Council’s Advocacy at the NEL Inquiry and IAC Panel

26 Sep 2019
Well Governed Council

Bulleen Industrial Precinct

  • One of the most devastating impacts of the North East Link project is the proposed loss of the Bulleen Industrial Precinct (BIP).  
  • Over 80 businesses in the BIP will have their land acquired, some of these businesses have been serving our local community for over 40 years. 
  • At least 1,200 people stand to lose their jobs as a consequence of business closures. The scale of this impact is larger than the closure of Ford's manufacturing operations. 
  • The project’s Environmental Performance Requirements (EPR’s) are not robust enough to adequately protect or support impacted business and their employees.  

What Council is advocating for:

  • Redesign the Manningham Road Interchange
    Manningham Council strongly recommends that the North East Link Project should redesign the Manningham Road interchange to reduce the project’s footprint and impact on local businesses and other surrounding land uses. The North East Link Project is yet to justify the substantial amount of land required for the planned construction compound, to be located where the BIP exists today.  
  • Fair outcomes and certainty for business owners
    Manningham Council calls on the Andrews Government to ensure all impacted businesses are treated fairly and with respect. The process of any land acquisition and compensation must be conducted with ample notice to give businesses the certainty they need to plan for the future. Council is calling on the state government to develop an Environmental Performance Requirement (EPR) that guarantees impacted businesses will be given genuine assistance transitioning to alternate premises.  
  • Guaranteed support and compensation for impacted employees
    Up to 1,200 employees stand to lose their jobs because of the North East Link project, yet the project’s original EPR for the BIP did not include compensation for impacted workers. Council has strongly advocated that this EPR be amended to ensure impacted workers are included in fair compensation and offered tailored transition plans.  

“The original EPR for the Bulleen Industrial Precinct hadn’t even taken into consideration compensation for impacted workers. Manningham Council has strongly advocated that the EPR’s must be robust enough to ensure impacted workers are guaranteed fair compensation and offered tailored transition plans to find reemployment. 
“Over 1,200 people are set to lose their jobs because of this project. Ensuring these people are taken care of is fundamental. It is astounding that the project missed its obligation to address an impact of this magnitude,” said Manningham Mayor, Cr Paula Piccinini said. 

  • Social support for impacted business owners, employees and families of the Bulleen Industrial Precinct
    Council is particularly concerned about the social impact of the closure of the BIP. Expert evidence shows that a large number of workers in this precinct are in a vulnerable position when it comes to re-employment opportunities and have experienced extended periods of unemployment in the past. Many businesses in the precinct are family owned and operated and in many cases the impact of the project has taken a toll on whole families. Council wants to see NELP offer genuine social support services to impacted business owners, employees and their families.

    “During the panel hearings we heard from business owners who said their staff are constantly concerned about their employment future, their children are upset at school and often business owners break down emotionally. This project has taken a devastating toll on this community and we want to see NELP offer genuine support for those who are impacted,” Manningham Mayor, Paula Piccinini said.  
  • Fast track development at Websters Road
    In order to assist in maximising the scope for successful relocation of businesses, Manningham supports the rezoning of council owned land at Websters Road, Templestowe, for its redevelopment for employment use. Manningham Council is calling on the Minister for Planning to intervene and speed up any land rezoning or potential adjustments to the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). 
  • Additional EPR to support the relocation of all BIP impacted businesses
    Manningham Council is supportive that an additional EPR must be developed, requiring the preparation of a business relocation plan which seeks to facilitate the relocation of as many businesses as possible from the BIP. The need for this EPR is supported by two independent expert witnesses. 

Bulleen Park belongs to the Community

  • The design of the project at Bulleen Park has impacts on the park land and nearby land uses. Several options have been put forward by the North East Link project to reconfigure the area and accommodate its users.  
  • Manningham Council tabled a closing submission regarding land use at Bulleen Park. The submission outlined Council’s primary position that the design of the project at Bulleen Road needs to be reconsidered with an objective of avoiding impacts on Bulleen Park and other nearby land uses. 
  • If impacts on Bulleen Park are unavoidable, it is Council’s recommendation that the project adopts Option 4 as identified in Technical Report I – Social Appendices, Appendix 2: Bulleen Park Area Sports and Recreation Options Assessment. 
  • Manningham Council is committed to ensuring that Bulleen Park’s aero modelling and archery clubs are not displaced as a result of the expansion of a golf course. The nearest alternative aero modelling club is located 23 kilometres away from Bulleen Park and the closest archery club offers inferior facilities that only operate on weekends, as opposed to clubs current operations at seven days a week.  
  • Council is also committed to preserving and protecting community parkland so it remains freely accessible and available for the enjoyment of future generations. Any expansion of a golf course into Bulleen Park would see the community locked out from their own park for the sake of a limited fee-paying sport. 
  • “Option 4 accommodates all users of Bulleen Park and importantly it protects valuable community open space and parkland from becoming exclusive to a golf course. Bulleen Park belongs to Manningham and we will fight hard to save it for our community. 
  • "Leaving aside the possibility of joining a member’s only golf club, there are at least five other publicly accessible 18-hole golf courses within 10km of Bulleen Park” said Manningham Mayor, Cr Paula Piccinini.

