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Mernda Rail Project Community Update – February 2016

01 Feb 2016

The Victorian Government is committed to extending the South Morang train line to Mernda to cater for the significant population growth in Melbourne's north.

The rail extension will include:

  • Approximately eight kilometres of new dual rail line between South Morang Station and Mernda
  • Five grade separations, guaranteeing no new level crossings will be created
  • A new premium station in Mernda integrated into the proposed Mernda Town Centre
  • A new station near the Marymede Catholic College. The location of this station has been chosen following community consultation in 2015
  • Potential additional station near Hawkstowe Parade
  • Car parking, bicycle storage and bus facilities at stations
  • Construction of stabling facilities for three six-car train sets north of Bridge Inn Road, Mernda
  • Integration with existing pedestrian and cyclist facilities and links with other public transport services

Overview map

Click on the map to zoom in. If you are unable to read this map or would like any of it explained to you, please contact us either via email or by calling 1800 105 105 (business hours Monday – Friday, and during out of hours works).

Benefits

The rail extension will:

  • Ease congestion in and around Plenty Road, the main arterial road through Melbourne's northern suburbs
  • Provide vital public transport for communities in South Morang, Mernda and Doreen – among the fastest growing suburbs in Melbourne
  • Create hundreds of jobs
  • Integrate with the proposed Mernda Town Centre masterplan to ensure economic development
  • Improve liveability for residents in the north through better connections to employment opportunities, education, healthcare, entertainment and retail activities; and
  • Reduce travel time, meaning more leisure time, and time with family and friends.

Consultation

What has been done to date, where we are now, and what is next?

2015 Business case, site investigations, initial consultation for preferred station locations, station precinct features and bus network planning
  • Community workshops
  • Community information sessions
  • Stakeholder forum Train station information stalls
  • Community Reference Group meetings
  • Newsletter to 19,000 properties
  • Surveys – online and printed
  • Online engagement Stakeholder meetings and briefings
Early 2016 Further site investigations, release of proposed design options, environmental planning, release project to industry, community input on issues, impacts, constraints and values
  • Community information and feedback sessions
  • Train station and shopping precinct information stalls
  • Mernda Community Festival stall
  • Community Reference Group meetings
  • Door knocks to local properties
  • Stakeholder briefings Online engagement, including Social Pinpoint
Early-mid 2016 Release of preferred design, seeking formal feedback on proposed amendment to Whittlesea Planning Scheme, environmental planning, issue tender documents to shortlisted tenderers
  • Community feedback sessions
  • Train station and shopping precinct information stalls
  • Council meetings
  • Online engagement, including Social Pinpoint
  • Community Reference Group Meetings
  • Social media Stakeholder briefings
Mid 2016 Develop designs with shortlisted companies, update community and stakeholders about key project design considerations, address planning and environmental approval requirements
  • Community Reference Group meetings
  • Community catch ups
  • Train station and shopping precinct information stalls
  • Council meetings
Late 2016 Further develop and review design with the preferred tenderer, in line with community and stakeholder feedback, award contract to build the project
  • Community Reference Group meetings
  • Community drop in sessions
  • Council meetings
2017 Construction begins
  • Communication with communities and stakeholders to inform about progress, any disruptions and to minimise construction impacts
  • Community Reference Group meetings

The timing of these activities may change in the event of unexpected events

Design

When planning a new train line through existing communities, we have to be sensitive to drivers, residents and commuters, those that are there now, and in the future.

By applying urban design principles to each potential design solution we can ensure better outcomes, including:

  • Better connectivity for public transport users, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists
  • Opportunities for new public spaces and community facilities
  • Potential for a new station to be a catalyst for development in new activity centres such as Mernda
  • Increased residential and commercial development opportunities, including cafes, restaurants and shops

Using the community feedback we receive, we'll further develop designs for the stations at Mernda and Marymede and for a potential additional station at Hawkstowe Parade as well as for the train line.

In designing the stations and precincts, we will bear in mind the way you use stations and move around the area and also consider safety and creative solutions. We will also ensure the project complements the area's natural and built environment.

