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By Kyra Gillespie

Plans for a new suburb in Pakenham’s east, announced in March last year, will soon be in the hands of Planning Minister Richard Wynne.

Local residents and stakeholders had their chance to pitch changes and suggestions on the draft Pakenham East Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) last week.

The proposed new community will have a local town and convenience centre, four future schools – two government primary schools, one non-government primary school and a government secondary school, three community centres with kindergartens and child maternal health services, sports reserves and local parks on both sides of the Princes Highway.

The draft plan is described by the VPA as “a compact future community that will be a picturesque, 20-minute neighbourhood with a backdrop of beautiful rolling hills.”

Housing options include duplexes, detached houses, multi-unit housing sites, stacked housing and walk-up flats.

A VPA spokesperson said lot sizes will range from less than 300 square metres to 425 square metres, and will vary from single storey homes to four storey town houses.

“Cardinia has a limited lot supply compared to the rest of metropolitan Melbourne,” the VPA spokesperson said.

“The plan is trying to deal with limited lot sizes as there is not much land left, as well as affordability and balancing the density with the surrounding rural farming community.

“The detailed planning undertaken ensures the periphery of the precinct will have larger setbacks and interface roads to provide a softer transition from the existing rural landscape to more urban uses.”

Higher density housing will be closer to the local town centre and in close proximity to key bus routes, community hubs and local convenience centres.

While there will be no train station to service the 20,000-plus residents of Pakenham East, the draft plan says the street network must be designed to ensure 95 per cent of all households are located within 400 metres of public transport services or bus capable roads.

Nar Nar Goon residents fear that existing stations will not cope with the influx of commuters.

Currently Nar Nar Goon Station accommodates just over 15 cars and has no bicycle racks, public toilets, cages or lockers.

Pakenham Station has 364 parking spaces, all of which are exhausted before 8am on a working week – with cars spilling out onto Railway Avenue up to Racecourse Road.

“A large portion of land proposed for Pakenham East is in the Nar Nar Goon postcode area, and there are major concerns for the impact on the Nar Nar Goon township,” Nar Nar Goon Progress Association secretary Rose Biddell said.

“No allowances have been made for the increase in traffic that will come from this development; we already have traffic issues at peak time from people cutting through Nar Nar Goon Main Street as a way of dodging Pakenham traffic.

“There is simply not enough parking available at the station either.”

“We don’t call it Pakenham East, we call it ‘Nar Nar Goon Left,’” president Geoff Bramley added.

Council investigated a possible interchange between the Kooweerup Road Interchange and the Princes Highway Interchange to create a direct link between the Pakenham East estate and the Princes Freeway.

However, the idea was ditched after findings concluded that it would have a ‘minor’ impact on Pakenham’s arterial road network.

Without the interchange, McGregor Road will carry around 36,100 vehicles per day while Racecourse Road traffic will increase to 32,000 vehicles per day.

The current traffic models indicate Ryan Road will see an increase to around 7000 cars per day and a new signalised intersection at Ryan Road and Princes Highway.

Existing Ryan Road residents bemoan the changes to their quiet country road.

“7000 cars a days is sheer madness, and I believe an underestimate given their estimates have failed to take all relevant traffic data into account. This makes our road more like Bourke Street in peak hour – we won’t even be able to get out of our driveways safely,” Ryan Road resident Jason Sartori said.

“We want to see the interchange built so that the new residents of Pakenham East don’t have to come through Pakenham to get to the freeway.

“Anyone who has ever been stuck in peak hour on Racecourse Road or McGregor Road – especially when waiting for the train crossing to open – can see how disastrous it is going to be to have all the traffic from the PSP adding to that congestion.

“The direct connection to the freeway would take the pressure off those roads. Otherwise the whole Pakenham township is going to be impacted by this.”

Existing residents are calling for a severing of Ryan Road from the new development.

“If the interchange is built not only does it take pressure off the Princes Highway and the Pakenham township, they also don’t need Ryan Road to be part of the development road network.”

“We don’t want any connector roads from Ryan Road to the new estate; apart from welcoming a few families into the area from the houses that will be built facing Ryan Road we don’t want anything to do with it,” Mr Sartori continued.

“By designing things with consideration for the community we win, Pakenham wins and the residents of the new estate win. It’s a long term win all round.”

The VPA has declined to provide any information on the impact of traffic on Racecourse Road and McGregor Road, saying “they are outside of the precinct area.”

The precinct plans are now in the hands of an independent panel, who will produce a report with recommendations following the submission received.

Following consideration of recommendations and relevant revisions to the plan, the VPA will seek approval of the structure plan from Planning Minister.

Council will receive around $14.2 million in rates when the development comes to fruition, based on the current rate for land with a dwelling in the Urban Growth Corridor.

The Gazette has contacted council for comment.

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