Boronia and The Basin Community News

Proposed Knoxfield Wetlands
- chronology of events

15 October 2020 DEVELOPMENT VICTORIA

Delivering the best environmental outcome – evidence base for the proposed Knoxfield Wetlands

Development Victoria has released a webinar and fact sheet detailing the options considered for the proposed wetland at the Knoxfield development site.

The proposed wetland will protect and enhance the natural habitat, including the endangered Blue-billed Duck, deliver an effective stormwater management solution to reduce the risk of flooding, be integrated into the overall development and safely accessible for the community where environmentally appropriate. 

Development Victoria obtained advice from expert ecologists and hydrologists to review the man-made dam and asked them to consider community safety, the ecological and environmental contribution of the dam, and other functional attributes required by the development when providing their expert opinion.

 “During the early planning process, we considered a range of options for the existing man-made dam on the site,” Manny Bikakis, Acting Group Head Property at Development Victoria said. 

We took into consideration its history, environmental values, functional attributes as well as the safety issues identified with the dam in its current state.

Our technical experts reviewed several options for the site which included retaining the existing man-made dam. Their advice concluded there were high risks involved in keeping the man-made dam, including flooding, safety and the impact on existing flora and fauna,” Mr Bikakis said.

We believe, based on the expert advice and evidence, our wetland proposal is the best outcome for the environment, stormwater management and the community.” 

View the webinar below and read the fact sheet outlining the wetland proposal options here.

The Knoxfield development is expected to commence construction in 2021 with construction of the wetland to be staged to allow for flora and fauna to migrate from the existing man-made dam to the new wetland habitat.

https://www.development.vic.gov.au/news/delivering-the-best-environmental-outcome-evidence-base-for-the-proposed-knoxfield-wetlands

This link has a dam and wetlands technical explanatory 16 minute video.

See also:

https://www.development.vic.gov.au/projects/knoxfield?page=overview

This link has 2.25 minute concept video.

See also:

https://www.development.vic.gov.au/news/engaging-with-our-community-on-knoxfield

Development Victoria plans for Knoxfield site now open for comment

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Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Council has received planning applications from Development Victoria, for a two stage subdivision (Application P/2021/6169) and construction of wetlands (Application P/2021/6170) at the former Department of Primary Industries site on the corner of Burwood Highway and Scoresby Road (621 Burwood Highway) in Knoxfield. 

It is proposed to subdivide the site and remove vegetation to create 105 lots and a wetland with cycling and walking tracks, open space areas and a bird lookout. The proposal also includes removal of a dam, often referred to as Lake Knox, once the new wetlands have been established.

The applications are now being advertised and interested parties can inspect the documents, including plans and reports, and lodge an objection, all via Council’s website.

Back in 2018 the Minister for Planning rezoned the land and changed some of the overlays in order to facilitate development of the surplus land for residential, commercial and retail purposes.

At the time Council made a submission to the rezoning process that called for the sensitive biodiversity on this site to be retained, protected, and enhanced. 

The submission highlighted the existing dam and recommended not changing the environmental significance overlay until the new wetland had been established.

Mayor Cr Susan Laukens said Council can only judge the planning permit applications according to the planning controls that now apply to that land.

There is significant community interest in this proposed redevelopment, and a real concern for some people in the community is the presence of Blue Billed Ducks, and whether the wetland will be suitable for them, what happens to them during construction and their wellbeing once the dam is removed,” Cr Laukens said.

We know that the community wants us to advocate for the conservation of the dam and the ducks.

We have very strict rules that apply to how we make planning decisions. If we don’t follow those rules our decision and any opportunity we have to influence a development application can be called into question and thrown out by VCAT or the Minister.

I’m pleased that Development Victoria has appointed an ecologist who is advising them about the ducks and the wetland. 

I really hope that our local state government representatives use their connections in the government to make sure the community is really listened to because this needs to be designed and managed very carefully,” she said.

The planning applications and supporting documents can be viewed here on Council’s website.

Tuesday, 13 December 2022 Knox City Council

Knoxfield development refused

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Council has refused two planning permit applications for Development Victoria’s proposed residential subdivision and construction of wetlands on the former Department of Primary Industries site at the corner of Burwood Highway and Scoresby Road (621 Burwood Highway) in Knoxfield.

Development Victoria proposed to remove vegetation and subdivide the site to create 105 lots and establish a wetland with cycling and walking tracks, open space areas and a bird lookout. Its proposal included removal of a dam, often referred to as Lake Knox, after the new wetlands were established.

Council’s grounds for refusal included the impact of the proposals on a site of biological significance, including impacts on the Blue-billed Duck (a vulnerable species) and potential impact on the Dwarf Galaxais fish (an endangered species).

