Boronia and The Basin Community News

PROPOSED LAND DEVELOPMENT
AT 40 MOUNTVIEW ROAD, BORONIA
also known as
BORONIA HEIGHTS MEMORIAL PARK

STATE GOVERNMENT INFORMATION - TWO SECTIONS

1) 20 March 2023
Information from Jackson Taylor, local State MP, and from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Information from Jackson Taylor, local State MP.

The site is the former secondary school, as you’d know, and was deemed surplus to requirement some years ago. It’s not a memorial park – I think this may refer to the ANZAC Memorial that’s located on the grounds which will be retained, along with a significant portion of remnant vegetation when the site is developed. Either way, it isn’t, nor has it ever been, a park.

The site will be part of the State Government’s Inclusionary Housing Pilot, one of six sites as part of the housing pilot project which is helping to put a roof over the heads of people who need it most.

(more info: planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/housing-strategy/inclusionary-housing-pilot)

 

… I’ll also take the opportunity to forward your request for information onto the Minister’s office, and request someone from their media team reach out to speak with you in greater detail on this one.

Information from Siobhan McKenna, Media Adviser, Environment, Land, Water and Planning

The development of the former school site at Mount View Road Boronia as a pilot project for inclusionary housing, including social, affordable and market housing, has been rezoned through a public advisory committee process. The site is not a park and has been zoned for residential uses since 2018.

The committee recommended that concept plans for the site retain native vegetation in designated protection areas, and also recognise and retain if possible an ANZAC memorial that was built by the school.

These recommendations are contained in the new planning provisions that will guide development of the site.

2) 8 JUNE 2023
Information from Isobel Loschiavo, Media Advisor, Treasury

Quotes attributable to a Government spokesperson

“We know how necessary accessible and affordable housing is – which is why the delivery of this project in a well located area, 2km from the Boronia Station and adjacent to a bus stop will make an important contribution to the existing community and supply of new homes.”

“The former Boronia Heights School site is part of our Inclusionary Housing Pilot – which will create up to 100 new social housing homes in liveable communities across six sites.”

“We thank the community for their feedback provided on the Boronia Heights School site when the rezoning of land went to public notice in 2017.”

Background

The former Boronia Heights school site at 40 Mount View Road, Boronia is part of the Labor Government Inclusionary Housing Pilot which will provide a minimum of 100 new social housing homes across six sites which will be delivered in partnership with a Registered Housing Agency.

The Minister for Planning is the Responsible Authority for the subject land under the Knox Planning Scheme. The land was rezoned from Public Use Zone to Neighbourhood Residential zone and introduced a number of overlays including a Development Plan Overlay (DPO14) in August 2018 via an amendment to the Knox planning scheme (C163knox)

Public notice of the rezoning of the land was undertaken in 2017 and 67 submissions were received and a public hearing was held on the 18 April 2018. Submitters raised issues relating to the protection of biological significance, habitat areas, scattered trees and the ANZAC memorial. The hearing report and Minister’s response can be found here:

https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/government-land-planning-service/site-list/site-list/knox/40-mount-view-road,-boronia

On 2 May 2023, a development plan was endorsed on the site under delegation by the Department of Transport and Planning. The development plan was considered to be consistent with DPO14.

The DPO14 includes consideration of firebreaks (as appropriate) protection of habitat zones and contribution to open space. The DPO14 does not specify density requirements however outlines parameters for considering the areas which can be developed, for example limiting development to parts of the land beyond habitat zones and scattered trees (which is achieved by the approved Development Plan).

The site is still required to obtain a planning permit prior to the commencement of works.

Isobel Loschiavo

Media Adviser – Treasury

 Office of the Premier of Victoria
Level 1, 1 Treasury Place, East Melbourne VIC 3002

m: 0431 963 479

e: isobel.loschiavo@minstaff.vic.gov.au

LETTERS FROM READERS

19 August 2023
Carmel Feeney

The debate regarding the site of the former Boronia Heights Secondary College merits our attention and robust public debate. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve precious green space and address climate change through positive action in Knox.

The site may have been deemed “surplus to requirement” (Jackson Taylor, 20 March 2023) by the Department of Education. However, from an environmental and human wellbeing perspective, it is essential to requirement – for its capacity to foster health and wellbeing, to nurture and protect local biodiversity and address climate change. By developing this site as ‘green lungs’, we avoid the urban heat island that 145 houses, roads and paths on this one site will generate.

It is true that everyone deserves a place to call home (Matt Harris, 10 July 2023). Humans have disrespected our own home, earth, and need to find a better way to respect the environment in which we live. One way to do this is to place housing in more appropriate spaces and nurture and protect habitats for birds, animals and plants. To clarify, the proposed development of 145 houses at 40 Mountview Road Boronia not only contravenes City of Knox’s planning scheme for the
Foothills Policy (in which this site sits), it is almost 6 times the density permitted in a policy designed to protect this area.

