Unley Council is asking its community for their thoughts on granting the Department of Infrastructure (DIT) a licence to construct the Mike Turtur bikeway overpass on our land.
By now I trust most of us will be aware that DIT is proposing to erect an overpass over the Goodwood Rail Station. Unfortunately, it seems that many only because of our survey.
As a result, some believe this is a Council project or perhaps a joint DIT Council project. Let me say from the outset this is NOT the case. It is a DIT project.
DIT, through the Public Transport Projects Alliance (PTPA), did hold two forums on November 30 and December 4 last year at Forestville Reserve. Being present I can testify that it was well attended. Many of the concerns being raised now were also raised back then.
Curiously DIT lodged a development application with the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) on the 29th November. One day prior to the first forum.
It is SCAP’s responsibility to approve or otherwise the design of the project. They invited comments from the community, as is required under the DPI Act. A 4-week period that closed on February 22.
I believe the project is scheduled for their consideration at their May meeting.
As this project is on Council owned land, we are required legislatively to also seek public input to determine if we are willing to grant them a licence to occupy our land to build the structure.
Several people are distressed to learn of this project only now. Some of them are laying the blame for this at Council’s feet. They believe Council should have consulted earlier.
This is not something however that Council could do. We would be wasting our resources going through this process prior to knowing that DIT is serious about constructing the overpass. Indeed, if that were the case, we would have consulted back in 2016. That is when DIT, on behalf of the then Government, briefed Council for the first time.
Interestingly, it has taken Council’s consultation to bring it to the attention of the community at large. So, rather than Council deserving a serve by some, I suggest we should be congratulated for succeeding where PTPA and SCAP appear to have failed.
What then is Council’s role and what can we do about the Mike Turtur Bikeway Overpass
I have spoken with many of you and have heard your concerns. Concerns over the location, the size, the bulk and the nature of construction. Loss of trees and also of carparking. Concerns that Council shares but unfortunately that is not the province of Council.
I have also surveyed the site and viewed the development application to better understand the extent of the project. Not an easy task, I might add.
Council’s only role is to grant access for construction…or not! This is what our consultation is about. Should we or shouldn’t we.
We must undertake this exercise. It is a requirement of the Local Government Act. I wonder however whether it is an exercise in futility. An exercise that perhaps gives false hope to people that Council, as the property owner, can stop the project.
Given this, I have, in conjunction with my co-councillor Jennie Boisvert, asked a range of questions of our administration. Questions to better understand what DIT & PTPA have done, how they have approached their consultation etc. More importantly, how they would respond to us in the event we said no to granting them a licence.
I say this because we all know that compulsory acquisitions can be used by a government to ensure the construction of major projects. Would us saying no, trigger a compulsory acquisition? I don’t know. Dammed if we do, dammed if we don’t as it were.
As a result of these questions, Council is hoping to be briefed about the project by DIT.
A briefing providing an opportunity for them to answer my and other questions that other Councillors may ask.
If we are successful, I will advise of the time and venue. The public should be able to attend such a meeting, albeit without being able to contribute.
In the meantime, please respond to Council’s survey. It closes on the 7th. The results will probably be put to Council at its meeting on the last Monday of this month.