News

Nillumbik and Manningham Councils both tackle Green Wedge plans

Manningham’s C117 Planning Review published

THE REPORT from the independent Planning Panel enquiry into Manningham Council’s C117 Planning Scheme amendment has now been published.

The controversial amendment seeks to encourage tourist-related activities within the Green Wedge and had been the subject of a three-day hearing at Planning Panels Victoria in October at which many local individuals, community groups, businesses and the Council made presentations.

The Panel’s findings

The amendment proposes three related but potentially independent changes to clauses within the planning scheme.

The first of these is to change the Municipal Strategic Statement at Clause 21.07 to give greater support to tourism in the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ).

The panel threw this change out, and recommended that changes to this clause be abandoned.

Changes to Clause 22.19 propose to allow outbuildings and sheds in the RCZ to the same extent as currently applies to the Low Density Residential Zone.

The panel found that these were reasonable.

The new local policy at Clause 22.20 intends to provide more guidance for non-residential land use applications in the RCZ, covering design, location and scale of new buildings.

The panel found that this clause provided useful guidance to applicants, but had some trouble with the wording and suggested improvements.

The Panel concluded that “the broader policy position to support more tourism in the Green Wedge is contrary to sound planning and runs counter to the purposes of the RCZ.”

However, it conceded that many of the issues with this broader policy position were beyond the scope of the Panel.

Community reaction

The Wedge Tails website, sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Association, the Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group describes the Panel’s report as “a major win for community involvement and for the values of the Green Wedge in the face of the usual commercial pressures.

“It is also evidence that the system can work as we would want it to.

“The Panel left no doubt that it understood the essential purposes of the Rural Conservation Zone and of the Green Wedge generally.”

Friends of Warrandyte State Park were delighted with the outcome of the panel hearing.

Lynda Gilbert said “FOWSP have been engaged in a number of environmental battles with other like-minded community groups to save the Green Wedge because there are so few places close to the city where humans can observe the wildlife and admire the flora in its natural state.

“There are some 24 restaurants and cafes in Warrandyte already, as well as several B&Bs and a caravan park nearby in Deep Creek, so we do not need any more development as it will severely impact on the habitat for our flora and fauna.

“Our only hope is that Manningham City Council accepts the Panel’s decision.”

Jamie Day, who is seeking to promote an eco-friendly low-impact tourist camping facility at Pound Bend said “I find it disappointing that it seems, in regard to tourism related business activity within the RCZ, the status quo might remain; that would restrict business activity that could be complementary to the area.”

Others who gave evidence at the panel hearing in favour of the amendment were approached for comment, but declined to say anything at this stage.

What happens next?

We now await the response of Manningham Council to the Panel’s report.

Lee Robson, Acting Director of City Planning and Community at Manningham Council told us “Council received the Independent Panel Report for Amendment C117 (Rural Areas Discretionary Land Uses) on December 19, 2018.

“The Report was made available to the public on Council’s website on January 8 this year and Council will consider the Panel’s recommendations at its Council Meeting on February 26, 2019.”

Manningham Council could choose to abandon the entire amendment, or they could put the amendment forward to the Minister for Planning either as it is or including some or all of the Panel’s recommendations.

The final decision will rest with the Minister.

For more information about the C117 amendment and a link to the Planning Panel report: yoursaymanningham.com.au/C117

Nillumbik Council divided over Green Wedge Management Plan

NILLUMBIK Council’s meeting on December 18 continued to run what appears to be a bunfight between Friends of Nillumbik in the one corner and Nillumbik Proactive Landowners Group (PALs)in the other.

As we reported in the December issue a community panel of 39 members had produced a 64-page Community Engagement Report to Nillumbik’s Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) of which 32 pages were the majority report, and a further 32 pages were a dissenting Minority Report, prepared by five resident hobby farmer panel members.

Because the full panel did not see and was unaware of this content Mayor Karen Egan determined it would not be considered by Council.

PALs have responded, saying the half of the report now being considered is “illegitimate”.

At the December meeting, Mayor Egan attempted to defuse the situation by saying Council welcomes a submission from the dissenting Panel members — and the wider community — on the draft Green Wedge Management Plan, which will be released for broader engagement in early 2019.

But the meeting quickly descended into farce with the seven amendments to edit various sections of the response document, many being lost on divisions, and personal accusations flying around the room in a meeting that lasted almost 3.5 hours.

The final resolution that passed with amendments requests Officers to commence writing the draft GWMP for consideration by March 2019 for the purposes of wider community engagement.

Council spokesman Licardo Prince told the Diary: “The aim remains for it to go to the March 26 meeting and then subsequently be put out for further community consultation.”

And Nillumbik Council problems are not confined to the Green Wedge issue.

The Council returned two weeks earlier than expected in the middle of January on a Thursday night at a special meeting to consider a motion to rescind a decision made at the December 11 meeting that refused a planning application.

