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Snap protest at Carlton EW Link Drill Site Tomorrow

Despite the fact there are no publicly available plans for this project, Stage One of construction of the East West Link has already commenced with "geological investigation" (i.e. drilling for soil and rock samples and testing for underground water) along the proposed alignment of the above/under/on ground road way. As spelt out in the Eddington Review of 2008 the freeway/tollway is likely to be open cut through Royal Park. It seems that there has been a total failure to responsibly and democratically consult the Victorian Public on their wishes in this matter as it affects public lands. The snap protest will be held near the reserve with the drilling rig at the corner of Neill and Canning Streets Carlton outside the Dan O’Connell Hotel starting at 12:30 pm. (Melways Map Reference 2BK4).

Protectors of Public Lands and Carlton Residents Association

Protectors of Public Lands Victoria and Carlton Residents Association have called a snap protest tomorrow at 12:30 pm at the drilling site on the Reserve outside the Dan O’Connell Hotel in Carlton as part of the ongoing campaign of opposition to the East-West Link and support for the Doncaster Rail Link.

No publicly available plans but construction has commenced!

Despite the fact there are no publicly available plans for this project, Stage One of construction of the East West Link has already commenced with "geological investigation" (i.e. drilling for soil and rock samples and testing for underground water) along the proposed alignment of the above/under/on ground road way. In today’s Age Mr Jim Betts, Secretary of the Department of Transport, is quoted as saying that “the tunnel would … transform Alexandra Parade from a choked inner-city arterial into a ''modern boulevard'', with improved priority for buses and bicycles and a better run for the four intersecting north-south tram routes.” Previous comments made by the State Government, however, indicate that the 4 lane tollway/freeway might not be a tunnel but an above ground "aerial roadway" along Princes Street and through the inner suburbs, akin to CitiLink, with compulsory acquisition of property along the route. As most of the traffic off the Eastern Freeway is headed north-south, the Baillieu Government has now decided there should be access/exits to the city at major intersections in Carlton and Parkville. As spelt out in the Eddington Review of 2008 the freeway/tollway is likely to be open cut through Royal Park.

Ian Bird

Ian Bird Transport and Traffic Spokesperson for the Carlton Residents’ Association explains:

Protection of Victorian Era heritage and general liveability in Carlton has been a primary goal of the Carlton Residents Association for decades. The prospect of East-West Link access ramps, elevated roadways and flyovers on Princes Street and massive traffic on North-South arterial roads to the CBD, fills residents with horror.”

“A rail line to Doncaster would move 100,000 people per day, the same as the destructive East-West Link, but at one tenth the cost. It would dramatically reduce traffic congestion. The fact that the Baillieu Government has caved into the influential roads lobby and has ignored the sustainable rail option is a scandal. The East-West Link fails all rational tests and must be abandoned before more public money is squandered on it. Public transport, not toll roads, is the way of the future.”

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Julianne Bell

Julianne Bell of PPL VIC says:

“We are unwilling to stand by and see Melbourne, vaunted as the most liveable city in the world, destroyed by a Neanderthal Government intent on turning us back to the 1960’s by construction of monumental road works and on/off ramps to the city. Alliances of community groups have been battling proposals for extension of the Eastern Freeway for the past decade. Of particular concern is the fate of Royal Park, a unique bushland park and home of the Melbourne Zoo and State Netball and Hockey Centre. We do not want to see parkland plus sportsfields and wetlands carved up and gouged out by an open cut freeway/tollway. Our message is ‘Public Transport not Tollways’.”

The snap protest will be held near the reserve with the drilling rig at the corner of Neill and Canning Streets Carlton outside the Dan O’Connell Hotel starting at 12:30 pm. (Melways Map Reference 2BK4).

Parking is available in Neill Street, off Rathdowne Street.

Sources:
Media Release, Monday 20 August, 2012 from Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. (PPL VIC) and Carlton Residents’ Association Inc. (CRA)

Contact:

Julianne Bell Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. Mobile: 0408 022 408

Ian Bird Carlton Residents' Association Phone: 9347 1411

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The following is an excerpt from an email from Julianne Bell to Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. members and friends

Capire public consultations

Here is an urgent message about Royal Park and the "Return to Royal Park" project being conducted by "Capire" the "Community Engagement Consultant" hired by the Department of Health and the City of Melbourne. A series of "Stage 2" i.e. more public consultations and feedback is being held over "what the public want" for the 3 hectare patch of soon-to-be-reclaimed-land, after the demolition of the old Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) buildings.

