Wednesday, October 26, 2011

chirnside park golf club redevelopment gets a green light

report from the roundtable - 25 Oct

Once again council found itself considering the Chirnside Park Country Club Golf Course redevelopment. An application that's had a long history with Yarra Ranges, it was first refused by council in September, 2008 (see blog).

However after council refused the application the then Minister for Planning, Justin Madden, called in the application and proceeded to approve the planning scheme amendment/redevelopment. In 2010, the Minister requested that he be the responsible authority for the development, councillors unanimously refused his request in November, 2010 as it would have been to the detriment of the local community by not allowing them to have a voice or be part of a local democratic process (see blog).

The development was back before council again this week to approve the redevelopment of the 54 hectare site which included 553 residential lots and 13.6 hectares of open space.

I could not support the motion to approve the Development Plan and support the Ministerial Amendment. In speaking against the motion I talked about a number of key issues. At the heart of the issue was the Ministerial interference in local democracy. However it was my view that we had not worked hard enough to get the best outcome for residents in Chirnside Park.

The original development presented to council was for 450 lots, however this current proposition of 553 lots was a complete overdevelopment of the site. The 22% increase in lots would see the destruction of 1520 trees, 256 of them assessed as being of high retention value. It was obvious from the cut and fill plan supplied with the documentation that little had been done to preserve the high amenity values of the site.

Although seeming to be generous in public open space, the linear parks proposed are poor in terms of their usability, although I can understand why abutting residents want a buffer between them and this development. Other public open spaces include wetland areas, also unusable as parkland as their primary purpose is to manage storm water.

The developer, as part of the presentation on the night, stated that the proposal included "economically viable housing" due to smaller lot sizes that would be a lesser cost than larger lots on the site. To suggest that smaller lot sizes respond to the affordable housing crisis is a nonsense and defies logic.

The lack of clarity as to the purpose of the super lot proposed as part of the redevelopment was also a key concern. There was no surety for council or residents as to the purpose of the lot and no third party appeal rights to any proposal for the lot. It would have been a terrific site for social housing, but without certainty no one in the community or council truly knows what this site will be used for.

The intensity of the development was too great, considering the site is outside of the defined area for the Chirnside Park Major Activity Centre, where council has determined higher densities should be contained as part of a broad community consultation.

The motion was won but it was clearly a contentious issue with councillors voting 5 for and 4 against.

Cr's Higgins, Warren, Templer, Heenan and Avery

Cr's Dunn, Cox, Cliff and McRae.

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