Let’s continue to debate for it is indicative of a healthy, democratic society.  We can also add actions to our words by visiting the site and seeing the human and environmental potential of this open space. It is this potential and vision that is encapsulated by it being called “Boronia Heights Memorial Park”. As Melbourne’s population grows and housing density increases, green islands within a sea of bricks and asphalt become more and more important. Housing is essential – so too is open space in which people of all ages can freely exercise, relax and interact.

10 JULY 2023
Matt Harris

I wanted to take a moment to address the ongoing community debate surrounding the Mount View Road Development.

While it is my understanding that the proposed plan appears to align with Knox’s planning scheme, it is important that we approach this discussion with respect for the diverse viewpoints and concerns held by our fellow community members.

In doing so, we must always keep in mind what an extraordinary privilege it is to live in such a remarkable part of the world. Our community is something truly special, and it is our duty to ensure that what it offers is shared with others.

Nevertheless, I must express my profound disappointment with the recent language used by the Knox Mayor. Implying that people in need of a home would be “dumped” onto this site is deeply troubling. It runs counter to the principles of compassion and empathy that I think we should uphold. We must recognise that everyone deserves a safe and dignified place to call home – and we should welcome any efforts to make that a reality for more people.

Our local area is not just a place to live; it is a community that thrives on the strength of its people. The Mount View Road site’s location is within walking distance of Alchester Village, businesses at The Basin and Boronia, GP clinics, pharmacies, schools, sports clubs, and childcare facilities. I firmly believe that there is ample room for more people, from all walks of life, to benefit from the
incredible opportunities our community has to offer – just as we do now.

I accept that there’s a different view to mine, but I believe that we can use this opportunity to build a more inclusive community. We should strive to create a society where everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, can find a home, support, and the chance to thrive. Building more homes on this site, including more social housing, helps us move in that direction.

In solidarity,

Matt Harris
Boronia

Reference for Mayor’s remarks here and attached:
https://www.knox.vic.gov.au/whats-happening/news/secret-plan-boronia-heights-misses-mark

18 March 2023
Letter from "Friends for
Boronia Heights Community Park"

Boronia Bushland at the Foothills of Dandenong Ranges – Slated for High Density Development

A secret garden? In Boronia? Surely not. Yet located at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges at 40 Mount View Road, nestled between two busy roads, Mount View Rd. and Harcourt Rd. (that run into an already congested Albert Ave), there is a very special and unique area of native flora and fauna – a green haven comprising 8 hectares. The benefits this former school site offers the local community are countless and invaluable. The locals call it the Boronia Heights Memorial Park. It is the only green space available locally, where the community can meet, where dog owners can stroll leisurely with their pets, and families can come to enjoy a picnic. It is where people can connect with nature and feel at peace, away from the bustle of daily life, listening to bird calls and watching them in flight. It’s a place where children can and do play outdoors rather than squint at screens. Importantly, it is also a historic site – with an ANZAC mural and a tree which has direct links with Gallipoli’s Lone Pine.

Unfortunately, the State government – rather than preserving this precious green space – has plans for a high-density housing development, comprising 150 buildings. Knox Council has declined to buy the land. This seems extremely shortsighted, given the disastrous effects of climate change already experienced globally and the loss of nature reported in the Australian State of the Environment Report last year and the UN Biodiversity Report released in December 2022, which warns of the perilous loss of nature and extinction of species worldwide. We are killing our home – Mother Earth. Shamefully, Australia has the greatest extinction rate of fauna and flora in the world, and experts are warning us about the increasing dangers and costs of further loss of nature and are urging the reversal of such loss – compounded by the effects of climate change, created by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the destruction of ecologically significant areas.

The State government currently owns the land and has contracted with a developer to construct housing, including a small number of social housing. Over the past few years since the school was closed and relocated this land has been neglected – and worse. Following representations by the community, in particular, by Knox Environment Society, the State Govt committed to preserving 25% of the land as Habitat Protection Zones. Unfortunately, State contractors have reduced and damaged part of those Zones. To add insult to injury, ugly and high fencing has now been erected by the State government – supposedly to protect the Zones – but instead – has been erected in places that are unconnected to the Zones – and, rather than protect the Zones from further destruction, have blocked public access.

We have our own vision for this very special and unique place in our community. This includes walking and bike paths, revegetation with native species and a small amphitheater for plays and concerts. Our predecessors were wise enough to plan extensive parks for inner Melbourne, and the former school site, now enjoyed by the local human and animal community alike, is irreplaceable – and priceless. Not only providing a haven, it serves as a carbon sink (taking the nasties out of the air and providing cleaner air), helping to create a micro-climate for the surrounding area, mitigating some of the extremes of winter and summer.

This little oasis, ringed predominantly by single-storied houses, is protected from the noise and effects of passing traffic. It is a safe place for all, including the wildlife that populates this little gem of the Dandenong foothills. It is home to a myriad of birds and their songs, a veritable orchestra that promotes mental wellbeing. It is home to possums and echidnas, pollinating insects and teeming with micro- organisms. It is home to a number of birds including King Parrots, Tawny Frogmouth, Kookaburras and, in wetter months, waterbirds.

