Statement on Suburban Rail Loop announcement

Mayor Cr Steve Staikos, and Councillors Jenna Davey-Burns and Hadi Saab standing on site at Sir William Fry Reserve in Highett

Kingston Council joins with our community in disappointment that the train stabling yard will proceed next to Heatherton homes at the Delta Site in Kingston’s Green Wedge. Despite this setback for Heatherton residents, Kingston Council recognises the Victorian Government’s commitment to provide replacement open space and significant mitigation measures to reduce impact on residents.

Kingston Council had opposed the use of the Delta Site for a train stabling yard – as the site had been identified through a Public Acquisition Overlay for decades as part of the Sandbelt Open Space Chain of Parks Project – and earmarked to meet a critical regional need to address the shortfall of sporting facilities.

The loss of land that would have included regional sporting facilities to cater for the growing need for women’s and girls’ sports must be urgently replaced, with an open space site to provide the community with a much-needed and long-promised sporting facility.

Acting Kingston Mayor Jenna Davey-Burns said the Delta site was a key part of the Kingston Green Wedge Plan and it is going to be hard to accept for Council and our community. “Our community for decades had been looking forward to having new open space and extensive sporting facilities on the Delta Site in Kingston’s Green Wedge” Cr Davey-Burns said.

“Council is keen to now see the significant promise of the Chain of Parks delivered. This means a fit-for-purpose replacement for the 34 hectares of planned regional sporting facilities which will be lost to the train stabling, must be urgently provided. Our community deserves access to green open spaces, which are so important for the environment and our health and wellbeing. We are glad that the Government has recognised this and is committed to delivering a suitable replacement site, which we will be pushing as a matter of highest priority.” Cr Davey-Burns said.

Cr Davey-Burns said she welcomes the findings of the EES process, which support many of Council’s suggested improvements for the project, incorporated at the new station at Sir William Fry Reserve in Highett and the train stabling yard in Heatherton.

Kingston proactively developed improved designs that aimed to maximise new green open spaces, putting climate change and our community at the centre of the design. “With a strong focus on connectivity through improved pedestrian and cycling pathways and a prioritisation on community facilities like the much-loved farmers market and skate park, Council’s designs reflect what we as a community love and need” Cr Davey-Burns said.

Kingston conducted significant community engagement to develop international best-practice designs for both sites. Cr. Davey-Burns acknowledges the significant efforts the community made towards the EES process to help recommend improvements to Kingston’s design for the project which resulted in positive changes being recommended in the EES report.

Changes announced by the Victorian Government, many of which respond to Kingston Council’s significant advocacy, include:

  • Replacement open space for the 34-hectare Delta site be identified and acquired as a high priority, with Council and community views considered. Delivery of replacement open space should occur as soon as possible with intention to establish it prior to operation of the stabling facility.
  • Replacement of open space lost at Sir William Fry Reserve to be delivered at the neighbouring Gas Works development site
  • Consideration of a green roof at the Heatherton Stabling yards – to minimise noise impacts, substantially improve visual appearance and deliver climate resilient infrastructure – similar to what was delivered at the Government’s desalination plant.
  • Widening the pedestrian bridge between the new SRL station (at Sir William Fry Reserve) and the existing Southland Station/Southland precinct to improve pedestrian/cycling links.
  • Investigating options for a local alternative to replace the loss of vehicle right turn at Old Dandenong Road/Kingston Rd.
  • Improved pedestrian/cycling connections between the new SRL station (Sir William Fry Reserve) and the eastern side of Nepean Hwy.
  • Giving Councils a seat at the table to provide greater influence over designing spaces its community will enjoy for the next 100 years.

Karkarook Ward Councillor Hadi Saab said that residents are deeply disheartened by the stabling yard outcome despite strong advocacy by Council and the community and is committed to doing everything he could to continue bringing residents’ concerns to the forefront.

‘While we are disappointed that not all mitigation measures suggested by the community and Council were recommended for adoption, we are looking forward to working closely with the Suburban Rail Loop Authority and the local community to ensure that the tougher requirements on construction impacts announced by the Victorian Government address the concerns of neighbouring residents.”

“Unfortunately, neighbouring residents are facing years with a construction site next door, and we want to work closely with the Suburban Rail Loop Authority to ensure all options are considered and every effort made to minimise the impact on their daily lives,” Cr Saab said. “Council will be working proactively with the Suburban Rail Loop during the design, construction and operation phases to get the best possible outcomes for our community.”

Cr Saab noted the Suburban Rail Loop Authority is recognised as the biggest infrastructure project in the State’s history and with this comes an enormous responsibility to get the planning and procurement parameters right.

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