Local Sporting communities to suffer through construction   

  • Construction of the North East Link project will cause significant disruption to the local sporting clubs who call Bulleen Park home.   
  • Manningham Council has advised the NEL Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) that any sporting facilities that are displaced must be fully replaced with permanent, enhanced facilities and at suitable sites within Manningham.  
  • During construction, all displaced sporting clubs must be re-accommodated so programmed activities can continue uninterrupted. 
  • Council has been working with NELP to investigate relocation options for the sporting and recreation groups who currently use facilities at Bulleen Park. To date no formal agreements have been secured and significant further work is required to ensure suitable outcomes for all involved.  
  • Going forward, it is vital that the project engages in ongoing consultation with Council and impacted sporting clubs, and that all necessary relocations, including all upgrades required in order to give effect to the relocations, occur prior to the commencement of construction impacting the existing sports grounds. 
  • Strong EPRs are critical to ensure that Bulleen Park sporting facilities remain viable and that facilities are not unreasonably impacted during the construction period. 

Eastern Freeway Widening Impacts 

  •  The Eastern Freeway will be widened up to 20 lanes. Widening of the Eastern Freeway impacts many Manningham residents who live along the Eastern Freeway corridor.  
  •  The Manningham community must be protected from a loss of open space, reduced access to recreational amenity and increased noise pollution.  
  •  No encroachment beyond the freeway reserve Manningham Council does not support any freeway widening design that encroaches on land past the existing VicRoads freeway road reserve boundaries onto land that is currently used as public open space. 
  •  Increased noise pollution from up to 20 freeway lanes This project is designed to funnel freight traffic onto the Eastern Freeway, which is particularly noisy. High quality and aesthetically suitable noise barriers must be installed before any construction begins.  
  •  Outdated Traffic Noise Reduction Policy must be reviewed The project is relying on the 2005 VicRoads Traffic Noise Reduction Policy to guide the projects noise mitigation practices. This policy is 14 years old, outdated and in need of a critical review before any project works commence. Any noise guidelines must ensure residents are adequately protected from increased noise pollution. 
  •  Residents to live against giant concrete sound walls Residents in Estelle Street, Bulleen could lose the grassland reserve in front of their homes, to be replaced with a 10 metre high concrete sound wall. Current views of trees and parkland will be lost forever.  • The North East Link Project Environment Effects Statement states the ‘10 metre noise wall would dominate the view’ and that any landscaping work done to alleviate the visual impact ‘would be insignificant’ in its effect.  
  •  Manningham Council does not support the construction of the freeway noise wall so close to resident’s homes and asks the project to redesign the widening of the freeway at this point and reduce this impact.   
  •  4.5 hectares of parkland will be wiped out by the freeway expansion The popular Koonung Creek Trail, community parkland and reserves along the Eastern Freeway will be wiped out by the expansion of the Eastern Freeway. This will have a significant impact on our community’s ability to access recreational amenity. 
  •  Redesign of the Eastern Freeway Council is calling on the North East Link Project to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better design for the Eastern Freeway that will reduce a myriad of impacts on the community, environment and home owners living alongside the Eastern Freeway.

Visual impact and urban design

  • Inserting such a substantial project into an established urban environment and valued landscape gives rise to significant urban design and visual impact concerns. 
  • Council’s Urban Design Expert Witness, Craig Czarny, said the project is land hungry and has the capacity to have serious negative impacts on the existing environments, neighbourhoods and activity precincts.  
  • NELP’s own Urban Design Expert Witness, Kevin Begg, said the Reference Design was a ‘functional’ design only which had not been informed by any consideration of urban design, landscape design or architectural design.  
  • Council is committed to ensuring a high quality urban design outcome and to ensure that adverse visual impacts are avoided or minimised. 
  • Council has advised the IAC panel that the Reference Design requires substantial modification to meet the ambitions of the projects Urban Design Strategy. 

Environmental Impacts 

Destruction of Koonung Creek

  • The project states that 1.6 kilometres of the Koonung Creek is going to be diverted into underground drains.
  • Undergrounding of the Koonung Creek will cause significant environmental destruction.
  • Manningham Council wants to see the proposed widening of the Eastern Freeway redesigned to avoid the need to underground the Koonung Creek entirely.
  • Council would also like to see an investment from the NELP to fund a regeneration project for the Koonung Creek as a part of this project.  

Nearly 26,000 trees at risk of removal

  • A total of 25,947 trees are either planned for removal or potentially impacted within the project boundary.
  • Manningham Council is calling on the IAC panel to recommend that the species, condition and quality of any replacement tree planting in Manningham should be to the satisfaction of Council, and Council should not be excluded from these decisions or offset processes.
  • Furthermore, Council is calling on NELP to be the responsible body ensuring satisfactory tree offsets are achieved, not the successful project contractor, and to ensure an Urban Tree Canopy Replacement Plan is successfully implemented at an agreed future date.

