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Major upgrade for Jumping Creek Road

AFTER 17 RECORDED vehicle crashes in four years, Manningham Council began the process for a major upgrade to Jumping Creek Road in July 2016.

At an estimated cost of $17.9M and a construction period of six years, works are scheduled to begin in 2018, after the next fire danger period has ended and assuming the necessary permits have been issued.

An important link road between Warrandyte and the Yarra Valley, the road also gives access to the only river crossing with 10 kilometres for Wonga Park and the surrounding area.

Manningham Council estimates Jumping Creek Road currently carries more than 8000 vehicles per day, a number which is expected to of doubled by 2035.

Taking into account the number of accidents on this important artery, Manningham believe the road, which is already failing to keep drivers safe will be unable to accommodate a major increase in traffic without an upgrade.

The works will include roadway realignment, roundabouts, emergency vehicle stopping bays and a shared pedestrian/cycling path which will run the entire length of Jumping Creek Road between Wonga Park and Warrandyte.

This last adjustment will deliver greater accessibility to the Wonga Park community as well as improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

As part of the development process, Manningham Council have formed the Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel, a panel which consists of residents, businesses and community groups which are directly affected by Jumping Creek Road.

Mr Leigh Harrison, Director of Assets and Engineering for Manningham Council spoke to the Diary, explaining the role the panel will play in the forthcoming upgrade.

“The Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel will provide an important and long term opportunity for the community to highlight issues, queries and provide feedback on proposals to upgrade Jumping Creek Road.

“[The panel] will also help guide the materials and finishes, path widths, replanting opportunities, fauna crossings, street lighting, pedestrian crossing locations, non-regulatory signage, roadside aesthetics, emergency stopping bay locations, the Dudley Road/Yarra Road/Jumping Creek Road intersection surface treatment and the extent and nature of equestrian treatments,” he said.

Residents will get the opportunity to express their thoughts on the road upgrade via the Community Reference Panel, as well as via the Manningham “Your Say” page.

However, one major concern will be traffic congestion.

The Diary asked Mr Harrison what steps have been taken to minimise further congestion to an already heavily congested area.

“The key objectives of this project are to improve safety for all users, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and to accommodate the forecasted increase in traffic volumes — which is expected to double to 15,000 vehicles per day by 2035.

“During our consultation process, concerns were raised about traffic congestion at the Jumping Creek Road and Homestead Road intersection — located on the municipal boundary between the Shire of Yarra Ranges and the City of Manningham.

“Council is working with the Shire of Yarra Ranges to address resident concerns regarding this intersection.

“Some traffic disruption during works of this scale is unavoidable,” he said.

Jumping Creek Road Upgrade plan courtesy of the Manningham “YourSay” page

What will CFA changes mean for Warrandyte?

THE VICTORIAN Government has announced sweeping changes to the fire services which will split the CFA, and while it fundamentally will have no impact on the business of putting out fires, there will be a big change in the way CFA brigades operate behind the scenes.

A joint statement issued by Premier Daniel Andrews and Emergency Services Minister, James Merlino,  said Victoria has some of the best firefighters in the world, however they currently operate under systems and structures that have not changed since the 1950s.

“These important changes will deliver more modern fire services for a growing Victoria, making our state even safer”, said Mr Merlino.

Emergency Services commissioner, Craig Lapsley spoke to the Diary to reassure local residents and CFA volunteers the change for the community would be seamless.

“We have 1220 CFA stations now, and we will have 1220 when this is implemented,” he said.

CFA staff such as those at South Warrandyte will combine with MFB firefighters to form the newly created Fire Rescue Victoria, while CFA volunteers will remain with the CFA, which will return to being a volunteer focused organisation.

“It will still be local people going to local incidents… the same vehicles will be in the same stations, it is just that the signs out the front will be different” he said.

South Warrandyte Station as an integrated station will remain the same, but will have two signs, one representing the FRV staff and the other representing the CFA volunteers.

The situation for other roles within CFA — such as regional managers and staff, community education, trainers, mechanics, fire investigators — is a slightly more complicated issue.

