‘Winners’ on all sides of roundabout

Michael Ball speaks to residents during a protest in late 2016. 161236_07 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

 A controversial roundabout project at the corner of Greaves Road and Berwick Springs Promenade has been given the all-clear by the state’s planning tribunal.
The $5.2 million project which would demolish the upmarket estate Berwick Springs’s two-tiered bluestone-wall gateway was granted a permit by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on 26 February.
The decision was welcomed by project supporter Casey Council – and to a degree by opposing residents.
To the residents’ relief, the plans were modified to more faithfully reconstruct the original gateway’s dual-tiered wall.
The 40-metre, two-lane roundabout will be co-funded by VicRoads and developer Moremac, which is building Alira estate to the north of Greaves Road.
VCAT members Bill Sibonis and Ric Bland, in approving the project’s new plans, found that the gateway would be replicated “for all intents and purposes”.
“The outcome of the proposal will be that an acceptable entry will be provided.”
As part of the project, the demolished gateway and landscaping will be reconstructed albeit further south.
The developer’s original design for a single bluestone wall feature has been replaced with a second tier with plantings on both tiers “consistent with what presently exists”.
The application was opposed by 205 objecting residents, who fought to retain the original estate entrance.
Organiser Michael Ball said contrary to some Facebook commentary, it wasn’t a case of the council “winning” the battle.
“If they want to claim a victory is the unwarranted destruction of the Berwick Springs Promenade then they can keep that trophy.”
Mr Ball said that democracy could be instead declared the winner.
“We have a new mayor and CEO and hopefully democracy wins with a more transparent and consultative approach on local issues”.
After the VCAT decision, Mr Ball and a group of residents planted symbolic rose bushes on the promenade’s median strip.
The VCAT members stated the expanded roundabout was integral to the development of a four-lane Greaves Road and links to employment precincts.
They found the project minimised its impact on native vegetation lining the adjoining Hallam Valley Contour Drain.
It posed the “lowest potential risk of impact” to the vulnerable-listed Dwarf Galaxias fish in the drain, the members stated.
The hearing follows 15 months of protests, petitions and lobbying by residents, who say they were not consulted on the project.
Casey Council mayor Geoff Ablett said the current “interim” roundabout was always going to be replaced for the duplication of Greaves Road.
The option of moving the roundabout further north to spare the estate gateway was investigated but not feasible, he said.
The council held an information session with residents in June 2017, he said.

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