Homeowners in the dark on East West Link compensation

The Age: Homeowners in the dark on East West Link compensation. April 3, 2014. Adam Carey, Transport Reporter for The Age

A still from East-West Link’s video showing apartment complex Evo surrounded by freeways.

Homeowners whose properties stand to be badly impacted by the East West Link face renewed uncertainty about whether they will be compensated by the Napthine government, after the planning panel that is assessing the road project effectively rejected its role as decision-maker.

Kathryn Mitchell, chief panel member of Planning Panels Victoria, who is chairing a 30-day hearing into the East West Link, said on Thursday that it should not be left to the expert panel to decide whether to compensate property owners who face being put in the shadow of the proposed road.

“We don’t feel like we can randomly say this or that property should be acquired … we don’t feel like we’re the best people to do this,” Ms Mitchell said.

Her comments followed an announcement by the Linking Melbourne Authority at the hearings last month that the government would consider buying out any property the panel deemed severely affected by the road.

Several property owners have made submissions to the authority, which is in charge of the project, and to the planning panel, asking to be acquired.

Linking Melbourne Authority spokeswoman Gemma Boucher said it was not in the authority’s power to acquire properties outside the East West Link project boundary, and that it would have to wait until the panel made its recommendations.

“For example, if the assessment committee recommends that the project boundary is moved then this would impact on which properties would be required for the project,” Ms Boucher said.

Kensington Association spokeswoman Rilke Muir said it was time for the Napthine government to show “compassion” and agree to acquire those properties that are just outside the boundary of the East West Link, but still likely to be hit hard by the project.

“In the ’70s [Premier Henry] Bolte came out and helped residents that were in a similar position with the expansion of Alexandra Parade, and I really think it is up to the leader of the government, whose idea this is in the first place, to do the same,” Ms Muir said.

Ms Muir is one of 26 property owners at the Kensington Warehouse Apartments in Bent Street who wrote to the Linking Melbourne Authority in December asking that their homes be bought out. The apartment owners all bought their properties shortly before plans for the East West Link were announced.

Designs for the road indicate the building will be substantially overshadowed by a 14-metre elevated road running parallel to CityLink.

The East West Link is a planned $6-$8 billion toll road between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink, with a further connection to the Port of Melbourne.

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