On Wednesday 11th May members of the Friends of Banyule Steering Committee met with Edward O’ Donohue, Parliamentary Secretary for Transport. Mr O’Donohue had agreed to come to Heidelberg to meet us on site at the Old Shire Offices and accompanied Friends of Banyule on a short walking tour of Banyule Flats and Banyule Wetlands along the Main Yarra Trail.
During the walk Steering Committee members had opportunity to outline the history of the conservation area and Warringal Conservation Society’s involvement in working preserve it over many years and the need to protect it from the proposed North East Link freeway. We also highlighted historic connections to the Heidelberg school of painters and the Modernists as well as the early pastoral history of the area.
Following the 30 minute walk, Steering Committee members held a meeting of approximately an hour’s duration, over a light lunch with the Parliamentary Secretary. A number of key issues of concern relating to the North East Link were discussed as well more considered public transport alternatives for Banyule and the North East. A list of written questions regarding key issues was also put to Mr O’Donohue, who provided answers to some of these and elected to come back to us in writing in more formal response.
In detail the meeting focused on a range of issues including: the proposed NE Link freeway, the study into Doncaster Rail, the necessity of duplicating the Hurstbridge Line railway line, Airport Rail Link, the Banyule Bus Review, parking at railway stations, green travel plans and traffic management on Rosanna Road in relation to trucks.
The Parliamentary Secretary showed interest, responding positively to a number of issues we raised. In relation to NE Link, Mr. O’Donohue indicated that this project was not part of the new Government’s agenda, although it was currently subject of a preliminary investigation to be concluded soon. The project would be considered in the context of the Metropolitan Planning Review which will include all aspects of planning across Melbourne including transport. This review would commence in the new financial year and run for approximately two years. Consultation with developers, stakeholders and the community would occur as part of this process.
The meeting we believe was valuable. In particular to have a senior politician and member of the Coalition government take the time to come to Heidelberg, visit us on site, listen to what we had to say on matters of concern regarding the protection of significant conservation environment, and to discuss key issues regarding public transport and the NE Link in some detail was a positive sign.
You can download the meeting papers here.