Linking Melbourne Authority’s early acquisition notices in Collingwood premature says resident

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Melbourne Leader: Linking Melbourne Authority’s early acquisition notices in Collingwood premature says resident. Julie Hedjes. 18 August 2014

Collingwood’s Keith Fitzgerald says the government has moved prematurely by sending out notices of intention to acquire properties for construction of the East West Link. Picture: Tony Gough

A Collingwood resident who faces losing his home of 70 years to make way for the East West Link says the government has moved prematurely by sending out notices of intention to acquire properties.

Keith Fitzgerald, who lives in Bendigo St, received the letter from the Linking Melbourne Authority just over a week ago.

”I’ll get the final notice of acquisition in October and then the house is no longer ours.

“I’m still getting over it,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

However, he remains hopeful that the project may yet be stopped, with legal challenges to the road still to be decided in the Supreme Court.

Mr Fitzgerald was raised in the Bendigo St home, bought by his father in 1944, and said a valuer had been to assess his property ahead of the acquisition.

“I said to the valuer, ‘What’s your hurry?’ It’s still in the Supreme Court and no tenders have been signed. It’s not over yet by a long shot,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Socialist Party candidate and Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly said it was an “outrageous move”.

“Despite an election looming, two court cases pending and general uncertainty about the project, the government is unnecessarily moving to acquire homes without even knowing if this project will proceed,” Cr Jolly said.

“This move will create a huge amount of unease for local residents. I’m calling on the government to delay the acquisition process. They do not even need these homes for years.

“At the same time we need some answers from Labor about what they would do about this.

“They need to come out and pledge to reverse the process if elected on November 29.”

Linking Melbourne Authority spokeswoman Gemma Boucher said planning approval for East West Link was granted by the Minister for Planning on June 30, “which was followed by the gazettal of the project area”.

“Providing these notices of intention is the start of the process for any major project, and provides property owners with the most amount of time possible so that they can make their future plans,” Ms Boucher said.

A notice on Linking Melbourne Authority’s website says: “Construction on the eastern section is expected to begin at the end of the year, although properties would not be required until August 2015.”

* An earlier report included information from a third party which made it seem as if Collingwood residents would be required to move out of their homes by October.

October is the month in which some residents will receive formal notices of compulsory acquisition.

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