A Guide To Writing A Letter In Response To The Proposed Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan

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So you have read the Proposed Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan (PCW PSP), you have formulated your opinions on the plan and then you are left wondering “what can I do???”

When the going gets tough, the tough put fingers to keyboards and get writing!

In light of the recent release of the proposed PCW PSP by the Growth Areas Authority (GAA) many concerned Point Cook residents want to write to provide feedback how this development would negatively impact them in hope that their concerns are taken on board and that the plan is adjusted accordingly. This is a great idea and one that the PCAG encourages. However, this may seem a daunting task and may leave some residents wondering, “where do I start?”.  Well I hear your pleas and as someone that has just gone through this process myself and I am here to help by sharing the simple steps that I undertook when writing my letter.

Who should I write to?

Firstly, plan to send a letter by snail mail as Government Departments are obliged to answer all correspondence received in this way. If you like, you can send an electronic copy of your snail mail letter to the recipient’s email address just to be sure.

For your feedback to be taken into consideration, your comments must be made in writing referencing Point Cook West PSP and sent to:

Peter Seamer
Chief Executive Officer
Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan
Growth Areas Authority
Level 29, 35 Collins Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000

However, if you want to make sure that your concerns are heard by all the relevant authorities and have greater impact, you may also consider providing a carbon copy (cc) of your letter to any of these relevant authorities and offices:

  • The Minister for Planning – Hon Matthew Guy, Level 7, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne, 3000 matthew.guy@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • Shadow Minister for Planning – Brian Tee, 128 Ayr Street, Doncaster 3108 brian.tee@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • Member for Altona – Jill Hennessy MP, Suite 603, Level 1, 2 Main St, Point Cook 3030 jill.hennessy@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • Member for Western Metropolitan Region – Andrew Elsbury MP, Shop 1, 662 Old Calder Highway, Keilor, Vic 3036 andrew.elsbury@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • Member for Lalor – Julia Gillard PM PO Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 julia.gillard_e@aph.gov.au

Be sure to cc the Minister for Planning as a minimum, as he is whom the GAA report to.  Whoever you cc, just make sure that you state at the bottom of your completed letter who you have sent copies to so that the addressee is aware.

If you feel like tailoring specific letters to each of these parties rather than cc’ing them in on the GAA letter, then this is an excellent (but far more time consuming) approach.  Just make sure you write the GAA letter first to ensure your feedback is included in this consultation process. You can then modify your GAA letter as appropriate for each of the individuals you are writing to.  If you take this approach, be sure to advise them why you are writing to them directly.  That may include something like you are appealing for them to step in and review the community’s concerns for the inappropriate and unsustainable nature of the development.

How do I start?

Include a topic in bold at the top of your letter, such as “Concerns with the PCW PSP” or “Opposition to the PCW PSP” to identify the issue you are addressing in the content of your letter.

It is hard to think where to start so initially introduce yourself and how long you’ve been a resident of Point Cook. Then open with the reason you are writing is to outline concerns you have with the PCW PSP.

How do I explain my concerns?

Not surprising, most residents who have discussed this topic are raising similar issues. I am not going to tell you what to write, as ultimately what you write has to come from your own feelings and thoughts on the development.  What you have to do is to write an individual letter outlining how the development would impact you and your family’s quality of life in Point Cook.  Individual and personalised letters (and many of them) have far greater impact over a pro-forma letter simply copied over and over and signed by multiple people.

The buzz word at the moment is “sustainability” – Governments are trying to create sustainable living options in sustainable communities. Ask yourself, how “sustainable” do you think the GAA’s PCW PSP is? Does it improve our community? Would you be proud to show your children the end result?

To keep it manageable choose four topics and create topic headings.  Underneath write a paragraph or two on how this topic affects you or your family or how it will impact your quality of life and happiness in Point Cook. Be as detailed as you can about what your concerns are, make it personal and real. Use phrases like “This is unsustainable because….” or “This will be a problem for my community because….” or “this kind of development is out of keeping with the style and aesthetic of Point Cook”, etc.

