Locals reject Southland station

Holly P

Cheltenham residents have raised concerns about the functionality and necessity of the Southland train station currently under construction.

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The project is expected to cost $21 million and will be used daily by 4000 passengers on the Frankston line.

Since its proposal the idea has been met with objection and disapproval from members of the public, questioning the need for a station based on close proximity to existing Cheltenham and Highett stations.

In March 2015, 450 locals attended a Public Transport Victoria information session about Southland station to raise their concerns, primarily about noise pollution and parking issues from increased traffic congestion.

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Don’t need it: A local takes to Facebook to protest the construction of Southland station. Source: Facebook

Emily Marie, who travels by car to work in Southland shopping centre, said “instead of parking going to actual shoppers who will fill their trolleys with stuff they’ll be taken by people that are just catching the train.

“I think it will impact those of us who work here because it’ll be harder for us to get a spot and if they introduce paid parking that will also inconvenience us.

“If the shopping centre’s profits go down from no parking being available then that could cost us our jobs,” Ms Marie said.

In a media release, Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan said “thousands of passengers will now get direct and safe access to Southland shopping centre – for the first time.

“Southland station will boost public transport access to the shopping centre with a safer, more direct route while providing an alternative to neighbouring Highett and Cheltenham stations.

“We will consult closely with local residents and the community about the design of the new station,” the Minister said.

Local's main concerns about Southland station

Some residents are in support of the new station due of its proposed increased accessibility and safety.

Cheltenham resident Paul Smith said “I have daughters who regularly catch public transport to Southland and it’ll be safer for them and elderly people when they don’t have to wait around for buses or walk like they do now.

“Parking is certainly going to be a hassle when it’s up and running, with all the people catching the train but they can’t do much about that.

“Some people might think it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money but it’s progress – it was always going to be built eventually,” Mr Smith said.

Works are on track to be completed by the end of 2017.

Flight fears unfounded

Fears about aviation accidents occurring within and around Moorabbin Airport are largely unsubstantiated.

In the wake of the fatal Essendon DFO plane crash concerns have been raised about the dangers of encroaching retail developments at Moorabbin airport, however statistics indicate that the threat to local homes and businesses is minimal.

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A plane lands within meters of Moorabbin DFO shopping centre. (Source: Holly P)

The number of flights in and out of Moorabbin airport has slightly increased from 235,000 in 2014 to more than 236,000 in 2016, with eight serious crashes and three fatalities since 2000, according to The Herald Sun’s Leader newspaper.

  • Flights in and out of the airport in 2016: 236,438
  • Serious crashes since 2000: 8
  • Recorded fatalities since 2000: 3

Craig Harwood, owner of Professional Helicopter Services said “aviation is inherently safe and very highly regulated; we can operate safely in most environments,” and that airport users are unconcerned about encroaching retail development.

“In the last ten years with the private management of these facilities they’ve activated unused land for retail development. As we’ve seen at Essendon, these buildings are susceptible to being hit, but so is any building from an aircraft anywhere,” said Mr Harwood.

The recent retail developments on airport land include a McCormick Foods warehouse, an expansive Costco development and a 31,000sqm Spectrum Brands warehouse.

Mr Harwood said “they can’t go within certain parameters like within the fence-line or runway. I don’t think they can build when it would impinge on the direct safety of the airport.”

Another concern is that the airport is primarily used as a training airport as it is has most flight training organisations in South East Asia, training 800 pilots annually.

“Moorabbin is very much a training hub; they’re with an instructor all the time. The industry is so highly regulated, (with) so many checks and balances and that’s why the accident rate is so low,” said Mr Harwood.

Local resident Sue Talbot said “living close to the airport is a concern; there is very little room for error now that nearly all the area immediately surrounding the airport is built up.”

“It seems a little ill-conceived that people learning to fly are flying right above shops, homes and schools when there are other airports where far fewer people would be affected,” said Ms Talbot.

Mr Harwood said “I can’t see the degradation of safety standards because it is so highly regulated and anyone who would try to do that would be seen as putting money over safety and that just does not happen in the aviation industry.”