East West Link project approved despite recommendation to postone

Moonee Valley Leader: East West Link project approved despite recommendation to postone. Linh Ly. 10 July 2014

The Flemington Community centre and housing estate.

The East West Link has been approved despite an ­independent planning committee finding it will have an unacceptable impact on the Flemington Housing Estate and its surrounds.

State Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced the project was going ahead last week, ignoring the advisory committee’s recommendation to postpone the project’s “Part B”, which includes the estate, Flemington Community Centre, Debneys Park and Flemington Community Garden.

The committee’s report stated the project boundary was too close to the facilities and “the corresponding noise, visual intrusion, air pollution, displacement, compromised real and perceived safety, overshadowing and light spill render the facilities not fit-for-purpose”.

But Mr Guy said the decision provided certainty and approving it as an integrated decision was ­better “than a piecemeal approval process”.

The committee did not favour the alignment of the project in the Flemington area and said its ideal outcome was an alternative design, but conceded if it were to go ahead then Debneys Park, the community centre and garden should be relocated.

The Linking Melbourne Authority, which oversees the project, will develop a masterplan for the area and refine the project design.

Spokeswoman Gemma Boucher said it would be the next step in ensuring the area was “reinstated and even improved” and had already started discussions with Flemington Community Centre, Moonee Valley Council and the Department of Human Services.

“We understand the importance of these facilities and will be seeking involvement from local people through the development of the plans,” Ms Boucher said.

Moonee Valley Deputy Mayor Nicole Marshall said it seemed Mr Guy was “fast-tracking processes and taking shortcuts”, which could have devastating impacts to liveability and traffic.

Cr Marshall said much of the impact was still “up in the air” and the council wanted to be involved with further planning.

Essendon state Labor MP Justin Madden said there were unanswered questions, including what a Flemington Rd connection – to replace the Elliott Ave interchange – would look like.

A property impact report will be prepared in coming weeks, which will consider voluntary property purchases and outcomes for neighbouring organisations, such as Vision Australia’s Seeing Eye Dogs facility.

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