Park use during road project probed

A Department of Transport proposal could mean a section of Wallan Community Park, left, compulsory acquired for the upgrade of Watson Street, while also using part of the park for a lay-down site for vehicles and machinery during the construction phase.

By Jackson Russell

THE Wallan Environment Group has questioned Planning Minister Richard Wynne on the potential effect a Wallan roads project could have on Wallan Community Park.

The group is concerned about the effect the construction of dual lanes on Watson Street would have on the park.

A letter to the minister outlines its concerns about the powers the Planning Minister would have over the parkland, its potential use as a lay-down yard for vehicles and machinery during the construction phase and the loss of park amenity.

The Department of Transport has requested an amendment, C129mith, to the Mitchell Planning Scheme to facilitate the project, which would apply a Specific Control Overlay to the project land, insert an incorporate document into the Mitchell Planning Scheme, apply a Public Acquisition Overlay to land proposed to be acquired for the project and make the Minister for Planning the responsible authority for future approvals.

The plan follows community consultation in 2018 and the development of planning studies and concept plans.

However Wallan Environment Group raised its concerns with the proposal, sending a letter to Mr Wynne, along with Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green and Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes.

“Within local circles, it is claimed that the large area of Wallan Community Park has been included under [the Specific Control Overlay] because the Department of Transport intends to use the park as its lay-down yard,” the letter said.

“Wallan has many empty, unused paddocks, some of which abut sections of the Wallan Area Network Improvements project. Many of these sites are more suitable for the storing of heavy machinery, the laying down of construction materials, portable toilets/offices, etc.

“The inclusion of Wallan Community Park, within the proposed Specific Control Overlay 3 (SCO3) through the Wallan Area Network Improvements project, is regarded in Wallan as a poor decision.

“The loss of the park’s amenity values and the impact on its environmental values are of community concern.”

A government spokesperson said the proposal had been referred to the Government Land Standing Advisory Committee for advice, recommendations and extensive community consultation.

“The Planning Minister will consider their report and all submissions before making a final decision next year,” the spokesperson said.

Following an extensive process of exhibition and consultation and a public hearing scheduled for February 2021, the advisory committee’s report to the Minister is expected in March 2021.

The Minister will consider the recommendations of the advisory committee before deciding on the amendment request.

The Department of Transport is continuing discussions with affected landholders and Mitchell Shire Council and will continue to keep the wider community informed as the planning process progresses.