Moorabool Shire is pleading with the state government to change its plans for the $518 million Ballarat train line upgrade, arguing against the decommissioning of the Bungaree loop.
A new four-kilometre passing loop at Millbrook was one of four track duplications promised in the 2016/17 budget, replacing the nine-kilometre loop and removing five level crossings in the process.
Moorabool Shire councillors refused to support a motion at a meeting in early August giving support to the plan being delivered by Melbourne Metro.
The council also declined to give support for Planning Minister Richard Wynne to amend the Moorabool Planning Scheme to conduct the seven upgrades across the municipality.
Moorabool mayor David Edwards said the council wanted to ensure the loop was maintained in order to keep alive the possibility of a major transport interchange at Wallace.
Both Wallace and nearby Bungaree are listed as potential 5000-resident towns under the Moorabool Small Towns Strategy, despite currently having populations of just 187 and 405 at the 2016 census. Wallace Station was decommissioned in 1969.
“I see why there would be merit in closing it, but the strategic work we’ve done with Victorian Planning Authority to give council direction has factored in Bungaree and Wallace as key growth areas,” Cr Edwards said.
Mr Wynne is in the process of assessing the proposed amendments to the Moorabool and Melton planning schemes. At a meeting in May the Melton City Council gave in principle support for the amendment. The minister has the ability to grant the amendment without council approval.
Ballarat Line Upgrade project director Mark Havryluk said “These works...will give Moorabool commuters more frequent and reliable services and better station facilities at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan”.
Pipes hold key for shire growth
Moorabool Shire Council is lobbying both the state and federal governments for $11 million to provide sewerage to Bungaree and Wallace to encourage a new wave of residents into the municipality.
The council has been in discussions with Central Highlands Water to get the project on the body’s next five year plan.
Moorabool Shire mayor David Edwards said the investment would deliver combined capacity for 4000 residents, with the ability to further expand to 10,000.
The council’s 2015 priority projects expected the development to begin in the 2016/17 financial year.
“For us it’s all about future planning, looking 20 to 30 years into the future, and the inhibitor to growth at the moment is sewage,” Cr Edwards said.
The council’s long-term plan also includes connecting sewage to Blackwood, Mount Egerton, Elaine and Myrnoing.
Council also hopes to link reticulated gas to Bungaree, followed by Gordon and Mount Egerton.