Point Cook’s Green Wedge – where are we now?

Point Cook Green Wedge

Point Cook Green Wedge Land

In 2011, in response to the State Government request for ‘Logical Inclusion’ submissions by outer metropolitan councils concerning land which could be included within the Urban Growth Boundary, Wyndham City Council offered the Point Cook Green Wedge. A key part of Council’s submission was that 3,200 houses should be developed in order to provide part funding for the overall cost of development. Many residents were angered by this move and in particular because Council made this move ‘off it’s own back’ with no Community consultation.

The Green Wedge system was set-up by the Hamer State Government in the 1970’s in a far-sighted move to prevent endless suburban sprawl and to provide a system of ‘lungs’ for Melbourne. Point Cook Green Wedge consists of large areas of flood mitigation land, with the most extensive being Cunninghams Swamp. Much of this land is formally described as Seasonal Herbaceous Wetland and drains into the D1 Drain which runs approximately north/south, eventually providing added irrigation to some Werribee South farms.

Point Cook's Green Wedge

Point Cook’s Green Wedge

The Point Cook Green Wedge consists of some 550 hectares and is currently used for dry land farming. Wyndham City Council’s Werribee South Green Wedge Policy and Management Plan (2010) notes that the area is habitat for a number of flora and fauna species officially listed as Endangered, Threatened and Rare, among these is the Orange Bellied Green Parrot of which only around 60 individuals are known to exist.

Community members who questioned Council’s handing over the land for rezoning sent submissions to the State Government, stating why they believed the land should not be rezoned, but to no avail. Council rejected the Community objections and in May 2012 it appeared all was lost, when the Growth Areas Authority (GAA) decided that the land be rezoned.

Note: It was only two years previously that the Brumby State Government, with approval of the Liberal/National Opposition, expanded the outer Melbourne Urban Growth Boundary by some 65,000 hectares, proudly announcing that Melbourne now had enough land for another 25-30 years growth.

Point Cook Green Wedge Meeting

Logical Inclusions Public Meeting

At that point, more direct Community action was seen as necessary and a public rally was organized and held in Point Cook Town Centre. This resulted in Council offering to host a more formal public meeting.

At the ensuing and well-attended by the Community meeting, it was agreed that a steering group, the unfortunately and some believe, in-appropriately named Logical Inclusions Working Party (LIWP) should be formed , consisting of Landowners, Community representatives and Council Officers. The LIWP’s function is to explore various conceptual use options for the land and to form those options into a  conceptual Vision for presentation to the Growth Area Authority and the Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

Since that time until the current, regular monthly meetings of LIWP have discussed a range of complex issues, including the option of creating an Eco Centre, similar to the UK’s renowned and highly successful Eden Project, which if  located in Point Cook, could bring widespread advantages, to not only Point Cook and Wyndham, but also to Victoria and Australia.

eden project

Rainforest Aerial Walkway – The Eden Project

Other proposals are for a much needed High School, a Retirement Village which it is projected will be a local requirement in around five years time. A Coastal Botanical Garden would offer conservation of local varieties and habitat for endangered species. Another provision would be walking and cycling trails that in part would link those from Altona and West to Werribee and beyond.

woven-trellis-eden-project-gardens-

Woven Trellis Garden – The Eden Project

There are many more innovative and exciting uses, maybe yet un-discovered, or un-suggested, that could make the ex Point Cook Green Wedge far more attractive to the local community, other than the already overdone option of more houses.

Unfortunately, the Point Cook Green Wedge was lost to the Community when submissions to save it were rejected by Spring Street, but with widespread Community insistence, it can be saved from unimaginative, Big Dollar driven housing development.

Point Cook needs more Community value recreational based facilities, not another housing development that adds more strain to our already overloaded roads infrastructure.

Our kids need a decent public High School and the hordes of kids currently filling our Primary schools to over-flowing, will soon need facilities to engage them beyond home based computer games and the one skate board park located next to Point Cook Town Centre.