The key areas of discussion have been (choose up to four of these – of course you could go crazy and keep writing – but give it a topic header each time):

  • Small block sizes and high density housing (conservative estimate of an additional 5,800 residences)
  • Lack of employment provision in area and reliance on Werribee Employment Precinct for local employment options despite this precinct not being confirmed for development
  • Increased traffic congestion where road infrastructure is already at capacity
  • Delay in construction of proposed freeway interchanges and key roads
  • Increased pressure on rail network and infrastructure (e.g railway carparks) that is already at capacity
  • Lack of recreational/leisure infrastructure and a reliance on current infrastructure that are already at capacity
  • Lack of educational provision (particularly 10-12 high schools, which Point Cook needs)
  • Development is out of character with Point Cook as a suburb
  • Damage to our property values and reputation as a sought after suburb
  • Development has no appreciation of the true “end result”

Don’t feel restricted by these topics, if there is something else that concerns you, then be sure to raise it and provide details. It is important that all concerns within the community are provided to the GAA for consideration as part of this consultation process.

How to I close?

End your letter by explaining that you have cc’d in the Minister for Planning, etc and that you are appealing for them to step in and review the community’s concerns for the inappropriate and unsustainable nature of the development. You may wish to conclude by including something like the fact that Point Cook is a vibrant community, now alive with community spirit and that we will not see our suburb destroyed just as it is about to get on its feet and make its mark as a model Western suburb. Thank all for taking the time to understand your concerns and state that you look forward to some good outcomes for all residents of Point Cook both current and future.

Sign your name and supply your name, address, email and contact phone number. Don’t forget to note underneath which other parties you have cc’d (sent a copy to).

When do I have to send by?

Re-read what you have written and correct any mistakes (you may wish to get someone else to read over it and give you some feedback).  Make sufficient copies to be able to send to the addressee, all of the cc recipients and to keep a copy for your own records.  Be sure you post your letter with sufficient time so that it arrives prior to the GAA deadline of 16 February 2012.  Be sure to send a copy via email to all of the recipients as well to be sure that it is received.  Feel free to email info@pcag.org.au a copy of your letter also so that we have a better understanding of the communities concerns.

Have you written your letters yet?  If so, do you have any other advice that you wish to share with Point Cook residents?  Please share this information in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Ruth Harrison says

    Just wanted to say thanks for this….great place to start. One thing I would add is to make sure you put in ideas for what you would like. There is no point just opposing everything willy nilly. Explain you understand that PC is a growth area and it is not that that you are opposed to, just the lack of consultation and planning for the future. Talk about how you understand that growth is essential but must be done in a planned manner and the impacts on the current residents taken into account. But otherwise great! Just be constructive with your critisism.

    • Great post Leah and excellent feedback and additions Ruth. My letter is just a bunch of bullet points at this stage, but I will be taking on this advice to finish it off. Thanks!

    • Hi Ruth – Thanks for this very important feedback and advice. I have not finished all of the letters I plan to write and like Loren, I have a letter with four or five bullet points that I have elaborated on. To close, and since formulating my last letter, there have been some great discussions on what the land should/could be used for and I intend to end on a high and more positive note with regard to moving forward. It’s all about sustainability!

  2. Paul Harder says

    Excellent Leah, thanks.

    One important point that I have not heard made to date, is the fact that current developments are still growing and in some instances are only partially completed and/or not yet inhabited, ie: Salt Water Coast and The Marina. Also there are still many undeveloped blocks in established communities such as Alamandah, Sanctuary Lakes and the just developing area on Sneydes Rd opposite the proposed Point Cook West section.
    The filling in of those undeveloped blocks will undoubtedly add considerably to the public transport and roads concerns of Point Cook.

  3. Cr Glenn Goodfellow says

    It may be wise to also CC in the ward councillors also so we can raise your concerns in our submission