The Boroondara Tennis Centre, located at the intersection of Thompson’s Road and Bulleen Road in Bulleen is threatened with closure because of the Victorian government’s North East Link project. As freeway projects are notoriously space-inefficient, because of their very low passenger carrying capacity relative to public transport, it is inevitable that they eat up land already devoted to useful purposes, whether private or public. Public open space is especially vulnerable to “repurposing” for freeway lanes and associated infrastructure.
In the case of the Boroondara Council-owned 23-court Tennis Centre, the Victorian government has been casting around for some time for an alternative location so that the space can be occupied by the North East Link. This apparently received the consent of the Boroondara Council, which agreed to its removal on the condition that the nearby Freeway Golf Course in North Balwyn could remain an 18-hole course. (See Matt Johnston, “Tennis hub a net gain, “Herald Sun, December 17, 2020).
The Victorian government’s decision to “relocate” the Boroondara Tennis Centre to a location in the City of Monash, with the apparent consent of Boroondara Council, is nothing if not suspicious. The proposed new location for the tennis centre is the driving range of the Glen Waverley Golf Course, at the intersection of Waverley Road and Jells Road. It is 26 kilometres away, so it would be of no value to current users of the Boroondara Tennis Centre in Bulleen. It required the endorsement of the City of Monash. But residents and ratepayers in Monash had heard nothing of the proposal prior to its public announcement.
This makes quite a mockery of the Monash Council’s community engagement strategy, which, according to the council’s website, “…encourages members of the community to be informed and to have a say on plans and projects that are important to them, or which have an impact on their daily lives.”
In reality, though, this has also been a common pattern of behaviour by those other councils whose residents are much more directly threatened by the North East Link Project than Monash Council. These include the Banyule, Boroondara, Manningham and Whitehorse Councils which have each signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the North East Link Project. These MOU’s each contain a confidentiality clause which effectively prohibits these councils from speaking openly and in a timely manner with their residents and ratepayers on the potential local impacts of the project.
It may also be observed that the North East Link Project is being pitched by the Victorian Government as a major improvement in transport infrastructure in Melbourne. Transport planners of quality and who are independent of the project do not believe this to be the case.
In this regard, it also worth observing that public transport access to the site for the tennis centre in Glen Waverley is mediocre, being comprised of the 754 route bus service that runs only about every half hour on weekdays and hourly on Saturdays and on Sundays. So, it appears that the tennis centre in Glen Waverley, along with the North East Link Project, now threatens as another Victorian Government monument to car dependency.