1 April – Day 21

Tuesday 1 April

Today’s schedule:

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The Chair of the Assessment Committee asked Mr Morris, for Linking Melbourne Authority (LMA) to clarify whether the LMA intends to table the full or short form business case to show the details of the cost/benefit analysis.  Mr Morris said he would seek instructions from the LMA but expected that the business case would not be released due to the sensitivity of the bidding process.

Community presentations begin

Today is the first day for the community groups to present their case and so is a milestone day for the Hearings.

Greta Gillies, Collective of Child Health

Ms Gillies was the first to speak, presenting on her own submission as well as on behalf of the Collective of Child Health providers. She said induced traffic due to the construction of the proposed East West Link would lead to greater health impacts, particularly to children, due to increased pollution.

Bruce Echberg and Ron Jones, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA)

The presentation by Mr Echberg and Mr Jones was warmly welcomed by the committee. It was noteworthy that the AILA membership (89.9% agree) has taken a stand to protect Royal Park, which is the first time the association has taken a stand since Lake Pedder.

AILA believes that the project should not go ahead in its current form given the destructive impacts on Royal Park. They said that even though Royal Park may not be completely intact, the potential value of the park is enormous especially given the expected growth in inner Melbourne’s urban density.

In its submission, AILA has focussed primarily on the closure of Elliott Ave, however Echberg and Jones said further work should also be done to reduce impacts in the Ross Straw Field area and to find a way to place the tunnel portal outside of Royal Park.  The plan to remove Elliott Avenue is in accord with the Royal Park Master Plan, which the group says has disappointingly been excluded from the CIS process.

AILA believes that the urban design framework is flawed and should be rewritten to be more prescriptive.  AILA also recommended that an Independent Design Review Panel be established to review such projects of significance given that the Office of the Government Architect has “no teeth”.

AILA stressed that Royal Park is an important piece of public infrastructure that must be protected.

Peter Hogg, Residents about Integrated Development (RAID)

Mr Hogg from RAID@3051 presented its view that the project should not be approved given the substantial impacts on Royal Park and Moonee Ponds Creek, which he and his family have helped to rehabilitate with the Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek.

Robert George, Lennon Street Parkville Owners Corporation

Mr George creatively explained the potential impacts on the Lennon Street units during construction of the Reference Design. He described the units, which are built on landfill over Coode Island Silt as “like sugar coated sponges on top of whipped cream on top of jelly – we know what would happen if you shook the table!”  Mr George said he would be happy if LMA use a pick and shovel rather than vibrating hammers to reduce the impacts on the properties.

Darragh O’Brien, Inner Melbourne Planning Alliance (IMPA)

The IMPA is an association that includes eleven residential and business groups and encourages a more participatory consultation process for planning and development.

Mr O’Brien explained the significant impacts that would be felt in Precinct 5, particularly on Moonee Ponds Creek. The City of Melbourne planned to develop and landscape the creek area as part of the Arden Macaulay Precinct.  O’Brien suggested that the Urban Design ‘Framework’ is a misnomer and is simply a set of principles that should be disregarded by the Committee.  Instead, the framework should require the assessment of alternatives such as locating the viaduct on the eastern side of CityLink.

Ben Hardwick, Slater & Gordon representing various parties

Ben Hardwick presented on behalf of various residents about disputes that can arise between property owners, which could be avoided if managed productively and refers to the approach taken for the Deer Park Bypass, which resulted in protracted disputation.

After lunch

Liz Johnstone and Gavin Alford, Planning Institute of Australia (PIA)

The Planning Institute of Australia raised a number of concerns with the proposed East West Link. PIA raised the importance of integrated planning for public transport and roads and the need for multi mode transport options and said the proposed East West Link and its CIS does not support this.

PIA said the proposed East West Link will not ease ongoing congestion problems and there will be permanent impacts on Royal Park, and the future of the Doncaster Rail Line.

PIA said the CIS did not address:

–       the need to manage demand

–       cost benefit analysis

–       the need for more public transport infrastructure, and

–       climate change.

Jason Sumner, Apex Town Planning representing Schots Home Emporium

Schots Home Emporium is located on Hoddle Street and employs 75 people. Mr Sumner, representing Schots said there will be impacts on the businesss during and after construction due to access issues and loss of car parking. The business is seeking compensation from LMA and would like to be informed about detailed designs and impacts with appropriate notice.

Tim Radisich, Provans Timber and Hardware

Mr Radisich said the Provans Timber and Hardware business has been in the area for 111 years and employs 29 people. The Provans property is to be acquired. The business identified a new site on the corner of Hoddle and Alexander Pde, and made a planning application to Council. However it has subsequently turned out that the new sites will also be impacted by proposed East West Link, although not acquired. Changes to Alexander will cause significant impacts, including loss of vehicle and pedestrian access and parking.

