We are not opposed to public transport, and we understand why the Victorian State Government want to build the Suburban Rail Loop. However, if the plan to build the train stable at the Delta site goes ahead, it will have significant detrimental effects to the residents, businesses, and the neighbourhood character of Heatherton, whilst not providing the Heatherton community with any benefits due to not even having a plan for a train station.
The Heatherton community would experience all the negatives of living near a rail line, with none of the benefits (i.e. access to stations) that other communities living near rail lines experience. The Heatherton residents have chosen not to live near rail lines.
The Heatherton community has also spent 30 years fighting proposed industrial uses of the Delta site, and were promised by both local and state governments as recently as their last election cycles, that they are committed to transforming this Green Wedge land into the Chain of Parks. The Delta site shares a boundary with residential homes, which would be severley impacted by a train stable both during construction and ongoing.
Alternative sites are available for the train stabling, so why choose the site that has significant detrimental impacts on residents of a whole suburb?
- Heatherton is currently a quiet suburb with minimal noise. Train stabling will permanently drastically increase noise for the whole suburb, especially those in the adjoining residential areas. The noise increase and 24/7 lighting will dramatically reduce the liveability of the area, impacting the wellbeing and amenity of the residents, and changing the whole character of the suburb from semi-rural to industrial.
- Noise will be permanent once construction begins since there will initially be construction noise for years, then permanent 24/7 train stabling and maintenance noise.
- During construction both noise and vibration will significantly impact adjoining residential areas. Although temporary respite options may be offered during construction, this is of little use to the many residents with pets, and those who are unable to relocate for various reasons. Due to the ongoing permanent nature of the noise, temporary respite doesn’t solve the ongoing permanent noise issues.
- Suburban Rail Loop are planning to use the Delta site as the launching point and dirt extraction point for the two rail tunnels, for at least the Stage One Cheltenham to Burwood sections of the loop. This will lead to years of dust and dirt in the air and surfaces around the site, causing ongoing mess and potential health issues for residents near the site.
- We have estimated that to remove the extracted dirt from the tunnels, over 500,000 truck trips will be required. These trucks will clog up our local roads for years, spill dust onto the roads, and create constant noise in the area. (This calculation is based on the amount of dirt extracted for the Metro tunnel, the weight of the dirt, and the amount of dirt a truck can carry.)
- During construction, the testing of ground compaction methods (to deal with the land being ex-landfill) are already predicted by the Suburban Rail Loop Authority to produce disruptive noise and vibrations felt throughout surrounding areas. As part of the initial works, a compaction method will be tested at 4 places on the Delta site, where a 27 tonne weight is dropped repeatedly from >20 metres high. Vibration prediction maps show that the vibration from these tests is predicted to be felt in many nearby residents homes.
- Due to how close the Delta site is to adjoining houses, and the fact houses here were built on sand, there is a good chance that vibrations may damage surrounding properties, both during the ‘initial works’ and the ‘main works’. (As was seen with SkyRail, the government refuses to be held accountable for property damage.)
- Two properties within the predicted vibration range are heritage listed, and therefore subject to an even lower allowable level of vibrations. (156 Kingston Road Heatherton, and the church on the corner of Kingston and Old Dandenong Roads.) If the vibration predictions are correct, these properties will likely be subject to vibrations higher than their allowable level and may cause property damage. All the surrounding houses may also be subject to property damage.
- The ‘initial works’ have been exempted from the EES process by the Planning Minister Richard Wynne, which shows a disregard and lack of oversight for the impact this testing might have on surrounding properties. These vibration predictions are only for testing as well, so what will happen during the ‘main works’ when this compaction method is being used even closer to homes as they compact the whole site?
- The increased noise and change in character for the suburb will also negatively impact property values, leading to many residents being unable to escape the noise due to being unable to sell their properties without suffering significant financial loses.
- Residents have purchased property in the adjoining areas and invested in property improvements based on the good faith that this land will become parkland in the future, as promised by both state and local governments over the past 25 years. Some residents in the adjoining area have lived here since the houses were initially built, and the adjoining land was market gardens. The rezoning of this land to Green Wedge gave residents and prospective purchasers confidence that this land wouldn’t be used in the future for industrial purposes.
Green Wedge and Chain of Parks
- The Delta site parcel of land has been long fought for by the local residents to prevent it being used for purposes that would negatively impact the local residents (i.e. concrete crushing) and would prevent it from eventually being transformed into parkland. The land may be deemed suitable for train stabling now because the residents fought to keep it in a condition that can be later transformed to parkland.
- The plan for the Delta site to ultimately become parkland, as part of the ‘Chain of Parks’ has been in agreement with local council and state government policy, as recently as the last state and local elections, and with the allocation of $25 million in funding to acquire this land in the recent state budget. The state goverment appears to be contradicting its own promises and policies by selecting this Chain of Parks land for an industrial purpose.
- When Heatherton housing was originally built (north of Kingston Rd) the area was surrounded by market gardens. Many years after the original residents moved to the area the sand mining in adjoinging land parcels started, followed afterwards by landfills. The Heatherton residents have had to endure decades of the sand mining and landfills, with all the associated noise, smells, and dust. To compensate the residents for this, government promised the residents that this land would be transformed into the Chain of Parks after the mining and landfilling activities ended. Over recent years the landfill activites have been completed and the residential amenity has finally started to improve, with the noise, smells, and dust disappearing. The residents were close to finally having their plans of parkland on the Delta site realised, until the state government decided this would be the proposed site for the Suburban Rail Loop train stabling.
