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16 September 2020
A former high-ranking Horsham municipal officer wants Horsham council candidates to outline their position on a Western Highway bypass route of the regional city.
David Eltringham, in charge of the municipality’s technical services for 17 years, said the bypass issue represented a profound strategic planning question that needed answering.
He outlined his thoughts in a letter to The Weekly Advertiser.
“Where will the Western Highway bypass-alternative route be?” he said.
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“This route and land reservation, once defined and adopted in the planning scheme, will then enable many dependent strategic planning decisions for Horsham, to be made. Without the determination of the ‘where’ question, all other strategic plans are ‘subject to …’, which means this is a vital big-picture election issue.”
Mr Eltringham said Horsham Rural City Council had, for too long, been guilty of putting the bypass issue aside for future consideration.
“Our current council, and indeed all preceding Horsham councils, have shelved the hard decision and left it for others to make when it is needed,” he said.
“The newly elected council of 2020-2024 must be a decisive council that makes a decision that is acceptable to the majority and to Regional Roads Victoria.
“Not everyone will be happy but the longer the ‘where’ decision is deferred, the more opportunities will be lost and development will be restrained.”
Mr Eltringham said new councillors should make an effort to be aware of a ‘Horsham 2040 Vision Plan’.
He said the 2008 Horsham council and VicRoads had commissioned TTM Consultants, the group responsible for Firebrace Street planning, to establish the plan.
“The creation of the Horsham 2040 Vision Plan followed extensive consultations and workshopping with the community, public authorities and service clubs providing opinions and visions for our city as the capital of the Wimmera in 2040,” he said.
“This plan gave an outline of community concepts for many planning issues, currently still unresolved but dependant on this key planning issue of where a Western Highway bypass-alternative route will be.
“Not everyone was happy so the council resolved to leave it to others.”
Mr Eltringham said strategic planning issues dependant on a decision included, but were not limited to: a second bridge over the Wimmera River in Horsham; an alternative route for Wimmera and Henty highway truck traffic; the relocation-
removal of railway infrastructure from Horsham North; redevelopment of Horsham Railway station precinct; Horsham Aerodrome development; Haven planning area study; central business district revitalisation; opportunities for residential and industrial subdivisional land use; riverfront development; and Dooen Intermodal Freight Terminal industrial land development.
Mr Eltringham said the Horsham Western Highway bypass route was not dependant on ‘when’ but it was essential for Horsham to respond when there was ‘need’.
“We in Horsham need to be ready and have planned for ‘where’. We do not need further costly studies to look as if we are busy, we need action and decisions on past work,” he said.
“I look forward to our candidates for the 2020-2024 council elections advising us that the strategic Horsham bypass location is part of their election manifesto.”
The entire September 16, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!