We believe the ex Point Cook Green Wedge land offers a huge opportunity to Point Cook residents, both young and old, but that opportunity will only be realized through Community interest and involvement at this critical stage ……  do you have a long cherished idea that can be incorporated in the Vision? Let us know, we want to hear it!

Point Cook Schools at Breaking Point

If you’re a parent of school aged children in Point Cook, you’ll be acutely aware that the situation with public schools is at breaking point. We now have four Prep to Year nine campuses, and one senior school, which accommodates Year 10-12 students. Most of these schools are at or over capacity, and, with a huge amount of housing development still underway and planned for Point Cook’s future, the situation will go from bad to worse.

The majority of these schools now contain many more students than they were originally built for, with portable classrooms increasingly taking over open play space and vegetable gardens, such as the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden at Point Cook College that has recently been all but destroyed to bring in new buildings.

Portables take over the Kitchen Garden - Point Cook College, 2013

Portables take over the Kitchen Garden – Point Cook College, 2013

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden - Point Cook College 2010

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden – Point Cook College, 2010

 

As far as the Point Cook Action Group is concerned, we have two major problems that need addressing with schools.

  1. Whilst ‘planning’ for further Prep-9 schools seems to be on track with two land sites allocated to future schools in current estates (as well as another planned site in the Werribee Employment Precinct on the Point Cook side of the Freeway), we desperately need funding to build these schools. This is to a) help take pressure off overcrowded existing schools, and b) keep on track for adequate number of schools for current and future population growth.
  2. There has not been any land set aside for the development of another senior campus in Point Cook. This lack of foresight demonstrates inadequate planning beyond the next five to ten years of population growth. We cannot simply turn around in ten years’ time and say, we need to build another senior school when there has been no land set aside to do so.

Population Growth

abs_censusBetween the 2006 and 2011 census time points, Point Cook welcomed over 18,000 residents. However, only two new P-9 schools were opened during this time period to accommodate the extra 5,000 residents under 15 years of age. As the current annual population increase for Wyndham is estimated at 7.1%, it is estimated that Point Cook has grown by another 4,000 residents since the 2011 census. During this time, just one new P-9 school was built to accommodate an increase of approximately 1120 residents under 15 years of age.

Current Schools

The public schools currently available in Point Cook are as follows:

School Year Levels Number of students (approx.) Year opened
Carranballac – 2 Campuses Prep-9 1425 2002 and 2006
Point Cook Senior Years 10-12 700 2008
Point Cook College Prep-9 1300 2010
Alamanda College Prep-9 (currently P-6) 400 2013

 

Planned Prep-9 Schools

There are currently two planned schools in Featherbrook and Saltwater Coast Estates, both of which are Prep-9. However, in April 2013, Premier Denis Napthine announced the funding for the schools to be opened in 2015, and neither of these sites were selected, despite the obvious need for such funding. In particular, the Featherbrook school is in desperate need.

apples_chalkboard_pvWhen Matthew Guy approved the Precinct Structure Plan for Point Cook West in November 2012, he did so with no planned school within the community, nor any promises of funding to develop the Featherbrook School site which will be an absolute necessity to cope with the further increase to our population. A quick look at the map reveals that the closest school, and therefore most likely zoned school, to this precinct is Point Cook P-9 College – arguably the most overcrowded of all the schools in Point Cook. This further exacerbates the dire need for funding for the Featherbrook school site.

Lack of planning for another Senior School

high schoolNowhere in any of the current or planned estates for Point Cook, has land been allocated to the development of another Senior School Campus. Whilst Point Cook Senior is not yet at capacity (1,100) it will only be a matter of 3-5 years before it this has been reached. Currently, it is estimated that there are around 500 prep students enrolled in our four Prep-9 schools – which in ten years’ time will account to at least 500 students potentially enrolling in Year ten at Point Cook Senior (double the current number of Year ten enrollments).

Matthew Guy was quoted in the Wyndham Weekly as saying; “The demographic of Point Cook doesn’t demand schools running from prep to Year 12. More high schools will happen when the demand comes.” Whilst this may make sense based on our current population data (although we need to remember that the 2011 Census is already two years out of date!), one does beg the question as to where ‘more high schools’ will be built if the land is not set aside for them now.