We have only a once in a lifetime chance of saving this precious local asset from turning into an urban jungle and urban heat island, which will create more noise, more pollution, more traffic chaos with resulting health issues and impacting surrounding neighborhoods. We have already lost far too much of our precious bushland and wildlife. This is where the line must be drawn: The time to act to save this precious land is now.

We believe that surveying for utilities is currently being completed for the development to proceed. We urge all to come and visit this beautiful site and experience what it has to offer and imagine all that it could be as a park for the people. We call on the community to urge the State to reverse the decision to develop this priceless oasis. We ask everyone who has already enjoy the serenity of the park and new/prospective visitors alike to contact their local community leaders, including members of the local and state governments, and the Planning and Environment Ministers. (Planning Minister: The Hon. Sonya Kilkenny MP: 03 9773 2727; sonya.kilkenny@parliament.vic.gov.au and Environment Minister: Ingrid Stitt MLC 03 7022 2000; Ingrid.Stitt@parliament.vic.gov.au ).

Once it is gone – it will be gone forever. To destroy this precious piece of paradise would be an absolute tragedy – for the community and future generations – human and our animal friends alike. Is that to be our legacy?

HW Zander on behalf of Friends for Boronia Heights Community Park.

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

17 April 202
Marion Tremlett

Editorial Note:

Jackson Taylor, local State MP, had a discussion with the writer following publication, clarifying some issues with her.

It should be noted that State Government decisions about the former school site were made before Jackson Taylor was elected to parliament.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This proposal is an abomination, and it goes directly against the will of the local community.
Jackson Taylor, I am ashamed of you, saying it is primarily intended to provide housing for needy people. What rubbish! Only a very small portion is allocated for social housing, and you well know it! This is just another big money-making exercise on behalf of the developers, and you, as our government representative, are prepared to sacrifice the wellbeing of residents to accommodate the big buck.
Jackson, why don’t you listen to your constituents for once? We, the community who actually live in Boronia, want it left alone for the current and future generations to enjoy. You want it covered in concrete for ever.
You claim to be passionate about being a ‘voice for your community’. Let’s see you live up to that stance. Do your job and represent the views of the people who voted for you, or get out!
Kind regards

1 JUNE 2023
Carmel Feeney

I wish to submit the following letter in response to that written byMarion Tremblett in the May issue of Boronia and The Basin Community News:

The former Boronia Heights Secondary College site is referred to as Boronia Heights Memorial Park as a means of inspiring what this former Education Department site could become. For years, since this green haven has been used as a de facto park by local residents and as a home by wildlife.
Instead of being part of Tranche 11 (three government sites across Melbourne earmarked for private and social housing), it could be an oasis for people and nature. Whilst Jackson Taylor continues to espouse its virtues for social housing, in reality very little of the site will be given over for social housing. Most of the development isearmarked for market housing – they plan for around 150 houses to be built on the site. You can compare our vision for Boronia with the government’s plans for yourself. Go to the KES website
(https://www.kes.org.au/home/campaigns/boroniaheightssc)
and Victorian Government website
(https://engage.vic.gov.au/project/glsac/page/t11).
I ask, why won’t Jackson Taylor engage in genuine conversation with community representatives who have been trying to meet with him for years? Why won’t he listen to what we believe is needed in our area and show respect for our vision for Boronia? What aren’t we being told?

17 JUNE 2023
Doug Mason

Behind my back fence …

Doug Mason

is an 8 hectare property known as “40 Mount View Road”. Until 2015, the area belonged to Boronia Heights College. Many locals, included me, want it to be known as “Boronia Heights Memorial Park”. We want it to be developed as a facility for relaxation, exercise, learning, and pleasure. Much can be learned from the local Group’s presence at Facebook: www://facebook.com/SaveBoroniaHeights/

The College was operating when I came here in 2011. It was demolished in September 2015:

See picture of site being demolished.

While I wear my heart on my sleeve for the environmental development of the property, with its vegetation and its wildlife (at one time, I had an echidna in my garden), I am a realist. Political and financial factors weigh against the State Government changing its mind, and despite the voices, the government’s local representative maintains the State’s position.

Too many people have committed a lot of time, effort, and reputation on the proposed housing development. Could I see them pulling the pin and let years of effort be wasted? Would any of the people in power be prepared to openly admit they had made the wrong decision? Or would pride and reputation prevent such an admission? I am a pragmatist.

I hope and expect that if any housing development commences, that first the artificially built up “sports oval” be removed. Even with the slightest rain, it becomes an unstable boggy mess. Because the oval is built up, houses alongside it would lose their privacy. That would be irresponsible.

Locals have every right to know the property as “Boronia Heights Memorial Park” because it proudly boasts a memorial to the Anzacs and a tree from Lone Pine at Gallipoli.

See picture of memorial.