“Operational staff at a Regional level will be employed by FRV but will be tasked to the CFA, however certain administration and technical staff will remain covered by the CFA’s [Professional Technical & Administrative] PTA employment agreement,” Mr Laspley said.

The Commissioner assured the Diary the boundaries between metropolitan and country areas will remain the same, however the Andrews Government has flagged the establishment of a Fire District Review Panel which will conduct future reviews of the boundary between fire services, based on population growth, urban development and the volume of Triple Zero calls.

When the Diary asked about the rumours generated by a photograph published in the Herald Sun showing Warrandyte was being considered for inclusion in FRV, Commissioner Lapsley said there were “no immediate plans to put staff into Warrandyte”.

He said that the position paid fire fighters in South Warrandyte, Eltham and Templestowe gave enough coverage to support the retention of a volunteer-only station at Warrandyte.

“South Warrandyte are getting into Yarra Street in 8-10 minutes”, he said.

Commissioner Lapsley said one of the most important consideration is to ensure surge capacity in times of major incident is protected, and that means ensuring we retain the State’s 50,000 volunteers.

Local member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith is not so optimistic, and said volunteer retention at integrated stations may not be so easy.

“Sooner or later if you have 20 or so career firefighters there, volunteers aren’t going to get there for a call out and it’ll get to the point that they don’t want to be there to wash the trucks once a week”, Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith is concerned that if volunteers are not given respect they will not be there in times of calamity to provide the needed surge capacity.

“I can’t see anyone but the die-hard volunteers committing to the training just for the sake of three or four callouts a year in those extreme circumstances.”

Peter De Maria, a career firefighter at South Warrandyte, said the feeling at the station was positive and the change was little more than a change of badge.

“It’s no different — really it is not going to change, we will still train with [the volunteers], it is just modernising the service for career staff… but for the community it is a win because they will get a better service,” he said.

Captain at North Warrandyte CFA, Mick Keating hopes the CFA will continue to support volunteer training and skills development.

“As long as they don’t make us a second rate service and say ‘you don’t need these courses, these trucks, this equipment’, we still have houses and big buildings to look after, we still have road accidents, none of that is going to change I just hope there is no change to any of the the training regime or the opportunities that are available to volunteers,” he said.

Captain of the Warrandyte brigade, Adrian Mullens said it was still too early to comment and would like to wait until the dust had settled on the announcement, but wanted to reassure the community that it would be “business as usual”.

“We are still going to service the community as we have for the last 79 years,” Mr Mullens said.

These reforms are currently before Parliament, and if passed, are expected to take two years to be fully implemented.

Ryan Smith is not convinced that the reforms have the community’s interests at heart.

“If it was driven for efficiencies or driven because the system was broken or to save money or whatever you could argue it was good for the community, but what you are going to be doing is basically breaking a community organisation that everyone rallies around…this is just a fix because every other way they wanted to support the UFU was blocked for various reasons — is it a win for the community? No – I think we will just end up missing something that we had,” he said.

The government has confirmed that, until June 2019, the funding for the changes will not impact on the Fire Services Property Levy, which is charged to property owners via council rates.

With this comes a promise that the existing Metropolitan Fire District Boundary will remain in place for the next two years — for the purpose of determining whether Metropolitan or CFA levy rates apply.

