Threat to Royal Park by East West Link

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As we are all aware Royal Park, an unique bushland in the city, is currently under threat from the state government’s proposed East West Link.  This will be a four (4) lane tunnel/freeway /tollway cutting through our eastern, western, inner city sunburbs and parklands.   There is, however, an important  window of opportunity to again speak out to ensure this doesn’t happen.  This can be done by participating in the consultation process of the Return to Royal Park Project.

Currently the Return to Royal Park Project which is being conducted by Capirethe Community Engagement Consultant, hired by the Department of Health and the City of Melbourne is conducting a series of  series of Stage 2 public consultations.  Community feedback is requested over what the public want for the three (3) hectare patch of the soon-to-be-reclaimed-land, after the demolition of the old Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) buildings.

It appears that it will rip through the heart of Royal Park and may not be a tunnel but a an open cut freeway.  The drilling site locations indicate that the new route will be through the heart of the grasslands to the north of the old Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH).

To expose this threat, a well attended Snap Rally, of Carlton Residents as well as transport, residential and environmental groups was held at the latest geological drill site in Carlton on Tuesday 21 August 2012.  This followed an inspection of drilling sites in Royal Park on Friday 17 August 2012 by the Protectors of Public Lands and local concerned community groups.

Will Parkland be Returned? 

 If you thought we might be getting some parkland “returned” with the demolition of the old buildings on the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) site then you might be wrong.

The City of Melbourne and the Department of Health appear to be set on loading up the entire 3.1 hectare site, once cleared, with infrastructure and facilities.  This contravenes the initial community agreement by which the parkland is supposed to be returned to public open space.

The deal was, when over four (4) hectares of prime parkland including open woodland and a cleared community/informal sports area was excised from Royal Park for the new RCH,  that land would be returned after the old hospital buildings were demolished and the land cleared.

The Royal Children’s Hospital (Land) Bill 2007 states that “parkland will be returned, as part of Royal Park”  The Royal Park Master Plan governs the planting of Royal Park which is open woodland with indigenous local vegetation.

Given the new threat from the East West link it is very important to reiterate this important point.  It is important that the community participates in the consultation process, completes a feedback form and attends one or more of the consultation sessions.  These are to be held on:

Dates: Wednesday, 29 August (6pm to 8.30pm) and Saturday 8 September (9.30am to 12pm)

Venue: The State Netball and Hockey Centre, 10 Brens Drive, Royal Park.  (Melways Map Reference Page 29 12D)  To RSVP please telephone (03) 9285 9012

In the feedback form the consultant asks whether you would prefer the formal planting in the Australian Native Garden.  Remember this is a furphy and irrelevant as the area is covered by The Royal Park Master Plan which was developed in 1984 and reviewed in 1997 and is the Plan which should dictate planting of the park.  It is important to ensure that the promises made to return the land to a bushland park and if they are kept it will also be another reason why the development of an East West link is  not appropriate.

The consultation period will be live from Wednesday, 15 August 2012 to Wednesday, 12 September 2012.

To complete the on-line feedback form and to join the On-Line Forum go to: www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/returntoroyalpark

Submitted by Julianne Bell, Secretary, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.

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