Following submissions that were published on the Victorian Government's engage website in early February, public hearings have kicked off to provide the opportunity to those that have lodged a submission to make a more detailed submission to the review panel.
From Wednesday March 14th, the Minister for Planning, represented by Susan Brennan SC and Rupert Watters, was allocated 5 days to call on various expert witnesses across the Urban Design, Urban Planning, Transport Planning, Landscape Planning and Architecture disciplines.
As each week progresses, tabled documents are appearing on the public hearing's website and this week much of the supporting documentation that Minister's expert witnesses have provided has been uploaded.
GTA Consultants have produced two expert witness statements now available to view, one of which, written by John Kiriakidis, includes a clearer map of where stations might be built should the government prioritise its construction.
The peer review report into the Integrated Transport Plan also responds to transport-related questions from the two main municipalities and other large submissions the review process had received. Likewise, the report assesses whether mode share targets will be achievable within the scope of the outlined plan.
The Integrated Transport Plan that was devised under the guidance of Transport for Victoria shortlisted two different alignments for heavy rail through Fishermans Bend and Kiriakidis's expert witness statement argues the route through the Fishermans Bend employment precinct may be the better of the two.
At this stage, the ITP provides an acknowledgement that the southern alignment offers slightly better performance.
Based on my experience, the addition of another 20,000 jobs in the northern precinct could counter-balance results to the extent that the northern rail alignment is more favourable.
By way of example, when looking at the attractiveness of a Plummer Street Station for those working in the Employment Precinct it is worth considering the distance for potential passengers from the Plummer Street Station to the Employment Precinct, and the severance and barrier effect of the Westgate Freeway on movement.
This is illustrated below
The expert witness statement calls for 'further analysis should be completed in relation to the impact of the additional 20,000 jobs in the employment precinct' and what impacts it 'may have on the preferred rail station and the two-short-listed heavy rail alignment options'.
According to the Minister's response, dated 19th of February, a funding (infrastructure delivery) plan is the process of being written, which GTA Consultants have referred to throughout their expert witness statement in relation to answering the transport-related questions from large submissions.
Stage 1 panel hearings kicked off on March 1st and will run to March 28th, stage 2 hearings run from April 9th until May 24th.
To view all the tabled documents, see engage.vic.gov.au.