War Memorial shines as Warrandyte remembers

DAMP weather did not deter hundreds turning out for the Anzac Day memorial service this year at the Warrandyte RSL.
Some 150 people participated in the march from Whipstick Gully to the memorial at the RSL.
Lead by Ennio Torresan the march consisted of returned servicemen and women, their families, dignitaries and members of CFA, Scouts, Guides and local sporting groups.
The marchers were joined by an estimated 800 strong crowd to take part in the service around the memorial.
The address was conducted by John Byrne, who recalled the service of the late William Stringer who served in both World Wars, living in Warrandyte until his death at age 70 in 1965.
And what would Anzac Day be without the Bellbird Singers beautiful rendition of I am Australian and Barry Carozzi performing his haunting It’s Not a Soldiers Job to Question Why?
Following the requisite minute’s silence, wreaths were laid on the war memorial by local members of parliament Kevin Andrews and Ryan Smith along with representatives of other community groups and members of the public.
The memorial was vandalised on Sunday night prompting swift action by the community to restore the shrine in time for the Service.
Ryan Smith MP told the Diary he was inspecting the damage when he learned that the RSL was going to have to put on extra security to ensure the vandals did not return again before the service.
“I was lucky to be here at the right time because I was able to offer to pay half of the $700 costs of the added security which the RSL would otherwise have to find from their own pockets,” he said.
Warrandyte RSL President Hank Van de Helm thanked the community for the huge support that was given to the club after the desecration of the memorial.
Federal Minister Kevin Andrews said the act was “absolutely disgusting”.
“But the best answer to that is so many people turning out today,” he said.
Local Councillor Paul McLeish said he was “proud of the way the community came together to right a wrong”.
The restored memorial looked better than ever, so the silver linings from this despicable act were that Warrandyte’s war memorial received a face-lift and the RSL received that warm sense of community that rose from Warrandyte rallying together to erase the damage to our beloved institution.

Vandals fail to break Warrandyte’s spirit

THE WARRANDTYE community awoke to the sad news that the RSL memorial had been vandalised overnight.
The graffiti displayed the symbol for anarchy and the words “War is Murder”.
While vandalism is always a hurtful act, the defacing of the RSL’s war memorial on the eve of Anzac Day was felt particularly strong within the community.
The council were quick to act and soda-blasted the offending marks.
However, this process also strips the gold trim out of the words on the memorial.
Stephen Papal from Advanced Stone, a company that specialises in the making bespoke headstones and memorials, contacted the RSL directly to volunteer his company’s services and restore the memorial back to its former glory.
“I know what it’s like for RSLs and clubs to try and find the money to cover up something that’s been vandalised.
“I rang them because I knew they’d soda-blast it, the process should be to sand it and touch up where the graffiti has been.
“This will look magnificent tomorrow”, said Mr Papal.

Stephen and Ben Papal from Advanced Stone volunteering their services

Local Member of Parliament, Ryan Smith also visited the memorial to see the damage for himself and personally thank the men who had come out to undo the damage.
In an interview with the Warrandyte Diary, Mr Smith expressed his appal on last night’s criminal act.
“It’s just completely appalling that this has happened in Warrandyte, the vandals that did this — the very freedom that they are making a statement against were fought for by the people remembered at this memorial… that this has happened in Warrandyte is just disgraceful.”
Mr Henk Van Der Helm, President of the Warrandyte RSL stated: “We are pretty disgusted with this act but we’ve been able to clear it off”.
The Warrandyte RSL have decided to pay for security around the War Memorial tonight over concerns that the publicity that has been generated may encourage the “ratbags” to return.
Mr Van Der Helm is confident that the Anzac day ceremony will go ahead, as planned, tomorrow morning.
Victoria Police have issued a public appeal for information relating to the vandalism of the memorial, acting Sergeant Nick Bailey stated: “It’s sad to see this attempt to diminish the spirit of the ANZACs with this disrespectful act.”
If you have any information regarding last nights graffiti, please contact Crimestoppers on:
1800 333 000
Despite the attempts to deface the Warrandyte memorial, the RSL’s Anzac Day service will go ahead tomorrow morning, as planned.
The march will start from Whipstick Gully at 10:30am with a service to follow from 11am.

Pigeon Bank planning pain 

A storm is brewing in North Warrandyte after Nillumbik council granted planning approval for a residential building at 2 Pigeon Bank Road.

At a meeting of the Future Nillumbik committee on March 14, five out of seven councillors voted to approve the plans, going against the recommendation of the council planning department.

The land in question is a pristine, steep riverine bush-block in an extremely environmentally sensitive area.

Architect Phillip Mannerheim purchased the block in 2014 and has plans to build an eco-friendly sustainable home on it for his retirement.

The property is one of eight blocks in a low density or bush land residential street that is well serviced with existing infrastructure, including sealed road with reticulated water, power and sewerage.

There was just one objector, a neighbour, who was not objecting to the development but wanted better separation and screening from his property.

There are multiple parties both for and against this development.

