‘Lip service’ on station revamp

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Looking to future: Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke, left, and Planning Minister Richard Wynne have a master plan for the Frankston train station precinct redevelopment project. Picture: Gary Sissons

FRANKSTON Council and the Labor state government are at odds over the $63 million redevelopment of the Frankston train station precinct despite councillors voting last week to endorse the Frankston Station Redevelopment Master Plan.

The unanimous endorsement of the transport hub master plan was hailed as “a major step towards the revitalisation of the city centre” in an official statement issued by Frankston Council last week but many concerns raised by councillors at last Monday’s public council meeting went unmentioned in council’s statement.

Councillors welcomed the investment by the state government in Frankston but decided to write to Premier Daniel Andrews, Transport Minister Jacinta Allan and Planning Minister Richard Wynne to demand “the Metropolitan Planning Authority take over responsibility for the planning and delivery of the transformation of Frankston Train Station”.

The MPA was established in 2013 as an independent statutory body to work with councils and other government agencies on major state infrastructure projects in an effort to “depoliticise” some longer-term decisions.

Councillors criticised state government “bureaucrats” for allegedly failing to listen to community feedback on the massive project, seen as crucial to boost Frankston’s economy.

Cr Colin Hampton said “the bureaucrats from Melbourne are taking over and are not listening to the community”.

“It’s just lip service. That’s all they’re giving the residents of this town – lip service,” he said.

“Unfortunately it is very difficult to get past what they are trying to put forward.”

State government bureaucrats were accused of “just looking for ways to spend the money” rather than working to encourage private investors to invest in the Frankston train station precinct.

At the council meeting, Frankston Council CEO Dennis Hovenden said a $135 million redevelopment of Ringwood train station had turned into an $800 million rejuvenation of Ringwood thanks to private investment by developers alongside the project.

“It’s quite evident that the plan has been written to accommodate a budget,” Cr Darrel Taylor said.

“It hasn’t been a plan that’s been written to accommodate the future growth and the true plan of what is required in that precinct.”

Cr Taylor claimed the state government is backing away from a promise to replicate improvements such as a public plaza in Wells St in Young St due to “high quality seating and lighting” to be installed in Wells St.

“They made that commitment … and they need to keep that commitment.”

While the master plan mentions the electrification of the Frankston line to Baxter, councillors noted there is little detail provided about how this will be funded in future stages.

Councillors also criticised a lack of consultation with the private sector over the possibility of basing businesses in and around the train station precinct.

Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke hit back at council’s request to have the MPA oversee the train station project.

“The MPA does long term visions and plans – they do not develop or implement projects such as this,” he said.

“As chair [of the Frankston Station Precinct Taskforce], I ensured the MPA were around the table to make sure our initiatives supported council’s long term visions, which they do.”

Mr Edbrooke said council and the community “have been widely engaged and provided an extremely positive response to the initiatives proposed”.

“The bottom line is that Frankston Council were better represented than any other stakeholder, with two out of seven taskforce members belonging to council, and it is time to hear more about what the council are going to commit to this community driven project, which at the moment is nothing, and less of what individuals think is best.”

The Labor MP said he wanted to “continue to work with council on the development and delivery of improvements to make Frankston a safer, more modern place of business and activity” but hoped councillors would realise there is no short term fix for some long-term intiatives such as the partial electrification of the Stony Point line.

“Electrification of the Baxter line is part of a Public Transport Victoria 15-year network strategy. Whilst I have made sure we have taken into account the electrification of the Baxter line and its impacts at Frankston station, I think the expectation that this large scale funding  will be in the state government next financial year forward estimates is extremely naive,” Mr Edbrooke said.

Frankston mayor Cr Sandra Mayer focused on the positives in council’s official statement.

“It will be wonderful watching the changes,” the mayor said.

“The community has long been asking for improvements in the city centre and this is a fantastic opportunity for us all to unite and get behind the transformation.

“As more people see what Frankston has to offer, more opportunities will arise to create jobs and prosperity – not to mention more exciting new spaces for people to come and enjoy themselves.”

The mayor will launch a new promotional video about Frankston and a revamped Invest Frankston website – both developed in partnership with the state government to support the city centre’s revitalisation – on Monday (12 October).

Watch the promotional video here.

First published in the Frankston Times – 12 October 2015

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