The rescission motion was defeated, but not before Councillors blamed each other for calling the Special Meeting at additional expense to ratepayers.

This is a divided band of Councillors, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the proposed GWMP at their March meeting.

Nillumbik’s GWMP and links to the Engagement Report are at:
https://participate.nillumbik.vic.gov.au/gwmp

Bridge works slip a further two months


THE DECEMBER Bridge Update Bulletin from VicRoads is now to hand and quietly announces a further major slip to the completion date, which is now listed as “late-February”.
Considering that these works were due to be completed by the end of September and at that time slipped a further three months to “before end of 2018” it is fair to say that the project completion now slips by two months every three months.
And interestingly the contact phone numbers and email addresses for further queries have been removed from the latest bulletin.
We had all expected that the night lane closures scheduled for next week would put the final surface and line markings on the bridge and enable it to be fully opened but we now learn that this work will now not take place until late-January and not be complete until late-February.
All three lanes are now open on the bridge, with temporary barriers separating the northbound from the southbound traffic, and there has been much discussion on social media at the relative narrowness of the lanes and folk are asking why it was necessary to have two footpaths at the expense of lane width.
A single night of lane closure next week is scheduled for either Tuesday 18 or Wednesday 19 December to do some further lane marking, but obviously this will not be the finished job.
Work scheduled for the rest of December involves completing the bus stop upgrade, installing traffic signage, completing pedestrian fencing and packing up the site facilities.
Looking on the brighter side, it would seem that we do at least get all three lanes open during the upcoming fire season.

 

 

Cartoon: COREY UPCYCLED BY ONA & SYD

Bridgeworks nearing completion


AFTER almost a year of disruption, and occasional chaos, the bridgeworks are now heading towards completion.

Night works and single lane closures, scheduled for December 1 to 4, to allow the construction team to seal the bridge surface, complete the lane markings and remove the remaining barriers were postposed due to bad weather and have not yet been rescheduled.

A further night of single-lane working on December 8 installed street lighting.

The work is looking very eye-pleasing, with colourful bollards and local stone cairns — sensitively designed echoes of stone end walls — at each of the abutments to the bridge.

Fitting of the green railings each side of the roadway and removal of most of the scaffolding from under the bridge was recently completed.

The further remedial work on the high voltage power cable over the Yarra associated with the bridgework was finally completed in the early hours of Sunday December 9 with a power outage affecting 446 residents.

Further works to be completed include finishing new shared use paths, finalising asphalting and line marking on the bridge, removing all remaining temporary barriers, installing the remaining street lighting, providing power and communications to the traffic lights, further strengthening works underneath the bridge, reinstatement of the Queen of the Shire and landscaping works.

The new bus stop works are being delivered by VicRoads on behalf of Public Transport Victoria (PTV) to extend the bus stop, allowing room for articulated buses on the road.

Traffic light troubles

The traffic lights at the corner of Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road became operational on November 20.

Fatima Mohamed, VicRoads Director Metropolitan Assets, tells us “These new traffic lights have improved traffic flow and boosted safety at the intersection of Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and we appreciate the community’s patience during these important works.”

Although the traffic lights have been operational since November 20 there has been no power or communications laid on to the site, and the traffic lights are running off a generator.

Digital road rage

Last month, the community and road users continued to vent their frustrations on social media, this time directed at the newly activated traffic lights.

Complaints on social media indicated there was too much priority to traffic on Research Road and motorists stuck in traffic on Kangaroo Ground Road were falling back on old habits and speeding along the Blooms Road rat-run.

But it is the evening traffic that caused the most complaints, with the lights stopping northbound traffic across the bridge, and bridge traffic from Ringwood locking out traffic from the village.

Residents and commuters who have taken their complaints directly to VicRoads have told the Diary they are being advised “VicRoads is currently liaising with Telstra to get the permanent network connection installed which will allow real time adjustment of the signals and we anticipate that there will be tweaks to the signal timings based on traffic volumes once they are fully operational.”

Some adjustment must already be taking place as there has been a substantial improvement in traffic flow during the last week.

 Traffic flow

Despite criticism of the peak hour queues though Warrandyte, it must be remembered that the primary objective of the upgrade is in relation to bushfire evacuation, and to that extent the recent Bushfire Insurance Forum (see Page 7) was told that the emergency services have welcomed the works and believe that the bridge upgrade has greatly improved the situation in an emergency.

“Whilst the emergency services believe that the bridge upgrade has improved the situation, it is not a panacea and there will still be huge problems on the roads if an evacuation is required.”

The CFA message has always been to leave early and even with two southbound lanes, this message is more important than ever.

Warrandyte Festival keeps on giving


Photo: Stephen Reynolds – The Scrims, Warrandyte Festival 2018

THE WARRANDYTE Festival is the annual celebration that gives families and friends the opportunity to celebrate all that is great about Warrandyte’s unique community.

