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The Andrews government would have new powers to build high-rise towers near train stations in the heart of Melbourne’s suburbs, according to councillors who fear the consequences of “heavy-handed” laws before Parliament.
Several councils in Melbourne’s eastern and south-eastern suburbs were blindsided by proposed laws that would give the government planning control over swathes of land so it can build the Suburban Rail Loop.
The Andrews government is building a 26-kilometre rail tunnel with underground stations at Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash, Glen Waverley, Burwood and Box Hill in the first stage of its signature rail project.
With early works set to start next year, the Suburban Rail Loop Authority would be given power to bypass councils and rezone and develop up to 1.6 kilometres of land surrounding each station, if the new laws pass the Upper House.
The government wants to increase housing and job density in the train station precincts. Councils support this vision in principle, but do not want high-rise towers built in suburban areas.
The government argues the new laws, if passed, would see both the councils and the Suburban Rail Loop Authority serve as planning authorities for the train station precincts. But councils fear they would lose their powers and be denied a say.
Whitehorse, Kingston and Bayside councils have passed motions either calling for clarity on the laws or urgent consultation with the state government.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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