We need your help!

Pencils on a blank notebookThe Point Cook Action Group has just begun a campaign to bring these issues to the attention of the Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, along with Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, and Minister for Education, Martin Dixon. We urge Point Cook residents to get on board and write to these politicians urging them to reconsider the long term planning for the education of our young students. Namely, to:

  • Allocate funding for at least one of the proposed Prep-9 schools in Point Cook (Featherbrook and Saltwater Coast Estates)
  • Allocate land for a proposed senior school to be build when the demographic of Point Cook requires another campus.

Points you may wish to include in your letter:

  • Our Prep-9 schools are overcrowded; more portables arriving yearly and larger classroom sizes
  • There are several estates still being developed (Saltwater Coast, Kingsford, Saratoga, Paragon, Sanctuary Lakes and Point Cook West); we need additional funding for the proposed Prep-9 schools to be built to keep up with demand and ease the burden on our existing schools
  • There was no new funding for any of the proposed Prep-9 sites announced in the next budget – we will have to wait till at least 2016 before a new school is built in Point Cook
  • Point Cook Senior has a ceiling of approximately 1,100 students, which will likely reach capacity within a few short years
  • There are no proposed sites in any Precinct Structure Plans for another senior school to be built in Point Cook
  • Where will our Year ten students go to school in five-ten years’ time when Point Cook Senior reaches breaking point?
  • Why do we not have any choice of where to send our children in Point Cook for their Senior Education?
  • If Matthew Guy will plan a senior school when the population demands it, where does he propose on building this school?

Some solutions you may wish to include in your letter:

  • SolutionAllocate some land in the new Werribee Employment Precinct Plan (Point Cook section) for a senior campus for Point Cook. If this site is not available, another site must be found and set aside for a senior campus before it’s too late.
  • When the Prep-9 school at Featherbrook is finally built, design it so it can be easily converted into a high school when the time comes. For example, as the student population ages, younger year levels can be dropped off as older year levels are added in, i.e. stop Prep intake when the time arises for Year ten intake to occur. Or, design and build the Featherbrook school as a Prep-12 school, where senior intake can come from any neighbouring schools.

Make sure you make your letter personal, and make it clear how the current and future situation affects you and your family.

Who to write to:

 Thank you all for your help in making Point Cook the best place it can be!

Point Cook Action Group Announces New Working Groups

Pencils on a blank notebookThe Point Cook Action Group has recently formed Working Groups to tackle specific issues within Point Cook. The purpose of the groups is to bring together both PCAG members and non-PCAG community members to work together towards certain goals, focusing on specific issues they are passionate about.

This is a very exciting new development within the PCAG, one which we believe will help bring our members together with the community.

The groups are as follows:

We are looking for more people to become involved, no matter how big or small the contribution. If you would like to be involved or would like more information, please contact us via info@pcag.org.au

Don’t forget you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

We look forward to this new step in our aim to help make Point Cook the fantastic place we all want to live in!

Point Cook South “Logical Inclusions” Public Meeting Outcomes

As many of you are now well aware, late last year Wyndham City Council (WCC) proposed to the State Government that Point Cook’s Green Wedge should be a ‘logical inclusion’ to be rezoned into Victoria’s urban growth boundary. Residents of Point Cook, other suburbs in Wyndham and environmentalists alike have been reeling at the news. Point Cook residents are particularly concerned about further housing developments in our already overcrowded suburb, with demand far outweighing supply in basic infrastructure such as transport, schools and primary care facilities.

Wyndham is the fastest growing municipality in Victoria, and it is set to double in size over the next 20 years. Over the last five years, Point Cook has grown by 128% and is set to increase by around 20,000 residents in the next 10 years. This is of great concern to the residents of Wyndham, and without the addition of much needed infrastructure, we feel that the rate of growth here is unsustainable.