Impressively, volunteers have staged this beloved event for 43 continuous years!

One of the best things about Warrandyte’s biggest weekend is its “home-grown” attitude, which gives local talent the chance to shine.

Artists may dance or play music on stage; enter the Film Feast; hang their art in Friday night’s Rotary Art Show or sell hand-made crafts at market stalls.

Some perform in events like the Grand Read, which features Warrandyte’s literary best.

“Stars of Warrandyte” is the theme for Festival ’19, which runs from March 22 – 24.

Warrandyte schools, sports clubs and community associations are just a few groups who will kick off the fun-filled weekend, when they march in colourful costume in Saturday morning’s Grand Parade.

Organisers tell the Diary there are plans to expand several festival events.

The iconic Battle of the Bands, which gives local youth bands the chance to battle for the prize of spending a day in a recording studio, will move to centre stage from 4pm on Saturday March 23.

“Previously, the Battle of the Bands has been staged on a Friday night but the committee decided to bring the event into Saturday’s music programme to expose the local youth music scene to a wider audience,” says festival committee president Jamie Ferguson.

“We will be approaching local schools before Christmas to try and unearth as many of Warrandyte’s emerging acts as possible.

“We’d love to hear from any young performers keen to be involved.”

As usual, Main Stage performances begin after the 12pm Opening Ceremony.

Sunday’s Main Stage programme will start before 11am and continue a little later, finishing around 10pm.

All the good times return: billycart racing; barrelling down the Scouts’ giant waterslide; duck racing and dog showing.

Warrandyte Film Feast expects to grow substantially in 2019, because what’s not to love about short flicks, a good brew — beer, wine or coffee — and perfect pizza?

The past two events sold out fast and those who lucked in have spread the word, so, co-ordinators are hitching the event to a larger marquee.

The Lounge will start buzzing from 6pm with live music, before the first film screens at 8pm.

Organisers are receiving interest from the filmmaking community already and will put out a formal call to filmmakers over the next few months.

If you want to get your film fix on, Warrandyte Film Feast happens outdoors on the banks of the Yarra on Friday March 22, 2019.

Tickets go online early next year.

Be sure and grab some for your mates if you don’t want them to miss out.

Keep up to date with festival news by visiting Warrandyte Festival Facebook page.

Further festival details in Warrandyte Diary from February 2019.

Festival contacts

Battle of the Bands: If you would like to take part in the Battle of the Bands email:

battle@warrandytefestival.org

Film Feast: submission guidelines will be available on the Festival website at a later date, but filmmakers can send links to their films or request more info by emailing: info@strikingproductions.com.au

Art and craft market: Stall holder applications close December 14.

Forms can be found on the Festival website.

Volunteer: An inspired group of people of all ages puts Warrandyte Festival together.

If you like the thought of planning a big party or have a cracking festival idea please email:

contact@warrandytefestival.org

 

State Election 2018


THERE WAS a small field for the coveted position of Member for Warrandyte in the recently held State Election.

Voters turned out in force in the two weeks’ prior to the November 24 poll with early voting numbers reported by the VEC to be almost double the 2014 pre-poll turnout.

The seat of Warrandyte has been a comfortable Liberal seat for over 30 years, with incumbent Ryan Smith having held the seat for 12 years.

Smith, having spent the last four years in opposition was keen to see a change of government as he fought hard on the Liberal platform of law and order.

It was always going to be a difficult fight for control of the Spring Street government benches, but no one expected the massive swings across the state that strengthened Labor’s hold on power.

Labor put in an out-of-towner in Elizabeth McGrath, clearly not expecting her to make inroads into the Blue Ribbon Liberal seat.

However, despite Smith’s personal popularity in the electorate, he was not immune to the tsunami of sentiment away from the conservatives.

His 11 per cent margin was eroded to see him sitting on a frustrating 49.8 per cent, meaning without an absolute majority, a preference distribution was required.

Preferences swung the way of the incumbent, meaning that Ryan Smith was elected for the fourth term as Member of Warrandyte.

The Liberal member’s Two Party Preferred majority now sits at around three per cent.

Elizabeth McGrath attracted 35 per cent of the vote first preference for Labor, while Ben Ramcharan garnered a creditable 10 per cent for the Greens, with the Animal Justice Party’s Lachlan McGill taking four per cent of first preference votes.

To the North of Warrandyte, the electorate of Eildon, which takes in Kangaroo Ground, Christmas Hills and a large swathe of the Nillumbik Green Wedge, Liberal incumbent also went to preferences to claim victory in the seat.

In an almost carbon copy of the 2014 election result, Sally Brennan took a 35 per cent stake, while The Greens’ Ken Deacon took around 10 per cent of first preference votes and Independent Michelle Dunscombe retained her deposit with a five per cent share of the votes.