East West Tollway to trash an inner-city oasis

Urban paradise under threat

Urban paradise under threat

Last week the Victorian State government unveiled plans of the proposed East West Link toll road. It has been known for some time that the government has been looking at tunneling under inner Melbourne to connect the Eastern Freeway with City link. What was a surprise to many, now that the plan has been revealed, is the substantial above ground impact on the west side of Parkville. The images below show the extents of the flyovers required to connect the new road into City link.

A still from the East West Link video

A still from the East West Link video

Some of the effects of the proposed tollway connection

Some of the effects of the proposed tollway connection

Community Sporting Fields

First on the list of endangered assets is the Ross Straw Playing Field. This field is used frequently for cricket, soccer and baseball. The plans released show the primary oval being destroyed and the baseball field being transformed into a treed reserve. The community building adjacent has had its vehicle access removed, significantly reducing its utility.

Ross Straw Field to be turned into a tollway

Ross Straw Field to be turned into a tollway

Endangered: Ross Straw Field Baseball Diamond

Endangered: Ross Straw Field Baseball Diamond

Environmental reserves and Wetlands

Next on the list are the community wetlands areas which are home to a thriving ecosystem of birds and frogs. Part of this system will have tollway fly overs directly over it making it a much less desirable location for the people who currently enjoy walking or jogging around nature.

Wetlands endangered

Wetlands endangered

Parkville wetlands under threat

Parkville wetlands under threat

This section of wetlands will have 2 separate overpasses built over trashing a desirable public space

This section of wetlands will have 2 separate overpasses built over trashing a desirable public space

Residences Lost and amenity destroyed

The plans will also devastate the built environment. The 47 room Elderly Chinese Home pictured below will be one of the most significantly impacted buildings. It will be completely surrounded by the fly overs and will no longer be a peaceful home close to nature that the residents currently enjoy.

As an aside, many objectors to development generally, object on the grounds that the construction activity itself will cause detriment. These grounds are not typically considered to have much weight under Victoria’s planning scheme, as the construction process is a temporary problem. In this case however I would suggest that even a modest 2-3 years of construction noise would be grossly unacceptable to the Elderly Chinese home, as half of the current residents are aged over 95.     

Elderly Chinese Home to be surrounded

Elderly Chinese Home to be surrounded by noise and pollution

The Evo Apartments are another case where a building which is not acquired suffers a worse fate than demolition. By the look of the plans the flyover passes so close to the apartments that the residents could open a drive through restaurant.

Evo Apartments still under construction to be completely surrounded by 5 story high fly overs

Evo Apartments still under construction to be completely surrounded by 5 story high fly overs

The residences to the South of these overpasses will also be significantly impacted  in terms of amenity and home value, with owners being told that they are not eligible for compensation.

Town Houses marked for demolition

Town Houses marked for demolition

Community response

Not surprisingly the local community are outraged at their neighborhood being trashed. There is no doubt that this level of destruction would cause a negative response regardless of the project benefits, however what is most damning is that the benefits for the city have not been proven. The original business case was terrible. It projected that the economic cost of the project were twice that of  the benefits. The subsequent revised business case hasn’t been fully released leaving many to ponder if we have been misled by the government.  The Urbanist has written an interesting post going into depth on the business case for this project.

Community Protest Rally

Community Protest Rally organised by Federal MP Adam Bandt

The environment in western Parkville has been proposed to be completely trashed. This is tragedy for the local community who will fight tooth and nail to stop it happening. But the issue is much bigger than the local devastation. Without a solid business case which proves that spending a gigantic $6-8 billion makes a financial sense, the state is set to be hamstrung for decades. As far as can be ascertained, the government is spending money it doesn’t have, on a project that will not generate a break even benefit, and will bulldoze a community to achieve it.

Architecture (and the surrounding environment) is for everyone

Further reading

Linking Melbourne Authority

To add your support to stop the destruction

Trains Not Toll Roads

 

For an update on the East West project since this post Click Here

Advertisements

About Michael Smith

Architect and Director of Atelier Red + Black based in Melbourne, Australia
This entry was posted in all posts, construction industry, East West Link, Government Policy, News, Uncategorized, Urban Design and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to East West Tollway to trash an inner-city oasis

  1. Pingback: An update on the East West Link | The Red and Black Architect

  2. Pingback: A Better East West Link Design Revealed | The Red and Black Architect

  3. Pingback: State Government Reveals Final East West Link Design | The Red and Black Architect

  4. Pingback: 2014 Retrospective | The Red and Black Architect

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s