A FRUSTRATED Horsham North resident still eagerly awaits work to begin on a plan to revitalise the city's rail yards.
The Horsham Rail Corridor Master plan, of March 2016, earmarked the area for construction of a new park, playground, bike path and car park in stage one. However, Horsham Rural City Council says delays in the current landowner remediating the area are preventing it from beginning work on the three-stage plan.
Wawunna Road resident Barry Nuttall attended a public meeting discussing the master plan three years ago. He said the council needed to focus on delivering this project before its 20-year vision for the Wimmera River and Horsham CBD.
"There are almost no parks in Horsham North," he said. "There is a small one down the bottom of Edwards Road and little pockets with a swing and slide, but people here feel like council don't give a damn about us.
"If you look at the Wimmera River, it's done pretty well. It's a nice area. They have parks, gardens and are going to extend the botanical gardens, and everything that gets done ... the money is put there - other than the Kalkee Road childcare centre."
The council's community and wellbeing director Kevin O'Brien said VicTrack owned the majority of the railway yard land. He said VicTrack needed to remediate the land before it could return to the council.
"At this stage, (VicTrack) has to deal with issues on site and then we have to understand what it would cost to activate that space," he said.
"It's still a priority of council's, but until we get more details to determine what to pay for the land, we have to wait."
Mr O'Brien said the master plan's initial goal of having stage one implemented by 2020 "might have been a bit ambitious".
He said while there had been no changes to stage one of the plan, later elements had changed due to the new draft Horsham Central Activity District Masterplan.
"It talked about a sports stadium in stage two, and obviously we are now considering that for McBryde Street in the CAD and river precinct plan," he said.
"Stage three talks about taking away the railway line altogether, but with stronger attempts to get passenger rail back to Horsham, that won't happen either."
Mr O'Brien said the study area the draft Horsham Central Activity District Masterplan impacted focused on the area between the Wimmera River and Baillie Street.
A VicTrack spokeswoman said the council previously applied to lease land at Horsham Station, but the application was not progressed as transport needs for the land were still being finalised.
"Much of the land around the station is leased to ARTC, with only a proportion of it managed directly by VicTrack," she said. "Environmental testing has shown the land to be heavily contaminated from historic rail uses and uses by adjoining owners, and significant environmental remediation needs to take place."
An Environmental Protection Authority spokesman said the land manager had to complete remediation no later than March 1, 2023.
"An Environment Protection Authority Victoria clean-up notice is in place at the northern end of the Horsham rail yard that requires the land manager to implement a clean-up plan at the site," he said.
"The plan will require both groundwater and soil remediation due to historical contamination. The land manager is working with neighbouring properties to remediate the precinct. There are no public health concerns due to the historical contamination."
The Horsham Draft Municipal Open Space Strategy, which the council resolved to put on public exhibition on Monday, notes Horsham North "is underserviced by publicly accessible and activated open space".
The strategy will guide the council on planning green spaces for future housing developments across the Horsham municipality.
Aside from implementing the Horsham Rail Corridor Master plan, the open space strategy recommends the council establish pedestrian and cycle links between the Kalkee Road Children's Hub, Police Paddock and Dudley Cornell Park.
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