The Victorian Government is proposing changes to Melbourne’s much-loved Green Wedges WITHOUT wide community consultation. Do you remember the 1994 community-based High Court challenge to stop legislation allowing a Japanese downhill ski development on Mt Stirling, linking it via chairlift to Mt Buller?
The wider Victorian community of the nineties valued the natural and cultural heritage of the Mt Stirling high country.
They did not want a downhill ski resort there and they were concerned about the impact on water quality for downstream residents.
The Government wanted to maximise economic returns from the snowfields.
When informed at a concerned public meeting that the Government was due to legislate to allow the development, the community organised an immediate High Court injunction.
Finally, after an Environmental Effects Statement, an independent inquiry ruled against the development – in 1997.
The Baillieu Government is proposing to significantly expand the types, and size, of developments in the Green Wedge.
For example, two houses will be allowed on every residential block near the Warrandyte Village – without any planning notification to neighbours or ability to appeal to VCAT.
The Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) believes their Green Wedge community is facing a huge threat and at very short notice it arranged a public demonstration from concerned residents on the Warrandyte Bridge last Thursday morning.
This article appeared in Monday’s Age newspaper.
The changes will drastically change the environmental amenity and neighbourhood character of Warrandyte and directly contradict the recommendations of the Bushfire Royal Commission to:
‘Substantially restrict new developments and subdivisions in those areas of highest risk in the Bushfire-prone Overlay’
Lady Hamer, wife of former Liberal Premier Sir Rupert Hamer who established the Green Wedges has spoken out against the proposed changes.
Local planning should be encouraging greater population density in well-serviced areas, BUT there should be a broad-based community discussion about HOW to achieve this.
Planning in the US has increased density by encouraging couples/singles living in large family homes to divide their houses into 2 or more homes.
This approach would meet recommendations for fire prone areas AND preserve the Warrandyte amenity. It could also have social spin-offs in terms of social inclusion for the elderly and child-care opportunities.
We DO need to discuss this Mr Baillieu.