After the recent good news of land purchased by Moreland Council, we report a loss at VCAT.
In July 2018 the Friends of Merri Creek appeared at VCAT, strongly represented by their planning consultant for the case, Dr Stephen Rowley. Melbourne Water is planning to sell off Merri Creek land, land designated part of the Merri Creek Marran Baba Parklands.
This ‘surplus’ land, at the rear of an industrial property in Trawalla Ave, Thomastown, is part of an original floodplain reserve owned by Melbourne Water. Over a number of years it was improperly occupied, filled and built on by the adjacent landowners, previous and current. Whittlesea City Council had decided in favour of issuing a permit to the adjoining landowners and so the FoMC applied for a VCAT review of the case.
Despite its modified condition there is no reason it can’t be ecologically restored, as has been achieved for many formerly degraded areas along Merri Creek.
They argued that the removal of land from the Merri Creek corridor for industrial purposes is fundamentally at odds with planning policy and compromises the planned future enhancement of this stretch of the creek. Unfortunately this appeal was unsucessful.
Since then the FoMC and MCMC have written to the Minister for Planning urging that an alternative solution to the rezoning and sale of the land be sought, such as the compromise to lease the land for a fixed period before it is rehabilitated and returned to the public realm. The land needs to be rezoned to industrial zone before it can be sold.
Failing this, both organisations have asked that the anticipated rezoning of the ‘surplus’ land be subject to a public planning scheme amendment and public hearing, rather than being fast-tracked by the Minister. If the latter occurs there’ll be no opportunity for public input on the rezoning. The original decision to declare the land ‘surplus’ was not a public process and Melbourne Water has not convincingly demonstrated why the land is ‘surplus’.
You can read the VCAT decision here.
Image: Galada Tamboore, part of the Marran Baba Parklands. MCMC
Click through for the latest FoMC media release.
Coming up on 10 November.
A wonderful opportunity to be guided through some of the gems of the Merri Creek.
We will visit important sites for the conservation of the Merri’s ‘Secret Seven’ rare plants and explore significant vegetation along the Say G’day trail near the Merri’s headwaters at Heathcote Junction. You will learn about threats to the survival of the wild plants and about the reintroduction sites that will help secure their future on the Merri.
Lunch is provided, so let us know any dietary requirements on registration.
You’ll need to bring a personal water bottle, clothing appropriate to the weather and sturdy footwear. We will be walking across uneven ground for up to an hour.
Not suitable for children under 12 years old.
This expedition has been funded by a state government Biodiversity On-ground Action Community & Volunteer Action Grant to Friends of Merri Creek.
It is an opportunity to see where donations to the MCMC’s Merri Creek Environment Fund have been put to work, funding ecological restoration activities and the interpretative talk at the Say G’day site in the upper Merri.
After the successful Spry Street campaign another win!
The local community, Friends of Merri Creek (FoMC), Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) and the Fawkner Residents Association, encouraged Moreland Council to save another critical Merri Creek parcel of land from residential development.
Moreland Council’s offer to buy ‘surplus’ VicRoads land by Merri Creek at 106 McBryde St, Fawkner has been accepted and the land will be retained as public open space. It is actively used by the community and wildlife and has great potential for open space improvement. VicRoads wanted to rezone the majority of the parcel and sell it for residential development.
Our sincere thanks to Moreland Council who responded to the community’s vigorous opposition to the sell off of this land and successfully negotiated a purchase price. Read the background on the issue here.