East West Link acquisition notices coming for houses but owners still hopeful of staying put

Melbourne Leader: East West Link acquisition notices coming for houses but owners still hopeful of staying put. Nic Price. 29 September 2014

Collingwood homeowner Keith Fitzgerald at the new East West Link mural behind his house, which will be acquired by the Government for the new road. Picture: Josie Hayden

The State Government is set to send out formal acquisition notices within days to dozens of homes and businesses in Collingwood, Clifton Hill and Parkville for the East West Link.

The Linking Melbourne Authority would not comment on speculation contracts for the project could be signed as early as this week, as the government forged ahead before the November election.

About 90 homes and 20 businesses are likely to be demolished and, while some owners have sold up early, others continue to fight.

Keith Fitzgerald, who has been in his Collingwood home all of his 70 years, said a move would be “devastating” and a major stress on his sister who had cancer and needed regular visits to St Vincent’s Hospital.

Residents have to vacate by next August, but Mr Fitzgerald said he had not started looking for a new place.

“I’m determined to see this through, fight it all the way. Why are they acquiring our houses with legal challenges ongoing?” he said.

Meanwhile, residents at the Parkville end remain in the dark about which route the road will take as it joins CityLink and which homes will stand in its way.

“There are a lot of nervous residents just holding their breath,” said Anthony Peyton of residents group Safety Net for Royal Park.

Law firm Slater and Gordon is handling acquisitions for many owners and senior associate Manisha Blencowe said compensation offers were expected within weeks.

Compensation — for market value of the land before the tunnel, costs and up to 10 per cent loading for stress and emotional attachment to the land — can be contested, but not the acquisition.

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the $8 billion project, after the State Opposition vowed to axe the project on the back of Yarra and Moreland councils’ legal challenge if it won power.

Original owners would have the option to buy their houses back for the same price if a Labor government resold the properties within 18 months.

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