GWC Bulletin No 2 - March 2018
Green Wedges Coalition - a vision for Melbourne
Bulletin No 2 – 20 March 2018
This is an occasional publication to highlight issues of major importance to the future of the Green Wedges and is also posted on the organisation’s website at www.gwc.org.au
Update by Friends of the Glenfern Green Wedge
With only 3% remnant vegetation remaining in Knox and a continuing decline in open spaces and trees, the outlook for our area is grim. The Friends of the Glenfern Green Wedge have faced many battles recently, including the private sale and rezoning (by Knox Council) of a section of public reserve designated as a site of biological significance. The subdivision of the Lysterfield Valley Green Wedge (following on from the subdivision of the Glenfern Green Wedge in 2013) has also been steadfastly resisted. However, in an extraordinary turn of events, at the Yarra Ranges Council meeting on 13 March, every councillor unanimously voted to allow the subdivision. This is despite the advice of their own planning department, who advised against the subdivision in a very thorough and well-reasoned report, which argued that the proposal was contrary to planning principles for the Green Wedge. Only one kilometre east of this site is another Green Wedge, National-Trust listed site, which our group has fought two VCAT cases over and secured an area of public reserve along Ferny Creek. To the horror of locals, this site has just become subject to a pre-planning application for a caravan park.
Another urgent situation has arisen with the proposed subdivision of the site of the former Boronia Heights Secondary College (BHSC), which is being fiercely opposed by the Knox Environment Society and many local residents. The case of the BHSC has broad ramifications for planning in Victoria because of the way in which the process has been handled by the state government. The 8-hectare site lies on the eastern edged of Knox bordering the Yarra Ranges Green Wedge in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. The testimony of three expert witnesses has established the site as having rare vegetation of state significance and as being part of an important wildlife corridor. A petition of over 2000 signatures sent to the planning minister, Hon. Richard Wynne, remains unanswered as do repeated requests, over 9 months, for a meeting with the minister.
In relation to the BHSC, the Government Land Advisory Committee heard 25 public submissions from 12 - 14 February; however, the terms of reference were so restricted as to make real input from the public an impossibility. The committee was under instruction to disregard submissions requesting that the sports oval be retained or for the site to be preserved as parkland. Nor was it able to accept submissions relating to the zoning of the land, which is to be rezoned from Public Use to Neighbourhood Residential. Furthermore, the public was were asked to make submissions on a subdivision plan which does not actually exist; we have been given no information at all about what will be built on the site. When the plan does come into existence, we will have no rights to notice or review because of the addition of a Development Plan Overlay. The planning framework that currently exists to protect this site and the surrounding area will be considerably weakened by the rezoning. This site is a buffer zone to the proposed Great Forest National Park, which has drawn support from luminaires such as David Attenborough and Jane Goodall.
We are currently awaiting the minister’s final decision on the Boronia Heights site, after which we will consider our options, including VCAT.
For further information please contact Dr Johanna Selleck, President of Friends of the Glenfern Green Wedge Inc. Email: email@example.com