Parks and Open Space
- Residents throughout Melbourne would be able to use the sporting facilities Kingston Council is proposing, so to lose that parkland is not just a loss to the ~3k Heatherton residents, but a loss to potentially hundreds of thousands of Melbourne residents.
- As was seen during COVID-19 lockdowns, Karkarook park and the Henry Street trail were highly used and valued by the local community, including those in surrounding suburbs such as East Bentleigh, South Oakleigh, and Clarinda. These communities would benefit from having more open space in the area, as has been promised by local and state governments for years. The planned train stabling would permanently remove the possibility for more open space, including a complete ‘Chain of parks’, and would remove the quiet semi-rural feel of the area that the wider community enjoys.
- Residents of the eastern side of Nicholas Grove share a boundary with the Delta site in a section known as the Kingston Linear Walk. The Kingston Linear Walk includes a publicly accessible popular walking track that links with the Henry Street Trail, and a fenced off parkland area between the walking track and the residential property boundaries. Many of the residents that live along the the boundary have helped maintain that fenced parkland area, with many of the houses having gates to access the fenced off parkland. Over the years, residents have even planted veggie gardens and plants in the parkland area. It would be devastating for the residents to lose having that small wedge of parkland directly behind their properties.
Rail and Public transport
- Heatherton residents aren’t against progress, but progress usually has a positive outcome for the community. In this case, there are absolutely no positives or benefits for the local community. The residents won’t be able to even use the trains on their back doorstep because the nearest station is still over 3km away. No local cars will be taken off the road.
- In other large rail projects such as Skyrail, and the Kananook train stabling, those communities have chosen to live near rail lines (and their associated noise), and they benefit from their proximity to the rail line stations, in terms of access to trains and higher property values. Most of the negatives of those projects only happen during construction, and at the end of the project the local community benefits – i.e. new walking paths and recreation areas, quieter trains in trenches, removal of level crossings etc.
- Heatherton residents have chosen not to live near rail lines, and are therefore content to not have the benefits of living near trains. This proposed train stabling would introduce all the most negative aspects of living near a rail line (e.g. constant noise, horns, night time lighting) with absolutely none of the benefits of rail due to the long distance away (4km) from the train stations.
- Train stable and maintenance facilities are known to attract graffiti and vandalism, and are generally an eyesore to look at. This doesn’t fit with the aesthetic character of the Heatherton community, and will signicantly change the feel of the community from semi-rural to industrial.
- Opinions may differ between people, but overall Heatherton residents are not opposed to train stabling for the Suburban Rail Loop, and they understand why it is necessary to build. However, there are numerous open spaces adjoining the proposed new rail tunnels that would have less impact on residential communities.
- For any other land parcel in the area, there would be much less community impact and opposition. This particular proposed land has such a long history with the local residents, and such long held plans for parkland that to break those promises now and introduce train stabling would be devastating for the local community, and opening the government up to legal challenges from residents.
- The number of residential and business acquisitions, and the cost of preparing the land, should not be a determining factor in choosing the parcel of land for what is such a long-term and costly project. It should be what is in the best interests of the community as a whole, away from residential areas that aren’t moving anywhere.
- Suburban Rail Loop Authority has advised the Doggy Play Park (on the corner of Old Dandenong Road and Kingston Road) that their land is likely to be subject to compulsory acquisition due to the train stable. Doggy Play Park is a unique privately-owned dog park that offers dogs a safe place where they can run and play off-leash, in its three large fully fenced parks. It is hugely popular with over 600+ members, and is regularly used by dogs that can’t use public off-leash parks, such as dogs with anxiety issues and Greyhounds. A number of commercial dog walking businesses also use the park on a daily basis, and the park is regularly hired out for private dog ‘parties’ such as dog group Christmas parties. Without Doggy Play Park, these dogs would not have a place they can safely run off-leash, and would be confined to on-lead walks only. People travel from all over Melbourne to use this park. It would be absolutely devasting for the wider community, and the many dogs who have no alternative place to run off-leash, if they were to lose this park. Not to forget the owners of this business who have put so much into creating this park and business over the past few years.
- Kingston Heath Golf Club, which is one of the top rated golf courses in Australia and hosts major Australian and International golfing events, is located directly across the road from the planned train stabling site. The noise from the construction and ongoing usage of the train stabling site, such as the sounds of trains blowing their horns on arrival and departure from the tunnels, would impact the quietness and tranquility the golf club members currently enjoy while relaxing playing golf. When golfing tournaments are held, the players and spectators would all hear the train noises in the background which would be quite distracting. (There is also no plan for the spectators to be able to access the golf course by train due to there being no plans for a station.)
- In this proposal, Old Dandenong Rd between Kingston Rd and Henry St Trail would be permanently closed to traffic. Whilst the Dingley Bypass has taken much traffic off Old Dandenong Rd, many people still use Old Dandenong Rd to travel between Heatherton and Clarinda. The Dingley Bypass design was based on the assumption that this section of Old Dandenong Rd is available, so no right hand turn provision was included from the Dingley Bypass into Kingston Rd towards Warrigal Rd. Without this section of Old Dandenong Rd open, people will need to take a very long and backwards alternative route to reach the same destination, causing great inconvenience to many in the community.
Last updated: 2nd February 2021