City of Kingston Council has voted unanimously to “absolutely reject” the Victorian Government’s preferred location for the Suburban Rail Loop stabling yards in the heart of Kingston’s Green Wedge and is calling on the Minister to find a more suitable alternative site.
Kingston Mayor Steve Staikos said he and his fellow Councillors acknowledged the community anger and were extremely disappointed that the Suburban Rail Loop Authority and the State Government had failed to properly consult with local residents before making the announcement.
“There needs to be a proper and meaningful consultation process with the residents” said Cr Staikos. “Our community were promised a new regional sporting facility as part of the Chain of Parks after decades of enduring sandmining and tipping, only to have it taken away for a proposed Suburban Rail Loop train stabling yard.”
Since the State Government announced in December plans to acquire land in Heatherton for the stabling yards, the community has been vocal and organised in expressing their anger and concern at the decision. The Delta site had been earmarked as core parkland in the Sandbelt Open Space Chain of Parks project for over two decades.
Deputy Mayor and Karkarook Ward Councillor Hadi Saab added his voice in representing local residents. “The impact of the State Government’s decision will be absolutely huge for the communities that live near the Delta site, they are quite rightly devastated and concerned about what the future holds for them and their families,” said Cr Saab.
Council said it will write to the State Government and the Suburban Rail Loop Authority to communicate the unanimous vote to reject the proposed stabling yards, to express its disappointment, and to request that the Government formally acknowledge Council as a key stakeholder.
Council will also request more formal engagement on key decisions that will impact City of Kingston residents.
Chicquita Ward Councillor, Tracey Davies said the State Government must now make good on its $25 million 2018 election promise to deliver the Kingston Green Wedge Chain of Parks.
“This includes delivering funding for acquisition and establishment of the regional sporting facility at the Delta site in Heatherton,” said Cr Davies.
The future of Sir William Fry Reserve also remains uncertain, Wattle Ward Councillor, Jenna Davey-Burns said.
“We are a community that care about protecting our green spaces for now and generations to come, the local communities of Highett and Cheltenham need assurances that access to this important green open space will be guaranteed through construction of the Suburban Rail Loop and after the station is complete,” said Cr Davey-Burns.
Mayor Staikos emphasised the long and at times fraught history in the delivery of the Chain of Parks.
“The Victorian Government earmarked the Delta site and the neighbouring Henry Street site for public purchase over two decades ago but has not yet acted to secure them,” said Cr Staikos.
“We are calling for the immediate purchase of the Delta and Henry Street sites for parkland.”
The Chain of Parks will create linked open spaces for the community to enjoy all the way from Karkarook Park to Braeside Park. For more than 30 years, successive Councils have advocated for changes to put an end to landfills in Kingston and replace them with much-needed parkland for the community to enjoy.