Principles

The project team has worked with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect to develop urban design principles that align with those of the City of Whittlesea. These principles will help to assess each of the proposed designs.

Principle 1 - Identity

A well defined identity and sense of place are key to creating strong and vibrant communities.

Principle 2 - Connectivity & wayfinding

Well connected and legible places contribute significantly to strong economies and healthy, inclusive communities.

Principle 3 - Urban integration

Well-integrated environments provide a sound framework for the successful development of great places.

Principle 4 - Resilience and sustainability

Places must be sustainable, enduring and resilient in order to support and nurture current and future generations.

Principle 5 - Amenity

High quality urban amenity associated with access to services and the experience of great public places contributes to successful, equitable and prosperous communities.

Principle 6 - Vibrancy

Animation of key civic spaces, and diversity in the experience of urban places support prosperous and healthy communities.

Principle 7 - Safety

Safe environments are essential for strong, connected and happy communities.

Principle 8 - Accessibility

Highly accessible and inclusive environments encourage positive activation and contribute to prosperity, wellbeing and the perception of care within communities.

Landscape

South Morang and Mernda have a beautiful local identity, with great value in the river red gums and the rolling grasslands of the Plenty Gorge Park.

The urban design principles and design process will ensure that landscape design is considered and the landscape character is maintained.

Light

In a number of locations along the rail corridor, such as car parks, stations and the stabling yard, lighting must be installed for the safety of users. The project will incorporate a variety of measures to manage potential lightspill including:

The careful siting and use of muted materials and tones on buildings,fencing and other structures

  • Controlling lighting providing the amount necessary for site safety
  • Lighting will be shielded and directed where possible to minimise the unnecessary spread of light
  • The careful use and location of signage associated with lighting
  • The careful use of existing and new landscaping to minimise the visual impact on sensitive land uses and transport corridors

Privacy

If there are areas in which the new rail line overlooks private property, we will build privacy screens to protect the privacy of adjacent back yards.

Noise

When designing a major transport project, we consider long term impacts from the operation of the rail line. We do noise assessments and modelling to identify what locations will require mitigation based on thresholds set by relevant policies. In some areas noise barriers will provide the best noise mitigation for residents and sensitive properties. These may be vertical walls on the ground or on elevated structures, and may be wooden, metal or other materials. Details of noise mitigation will be developed as designs are progressed.

Heritage approvals

An Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan is being prepared for the project.

A number of sites with heritage significance are also being considered, including the Yan Yean Pipe Track, which is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and a number of Heritage Inventory Sites (of archaeological significance). The project will seek appropriate permits and consents required under the Heritage Act 1995.

As the project progresses, we will continue to keep the community informed and will seek feedback on aspects of the design and construction that may impact you.

Planning scheme requirements

The Mernda Rail extension will be located within the existing disused rail reserve, which is already zoned for this purpose. Planning approval for the project is not required under the zone; however, some vegetation removal will be required and in some areas there is a need for further approvals under the Whittlesea Planning Scheme.

The project proposes to request the Minister for Planning to exercise his powers under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to prepare, adopt and approve a planning scheme amendment. The amendment would insert an incorporated document into the Whittlesea Planning Scheme that applies specific conditions to the project, in a similar way to a planning permit. This is consistent with the approach taken on other State significant infrastructure projects.

The planning scheme amendment may also include provision for the acquisition of a parcel of land adjacent to the proposed Mernda Station for a new car park. The documentation will be developed in consultation with Council, affected landowners and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Members of the public can also make submissions on these matters in the coming months, for consideration by the Minister for Planning. Further details will be provided in due course.

Environmental approvals

The project has identified the potential for the project to impact listed flora and fauna, which requires referral to the Federal Environment Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (C'wealth) 1999 and referral to the State Planning Minister under the Environment Effects Act 1978. The project team will formally submit these referrals in the coming months.

Approvals that may be required under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, Water Act 1989 and Wildlife Act 1975 will be sought, in due course.

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