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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
To add your support to stop the destruction
For an update on the East West project since this post Click Here