Following a public protest rally at the Point Cook Town Centre on July 1st, WCC called a public meeting (held at Arndell Park Community Centre in Truganina on July 31st) to discuss their position on the issue and to hear the concerns and ideas of the community. In light of this, several residents of Wyndham banded together, and created a campaign to bring the issue to the attention of Point Cook residents. The Save Point Cook’s Green Wedge Facebook Page, twitter account and email address (savepcgreenwedge@gmail.com) were created. Several members of the Point Cook Action Group joined the campaign and worked hard to advertise the meeting throughout Point Cook.

Volunteers hand delivered more than 4,000 flyers advertising the meeting to letterboxes throughout the suburb. Flyers were also put up in local shops and community centres. PCAG also released an updated blog on the issue, calling people to action. We did all we could to get the message out into the community. We thank Colleen Hartland MLC and The Hon Jill Hennessy for printing 2,500 of these flyers for our campaign.

More than 100 residents of Point Cook and other parts of Wyndham attended the meeting. This was a really positive and encouraging turn out and demonstrated to WCC that we are a passionate and united community. Residents want to have a say in the future of our growth and development, and are concerned about the environmental impact of developing Point Cook’s lungs into more housing.

In attendance from WCC were Cr Kim McAliney Mayor, Cr Glenn Goodfellow Deputy Mayor, Cr Bob Fairclough, Bruce Hunter and Bill Forrest. In addition, Colleen Hartland and Jill Hennessy attended following an invitation by Point Cook residents. An external facilitator was provided by WCC to mediate the conversation between WCC and residents.

Bruce Hunter, from WCC’s Town Planning Department, spoke on behalf of WCC, and declared their position of nominating Point Cook South into the Logical Inclusions. Bruce used several photos of the green wedge throughout his presentation, and of note he explained:

  • The details of the site, including that Lincoln Heath South is already in a Green Wedge A Zone, which has different standing in terms of development. The remaining area is made up of around 25 different plots of land owned by different individuals; many of these are not usable farming spaces with owners not able to make an income from their land.
  • That around 33% of the land is wetlands/swamp areas and that most of this area would be rehabilitated using proceeds from land sales, although some may be filled in and built on;
  • That the existing situation is not an acceptable buffer between farming and residential housing. For example, the Lincoln Heath estate has fences that back onto farm land, and Alamanda and Featherbrook Estates have a road/walking tracks separating houses and farmland. He stated that rubbish is blown onto farmland, and animals, such as domestic cats wander into farmland making farming livestock difficult.

Paul Harder spoke on behalf of the Point Cook community. Of note, he explained that the specific issues that concern the Community are:

  • The lack of recognition of environmental impact on significant indigenous fauna and flora, listed by State and Federal Governments as Threatened, Endangered and Rare;
  • The lack of recognition of the importance to the health and well-being of current residents who overlook and use this space as a calming haven from stresses of city commuting;
  • The broken promises for residents who purchased and invested in the Edge of the Wedge with the understanding it would remain non-residential for the next 30 years;
  • The short-sighted approach to preserving substantial green open space for the growing suburb as blocks become smaller and building to boundaries becomes the norm – the lack of suitable recreation space for residents now borders on the alarming;
  • That Point Cook already has a glut of housing and developments. There are several estates yet to be developed, or in early stages of development; and
  • That our infrastructure is already stressed, with the State Government not yet coming to the party to improve transport issues.

Paul also made the point that just over two years ago the Brumby Government extended Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary and in doing so appropriated around 45,000 hectares of land for urban development. This action was with the full support of the now State Government and it was clearly stated at the time that it would provide sufficient land to cater for 20-30 years of growth. Why then is it that extra land now so desperately needed?

The meeting was then opened up to the floor for questions and comments. At least 15 people took the opportunity to express their own concerns, opinions and ideas relating to the future of the green wedge. These ranged from standing firm that the wedge should remain untouched, to it being redeveloped and rehabilitated into open usable public recreational space, and even that housing could be permitted to help fund the rehabilitation of some areas, but that it should not be anywhere near 3,000 dwellings and that land sizes should be well above average. This discussion continued for over an hour and could have kept going if not for time constraints.

At the conclusion of the meeting, it was decided that a ‘working party’ of residents and council members would be formed to help determine a plan for the future of the wedge. Six nominations were taken on the night. Further appointments on this committee will be advertised publicly and can be applied for directly to WCC.

