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Council disappointed in removal of River Red Gums at Merlynston Train Station car park

10 Jun 2022

Update 10 June 2022

Statement from Mayor Cr Mark Riley:

"We are extremely disappointed to hear of the removal of two significant River Red Gums along Bain Avenue, Coburg North as part of the State Government’s car park upgrade at Merlynston Train Station.

We join the concerns of our community, who lobbied the State Government for the protection of these River Red Gums. We have shared our concerns with the Level Crossings Removal Project numerous times, with Council Officers actively working to provide design alternatives that would see the trees remain, at the cost of only a small number of car parks.

Unfortunately these attempts have been ignored and the result is the removal of very valuable trees, that were landmarks of the local area.

I join many community members in feeling anger that these significant trees have been destroyed. We have lost valuable canopy cover that will take decades to replace and to make matters worse, the cooling trees are being replaced with impermeable infrastructure that will add to the urban heat island in this neighbourhood."

About this project

The Department of Transport is proposing a number of changes at Merlynston Train Station in Coburg North, as part of the Victorian Government’s Car Parks for Commuters program.

The Victorian Government proposes to seal and extend the gravel car park, and will include CCTV, lighting and additional bicycle parking facilities.

The proposed design requires the removal of several mature trees and a community garden located within the rail reserve. Works are planned to start in early 2022.

Council has expressed disappointment to the Department of Transport that the upgraded carpark would come at the cost of important mature trees and a community garden.

“Council has a goal of reaching 30% tree canopy across Merri-bek by 2050. These proposed works will expand the carpark by about 50%, at the expense of mature trees and other saplings planted by the community,” said Mayor Cr Mark Riley.

“Trees play an important role in reducing the impacts of the urban heat island effect by providing shade and canopy cover. It is particularly sad to see these trees removed to support more cars," said Cr Riley.

“I invite the Victorian Government to work in partnership with Council to explore alternative designs that will better meet the needs of our diverse local community, and contribute towards Council’s goal of sustainable transport that is active or has zero emissions," said Cr Riley.

Works updates from the Department of Transport:

About the proposed carpark

  • No.

    This project is led by the Department of Transport as part of the Victorian Government Car Parks for Commuters program.

  • No.

    This project is part of the Victorian Government Car Parks for Commuters program and is separate to the level crossing removals program.

  • The Victorian Government have proposed designs that involve the removal of several mature trees and a community garden located at the corner of Ararat Avenue and Shorts Road.

    Unfortunately, the community garden is located within the rail reserve, and is an unauthorised use within the reserve. The Department of Transport have informed us they are considering options to replace the community garden.

    The car park is proposed to be changed from gravel to a sealed asphalt surface, and will provide approximately 300 parking spaces.

    On the Eastern side, parking spaces near the entrance will be upgraded to meet the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) guidelines to provide better access for people with limited mobility.

    The Department of Transport is proposing the car park to be extended to Shorts Road, where a new exit is planned. This will require the removal three significant, mature trees including a large Tasmanian Blue gum.

  • At the October 2022 Council Meeting Council resolved to write to the Level Crossing Removal Authority, the Minister for Transport, the Minister for Planning and the Member for Pascoe Vale, to advocate for better outcomes for the proposed Merlynston Railway Station car park project.

    Council officers have been included in the consultation process of the design, and have communicated a number of our design preferences including:

    • Objecting to the removal of mature trees surrounding the site
    • Concerns around the over-provision of car parking that impact nearby trees and bicycle access
    • Advocating for the use of permeable pavement
    • Highlighting potential drainage issues.

    Council’s objections have not been adequately addressed in the most recent revision of the design.

    Council is also supporting community members who have been in contact with local State Members of Parliament, and the Minister for Transport regarding concerns around some elements of this project.

  • The Victorian Government’s public consultation website on this project has closed, however the Department of Transport are completing ongoing direct engagement with key stakeholders including Bicycle Network and other local community groups.

  • The Department of Transport have informed us that they are expecting to begin early works for the construction in early 2022.

    Corflute signs with project information will be installed on site and flyers will be distributed near the train station. Signage and details on potential detours and disruptions will also be installed during relevant periods of the project.