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Statement From Save Our Station Meeting

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Attending the SOS meeting last week was Cr Samantha McIntosh Mayor of Ballarat.

ONCE again the Save Our Station Public Meeting held at the Provincial Hotel last Saturday had a full house of concerned residents.

The Save Our Station SOS Ballarat Group Inc invited all Ballarat City Councillors to attend. Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh and Cr Jim Rinaldi were present.

The Mayor spoke and answered questions from the floor.

Our local state parliamentarians were also all invited. Only Joshua Morris, Upper House member for Western Victoria came. He addressed the meeting and again offered further support to the cause.

The meeting heard how the committee has been actively engaged over the past four months and what is proposed into the future to continue the fight for a better outcome for Ballarat.

What was unanimously agreed was that this development is the wrong proposal for this important transport site, organised by an inept state Labor government which refuses to listen to the people of Ballarat.

The basis of our campaign is to demand that the Andrews State Government cancel the current proposal and create a 21st-century fully integrated all-abilities accessible transport hub at Ballarat’s central rail station.

We have been advocating that the $550m dollars being collectively spent by the Victorian government on the Ballarat to Melbourne line upgrade and the Station redevelopment, should deliver all these things, including adequate car parking for commuters into the long-term future.

We also expect that the outstanding Goldfields railway heritage of the Ballarat Station precinct will be protected, restored and enhanced. The meeting noted the government vandalism, in particular the destruction of the east platform of the Goods Shed in the past week, removing the historic veranda and bluestone foundations laid down by skilled stonemasons 156 years ago.

The meeting attendees agreed that the site must be developed as a 21st century transport hub, and the proposed apartments and conference centre/ shops must be relocated to another site and the developer restores the goods shed so that a more suitable use for it can be found.

It was also noted that residents abutting the current works site have received no information about the impacts of earthworks and how dust from contaminated soil may be impacting them; no explanation of traffic and parking impacts from the changes to Nolan St on their streets and homes; and no briefing on the plans for detaining storm water from the future sealing of more than 5 hectares of land on downstream properties, such as the Bridge Mall.

The meeting also heard that the Andrews Labor Government’s so-called plans for the precinct make no provision for future expansion of transport services, fail to address the outstanding disability access issues in the Train Hall, make no provision for additional car parking, take a fragmented and piecemeal approach to heritage preservation, and include ‘selling’ what has been determined as excess land (and a major heritage building) within the precinct to a property developer for non-transport uses.

Further concern lies around a regional bus interchange that would have served as a key transition hub for commuters from the Wimmera, Mallee and Western Victoria. This appears to have been dumped from the plans due to there being insufficient land remaining within the precinct and too little money to do these works.

The reality is plain for all to see. There is too little space because of the land sale, and too little money because they are spending what would otherwise be adequate, on non-transport ‘subsidies’ to the private developer.

With a state election just eight months away SOS Ballarat, along with many other concerned members of the community, is determined to continue the good fight in hope that the Andrews Government will finally listen to the people of Ballarat and our region.

To join in the discussion and to follow the breadth of community concern about the development, visit www.facebook.com/ saveourstationballarat/