Bolin Bolin Billabong

  • Council is resolute that there must be no impact to the Bolin Bolin Billabong as a result of the NEL project, this includes direct and indirect impacts such as affecting the water flows into the Billabong.
  • Council has concerns that tunnelling activities near the Bolin Bolin Billabong may have harmful impacts on the water level in the billabong.
  • Council has advised the IAC that NELP should gather more ground water data to refine their modelling and provide a more accurate estimate of impacts.  

Bulleen’s iconic 300 year old River Red Gum

  • The River Red Gum located at 39 Bridge Street is culturally and environmentally significant to Manningham.
  • The tree is over 300 years old, pre-dates European settlement in Manningham and is an important example of our environmental heritage.
  • The River Red Gum has been protected with a heritage overlay, is registered as a significant tree in the National Trust and won the National Trust’s 2019 Victorian Tree of the Year award.
  • Manningham Council supports that the Manningham Road interchange design be reconsidered to facilitate retention of the Bulleen’s iconic 300 year old River Red Gum. 

Loss of open space  

  • Manningham is set to lose 36 hectares of open space during the construction of the North East Link Project and 7 hectares permanently.
  • Significant areas of public open space will be occupied by the project for up to seven years; and significant areas of public open space will be permanently acquired to accommodate the project. 

Impact to community 

  • A generation of children will commence and conclude their primary schooling during construction of the North East Link. If the whole or even part of their local park is used for a construction compound for years on end, this should not be lightly dismissed on the basis that is only a “temporary” impact. 

EES understates the true loss of open space

  • The public open space that will be either temporarily or permanently lost adjacent to the Eastern Freeway is likely to have been understated by NELP.  
  • The EES open space calculation proceeds on the assumption that land zoned for road purposes (such as along the Eastern Freeway corridor) ought not to be counted as open space. This is despite acknowledging that such land forms part of the current ‘open space’ network along the Eastern Freeway and is seen as such by local residents because it is not currently used for road purposes 
  • Any assertion that the extensive tract of Road Zone land along the Eastern Freeway should not be considered as public open space is disingenuous. The land in question has formed part of the Koonung Creek Linear Park since its transfer from VicRoads as “surplus” land to Boroondara, Whitehorse and Manningham City Councils following the extension of the Eastern Freeway.
  • In this regard, Council seeks the recalculation in any supplementary EES, of the amount of public open space permanently lost (including road zoned land used for public open space) and demonstrate that there is no net loss of public open space because of the project. 

Open space compensation  

  • To compensate (to some extent) the permanent loss of public open space, Council seeks a range of works to be undertaken by NELP to improve public open space areas, to provide additional walking and cycling connectivity and to generally restore the quality of life of residents of the municipalities that suffer the burden of the project.  
  •  Additionally, Manningham City Council calls on the State Government to bring forward realisation of the State Government’s strategic vision for additional public open space along the Yarra River corridor to achieve what Council has identified in its Yarra River Corridor Concept Plan

Public Transport

Doncaster Rail

The proposed Doncaster Busway should be designed to safeguard the opportunity to provide heavy rail to Doncaster in the future by:  

  • Ensuring the busway can be transitioned to heavy rail in the future.
  • Maintaining adequate grades and curvatures, and sufficient overhead clearance (including for electricity cables) at all overpasses and bridges to enable future heavy rail.
  • Design and preserve adequate land to provide for the development of future railway stations at Chandler Highway, Burke Road, the proposed Bulleen Park & Ride site and Doncaster Park & Ride.

Proposed Busway

  • Manningham Council is calling on the Andrews Government to extend the dedicated busway into the heart of the CBD, so Manningham Commuters can experience genuine journey time savings.
  • Manningham Council is calling on the Andrews Government to deliver the Doncaster Busway as a part of a complete Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) upgrade from the CBD to Mitcham. 

Local bus network improvements

  • Manningham Council is calling on the project to provide a number of opportunities to provide improvements to the local bus network to support public transport connections, in particular between Manningham and the La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster. 

Complimentary projects

Council has advocated for a series of complimentary projects to be incorporated and funded and as part of the North East Link project including:

  • An upgrade to Templestowe Road, making the road safer for motorists and pedestrians
  • More active transport walking and cycling options, including a new shared path bridge connection between Banksia Park in Bulleen and the Main Yarra Trail in Heidelberg among other options
  • A full scale upgrade to Koonung Creek Linear Park and other reserves along the Eastern Freeway corridor • Improved access to Heide Museum of Modern Art enhancing its exposure and accessibility from Manningham Road and the proposed NELP freeway.
  • The inclusion of place specific design opportunities as identified in Urban Design Strategy within Manningham.