Warrandyte Community Association

The Warrandyte Community Association distributed a flyer entitled Thin end of the green wedge at the Warrandyte Festival, which states:

  • The land is unique in having four distinct native plant communities supporting diverse wildlife populations.
  • The planning sets a disastrous precedent which could see the end of the “Green Wedge” as we know it.
  • The decision, against the recommendation of experienced Nillumbik Planning Officers to reject the planning application, will see the destruction of at least 746 trees to build a house and out-buildings on a ridge, creating a visual eyesore and threatening the nearby Koornong State Park bushland.
  • At 5.3 hectares, the block is smaller than the eight hectare minimum subdivision required under Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ) Schedule 3.
  • Clause 35.06 of Nillumbik’s own planning scheme requires use of land to protect and enhance the environmental and landscape value of the land — This proposal does the opposite.
  • Rural Conservation Zoning seeks to ensure that “the existing character, landscape quality, view-lines and other natural environmental characteristics of the area are protected and enhanced in an equitable and sustainable manner”.
  • The proposal also contravenes other clauses and overlays in the Nillumbik planning scheme.
  • The “Stranded Asset” argument, that a landowner has a reasonable right to build on such a site has no validity as RCZ zoning was introduced as early as 1973 and any land purchaser should conduct due diligence on any property before purchase.
  • The nearby Koornong land was purchased by the State in 1979 after an intensive campaign by the Warrandyte Environment League, supported by the Warrandyte Diary, to save it from destruction by inappropriate housing development.
  • Council has apparently identified about 700 similar undersized blocks which could be opened-up for development in Nillumbik.
  • This would destroy the Green Wedge and Nillumbik as “The Green Wedge Shire”.

Council planning department

The planning officers’ recommendation to councillors to refuse a permit is on the grounds that the proposal:

  • To use the land for a dwelling on a substandard sized lot is not consistent with the intended purpose and decision guidelines of the RCZ.
  • Does not seek to use the land to protect and enhance the environmental and landscape value of the site.
  • Is not consistent with clauses concerning green wedges, vision strategic framework, settlement and housing and rural land use.
  • Does not respond to the decision guidelines of the RCZ, and siting and design policy, for buildings and works in non-urban areas, due to the level of site disturbance required for the construction of the dwelling, and the associated conservation and environmental impacts.
  • Has not adequately responded to the objectives and decision guidelines of the bushfire management overlay and wildfire management policy as the development of the land; a dwelling will pose a threat to life and property, is inappropriately sited, requires an impractical level of maintenance — in light of the site’s topographical features — and is deemed unsafe.
  • Is not responsive to the objectives and decision guidelines concerning native vegetation in that the proposal has not adequately considered the role of native vegetation as both habitat, and playing a crucial role in minimising land degradation.
  • Has not adequately responded to the objectives and decision guidelines of the environmental significance overlay in terms of the potential to detrimentally impact on the environmental values of the land due to the proposed vegetation removal.
  • Will not result in an acceptable planning outcome as outlined in the decision guidelines having regard to the orderly planning of the area, the degree of fire hazard for the proposed development, the extent of vegetation proposed to be removed, and the potential land degradation and erosion.

Jane Ashton – Sugarloaf ward councillor

Jane Ashton was one of five councillors who supported the development. She spoke at length to the Diary, and these are her main points.

