By Jackson Russell
THE duplication of Watson Street, and the Northern Highway to the south of Wallan, will require the acquisition of strips of public land, as detailed in Department of Transport plans.
As part of the project to construct the Hume Freeway-Watson Street diamond interchange, Watson Street will be duplicated, with a shared path on the south side of the road and a new footpath on the north side.
The duplication of the Northern Highway will also include bicycle paths and footpaths on each side of the road.
To create enough space for the duplications, the Department of Transport proposes to use existing road reserves and acquire narrow strips of public land along Wallan Community Park, Wallan Secondary College, Wallan Police Station, Greenhill Reserve and Wallan Ambulance Station.
Sections of Wallan Community Park are also proposed to be temporarily used for access during construction and will be improved following the project’s completion.
Some private land, south of Macsfield Road, is also proposed to be acquired which is mostly used for farming purposes. No dwellings are proposed to be acquired.
No date for construction has been set at this stage.
The Department of Transport has requested an amendment to the Mitchell Planning Scheme to facilitate the Wallan Area Network Improvements project.
Amendment C129mith applies a Specific Control Overlay to the project land, inserts an incorporate document into the Mitchell Planning Scheme, applies a Public Acquisition Overlay to land proposed to be acquired for the project, and makes the Minister for Planning the responsible authority for future approvals rather than Mitchell Shire Council.
The project is currently in the consultation stage, with Planning Minister Richard Wynne referring the amendment to the Government Land Standing Advisory Committee.
The advisory committee includes a panel of independent experts and considers planning provisions by a public hearing process.
An information sheet has been sent to residents and owners of properties near land proposed for the project ahead of public submissions closing on December 4.
An extensive process of exhibition and consultation is underway and a public hearing is scheduled for February 2021.
The Planning Minister is expected to consider the recommendations of the advisory committee in March before making a decision on the amendment request.
Following the planning approval, a detailed design will be developed including drainage, pavements and landscaping, followed by the start of construction.
A government spokesperson said the Department of Transport was continuing discussions with affected landholders and council, and would continue to keep the community informed as the planning process continued.
“The Planning Minister has referred the proposal to the Government Land Standing Advisory Committee for advice, recommendations and extensive consultation,” the spokesperson said.
“The Minister will consider the Committee’s report and all submissions before making his decision.
“The community will have the opportunity to make their views known and provide a submission to the advisory committee at a later date.”