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The North East Link (NEL) is a proposed freeway standard new road linking the Metropolitan Ring Road (M80) to the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road.

Status update

Update on North East Link legal challenge 

The legal case to challenge the Minister for Planning’s decision to approve the North East Link (NEL) has been listed with the Supreme Court. The case will be heard on the 14 September 2020 and will be presided over by The Honourable Justice Garde AO.

A Directions hearing was held on 24 April 2020 to consider the merits of our case, set the timetable for the case and subsequently approve the case to be heard in the Supreme Court.  

Urban Design Strategy for North East Link approved 

On 23 March 2020, the Minister for Planning approved the North East Link Urban Design Strategy (UDS) 28MB PDF

The UDS aims to provide an urban design vision and set expectations for the project. It seeks to guide design elements to mitigate the project’s visual and landscape impacts.  

A draft version of the UDS was included in the Environment Effects Statement (EES). Feedback on this draft during this EES process resulted in some changes. The most significant change was the inclusion of Urban Design Framework Plans (UDFPs) to provide greater design guidance at critical intersections and nodes such as the Bulleen Road and Eastern Freeway interchange. 

Sections relevant to Boroondara include: 

  • Yarra River Valley - page 47 (see pages 56 - 62) 
  • Koonung Creek Valley - page 65 (see pages 70 - 75)
  • UDFP for the Eastern Freeway Interchange - page 153

Councils launch North East Link legal challenge

Banyule, Boroondara and Whitehorse and Manningham Councils have commenced legal action to challenge the decisions on the North East Link Project (NELP).

The councils maintain it was not possible to properly assess the impacts of the project using the proposed reference design. Other than in the most general terms, nobody really knows what is proposed to be built. Too much about the project has been left to be determined at a later time which excludes the community from the process. This is not the way this process should work. It is critical that all decisions made in relation to this significant project are made with a clearer understanding of what is proposed.

We are concerned the full extent of environmental and community impacts remain unknown as no actual design was available for assessment. By the time that a design is finalised, there will not be the proper opportunity to provide input and make submissions in relation to the potential impacts.

Boroondara and the other councils remain hopeful of achieving better outcomes for their communities.

Minister approves the North East Link project 

On 5 December 2019 the Minister for Planning released his assessment report and the Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) report about the NEL.

The Minister’s assessment report and the IAC report are available on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) website

The Minister stated in his report:

“Having studied the proponent’s environmental effects statement (EES), listened to the community and other stakeholders and considered the report of the Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) that I appointed, it is my assessment that the project will meet the evaluation criteria that I set for it.”

“I find that the project’s adverse environmental effects can be appropriately managed and will be acceptable considering the project’s significant benefits.”

Responses to specific Boroondara impacts

The Minister’s assessment did not include recommendations on the relocation and construction of the Boroondara Tennis Centre and reinstatement of the Freeway Golf Course. It did note the stakeholders in the Bulleen Park precinct would need to continue negotiations to achieve an acceptable outcome.

In his assessment (page 35), the Minister acknowledges that the design approaches for the five interchanges, including the Eastern Freeway Interchange, could be improved from those proposed in the Reference Design to reduce potential impacts on visual amenity, landscape amenity and improve functioning of the interchanges. The Minister also recommends that the footprint of the interchanges be reduced. However, he acknowledges that if detailed design cannot reduce the footprint, then while the impacts will be significant, in the context of the overall benefits of the project, they would be acceptable.

IAC report

The Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) report made 29 recommendations, including building a longer tunnel to the north, designating the Simpsons Barracks as a ‘no-go’ zone and not using Borlase Reserve as a tunnel boring machine launch/retrieval site. These three recommendations, designed to protect nearby residents and the valuable environment in the Barracks, were not supported by the Minister. The IAC was critical of the use of a reference design in the EES, noting it was incredibly difficult to comprehend the real impacts of the project.

The release of the Minister’s report follows the conclusion of the Environment Effects Statement (EES) assessment process including:

  • release of the EES for public consultation (May 2019)
  • an Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) panel hearing to assess submissions on the EES from councils, community members and other stakeholders (July to September 2019)
  • preparation of a report and recommendations by the IAC (September to October 2019)
  • submission of the IAC report to the Minister for Planning (October 2019).

North East Link Planning Scheme Amendment gazetted

A notice of approval of the Planning Scheme Amendment GC98 for the North East Link (NEL) project was published in the Victorian Government Gazette on 3 January 2020. The Amendment facilitates the NEL by exempting the project from the usual requirements of the various council planning schemes. It allows the use and development of land for the project in accordance with the specific control and conditions contained in the associated incorporated document. You can view the Planning Scheme Amendment and associated documents on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) website. 

In approving and gazetting the amendment, the Minister has argued the significance, complexity, duration and geographic extent of the project warrants his intervention by assuming the role of decision maker on matters related to the use and development of land for the project.

Investigations and early works are underway

The North East Link Project (NELP) has appointed early works contractors CPB to relocate water, gas, electricity and sewer mains within the project area. This work has began in February 2020 and will continue through most of 2021.  A map of the locations where early works are currently underway can be found on the North East Link website.

The local impact of the North East Link

Corridor Option A is the Victorian Government’s preferred option for the North East Link. It proposes significant widening of the Eastern Freeway between Bulleen Road and Doncaster Road and the provision of a physically separated, dedicated busway from the Doncaster Park and Ride to the city.

We strongly oppose North East Link corridor Option A as it will have a direct impact on Boroondara’s liveability. We believe corridor Option C best serves the transport needs of the region and project criteria. 

We will continue to advocate to protect Boroondara’s environment, community facilities and local amenity.

Read how Option A impacts our community

Council advocacy and community engagement

We continue to advocate for the best outcomes for the Boroondara community. 

See our key activities


Since August 2017, we have been working to protect Boroondara from the negative effects of the North East Link.

See the timeline of NEL

Ask NELP a question

Visit the North East Link website to submit a question to their project team.

Documents and links


City of Boroondara
Phone: 9278 4444
Email: [email protected]
Post: Private Bag 1, Camberwell VIC 3124

North East Link Project
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1800 941 191
Post: GPO Box 4509, Melbourne VIC 3001

The Hon. Jacinta Allan, Minister for Transport Infrastructure
Phone: 8392 6100
Email: [email protected]
Post: Level 20, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

The Hon. Jaala Pulford, Minister for Roads
Phone: 8392 6000
Email: [email protected]
Post: Level 20, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

The Hon. Richard Wynne, Minister for Planning
Phone: 8683 0964
Email: [email protected]
Post: Level 16, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, VIC 3002

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