  • The decision was not made lightly; I did a considerable amount of research beforehand with regard to the design, the CFA reports and the environmental studies performed.
  • The block has a house number and kerbing for the driveway.
  • The Department of Environment and Land did not object and said the development “is not expected to have a significant impact on any rare or threatened species”.
  • The applicant commissioned 5 ecological surveys, has agreed to 4.5 ha becoming Bushland Conservation Zone and is providing $80,000 of offsets.
  • The applicant is an experienced architect.
  • He has designed an eco-friendly carbon-neutral home with a 10-star energy rating
  • The home has solar panels, a 500,000 litre water tank for bushfire survival and is recessed into the ground to minimise any visual impact and reduce the footprint substantially.
  • The application meets all bushfire risk management requirements and the design displays excellence in satisfying CFA requirements.
  • The block is very heavily treed having over 5,000 trees, many of which are small.
  • The 750 trees mentioned are mainly saplings and very immature trees with a girth less than 50cm, there are very few mature trees and no “significant” trees.
  • The number of mature trees impacted is likely to be less than 100 in total and, as with the other houses in the street, removal is necessary to provide a defendable space around the property.
  • The applicant has committed to connect to the sewer at considerable distance and expense, even though this is not a requirement.
  • The eight-hectare minimum lot size mentioned by critics is for subdivision planning only and is not relevant to this application as the area has already been subdivided.
  • Under RCZ Schedule 3, dwellings are not prohibited, the land is in private ownership and is not reserved for conservation purposes.
  • I firmly believe that we do not own the land, the land owns us; we are the guardians.
  • Friends of Nillumbik should embrace the applicant with open arms and help him tidy up the understory and remove the 17% of introduced species from his block.
  • I am of the opinion that the applicant will be an impeccable guardian of this precious land.

Friends of Nillumbik

This group’s latest bulletin states:

  • The permit approval undermines Green Wedge values and our Planning Scheme
  • The 5.3 hectares contains habitat of high conservation significance, almost a hectare of vegetation will be cleared including the loss of 746 trees.
  • A ridge top will be extensively cleared for the house so landscape values will be seriously degraded.
  • It is intended to use the land for rural residential purposes, a use at odds with its rural conservation zoning.
  • Councillor’s Brooker and Dumaresq opposed issuing the permit urging respect for our planning scheme.
  • This irresponsible council decision shows that the purpose of Nillumbik’s Green Wedge has been purposely questioned by councillors.

They have recently added the following comments:

  • Nillumbik was created to be “the conservation shire with the Green Wedge as its strategic focus”.
  • The bulk of Nillumbik’s Green Wedge was given protection under the Rural Conservation Zone (Schedule 3) of the Planning Scheme and the later placement of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) reinforced this demarcation separating planned residential land from rural land.
  • The government’s intention to protect our Green Wedge was given further emphasis when it required any rezoning proposal affecting Green Wedge land to be passed by both houses of the Victorian Parliament.
  • This permit application has brought into sharp focus the application of Nillumbik’s Scheme.
  • The north side of Pigeon Bank Road is outside the UGB, is zoned Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ3) and there is no mention of residential use in the zone purpose.
  • In fact for the RCZ it is all about protecting the natural environment, landscape, faunal habitat and cultural values including biodiversity of the area and ensuring that land use changes do not have an adverse impact on these.
  • The removal of close to a hectare of bushland, including the destruction of 746 trees and the clearing of a landscape-sensitive ridge top, is not consistent with these zone requirements.
  • It is up to a purchaser of land to consider all restrictions which may affect future plans; hence the need for a permit.

The landowner

Phillip Mannerheim spoke to the Diary and stated:

“This is to be a home for my retirement.

“I jumped through various hoops, hurdles, ecological surveys and assessments required by council, at considerable expense.

“At their suggestion, the plans have already been changed so as to relocate down from the ridge top and the driveway redesigned for fire truck access.

“It was therefore quite dismaying to receive a recommendation from the planning department which was totally negative, and amounted to a statement to the effect that this land was unsuitable for a building.

“I cannot understand why my block is being singled out for special treatment, as all the other blocks in the subdivision contain houses and the planning regulations have not changed.

“Fortunately, Mayor Peter Clarke, himself an architect and with considerable experience as a Councillor at Melbourne City, saw my point of view and four of the other six councillors agreed with him.

“I am trying here to achieve a 10-star energy rating with innovations such as tracking the sun, insulation, and recessing part of the home into the ground; all designed with world-leading conservation values in mind.

“I am surprised that so-called conservation and community groups would be against this development, when what I am proposing should set an example to Australia on how to build sensitively and efficiently in the bush while protecting and enhancing the environmental and landscape value of the land”.

Moving forward

Not being an original objector to the proposal Warrandyte Community Association is unable to lodge a direct case at VCAT.

However — as we go to press — we learn that it is considering whether as an “Affected Person”, it will apply to VCAT for leave under Section 82B of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to apply for a review of Nillumbik Council’s decision.