13 March – Day Eight

Thursday 13 March

5pm

The day finishes with a series of questions on access to local play space and the appropriateness of freeway off-ramps through playgrounds.

Wren notes that Nesbitt has identified the people left behind as enduring the worst impacts. Wren asks Nesbitt to explain how the social impact assessment proposes to assist people left behind to live next to the road and live looking over the road. Nesbitt points to the information to enable people know the timelines and the process of construction.

Wren asks if a construction similar to the sound tunnel at Flemington Rd is an appropriate outcome for people to have outside their windows.

4pm

Still with Moonee Valley and Heather Nesbitt, GHD on social impact assessment.

Hicks for Moonee Valley City Council asks Nesbitt which impacts she would assign as Performance Requirements. Nesbitt identifies the playground at Debneys Park. Hicks puts it to Nesbitt that the playground can not be relocated. Nesbitt says that there would need to be a process of consultation.

Hicks asks Nesbitt whether it is important to reach the hard to reach? Nesbitt agrees. Council asks if the social impact assessment has a achieved this? Nesbitt says they have achieved this somewhat, for example in relation to housing acquisition, by providing for multicultural groups as part of the open days and the consultants visited the Flemington Housing estate.

Hicks asks if anything was done in relation to the Community Centre. Nesbitt answers no. Nesbitt says she is relying on the advice of the LMA on whether or not the Flemington Community Centre should be a Performance Requirement. She acknowledges it is ‘outside’ the project boundary despite the road alignment being on the edge of the community centre. Nesbitt says that she thinks that it is important for the centre to continue to operate and that there might be opportunities for the road alignment to be changed. Nesbit acknowledged that she did not receive information about overshadowing of the centre. Ms Nesbitt said that her view might have changed –depending on how directly on top of the community centre the road alignment was to take.

Hicks asks which elements from the social impact assessment should be included as Performance Requirements?

3pm

Wren asks Nesbitt, who works for GHD (the firm which prepared the original CIS and social impact assessment report for the East West Link) about peer reviewing the work of her colleagues. Nesbitt maintains she was able to undertake the review independently as she does not work in the Victorian Office.

Social connectivity is identified as an area not adequately covered by the original report.

Council for Moonee Valley, Hicks asks Nesbitt about where she drove and walked in relation to being directed to get to know Melbourne’s Transport network. Nesbitt says she drove right around the project area.

Hicks: you said you have relied on the modeling on traffic data and projections, you mentioned table 9 of the CIS travel trips 2031 without the EWL. We have had the traffic expert explain what this means about travel times. We did an analysis to actually see how trip times would be improved. So we divided VHT/number of trips. You get 17.4 minutes for weekday trips and 21.4 minutes for AM peaks.

If you do this for table 11 Vehicle trips 2031 WITH the EWL you get the same outcome. There is no travel time saving.

table 9

table 11Council for LMA: Nesbitt is not the traffic expert.

Hicks: So you just accepted these figures?

Nesbitt: Yes.

Hicks notes that Nesbitt only identified those social determinants of health which do not include physical place and the effects of physical place on health. Nesbitt says she is unaware of the Environments for Health Municipal Public Health Planning Framework developed by the Department of Human Services.

In preparing her report, Nesbitt says she met with LMA, went to the Flemington Public Housing estate and walked around, but she did not speak with anyone living in the public housing. Oh, and she read Glaeser’s book Triumph of the City as directed by LMA.

1pm

Our daily Edward Glaeser quote comes from Heather Nesbitt: “Above all, we must free ourselves from our tendency to see cities as their buildings and remember that the real city if made of flesh, not concrete”.

Nesbitt summarises her expert witness report and identifies two communities requiring community resilience and social cohesion:

–       Flemington Housing Estate

–       Manningham Street, Parkville.

More to come after lunch …

12:30

Under cross-examination from Pitt, Patrick acknowledges the Elliot Avenue off-ramps will be like a major tollway portal.

Patrick considers the positioning of the Elliot Avenue off-ramps outside the Zoo “is actually a good outcome”.  He says “the zoo acts as a screening element for the portal”.  None of this is in Patrick’s expert witness statement.

Pitt notes the operation of the wetlands in Royal Park is required for maintaining trees and plantings in Royal Park. Patrick agrees “yes, or an alternative”.

Patrick describes baseball as a “somewhat marginal sport in Australia” therefore Ross Straw Field has “somewhat less significance”.

Patrick acknowledges he hasn’t considered the noise impacts when proposing areas around the western portal and Elliot Avenue off-ramps could accommodate some form of passive recreation. The NSW Road Noise Policy suggests a daytime limit of 55dB for passive use of open space, we heard yesterday that levels near the Elliot Avenue interchange could be 65 – 70dB.

Pitt is detailing the importance and significance of Royal Park, to which there are no major objections from Patrick.

Patrick acknowledges he did not ask LMA about types and methods of construction works proposed in Royal Park.

Pikusa quotes William Blake: “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way”.

11:30

In his expert witness statement, Patrick did not recommend any additional performance requirements or changes to the reference project.

However, under cross-examination he cited a number of options for minimising impacts on trees such as maximising the extent of tunnelling in Royal Park, and developing management plans for the protection of trees.

Some quotes from Patrick during Wren’s cross-examination:

About Ross Straw Field: “it’s a complete change to this portion of the park, there is no denying it”.

About re-plantings to reduce visual impact of off-ramps and viaducts: “it’s like putting lipstick on a pig”.

About opportunities to minimise impact: “I wasn’t involved with the design. I had no input into the design”.

Patrick repeatedly describes minimising cut and cover in Royal Park as a way to reduce impacts on trees. But he isn’t necessarily convinced this should be included as a performance requirement.

Patrick is not aware of any research about the depth of tunneling needed to protect surface vegetation, but he says “I wouldn’t want to come any shallower than 10m below trees such as those in the Australian Native Garden”.

11 am update

Today is the last day for Linking Melbourne Authority’s expert witnesses to present and be cross-examined.

The first witness today is Mr John Patrick presenting on ‘cultural landscapes’, or in other words, the heritage significance of trees.

Patrick makes an early correction to his expert witness statement clarifying the Peppercorns in Arden Street (recommended for inclusion in HO1095), are located within the project boundary.

Patrick says he hasn’t considered elements of Royal Park such as the Bourke and Wills Memorial as they are “so far removed [from the project boundary] that I haven’t addressed them”.

Patrick says there is no question of the significance of the Australian Native Garden, but says it will be protected because construction is proposed in a tunnel.

In Patrick’s opinion, “there isn’t pre-settlement vegetation on the site [Royal Park]”.

Patrick says the mature sugar gums (planted in 1920) on Elliot Avenue between Flemington Road and the Zoo are described as having “the strongest case for heritage values” but are “over mature” and their removal is said to be “inevitable” even without the proposed East West Link.

Patrick says none of the trees in Royal Park are listed in City of Melbourne’s Exceptional Tree Register This might have something to do with the fact that this register was established to “recognise, celebrate and protect the exceptional trees that exist on privately owned or managed land in our city”. Royal Park is of course a public park.

An English Oak near Anzac Hall sits right in the middle of an area proposed for cut and cover.

Ross Straw Field “reads as a separate element of the park” and has local significance as part of H04 precinct.

Patrick proposes protecting a row of Elm Trees adjacent to Ross Straw Field and the Trin Warren Tam-Boore Wetlands to the north of Ross Straw Field as a visual “buffer” to the project.

The first six mature Elm trees along Flemington Road will be removed and Patrick recommends these be replanted.

Cross-examination now commences …

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