Level Crossing Removals Projects - Lilydale and Mooroolbark

Maroondah Highway Level Crossing, Lilydale (2017)

 

What is being proposed?

The State Government's Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) is proposing to remove level crossings at Maroondah Highway in Lilydale and Manchester Road in Mooroolbark, replacing the crossings with rail-over-road options that would involve building new, elevated stations.

The State Government intends to have these projects completed by 2022.

What's Council's role in the level crossing removals?

Yarra Ranges Council is the relevant authority for approvals for planning and building works in the municipality.

However, Level Crossing Removal Project proposes to amend the Planning Scheme to enable their work to occur expediently, which involves removing permit triggers for all proposed works in the project areas under the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme.

It is understood that a permit under the Heritage Act 2017 will be required for buildings and works affecting the Lilydale Railway Station Refreshment Rooms, which is identified under the Victorian Heritage Register.

It is proposed for the Planning Scheme Amendment to be approved through a Ministerial approval process, which means no formal community consultation and planning panel will occur. In place of this, LXRP are undertaking informal consultation over an eight week period.

Council has been requested to provide its views during this period.

 

What has the community said?

While the timeframe offered by the LXRP has not allowed an opportunity for genuine community consultation, Council officers have sought to gather community comments on the proposed works in the two activity centres as part of its submission to the State Government.

The feedback received was the result of community groups in Lilydale and Mooroolbark forming their own workshops, run by an independent facilitator, to determine the key issues and opportunities perceived for each of the projects.

These workshops identified issues relating to:

  • Car parking
  • Impacts of construction to businesses
  • The closure of Melba Avenue
  • Access and amenity
  • Traffic flow and bus interchanges
  • Heritage, including nearby trees in Lilydale

Council has included these issues, including comments from the community workshops, in its submission to the State Government on the Level Crossing Removals.

What's Council's opinion on the level crossing removals?

Council acknowledges the significant investment being made in the Lilydale and Mooroolbark activity centres and the opportunity to improve efficiency with the level crossing removal projects. These projects represent an opportunity to add value to each community and create enduring legacies for each suburb with benefits for years into the future.

However, following the results of community-led workshops, there are ongoing concerns for Council over a number of aspects in this proposal, including:

  • The lack of opportunity for community input, particularly to comment on the impacts of construction for residents and businesses
  • The ability for 'preparatory works' to occur without any approvals in place and the lack of Council involvement in approvals needed before other buildings and works to commence, particularly for drainage, traffic and infrastructure works, and for use of Council land
  • The proposed demolition of the existing Mooroolbark Train Station
  • Traffic and parking impacts in the two activity centres
  • Potential closure of the Melba Avenue level crossing

Generally, there is concern from Council that these projects, if not appropriately managed, could fragment and negatively affect Lilydale and Mooroolbark for years to come. It is therefore critical that the projects are not undertaken with a narrow focus on traffic and transport, but instead adopt a wider, integrated consideration of how each project will affect its place and context.

These are large-scale projects that will have lasting effects on these activity centres and communities and it is very important they are approached with a commensurate level of care and attention.

Critically, this must include an appropriate opportunity for community comment and involvement, which does not appear reflected in the proposed process.

The information currently available on the designs is lacking much of the detail Council considers necessary to determine how successful these changes will be for Lilydale and Mooroolbark, in terms of the ability to activate streets, complement existing character and provide engaging urban environments for the future.

Key information not known includes:

Lilydale

  • The traffic and parking implications of the new train station and bus interchange for the centre as a whole
  • The location and design of the bus interchange
  • The detail of shared paths and retaining wall treatments, particularly north of Main Street near the current train station
  • Overall visual impact, including details of building cladding, and response to nearby heritage trees and existing train station building, effects on views
  • Use and activation of the undercroft area, including entry to the new station

Mooroolbark

  • The traffic implications of the new train station, particularly for Brice Avenue
  • Use and activation of the undercroft area, including entry to the new station and detail of pedestrian scale connection to Brice Avenue
  • Overall visual impact, including details of building cladding, particularly for the proposed multi-level carpark structure
  • Ground-level pedestrian connection north-south through the site

 

What's next?

The Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) is currently refining the designs for the Manchester Road and Maroondah Highway level crossing removals.

The submissions period for the Planning Scheme Amendment (PSA) put forward by LXRP to facilitate the project will be open until early October.

Once the submissions period is closed, LXRP will compile a report on the feedback received, which will be included in the PSA submission to the Minister for Planning.

If approved, the PSA will allow for the construction of the projects to occur without obtaining further planning approvals.

Anyone may make a submission regarding the proposed PSA, as detailed in the Council Report Agenda item dated 24 September.

Notification of the PSA was sent directly to affected owners and occupiers of land by LXRP in early September. Submissions close at 5pm on Monday 14 October 2019.

Details of how to make a submission are available on LXRP website via the link below:

Level Crossing Removal website - Manchester and Mooroolbark

If you experience difficulty making a submission, please contact LXRP directly via the contact details provided at the top right of this page.

As the project proceeds, LXRP proposes further opportunities for input by Council and the community, including information sessions, doorknocking of homes and businesses, meeting with community and business groups and talking to residents one-on-one.

There will be further information sessions, and as the project planning and development progresses LXRP will release design updates with opportunities to talk to LXRP technical experts and provide feedback.

 

How can I stay up to date on these projects?

Visit the State Government's Level Crossing Removals Project webpages for the respective projects:

Manchester Road, Mooroolbark

Maroondah Highway, Lilydale