Bid to include Royal Park on Victorian Heritage Register may affect East West Link plans

Melbourne Leader: Bid to include Royal Park on Victorian Heritage Register may affect East West Link plans. Kylie Adoranti & Nick Miller. February 28, 2014

Environment groups hope a proposed Heritage Victoria listing will prevent Royal Park from being “virtually razed’’ by construction of the East West Link.

Protectors of Public Lands Victoria and Royal Park Protection Group member Julianne Bell said she hoped the heritage listing would be approved.

“Royal Park is going to be virtually razed to the ground by this monster toll road going through it, the East West Link will demolish the park,” Ms Bell said.

“This (heritage protection) could very well be the saviour of Royal Park.’’

Ms Bell said under the existing East West plan 5200 trees would be removed and parkland would be used for new roads.

The draft proposal comes after the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Victorian chapter made an application to Heritage Victoria for Royal Park to be listed on the heritage registry.

Institute senior practitioner Bruce Echberg said most of the institute’s members supported taking a stand against the proposed design and route of East West Link because of its impact on Royal Park and Moonee Ponds Creek.

“As soon as we saw the design of the freeway connection we realised that it was going to be very damaging to Royal Park,” Mr Echberg said.

“We decided we had to take a direct stand on this.”

Some features in and around the park are already heritage protected including Walmsley House, the Women’s Dressing Pavilion, Anzac Hall and Melbourne Zoo.

The draft Heritage Victoria plan calls for protection of all land in Royal Park including all buildings, roads, trees and landscape elements.

Under the Heritage Act, a person must not remove or demolish, damage, alter, excavate or disturb the position of any part of a registered place or object without approval with out applying to Heritage Victoria for a permit.

Asked if the State Government would attempt to override any Heritage Victoria protection if it threatened the East West Link, a spokeswoman for Planning Minister Matthew Guy, Rochelle Jackson, said: “Any discussion of overriding Heritage Victoria is not one the minister has considered.”

Asked if heritage protection would affect the East West Link, spokeswoman for Roads Minister Terry Mulder, Larissa Garvin said: “The East West Link will reduce congestion and improve public transport in Melbourne’s inner north.”

A Heritage Victoria spokeswoman, who refused to be named, said the protection plan did not threaten the East West Link project.

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