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The Supreme Court fight against the Victorian government's $16 billion North East Link project is dead as a fourth council withdraws from the case following out-of-court concessions.
Banyule Council said late on Tuesday it would join Boroondara, Whitehorse and Manningham councils in pulling out of the legal battle after accepting taxpayer-funded sweeteners.
Watsonia Traders Association president Jeremy Richards said retailers hope for more support from the government during construction.CREDIT:LUIS ENRIQUE ASCUI
The council said in a statement that the Andrews government agreed to improve pedestrian and cycling access to Watsonia Village.
A major boost to pedestrian and cycling paths through Banyule has also been secured, but the details are yet to be released.
However, Banyule appears to have given up on major changes it pushed for during the project's environmental effects statement process.
These included a two-kilometre tunnel extension to avoid slicing through Watsonia with a large open-cut section of road where the tunnel ends – an improvement that was backed by the independent advisory committee overseeing the project's environmental effects statement hearings.
Watsonia traders estimated up to 20 of 75 businesses on the area's shopping strip would close if the tunnel was not extended.
Banyule also campaigned for a lage interchange at Lower Plenty Road to be scaled back, but this does not appear to be part of the deal it struck with the government.
It will now be up to the builders bidding for the project to decide if these improvements will be made. All councils appear to have given up on another key goal: to reduce widening of the Eastern Freeway, to limit the impact on nearby parkland and creeks.
Banyule mayor Alison Champion said agreement had been reached for the council to be directly consulted on the project's design.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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