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Royal Park gets reprieve from East West Link

The admirable tenacity and personal sacrifices of people involved over a long time in fighting the East West Link on the streets and in the courts have finally effected some changes, but the fat lady has not sung yet. The huge Elliott Avenue toll road exchange that threatened the viability of Melbourne Zoo, will not go ahead. Royal Park woodlands near the zoo will also be left standing. What will happen instead is not yet clear and no-one can relax. The East West Link, if it goes ahead in any form, will be a kind of cut-off point for environment and democracy in Melbourne. The huge efforts already expended by the public should have seen the toll way cancelled and forgotten That it survives in some form draws attention to the tragic influence of the growth lobby over our laws and government. ( editorial)

On 30 June 2014, the Minister for Planning, the Hon. Matthew Guy MLA, issued a press release approving the controversial East West Link Toll Road eastern section. (EW Link)

Although opposed to the EW Link and committed to supporting public transport, nevertheless PPL VIC welcomed the Minister’s decision to accept the recommendation of his Victorian Planning Panels review team and delete from plans the monstrous Elliott Avenue toll road interchange. This vast concrete road junction was going to be located in Royal Park just 40 metres away from the walls of the Melbourne Zoo. This means the Zoo and its captive animals have been saved from certain destruction. Additionally, the surrounding open woodland in the park has been spared from the axe. Less clear is the fate of the rest of Royal Park, given the fact the Minister has decreed that he has

“determined that the Elliott Avenue interchange as proposed will not proceed and instead will be replaced by access to Flemington Road, subject to further detailed design work.”(Quote from press release.)

According to Donald Rumsfeld

“There are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns…”

This certainly applies to Royal Park as we have not yet seen the replacement plans for the EW Link. We are going to have to wait for “further design refinements” (as the Minister terms them.) We look forward to the opportunity to comment on the new designs for the project and to have a chance to speak at any hearing.

Julianne Bell Secretary of PPL VIC comments:

“In addition to considering the Minister’s announcement re the EW Link, we have been anxiously waiting to hear his pronouncement as to whether he has decided to include Royal Park on the State Heritage Register. This would give the park protection from the EW Link. It would be most unfortunate if the Minister decides to give Linking Melbourne Authority (the project proponent) a heritage exemption to allow the project to be constructed through Royal Park.”

Rod Quantock President of PPL VIC observed:

“While pleased with the announcement concerning Royal Park, we were alarmed to hear that the Minister did not concur with his Review Committee’s recommendation to reconfigure the Hoddle Street interchange of the EW Link, the official gateway to the Tunnel. Thus heritage neighbourhoods in Collingwood and Clifton Hills will be bulldozed for the sake of erecting a showy, non-functional architectural structure. In addition we are concerned over the fact that the Minister has refused to review “Part B” of the EW Link, that is, the section from Flemington Road to the port of Melbourne. The lives of residents in inner Melbourne will be devastated by this Neanderthal transport project which has no place in this day and age.”

PPL VIC considers that there has been no adequate business case made for the EW Link; that funds need to be diverted into much needed public transport projects; and that approval for the EW Link should be put to the people at the coming election.

Contact: Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Mobile: 0408022408

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