By Cam Lucadou-Wells
There’s no room left to expand, say experts…
Can Casey’s existing suburbs cope with another two suburbs to share its congested roads, trains and buses?
The State Government recently announced fast-tracking of two suburbs for more than 35,000 people in Casey’s south-east.
Casey council’s response was that the State Government should first “catch up – then keep up” with the $4.5 billion transport infrastructure gap for existing suburbs.
On the council wish-list is $1.2 billion for clogged arterial roads, up to $3 billion for a railway extension to Clyde and $50 million for bus service upgrades.
Councillor Wayne Smith said that established suburbs like Doveton and Hampton Park are crying out for “renewal”.
He said the backlog of infrastructure needs including inadequate sports facilities, road upgrades and bus links was “overwhelming”.
“It’s embarrassing going to some sports facilities here in comparison to those in the new suburbs which have two ovals, massive clubrooms and courts.
“In our areas, the planning requirements and the population in those days didn’t warrant it.
“Unfortunately they’re land-locked now. There’s physically no room for them to expand.”
Mayor Sam Aziz said the State and Federal Governments needed to “pay attention” to the largest municipality in the state, which is set to grow to by more than 500,000 residents in 25 years.
He pushed the case for Casey to be able to charge above the rate-cap because of the growth pressure.
“It’s curious that on the one hand the Andrews Government seems to be acknowledging the significant pressures on growth communities, but on the other robbing residents of vital council infrastructure through rate capping.”
Narre Warren South MP Judith Graley said a hike in rates was the “last thing” Casey residents wanted.
“They want their Government to build and improve roads, upgrade our schools and provide the very best healthcare close to home and that’s exactly what the Andrews Labor Government is doing,” she said.
Ms Graley said the State Government had created a $100 million Growing Suburbs Fund over the past two years for facilities, community centres and parks in outer suburbs – including $12.4 million in Casey.
The Government had spent “hundreds of millions” on upgrades to the Monash Freeway, Thompsons Road and the Pound-Shrives roads intersection, and funded a $135 million expansion of Casey Hospital, she said.
Ms Graley also pointed to upgrades at Hampton Park Primary School, Strathaird Primary School and Kambrya College.
The new Casey suburbs – branded McPherson and Minta Farm – would help boost construction jobs and make housing more affordable, Treasurer Tim Pallas said.
Opposition planning spokesman David Davis said the State Government should allocate its “war chest of hundreds of millions of dollars” of Growth Areas Infrastructure Charge and other levies to the growth suburbs.
Cr Smith said funding from higher rates as well as Federal and State grants was needed for renewal projects in Casey’s older suburbs.
“It’s all good to have new suburbs come on-line but I can understand residents asking why aren’t you looking after us?
“We’re already here.”