Wednesday, August 08, 2012

mcdonalds appeal - day 3

David Jewell of TVAG, presenting at the council
meeting in October, 2011. A crowd of 670 people
looked on, the largest attendance of any council
meeting in the history of Yarra Ranges.
Day three marks the midpoint of the appeal (that's if it goes according to the days set aside), today opened with a presentation from Claire Ferres Miles, who presented a comprehensive and detailed submission around key themes of traffic. She highlighted specific issues around bushfire with Burwood Highway being the key East/West arterial road in and out of the region.

Her presentation emphasised the low scale, local nature of Tecoma detailing that the town's businesses close on the earlier side of midnight, reinforcing it as a 'sleepy little village'.

Claire's experience as a traffic and transport engineer came to the fore, she went into specific detail about the highly complex traffic movements within a 300mt section of Burwood Highway, from Rutherford Rd to Sandells Rd. She presented the data from 2 community traffic surveys undertaken earlier this year. Data that had been validated and shown as robust. Her presentation so clearly articulated what we all know about this section of road, it's busy, it's a bottleneck and there are some intersections that are better avoided depending on the time of day.

Claire highlighted deficiencies in the expert reports supplied by McDonalds, they hadn't even picked up the public transport routes that impact on the road network.  The community traffic survey which found a peak traffic queue length on Burwood Hwy of 700mt, was at clear odds with the stated traffic queue length in the expert reports of 188mt (GTA Report) or 216mt (Cardno Report). We all know that queue often extends to Glenfern Rd. (If you're keen to look at the expert reports you can find them here.)

Claire went on to highlight the operation of Sandells and McNicol Roads and how they impact on Burwood Highway, in particular turning movements. Of particular note was her commentary around the design and location of the disabled car park which doesn't meet the Australian Standards for design.

Tribunal Member Carew was keen to know what the best time to visit the site was during the week, so Tribunal Members could see the area at peak time. It's good to know that tribunal members will be going out on a weekday.
Tribunal Member Rundell (Chair) was keen to explore if Burwood Highway has met its peak capacity.

Next speaker for the day was Zoe Glen-Norman, a young person, who spoke about growing up in Tecoma and how that resonates with her sense of identity and place. She talked about how the development would be an assault on identity for Tecoma.

Tribunal Member Rundell said it was very pleasing to see young people participating in the VCAT process.

Nearby neighbour Judy Woolf spoke next. Mentioning many issues, Judy also focussed on the accident data for this stretch of Burwood Hwy that she'd obtained from Victoria Police. In the past 5 years, there's been 30 reported traffic accidents, 8 of them personal injury, one of those a fatality, although the McDonalds Cardno report failed to report any fatalities. 

Next up, local Davey Heller spoke. His submission raised many issues including amenity and character, litter, light and noise. As local who uses McNicol Rd regularly as a driver and pedestrian he described his day to day experience where he approaches the turn right out of McNicol Rd 'with trepidation'.

Barbara Smith talked about the constraints of topography, the village character of Tecoma and the negative impact the development would have on Tecoma. 

The last submitter before lunch was Jamie Walvisch, a qualified lawyer, he put forward a compelling range of reasons why the development shouldn't proceed based on comprehensive research of many past tribunal decisions. He went into much detail about the planning scheme including the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Regional Strategy Plan.

Tribunal Member Rundell asked Jamie about the balancing act between the Business 1 zone and the character attributes and sense of place of Tecoma. Jamie answered the mere fact that the site is zoned Business 1 doesn't mean that the same intensity applies across all Business1 zones in the Shire at the same rate. Making the point it's about the context of the location, not just the zoning.

Jamie raised a full quota of issues, character, noise, detriment, transformation, safety, built form, tourism, landscape, sense of place, amenity. He said the development was the antithesis of what the Dandenongs are about.

After lunch, local artist Joy Serwylo, read a poem especially written for the hearing, Hambuggery. In true Joy style, she delivered it with heart and a little bit of tongue in cheek and after a heavy morning of submissions we were all happy for a bit of light relief.

Brian Gibb, a behavioural scientist and academic, gave a very interesting submission on character and 'brand character' as a set of mental associations and went on to talk about the special nature of the hills. At the point of his presentation where he was talking about the brand character of McDonalds (which is largely negative according to Brian), the McDonalds legal team interjected and urged the Tribunal members to consider the timetable of the hearing and the expedition of the balance of submitters to allow commencement of expert witnesses.

Tribunal Member Rundell said he was cognisant of the commitment made by Deputy President Gibson for the community to have 3 days to present, and he wanted to be fair to all parties and asked Brian to bring character back to built form.

Brian talked about the negative brand character of the applicant and how that clashes with the special character of the hills and how it was inconsistent with the community's aspirations.

Next was Karl Williams, who prosecuted a long case around how the proposal would not contribute to the Net Community Benefit test. He presented a detailed case as to why Tecoma is different and why the test of net community benefit needs to be demonstrably high for Tecoma.  Karl's creative telling of a 'tale of two suburbs', Hallam and Tecoma effectively demonstrated core community values and character. He highlighted the long history of conservation of the Dandenongs which began as early as 1882.

Karl recounted evidence presented in other McDonald's cases at VCAT where it had been asserted that McDonalds provide a net community benefit as they provide a service for the community. Karl went into much detail about the losses the community would experience from the development which ranged from health and wellbeing, odour, drive through impacts, in situ on a ridgeline, noise, lighting, tourism, gateway impacts, litter, neighbourhood character, amenity, wildlife disturbance, signage, going into particular detail about the 5.25mt sign on the rear of the building, scale and intensity.

The last speaker for the day was Tim Richard-West, Vice President of the Tecoma Primary School Council. School Principal, Rohan Thompson, was in the gallery along with other school councillors.  Tim's submission spoke about concern for student safety and he raised the recent Woodville McDonalds decision in which a significant factor was the failure to separate pedestrians and vehicles, something that this application replicates.

Tim also articulated concerns around safety, congestion, fumes, noise, intensity, vandalism, graffiti and litter. He spoke about the school's no rubbish policy, healthy eating policy and it's culture and values based on social responsibility and environmental awareness.

The most telling part of Tim's presentation was around enrolment figures for next year. Many parents are concerned about the McDonalds development and should the proposal go ahead it will affect their decision to enrol at Tecoma Primary School.

This year there's 56 students in prep at Tecoma Primary, next year there's only 26 confirmed enrolments, that's over half a loss of enrolments and equates to one or more class sizes, the consequences for the school concerning.

Tim ended by asking Tribunal Members to take these concerns into consideration. It was a very telling way to end day three.

It was a big day, with 11 community members submitting, I couldn't help but be inspired by their creativity, commitment and passion for our local area. There's another eight community submitters tomorrow, then we're on to expert witnesses for McDonalds.

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At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds so good well done everyone sorry can't be there today working see you on friday regards Ros

At 6:50 PM, Anonymous said...

once again Sam I am impressed with your amazing thorough account of what went on today....thanks so much and I wait to see how things go....I am impressed with everyone who has presented so far and certainly hope commonsense prevails....once more.....

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Liga said...

Thank you for your efforts everyone! I am not able to be there, so I especially understand that not everyone can come and contribute, but if you weren't there to do what you are doing, there would be no one fighting, no one speaking for what the community thinks. You are vital, you are appreciated, and you are the only ones who can provide the hills perspective. Thank you for being our community voice!!!


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