Threat to Royal Park by East West Link

First I should remind everyone that Royal Park, this unique "bushland in the city", is being threatened by the East West Link - a 4 lane freeway/tollway. It appears that it will rip through the heart of Royal Park. It might not be in a tunnel but could be open cut. From the drilling site locations it appears that the new route will be through the heart of the grasslands to the north of the RCH. (I will send a report on the last protest at the "geological investigation" i.e. drill site in Carlton on Tuesday 21 August 2012 and an inspection of drilling sites in Royal Park on Friday 17 August 2012 .)

Will Parkland be "Returned"? [That was the deal!]

If you thought we might be getting some parkland "returned" with the demolition of the old buildings on the RCH site then you might be wrong. The City of Melbourne and the Department of Health appear to set on loading up the entire 3.1 hectare site, once cleared, with infrastructure and "facilities."

Parkland is supposed to be"returned". The deal was, when over 4 hectares of prime parkland - open woodland - plus a cleared community/informal sports area was excised from Royal Park for the new RCH, that land would be "returned" after the old hospital buildings were demolished and the land cleared. The Royal Children's Hospital (Land) Bill 2007 states that "parkland will be returned, as part of Royal Park" The Royal Park Master Plan governs the planting of Royal Park which is open woodland with indigenous local vegetation. We hope that in filling in the form or attending more "consultation" sessions you can reiterate this important point. (In the "feedback" form see attached the consultant asks whether you would prefer the "formal" planting in the Australian Native Garden. This is a furphy and irrelevant. The Australian Native Garden was laid out by the landscape architect Grace Fraser in 1973 and was one of the first native Gardens in Victoria. The Royal Park Master Plan which was developed, however, in 1984 and reviewed in 1997 is the Plan which should dictate planting of the park and supersedes Grace Fraser's plan.)

Further Important Points to Raise at Consultations or Filling out "Feedback Form"

The email below has been sent out by Capire, the consultants, with regard to the next stage of the Return to Royal Park project. It is important to ensure that the promises made to return the land to a bushland park are kept. Additional points to keep in mind and to write in the feedback: (1) It is imperative that a barrier of indigenous vegetation be planted around the perimeter of the site in Gatehouse Street and Flemington Road - continuing the line of eucalypt trees and understorey plantings in Gatehouse Street. This will act as a noise barrier and counter the extraordinary pollution from congested, gridlocked traffic (See Melbourne Weekly Times article 22 August 2012) We are calling for an EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) audit of the high pollution levels of the area since it might be patently unsafe for anyone to sit outdoors on this corner "park" ! (2) There will be a a carpark for 800 built under the new hotel and Royal Park on the western side of the patch of parkland-to-be so there is no need for carparking on this 3 hectares of "returned" parkland. Minister David Davis told us at a meeting that the existing strip of carpark on Gatehouse Street will return to parkland (3) There is a toilet around the corner on Flemington Road in Ievers Reserve and in the hotel and foyer of the RCH so why more toilets here in the park? (4) Formal sports playing fields cover two thirds of Royal Park so this option should be discarded out of hand. (5) The strip of land behind the RCH is a "dog-free" area so this area should be similarly "dog-free".

Please take the time to support us and pass on your views. The opportunities are as follows:

Register for a Community Forum:

Saturday 25 August (9.30am to 12pm) This has been cancelled. I - Julianne Bell - was the only person to apply to attend! This means that people must have "consultation fatigue"

Wednesday 29 August (6pm to 8.30pm)

Saturday 8 September (9.30am to 12pm)

Venue: the State Netball and Hockey Centre, 10 Brens Drive, Royal Park. To RSVP please telephone (03) 9285 9012

Join the On-Line Forum:

An online forum will be live from Wednesday 15 August 2012 to Wednesday 12 September 2012 Visit http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/returntoroyalpark and follow the link.

Send in Your Comments:

Capire the consultant has made a form available for you to provide feedback and comment. The feedback form may be obtained here and here (2 versions: pdf and text).

Your assistance in reminding the Department of Health and the City of Melbourne through the consultant of the promises made and the need to return the site to parkland in accordance with the Master Plan not to load up the site with infrastructure is critical.

A final word. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has been canvassing a road name change proposed by the Premier's Office. "Government House Drive" is to be changed to "Diamond Jubilee Drive." This received a bad reception on Jon Faine's 774 radio program on Wednesday morning 22 August 2012. The Lord Mayor then suggested on the program that instead the land to be returned to Royal Park on the old RCH site could be called the" Diamond Jubilee Park"! Please make clear that this site is "part of Royal Park": It is Queen Victoria's park!