LMA says there will be continuing access to the business, but has not provided certainty. There will be reduced truck access which is vital for the business and Provans has requested that this be provided for.

Radisich said customers need to know “where we are and how to get to us and where to park”. It will cost the business $3 million to relocate and needs several months notice and proper access to the new site. If there is not suitable truck access to the substitute premises, Provans will need to find new premises.

Alec Kahn, Mercantile Cricket Association

The Mercantile Cricket Association has 1,100 players and uses two cricket grounds on Ross Straw Field which will be lost due to the proposed East West Link. Mr Kahn said there is a very strong feeling amongst cricketers against the project.

Kahn said that the MOU with the City of Melbourne, will involve the club moving temporarily to Holland Park and then to Poplar Oval, which will displace other clubs. The Mercantile Cricket Association said they did not ask for these solutions, and were ignored. Mr Kahn said the MoU with the City of Melbourne is only a short term “bandaid”.

Kahn cites City of Melbourne figures which show there is a significant shortfall of sporting ovals in the municipality, 10-12 grounds short by 2031 and there will be no sporting fields remaining for the suburb of Parkville Gardens.

Russell Smith

Mr Smith’s area of expertise is noise.  He argued 63 dB level is not acceptable to residents living along Citylink. Noise at all hours of the day has an impact on residents. The constant ambient noise of 100,000 vehicles per day in unpopular with residents who also hear frequent noise spikes from trucks and motor bikes during the night.

Mr Smith has no confidence that combined noise levels from EWL and CityLink will be less than 63 dB.  He invited members of committee to visit and listen to noise levels at the evening peak to see how a once quiet valley in Travancore has been transformed to a noisy area, even without the EWL.

Parkville Gardens group – Mr Tony Rogers (secretary)

Mr Rogers talked about the importance of the two 2 wetlands area to Parkville residents.  The homes in the area were sold after the Commonwealth Games on the basis of the proximity to Royal Park and the wetlands.

Mr Rogers described flyovers as huge elevated structures. Flyovers extend and diminish quality of everything around them, not merely the area they occupy.  He said the flyovers across Ross Straw Field will destroy our area forever; nothing will mitigate against it. The park should not be sacrificed for a short-term doubtful project like this.

Mr Rogers spoke with passion about the impact of the project on the neighbourhood, including the white skink habitat.

Andrew Herington

Andrew Herington then presented on behalf of two Clifton Hill residents and made a solid case for the panel to doubt the traffic modeling put forward in the CIS, and by the LMA in subsequent hearings when they sought to clarify and try to make sense of the figures to the panel.

Andrew then went on to highlight that the reference relied on other projects being delivered (widening of Eastern Fwy & CityLink) for which no detail or planning is available. The air pollution analysis by Mr Cook for the LMA should be discounted, because it is based on 2021 traffic figures that LMA will not release to the public. The failure to consider alternative designs, for example at the Hoddle St interchange, where a feasible and practicable alternative is to route the link from Hoddle St to the Eastern Fwy as an underpass, rather than a flyover.

National Trust of Australia, represented by Mr Paul Roser

Mr Roser noted that the heritage assessment by the Heritage Council represented a scant two page document, and he urged the committee to find out what they really think about the project, given this surprising silence.

In the National Trust’s assessment, there are significant heritage questions outstanding:

a. Have all of the heritage values impacted by this project, been included – for example, heritage of Royal Park?

b. Has the CIS correctly assessed heritage values at the State level, or have they relied on the Lovell Chen evidence which only appears to apply criteria for the heritage overlay, a local level of heritage assessment?

c. Do we know all of the potential archaeological sites? The National Trust thinks there is much more potential for archaeology that CIS ignores (e.g. under Alexander Ave).

d. Has the reference project adequately addressed impacts to Royal Park?  Supports the City of Melbourne’s “mound” concept in so far as it reduces loss of parkland.

e. Is the CIS assessment that the risk of damage to the Melbourne General Cemetery from vibration is ‘minor’ and ‘very unlikely’? Given the age of the tombs and monuments, Mr Roser suggests the risk is high, and that detailed pre-condition reports are an essential and difficult task, and need to be done.

f. Is the list of heritage that will be lost to demolition comprehensive? The 66 mature trees in Flemington Road, some properties recommended for heritage overlays in C207 Arden-Macaulay Heritage, the 9.3 hectares of Royal Park, the mature trees and infrastructure in the Moonee Ponds Creek – these are all going to be lost, and for this loss there is no mitigation. The committee should be fully aware of the total of this loss.

Paul Roser concludes that this is a heritage-adverse project and goes against Victoria’s record for maintaining a high level of concern in relation to the protection of our heritage. He offered the assistance and advice of the National Trust to the Committee, in relation to the reference project, or any alternative designs, and their impacts on heritage.

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