Plans for the modernisation of a key Melbourne icon could be dumped, according to media reports.
Amid long running concern about the project’s price tag, the Herald Sun has reported that the newly elected Labour government in Victoria is waiting on the final business case before deciding whether or not the redevelopment of Flinders Street Station should go ahead, and that whilst it was understood that no directive to stop work on project processes had been issued, it was also understood that the new government did not have any plans to set aside large amounts of money for the work.
“The Victorian Government is awaiting the final business case and it will be assessed,” government spokesperson Chris Reilly reportedly told the newspaper.
Originally opened in 1854 and substantially rebuilt in the 1900s, the parts of the station are considered to be run-down and it is largely considered to be in need of an upgrade.
An international design competition initiated by the former Napthine Government in 2011 calling for redesign proposals was taken out by leading architecture firms Hassell, Herzog and de Meuron, with the winning design retaining the traditional clocks and domes but involving platforms being covered by enormous vaults and featuring a public plaza and an amphitheatre.
Still, media reports which emerged last year raised concern the design could cost as much as $2 billion to build and that funding opportunities from private sector partners could be limited as only 20 percent of the design allowed for commercial developments.
Furthermore, with $500,000 worth of prize money having been paid to the winners despite no firm commitment having yet been made to go ahead with the winning design – and state government contracts showing that the Napthine government paid $930,000 to Hassell to prepare the business case – questions have arisen about the exercise and the extent to which Victorian taxpayers will be out of pocket if the project does not go ahead, with Reilly accusing the former government of spending millions of taxpayer dollars for a project with regard to which it had no firm plans to commit.
However, Opposition spokesman John Pesutto put the onus back on the government and called on the government to clarify its position with regard to the project.
“Daniel Andrews has already been seen running from the metro rail tunnel, his signature public transport proposal; now he is running from providing any clear commitment to an upgrade of Flinders St station,” Pesutto is quoted as saying in the aforementioned report.
“Just what are his plans for Melbourne’s public transport needs as we grow by more than 80,000 people a year?”
Further comment from the government is being sought.