Walmer Plaza should not be sold to a private developer.
Building car tunnels which will take up two thirds of the available space in Walmer Street, raising the level of Walmer Street, and removing the bike/disabled ramp isn’t necessary. It is simply a way for the developer to increase their profits at the expense of public amenity, access, and safety.
There are a number of alternatives for the developer:
1. An entrance/exit to the “Park House” development is already possible via the car park openings at 611 Victoria Street. The car park extends all the way under the developments. There are two roller door openings already shown as entrance/exits to this side of the development.
2. Remove apartments ALG01 and ALG02 in SJB Architect’s Drawing TP04.1 to allow access via Shamrock Street.
3. Re-locate the Waste Collection area to give access to Shamrock Street.
The development at 647-649 which has just been decided at VCAT already has secondary vehicle access from Victoria St at the eastern end of the frontage to an internal Porte Cochere.
The only reason for the car tunnels in Walmer Street is to increase the space available in the developments at 607- 627 and 647-649, and therefore increase the profits for the developer.
Including the access to 647-649 under the “Park House” development also enabled the developer to avoid Council and public scrutiny of access for 647-649, and to avoid the question of “Walmer Plaza” and it’s consequences at the VCAT hearing.
The bike/disabled ramp could quite easily stay – except the developer wishes to build right up to and over that space, and the bike/disabled ramp also interrupts the “private garden” landscape effect given by the narrow switchback paths.
The “Walmer Plaza” car tunnels/access also have the considerable disadvantage to the public that will occur by the proposed re-design of the Victoria/Burnley/Walmer Street intersection. The Cardno report refers to provision of a dedicated, controlled right hand turn lane from Victoria Street into Walmer Street and the removal of the current left turn slip lane into Burnley Street. This area is already a traffic bottle-neck, and the four Salta Developments built to the maximum area on all corners leave no possibility of ever mitigating the traffic problems in this area. To remove or dedicate existing lanes simply for the convenience and increased profit of a developer is reprehensible.
Why would Vic Roads agree to these modifications?
The GTA survey of proposed traffic from the “Park House” indicates an additional 91 vehicle trips per peak hour. No current data is available to us for expected traffic from 647-649, but there are 146 parking spaces for this development.
The addition of this many vehicles to the area should, at the very least, oblige the developer to use their own land for entry and exit, rather than placing the entire burden on the public, by redesigning major roads for their own convenience, and using public land to maximise their profits.