Update - November 2023
Designs for the North East Link between Watsonia Road and the M80 Ring Road were recently placed on public exhibition.
Council believes these plans fall short of the commitments made by the Victorian Government, and we will continue to advocate for a better design outcome for our community.
Take a look at Council's submission, or continue reading below to know more about Council's response.
We encourage residents to write to local members of parliament with their thoughts on the proposed designs.
Current plans for the northern section of North East Link MUST be changed to enhance amenity, improve connectivity and make better use of land.
Watsonia is the only section of the 28 kilometre freeway where 18 lanes will be squeezed hard up between a shopping village and residential area with limited green spaces or trees to soften the landscape.
Design for this section of road is significantly LESS appealing than any other section of North East Link and, in our opinion, does not meet the guidelines that the State promised would be delivered for the Watsonia community.
Failure to cover the trench at Watsonia, as advocated for by Council, our community and Watsonia traders will result in less connectivity and reduced amenity and further divide the community.
This once in a life time opportunity to build infrastructure that provides an accessible, sustainable and thriving community for the future has not been embraced.
Furthermore, the delayed release of plans of the Watsonia Station area makes it hard to assess just how poor the accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists into the Watsonia Shopping Centre precinct will be.
Council believes the plans for the northern section of North East Link fail in three major ways:
- The opportunity has not been taken to cover the North East Link trench at Watsonia resulting in less connectivity and amenity and further dividing the community.
- Plans show 18 lanes between Watsonia Road and Elder Street. No other residential community along North East Link will experience such a massive loss of amenity.
- Plans show minimal treatments to reduce noise, heat or pollution along the Watsonia section of the freeway.
- Continuation of the Greensborough Road Boulevard with large canopy trees has been omitted from the plans.
- The land bridge at Elder Street is narrow and provides a pedestrian/cycling connection on the south side only. Currently you can cross from both sides at Elder Street.
- The land bridge at Watsonia Road, whilst providing open space, is suitable for landscaping only and not community use with a pedestrian/cycling path only provided on the north side.
- There remains no direct pedestrian/bike path delivering residents from the east to west side of North East Link, with cycling paths weaving up and around to get from one side of the freeway to the other.
- The proposed off-road shared user path on the western side of the Greensborough Bypass has been changed to an on-road cycling connection along Sellars Street.
- The proposed off-road pedestrian/bike path on the eastern side of the Greensborough Bypass from Nell Street up to Watsonia Town Square development has been replaced with an on-road cycling route along Ibbottson Street.
- Maximising the opportunities for land use at Watsonia Neighbourhood Centre has not been realised.
- Plans do not promote and support local traders with a focus on a thriving Watsonia precinct.
- Significant opportunities to improve Watsonia Station precinct remain unanswered now that this section of works has been removed from public exhibition.
Council believes the station needs upgrading and these works need to coincide with the North East Link construction phase so as not to further inconvenience Watsonia Traders.
Works should include:
- Improved amenity, safety, accessibility and vibrancy of the Watsonia Station precinct.
- Development over the rail line with accessible station design.
- Underground multi-deck car park with restaurants, community services and housing above to activate the precinct 24/7.
- Integrate future development with the new Watsonia Town Square.
- Develop more affordable and key worker housing in station precinct.
Council continues to advocate for a better design for North East Link and will include these in our response to the plans on public exhibition.