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Sewer tunnel proposed under freeway

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By Helen Tatchell

It is not uncommon for a tunnel to take large volumes of traffic underneath a body of water, for example the English Channel and the Burnley tunnel, but what about a tunnel bored underneath the Western Freeway…..that will pipe sewerage?
This bold plan was discussed in depth at the 3 July Council meeting and involves a few obstacles, but not ‘blind mullets’.
Despite the Council Officers recommendation to ‘defer the consideration of the amendment until the completion of the Rural Land Use Strategy’, the request for Authorisation Planning Scheme Amendment C87 at 135 Ballanee Road, Ballan will be sent to the Minister, after Central Ward Councillor Paul Tatchell put up an alternate recommendation that fellow councillors voted to accept.
But it was not without debate.
The proposal is for a combined planning scheme amendment to rezone a portion of the ‘Ballanee’ property site (approximately 95 ha) from Farming Zone (FZ) to Rural Living Zone (RLZ), amend the existing schedule to allow for a 2ha minimum subdivision size and reduce the extent of the Heritage Overlay. It is noted that a small portion of the site is already zoned RLZ. The amendment also seeks to subdivide the property to 42 lots. All lots are proposed to be 2ha in size, except for five lots that vary between 2.1 and 2.5ha.
West councillor Tom Sullivan objected to the alternate motion for an amendment.
“This is a spot rezoning, they generally fail. There is no strategic justification; this is an excellent application, but will fail at the threshold,” he said.
“Every policy has half a dozen dot points. My position is we would be better to make sure we have all the ammunition to get it right rather than fail. There is not strategic justification, this is spot rezoning.
“There is nothing in our Planning Scheme that gives it a trigger point to proceed,” Cr Sullivan said.
Cr Tatchell responded by saying in the debate he respected Cr Sullivan’s judgement.
“The issue in particular is that opportunity knocks.
“Developers usually drive in with a bulldozer and drive out with an Armaguard truck.
“The point is, we have someone willing to put their hand in their pocket to put the sewerage under the Western Freeway. You can’t keep allowing people to live on top of each other, they don’t want that. Kids in Ballan grow up pretty good; kids around here grow up on land. We are stopping the motor bikes, stopping the horses – if we take this to 2021, or 2023 – people will buy somewhere else,” he said.
Cr Tatchell said people come here and want to live rural and be sustainable on 5-acres or more.
“Let’s seize the day,” he said
“A bloke has his hand in his pocket; he has the cheque. 42 lots – let him build.”
In the report before Councillors it said Central Highlands Water have not yet completed a detailed analysis of the area, but preliminary discussions indicate they would be supportive of a pressurised sewer system with each lot feeding into the main via a pumping system. The report states that the sewer would need to be connected from the existing gravity sewer network in Flack Street, bored under the Western Freeway to the site.
The alternate amendment motion was carried with Crs Tatchell, Bingham, Dudzik and Keogh voting For and Cr Sullivan voting Against.
Overall the item was carried. Crs Edwards and Toohey were apologies and absent from the meeting.

The new resolution is:

1. Authorise the General Manager Community Planning to finalise the Planning Scheme Amendment documents, in consultation with the proponent and relevant agencies as required.
2. Request authorisation from the Minister for Planning, to prepare and exhibit Moorabool Planning Scheme Amendment C87 in accordance with Section 8A (2) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
3. Furthermore, subject to receiving authorisation from the Minister for Planning, publicly exhibit Amendment C87 in accordance with the Planning and Environment Act 1987, and a report be presented to Council following the completion of the exhibition phase.