Other grounds for refusal included the proposed extensive removal of native vegetation, failing to provide an appropriate or active interface to Scoresby Road and the extent of the residential subdivision encroaching into the designated Mixed Use area of the Comprehensive Development Plan.

Knox Mayor, Councillor Marcia Timmers-Leitch said the proposal had failed to balance development of the site with respecting its sensitive biodiversity.

The proposal will detrimentally impact protected species, particularly the Blue-billed Duck and possibly the Dwarf Galaxais, and Council is not convinced that the future habitat proposed for these species will be viable,” she said.

The proposal detrimentally impacts protected vegetation and will not provide an appropriate balance between the need for additional housing while respecting the existing ecology of the site, the surrounding area and Blind Creek corridor.

This proposal has received significant opposition and interest from the local community. Council received more than 1170 objections in total across both applications and these were carefully considered in reaching our decision.”

https://www.knox.vic.gov.au/whats-happening/news/knoxfield-development-refused

Development Victoria appeals Knoxfield decision

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Thursday, 2 February 2023

Development Victoria (DV) is lodging an appeal against Council’s refusal to grant two planning permits for its proposed Knoxfield development.

In December, Council refused two planning permit applications for DV’s proposed 105-lot residential subdivision and construction of wetlands at the corner of Burwood Highway and Scoresby Road (621 Burwood Highway). Its proposal included the removal of a dam, often referred to as Lake Knox, after the new wetlands were established.

DV will lodge applications with the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to review Council’s decisions.

Council received more than 1170 objections in total across both applications to DV’s proposals.

DV will also appeal to VCAT for another application currently with Council to build an access road off Burwood Highway that would support construction access.

Objectors will be notified by DV, outlining what they need to do to become a party to the VCAT appeals.

Council’s grounds for refusal included the impact of the proposals on a site of biological significance, including impacts on the Blue-billed Duck (a vulnerable species) and potential impact on the Dwarf Galaxais fish (an endangered species).

Other grounds included the proposed extensive removal of native vegetation, failing to provide an appropriate or active interface to Scoresby Road and the extent of the residential subdivision encroaching into the designated Mixed Use area of the Comprehensive Development Plan.

https://www.knox.vic.gov.au/whats-happening/news/development-victoria?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Weekly%20News&utm_content=Weekly%20News+CID_b1040b902f76b0be8914e18fcd2705af&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=Development%20Victoria%20appeals%20Knoxfield%20decision

 

Letter to BBCN from Anne Morton, Knox Environment Society, info@kes.org.au, 15 July 2023

Save Lake Knox from being destroyed to make yet another high-volume housing estate

The Knox Environment Society (KES) is challenging Development Victoria in court in a few short weeks in a last-ditch attempt to save the Lake from being trashed to make room for yet another high-volume housing estate.

What is Lake Knox?

Lake Knox is a deep-water lake in the heart of Knox. Part of the open land on the corner of Burwood Highway and Scoresby Road, Lake Knox is located close to the Blind Creek Trail. Acting for the State Government, Development Victoria intends to fill in Lake Knox so that they can build a medium-density housing development onsite. The Development Victoria proposal would disturb and destroy the home of endangered species.

Selling Off Threatened Habitat

The current proposal will see crucial deep-water habitat for the Blue-billed Duck lost. This duck is listed as endangered in Victoria, and the government’s own action statement for the duck recommends ensuring important breeding sites are secured from further environmental degradation, as well as protecting, enhancing and restoring key sites in parks, reserves and on private land.

Lake Knox is a deep-water lake with its surrounds covered with native plants, including rare and endangered species. Those plants form the base of the food chain for the rest of the wetland organisms, from invertebrates to frogs, to fish and waterbirds.

As well, Lake Knox is one of the few breeding places left for the threatened Blue-billed Duck. As these ducks require a large, deep body of water for their habitat requirements, they will not return once the lake is infilled to become a stormwater and runoff wetland.

But what does Development Victoria want to do? They want to overturn Knox Council’s decision to reject their application for an intensive housing development. 

They’re appealing to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to allow them to infill the lake to make room for a smaller storm water management system as part of the new housing development. It will mean losing this irreplaceable biodiversity forever. 

The irony is that Development Victoria have stated in their own biodiversity assessments that Lake Knox is of ‘high habitat significance’. Instead of honouring their pledges to protect areas of high significance, they’re siding with large developers.

But not if we can stop it!  KES is a group of concerned citizens who have launched a crowdfunding campaign to save this precious ecosystem. Please visit our website at https://www.kes.org.au/home/campaigns/lakeknox for more information or to help us to challenge the government’s appeal at VCAT by making a donation.

Anne Morton

Knox Environment Society

info@kes.org.au

See also the KES petition:

https://www.kes.org.au/home/campaigns/lakeknox

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