt that a side letter had also been signed in an attempt to guarantee the consortium hefty compensation if the contracts are terminated after the election.

On Tuesday, the government and LMA released new designs for the interchanges at Hoddle St and Royal Park and Flemington.  New features in the design include:

  • two extra connections to the portal at the western end connecting to Mt Alexander Rd
  • a four lane road across Moonee Ponds Creek connecting Racecourse Rd and Mt Alexander Rd
  • an entrance onto the East West Link at Brunswick Rd
  • a new carpark for the Zoo and State Netball and Hockey Centre
  • several new bike connections
  • new buildings underneath viaducts in Parkville West

Despite a requirement in the planning permit to produce a Development Plan for the interchanges and Part B, details were revealed only in graphic representations and artist impressions on the LMA website.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 7.45.54 pm

Details about the heights of intersecting viaducts, the exact arrangement of roads connecting with Mt Alexander Rd, and mitigating sound barriers were unobtainable.

It was clear that the government, LMA and East West Connect had disregarded recommendations from the Assessment Committee to protect community facilities.  The East West Link and its connecting roads will pave over millions of dollars worth of playgrounds, sporting ovals, community gardens and homes.

On Wednesday, more carnage from the East West Link came to light.  The Essendon Community Gardens, 85 plots of broad beans, citrus trees and grafted apples, were told their land would be compulsorily acquired.  This was despite numerous performance requirements protecting the gardens and demanding mitigation should overshadowing occur.

Moonee Valley Council was presented with a draft diagram from East West Connect showing the relocation of the gardens to open space to the west of Essendon Hockey Centre.

MVCC ECG

However, when a journalist contacted the LMA on Thursday, the LMA said the gardens were no longer slated for acquisition.  The LMA spoke with the gardeners on Friday and apologised for the ‘mistake’.

On Thursday, the Minister also gazetted new maps showing an extra 10 hectares of land to be acquired and changes to the performance requirements including the removal of the requirement that there no net loss of public open space. EWL-Eastern-Section-Incorporated-document-June-2014-amended-Sept-2014 (1)

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 8.07.56 pm

On Friday, there was a small report indicating the consortium had achieved financial close of the contracts.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 8.10.57 pm

All of the above removes any confidence that the LMA, Napthine government and East West Connect will adhere to existing performance requirements or consult residents about impacts caused by new roads.  Further changes, surprises and disappointments can only be expected.

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One Comment on “A big week for the East West Link”

  1. David October 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    Thanks for this comprehensive, clearly expressed update. If only your last comment didn’t ring so very true.

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