Since the release of Spark’s lengthy (500+ page document) North East Link Tunnels Urban Design Landscape Plan (UDLP), community members remain concerned and anxious about potential negative impacts of the project, which features a structure of skyscraper dimensions (17 storeys).
Cr Jane Addis, Mayor of Boroondara, says the local community is concerned their views have not been heard or considered, and the consultative process undertaken by Spark should have been longer than the 21-day minimum statutory requirement.
“Despite the significant impact these designs will have on surrounding residents, the document was exhibited for the minimum statutory period prescribed,” she said.
“The community has not had sufficient time to review the material, receive answers to their questions and form a view to make a submission.
“By contrast, the relatively minor park-and-ride building, which forms a small part of the overall project, was advertised for 36 days.”
According to Cr Addis, 21 days is insufficient for residents to fully understand 500+ pages of dense, technical information, which would be unfamiliar to many readers, and provide meaningful feedback about a proposal of this scale, scope and influence.
“Further, community members should receive responses to their concerns within a similar timeframe,” she said.
As well as the inadequate exhibition timeframe, residents have expressed a range of concerns about aspects of the UDLP, in particular:
- Lack of consideration of the human scale of the project, particularly the bulk and visual impact of the 17-storey ventilation structure at the southern end of the tunnels.
- The scale and complexity of the southern interchange and visual impact from nearby residential areas.
- Lack of foresight to future proofing of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, for example through separating modes of transport and lighting.
Council prepared a submission to Spark’s UDLP consultation on behalf of residents of the City of Boroondara based upon community feedback received through community conversations and a Council-run consultation held during public exhibition of Spark’s document.
“At a briefing with North East Link Program and Spark executives about the UDLP held one week prior to its public exhibition, Councillors asked several questions that remain unanswered, despite a commitment to providing Council with responses,” said Cr Addis.
“Questions included Council’s request that views of the ventilation structure be provided from surrounding properties at ground level to show the community how it will look from their homes and from the perspective of pedestrians using the adjacent open space, rather than from a helicopter view.
“North East Link Program has not responded to our questions, nor our request for ground level drawings, and as a result, our community is denied the opportunity to envisage how a 17-storey structure will appear in a residential landscape where there is nothing even close to this scale or significance.
“For context, it is set to stand three storeys taller than any other building in Boroondara.”
By comparison, the tallest of two towers at Aerial Apartments is 14 storeys (480 Riversdale Road, Hawthorn East).
“The structure is well into skyscraper territory and 13m higher than required to meet the environmental standards accepted by the government as part of the approved reference design, with no explanation provided for the additional height,” said Cr Addis.
“This is just one example of many promises of more information which have been ignored, and questions raised by Councillors which have gone unanswered by representatives of the North East Link Program.
“We will continue to advocate to the North East Link Program on behalf of our residents, but we are disappointed in the nature of its community consultation to date and extremely concerned about what lies ahead.”
Council hopes Spark will take heed of residents’ feedback on the UDLP, in particular the limitations of its consultative process, and take the opportunity to redress the situation.