The Planning institute of Australia (PIA) considers the removal of rail crossings as an important Victorian State priority but is concerned with the lack of community involvement in the process.
Victorian President of PIA James Larmour-Reid said: "While elevated rail lines can provide an acceptable solution in appropriate circumstances, meaningful communication at an early stage in the process is essential to achieving a successful outcome."
"In this case, the transparency of project conceptualisation appears to fall well short of adequate."
PIA believes a thorough and transparent process of engagement with stakeholders, interest groups and a spectrum of professional specialists during the planning phase can assist in refining proposals, enhancing urban design outcomes and engendering community acceptance.
Mr Larmour-Reid said: "Governments rightfully claim a mandate for fulfilling significant election commitments, but they also have a responsibility to do so in a transparent and consultative way. These are city shaping urban investments that will be in place for generations; local stakeholders deserve the opportunity to be involved in this type of legacy project."
"Emphasis must be placed on high quality urban design, responsiveness to context and acceptable amenity outcomes, whether the solution is above or below ground. Done well, these projects have the potential to not only address transport bottlenecks, but lead to positive local transformation.
"That this has popped up as a surprise so close to commitment suggests that this proposal has not been subject to an adequate process of planning and local engagement."