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NOISY SKY RAIL BLOCKS 16 STOREY CARNEGIE TOWER

VCAT has refused a permit for a 16 level apartment building with ground level retail at 8 Egan Street Carnegie next to Labor’s Sky Rail.

VCAT found rail noise to be a central issue: “the acoustic evidence indicates the elevated rail structure will give rise to higher noise emissions as relevant to the proposed development compared with the at-grade railway.”

VCAT said that two key changes had bearing on the proceeding compared with an earlier application on the subject land in 2015: “These are the current construction of the Sky Rail elevated rail corridor and the introduction of DD09 into the planning scheme.”

VCAT notes “The final design and form of the Sky Rail is not certain, however we have been provided with some artist’s impressions that give some understanding of the concept. It appears that the elevated rail structure will be 8.6 metres above the ground.”

VCAT said at paragraph 95 of its decision, “We consider significant changes arise with the Sky Rail project as it relates to the subject land and environs. These include: changes to the physical appearance of the public environment of Egan Street including the visual and aural presence of the elevated rail structure….”

At paragraph 115 VCAT said “It is relevant in considering the implications of Sky Rail that Mr Tardio’s evidence is that noise from the elevated railway will be higher than emitted by the existing at-grade rail line with respect to dwellings in the proposed development and (inter alia):

  • The south façade is the most affected …
  • Noise will be significantly higher at night based on Leq,8hr dB (A). The maximum levels will also be higher.”

The Tribunal noted the uniqueness of Sky Rail stating “As far as we are aware, none of the cases referred to in the evidence involved an elevated rail structure and we are concerned about high noise levels for living rooms facing the elevated rail structure in the current proceeding.”

The Tribunal said at paragraph 120 “We expect that there are ways in which windows can be physically attenuated to limit noise intrusion from Skyrail, particularly relating to the southern façade. There remain, however, consequential impacts. One is with respect to the useability of (particularly) south-facing living rooms and balconies after 10pm. Another is with respect to natural ventilation when the windows must be closed to meet the design standards adopted by Mr Tardio.”

In paragraph 121 the Tribunal reinforced the point “… creating an internal environment that addresses rail noise from the elevated structure has not been sufficiently resolved in the design before us.”

A key piece of evidence was an Acoustic Technical Report to VCAT by Octave Acoustics. It relied on evidence sent to Darren Tardio by Level Crossing Removal authority official Kim Norton dated 23 March 2017 sourced from the LXRA’s noise and vibration engineer Dr Arvind Deivasigamani, who states that these are the predicted noise levels for 8 Egan Street.

This detailed information has never been provided publically before. Residents and the community more broadly have sought this information. The Victorian Legislative Council has sought information of this type. It has been refused on each and every occasion.

The Octave Acoustics report provides at table 2 on page 12, existing rail noise and vibration levels at subject land ground level. It provides three key noise readings Day, Leq,16hr63 dB, Night, Leq,8hr 56dB and Lmax, 83dB.

Octave Acoustics provided a report to VCAT, relying on LXRA data, that significantly stated: “It is important to note however that the LXRA preliminary report does not discuss noise levels above ground, nor Day or Lmax levels”. Because the subject land development proposed to construct above the height of the elevated Sky Rail structure, Octave Acoustics contacted the LXRA to obtain more detailed information on the predicted noise levels from Sky Rail.

The data compares current at-grade sound data with the new LXRA estimates and shows:

  • DAY readings from LXRA data are higher from the first floor level.
  • NIGHT readings are higher from the first floor level as well
  • The Lmax levels are higher from the third floor and above until the eleventh floor.
  • The day and night levels are higher for the first floor and above to level 15

The full VCAT ruling can be read here: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2017/695.html