East West Link to cast shadow over lives of disadvantaged

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The Age: East West Link to cast shadow over lives of disadvantaged. April 11, 2014. Aisha Dow

Photo: Iman Barabiaa and her children at the threatened community gardens. Photo: Angela Wylie

An East West Link flyover could be built within 50 metres of high-rise public housing units in Flemington, creating “miserable” conditions for disadvantaged families.

An elevated road carrying freight trucks is set to be constructed as close as 34 metres to residents living in cramped units on the fifth and sixth floors of one of the estate’s four towers.

It also appears the flyover will cover part of a $2.5 million playground, cast a shadow on a popular community garden and tower over the community centre.

Cultivating Community chief executive Michael Gourlay said the gardeners would prefer the road to be built on the other side of CityLink, an industrial pocket of North Melbourne.

The Flemington Neighbourhood Renewal Board has accused the government of not thoroughly investigating the impact of East West Link on the estate, giving “far more attention” to privately owned apartments. The group has called for the East West Link to be scrapped or hundreds of residents moved elsewhere.

“Our community has been treated neither equitably nor respectfully,” the board’s co-chairpeople wrote in a letter to the East West Link Assessment Committee. “We are of the view that the road should be redesigned, the housing estate redeveloped or the most affected residents offered the opportunity to relocate.”

Moonee Valley mayor Jan Chantry said many of the residents of the estate had recently escaped war-torn countries. She said if the road construction were to take five years some children would grow up without knowing fresh air or life without the constant sound of traffic.

African migrant Huda Yesuf lives with her family on the 14th floor of the high-rise tower at 120 Racecourse Road, just metres from the planned elevated road.

Because their unit does not have airconditioning, Ms Yesuf said they had no choice but to open the windows in the summer.

The mother of three said the walls of their unit were already discoloured with black marks from traffic emissions and her 12-year-old son suffered from sleep problems. “The last thing he needs is more noise,” she said.

Yemeni migrant Iman Barabiaa regularly visits the estate to have coffee with friends while her youngest children frolic in the playground. “It’s very good,” she said.

But 1.35 hectares of this communal area surrounding the estate, known as Debneys Park, is set to become a building site.

There are also concerns the Flemington Community Garden, used by 124 public housing tenants, will be destroyed by excess shade created by the flyover.

A Linking Melbourne Authority spokeswoman said the successful East West Link contractor would need to measure noise at the estate, abide by strict noise criteria and design any noise mitigation structures.

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