21 March – Day 14

Friday 21 March

5pm

Morris continues to press Rosen on the appropriateness of consultation undertaken by LMA (implying it was sufficient). Rosen says consultation was appropriate for the level of a reference project, but further consultation is needed for final design. The Ormond Road addition in particular lacked adequate consultation – it is not consultation if you are just telling people what you are going to do.

Hicks asks Rosen about the definition of open space – It’s open to the sunlight and the elements.

In concluding Moonee Valley’s presentation Hicks refers to impacts and lack of adequate assessment for Moonee Valley including increases in local traffic in the west, loss of open space, Flemington Housing Estate, and the effect of the Ormond Road addition.

Hicks says there are still residual issues from CityLink where promises were not kept in terms of amenity, noise, treatment of visual structures.

Hicks is also concerned that treatment of Moonee Valley City Council has been inequitable as other councils have signed Memorandums of Understanding with LMA. She says there needs to be a change in the “world view” of the LMA that goes beyond the project boundary.

Morris assures the Assessment Committee that revised performance requirements from LMA will be ready for Monday…

Lunch

Rosen agrees with the Moonee Valley City Council submission for amended project performance requirements, although it does not include all those proposed in her evidence statement.

Rosen describes issues of continuity for the Flemington Neighbourhood Renewal program (which will cease in 2015) and longer term implications for Flemington.

In cross-examination Wren asks about the people ‘left behind’ whose homes will not be acquired yet will be impacted by the proposed tollway. What is the ‘tipping point’ for a construction period to create a permanent impact? Rosen says that for a child five years of disruption (as is proposed for the East West Link), is a childhood and could create a permanent impact – qualitative and quantitative.

Pitt asks whether social planners put a weighting on issues and the impact on the number of dwellings to be acquired? For example in Moonee Valley only 3 homes are to be acquired as opposed to Parkville where 55 are to be acquired. Rosen says this depends upon the circumstances of each resident; for example the mobility and vulnerability of each.

Morris for the LMA suggests the WHO model for social impact assessment is a very broad brief and no one person could undertake such as model based assessment. Rosen agrees that social researchers rely upon other experts. Rosen disagrees with LMA experts about assigning priorities and weighting to social impact. Proposes that the WHO would also have conflicts with assigning these priorities.

Then follows a discussion about the usability of recreational space under the tollway, “a skatepark?”, and the impacts on the Flemington Housing Estate Community Centre.

11am

We begin each day at the hearings with the tabling of new documents, and responses to various requests for information. Today Melbourne City Council has provided the Assessment Committee with the definition of trees as requested by LMA. The definition comes from Australian Standard AS4373:

3 DEFINITIONS 

3.1 Amenity trees

Trees with recreational, functional, environmental, ecological, social, health or aesthetic value rather than for production purposes.

LMA has tabled a letter from Brett Lane about the number of scattered trees, whose numbers are disputed by Ian Shears from City of Melbourne.

There is discussion about a $15 million MoU between LMA and the City of Melbourne regarding sporting groups, LMA will provide this to the Assessment Committee.

Bonnie Rosen, social planner: says the proposed East West Link will be “exacerbating disproportionate harm” on the Flemington Housing Estate

Today’s first expert witness for Moonee Valley City Council is Bonnie Rosen, a social planner with expertise in social impact assessment. Rosen outlines the three key steps involved in social impact assessment:

  • Avoiding negative social impacts
  • Minimizing, correcting or reducing impacts
  • Compensating for the negative outcomes.

Rosen highlights that social impact assessment should be an iterative process by identifying and investigating impacts (both primary, secondary and cumulative impacts on people), then revisiting the original proposal/design to seek to avoid impacts, and then conducting further assessment…

Rosen comments on the Social Impact Assessment by GHD:

“I feel that the benefits have been identified in a broad zone of influence, and the potential negative impacts have been constrained within the project boundary”

“there has been no consideration of any secondary or cumulative impacts”

“I am concerned with the process to date that the iterations have not taken place… there has been no evaluation of any alternatives”

“my concern is that mitigation measures are not mandatory unless formally included in the performance requirements”

“not adequately addressed equity”

“identified and discussed changes and impacts but not social impacts”

“I was surprised at the lack of attention to the assessment of alternatives”

Rosen refers to a 2013 VicHealth document Social Determinants of Health and the Role of Local Government, which adapted the WHO Social determinants of health to Victorian conditions and the 2001 Environments for Health Framework as useful guidance documents for social impact assessment.

Rosen outlines example areas of impact:

Travancore Park – sound barriers creating physical barriers, light and air quality access, loss of vegetation, safety issues, resulting in permanent and detrimental impacts. Proposes that the widening of an existing road is significantly different to adding another freeway.

Debneys Park – low mobility rates, small living spaces etc. which results in a higher reliance on higher open space requirements. Existing inequities, stigma, severance and safety issues will be further extended.

Rosen says people still have a strong sense of connection to the Moonee Ponds Creek, even in its degraded state and the proposal impacts on functionality as an integrated regional open space resource.

About Flemington Housing Estate, Rosen says there is low car dependency in the estate which means they have a strong reliance on local public space. Residents are already experiencing noise, vibration, visual impacts and air emissions from CityLink. For the residents of the housing estate, the addition of the proposed East West Link has the potential to lead to:

  • Inability to open windows
  • An increase in insomnia
  • Lack of sunlight in their open space
  • A reduction in pride of surroundings
  • A reduction in physical activity because it will be less pleasant to engage and a loss of confidence in the process.

Rosen notes that when visiting the Flemington Housing Estate she did not see any grafiti in the play spaces such as Debneys Park, but there was grafitti under the viaducts which she felt reflected the community’s sense of pride and sense of ownership of the playspaces in comparison to the “no mans land” under the viaducts.

Rosen proposes that the Flemington Community Centre should be added to the project boundary and therefore should be relocated.  The Centre is more than just the physical structure. She submits reasons why the centre must be relocated to within the same geographic area to meet the needs of the both the estate and wider Flemington communities.

Rosen says play spaces are critical in early childhood development:  increase social and fine motor skills. This is important developmental vulnerability in Ascot Vale and Travancore: need to overcome socio- economic disadvantage.

Rosen argues a further CIS is needed once the detailed design is complete by the successful tenderer. She says that the process of social impact assessment is usually iterative, allowing for design changes to avoid and minimise impacts as new aspects may arise out of the detailed design creating new social impacts. If the CIS is the only opportunity for social impact assessment, then this is insufficient.

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