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A letter to the Ministers

The announcement of the Vic Track proposal for Jewell Station and the subsequent "Visioning Meeting" has lead to negative feelings about the uncoordinated development. The letter below was sent to the affected Ministers and copied to the Mayor of Moreland.

 xx xxxxxxx St
Victoria 3056
August 11th 2012

The Hon. Matthew Guy
Minister for Planning
Level 7, 1 Spring Street
Victoria, 3000

The Hon. Terry Mulder, MP
Minister for Transport
Level 16, 121 Exhibition Street
Victoria, 3000

Cr John Kavanagh
Mayor of Moreland City
Locked Bag 10, Moreland 3058

Dear Ministers,

Jewell Station Brunswick

Minister Mulder recently announced plans to develop two small areas of Vic Track land at Jewell Station on the Upfield train line in Brunswick and use some of the proceeds to rejuvenate the station precincts.

The public has been asked to comment and here I do, because having attended the proposal's "Visioning Meeting" I saw sights set too low, and the future, particularly Greater Melbourne planning overlooked. An opportunity for something truly grand could be lost.

Brunswick is an area with two faces. Some see it as a lower socio-economic community with low cost housing, a plethora of minor industries and a general air of shabbiness. I see its proximity to the city's major universities and the CBD, and its excellent transport facilities as a basis for a real jewel in the greater Melbourne crown.

In the 2008 study "Re-imaging Brunswick", part of then Melbourne 2030 planning; a very ambitious plan depended on Jewel Station becoming the underground end of a rail line connecting the city loop through Carlton. It also required the resumption of much private land to achieve the objective of opening up east-west business activity and reducing the Sydney Road centric nature of that part of Brunswick.

Although the high target that study set was unrealistic, a similarly high target is achievable.

The largest piece of exploitable real estate in Brunswick is the rail corridor from Park Street to Moreland Station currently occupied by the rail track and stations, a few leased areas and many weeds. There are nine level crossings, three controlled pedestrian crossings and a footbridge in this two kilometre stretch.

Sink and cover the rail line from Park Street to Moreland Station independently of any underground connection issues, and immediately these traffic barriers are gone and hectares of land are available for development. Low cost cut and cover methods and the topography of this section of the rail corridor make such an idea sensible.

The example of the lowered Subiaco station and line in Western Australia is strong evidence of the benefits that can follow such work. Naturally, adjoining property owners in Brunswick will want to become part of this massive change of character.

Vic Track say they need to operate as a business and generate their funds from appropriate use of their facilities. The funding for a project like sinking the rail line and stations is a different matter and one I see as similar to the funding for the current level crossing elimination activities. A quote from the premier says that a "key commitment to Victorian families was a $379 million blitz on metropolitan rail crossings". Eliminating nine crossings in one hit must be a winner.

The Jewell Station proposal allowing the uncoordinated development of key parts of Vic Track land should be abandoned while the idea of sinking the train line is assimilated.

During the years this would take I suggest that the Upfield Linear Park idea, now adopted by the Friends of the Upfield Linear Park. (FULP) be implemented. This will require cooperation from both Vic Track and Metro Trains and your encouragement.

In 1998 the then rail authorities, Bayside Trains and Hillview Trains, and the councils for Melbourne, Moreland and Hume commissioned a study into the renovation of the rail corridor from Royal Park through to Upfield. The resulting report (Upfield Railway Line Habitat Landscape Concept 1998) is said to have won a prize and its recommendations appear to have been accepted at the time.

No implementation followed although the report is referenced in Moreland Council planning documents in 2006. There is a community movement for re-activation.

The revised 2012 proposal is to start with the strip from Park Street to Moreland Station. The corridor is to be fenced on each side of the track with good quality fencing such as weldmesh. Vic Track land and appropriate adjacent council land will be given an upgraded bike track, pedestrian paths where possible, plantations and other community facilities of a temporary nature. The cost will be in the $3million to $5million range.

Your Ministry and Government can cement a place in planning history by supporting both the sinking of the rail line and the corridor rejuvenation proposal.


Yours truly



Tony Blackmore