Rich in road rage over roundabout

10 July 2003 - RESIDENTS in one of Melbourne's most exclusive streets are in a spin over planned road roundabouts.

Some wealthy homeowners fear more roundabouts in St Georges Rd, Toorak, would devalue their multi-million-dollar mansions. Homes on the leafy boulevard are worth an average $1.5 million, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

Other residents claim the speed-lowering devices would increase noise levels and could cause more accidents.

Toorak residents have been locked in a two-year battle over four roundabouts Stonnington Council has planned for the 1.5km street.

After lobbying by residents, the council has agreed to build just two.

But residents campaigning for the roundabouts have accused the council of pandering to a minority of homeowners.

Resident Marion Winstone said only six or seven people opposed the roundabouts.

"Those people who are against them were the ones closest to those being installed," she said.

In a letter to council, one resident claimed there was a stigma attached to properties at roundabouts.

A high-profile real estate agent backed fears homes could be devalued.

In a letter to the council seen by the Herald Sun, TBM director Rodney Morley said roundabouts were inappropriate for what was possibly Melbourne's most highly regarded avenue.

"They would certainly reduce the value of those properties that are within the immediate vicinity," he wrote.

Mr Morley is overseas and could not be contacted yesterday.

Ms Winstone said many children and elderly people were in danger from hoons, especially at night.

A resident against the roundabouts, who asked not to be named, said most locals believed they would cause problems.

"Roundabouts are dangerous; they cost insurance companies $60 million a year," he said.

Homeowners feared motorists would lose control of cars, he said.

Mayor Melina Sehr said two roundabouts would be installed on a straight stretch of the road.

The compromise comes despite council officers recommending four roundabouts be built.

But Cr Sehr rejected claims the council had succumbed to the minority.

"We were significantly lobbied by both sides, particularly in the two locations where there were curves in the road," she said.

St Georges Rd, which carries 8000 vehicles each day, is one of five Stonnington streets identified as a speeding spot.

The council this week floated plans to install fixed speed cameras on the streets after a successful trial in the UK.

Signs would alert motorists to the cameras and revenue would be poured into community safety programs, Cr Sehr said.

"It is not a revenue-raising measure -- we are hoping that will alter driver behaviour and no one will be caught speeding."

She said UK trials showed speeding reduced by 67 per cent where a fixed camera was installed.

But the State Government rejected the plan.

A spokesman for Police Minister Andre Haermeyer said police were best equipped to decide where cameras should be.

Rich in road rage over roundabout
By MICHELLE ROSE, urban affairs reporter
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