Overall, this was a very successful evening. The strong community attendance demonstrated to WCC that public consultations regarding major decisions for our municipality are imperative. We feel positive about the future of working with WCC to help ensure this land meets the needs of our community with great foresight.

Submissions objecting to the State Government’s rezoning of the Green Wedge can be sent direct to:

The Hon Matthew Guy
Minister for Planning
Email: matthew.guy@parliament.vic.gov.au
Postal: Level 7, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne 3000, VIC.

 

The Green Wedge Under Threat – all is NOT lost!

In October 2010, the State Government funded several Victorian councils, including Wyndham, to develop and write Green Wedge Management Plans. The first initiative was to: “Implement new planning scheme provisions to secure the protection of metropolitan green wedges in the planning system.” The Council recommended the following future directions of the “Green Wedge Buffer”:

Just one year later, the Council was asked to elect wedges for “Logical Inclusion” in the urban growth boundary – i.e. to be rezoned and essentially handed over to the developers, VCAT and the Minister for Planning. Despite its historical protection, Point Cook’s Green Wedge was announced to be rezoned farming, for inevitable inclusion into the urban growth boundary in June 2012.

Residents of Point Cook have rallied at this news with varied reactions. The concerns with development of this tranquil space are multi-faceted and include:

  • The lack of recognition of environmental impact to significant fauna and flora;
  • Lack of recognition of the importance to the health and well-being of current residents who overlook and use this space as a calming haven from stresses of city commutes;
  • The broken promises for residents who purchased and invested in the Edge of the Wedge with the understanding it would remain non-residential for the next 30 years;
  • The short-sighted approach to preserving substantial green open space for the growing suburb as blocks become smaller and building to boundaries becomes the norm – the lack of suitable recreation space for residents now borders on the alarming .

While the aforementioned concerns must be explored by the Local and State Governments deciding on the future of this space – up till the present without adequate community consultation – one of the most distressing considerations comes from Council documents that suggest a number of different uses for the land.

These include:

  • At least 3,300 new residences;
  • Up to 10,000 more residents;
  • A 13% increase in traffic to the Point Cook roads network.

Even more alarming is the statement that the current roads would be able to sustain a 13% increase with some improvements.

Residents of Point Cook have been pleading with Council and the State Government through the Transport Department and representatives at VicRoads  for  such upgrades and are already aware that VicRoads does not consider the roads requiring any urgent upgrade at present. In fact, VicRoads consistently downgrades requests to upgrade major arterial roads in the Point Cook network by consulting data taken some four years ago . During this time, according to the latest Census results, the population of point cook has increased by 128% in the last five years. These numbers are already a year out of date.

Residents are well aware of the stress of gridlock, inadequate secondary school provision or planning, difficulty to access primary care facilities. More recently, residents would be acutely aware of news reports of the glut of residential properties and the implications this has on their own property values and image of the region. The very idea to desecrate this open space purely to build more houses on ever decreasing sized blocks without consultation of the very people who would be most impacted by the loss of this future viable community space is worrying at best.

However, all is not lost! Before official rezoning  of  our green wedge: “The Amendments must … be laid before Parliament for ‘ratification’ (by both houses of Parliament) before they can be formally gazetted and take effect in the relevant Growth Area Council Planning Schemes.”  Residents believe the proposed use of this space is short-sighted, highly inappropriate and not in the communities best interest.  It is clear that Council and State Government are overlooking the role the Green Wedge can play as a piece in the environmental heritage of the greater Wyndham Region. The Green Wedge sits as a strategic environmental puzzle piece among other attractions already in existence, namely the Werribee Open Range Zoo, the Werribee Mansion, Rose Garden, Werribee River, Point Cook Coastal Park, Water Treatment Plant. With clever maintenance and revegetation and big-picture thinking, the Wedge could play a significant role in attracting eco-tourism.

So, if you care about this issue: whether it be the environmental impact; the extra residents in Point Cook; adding to the existing housing glut; more cars on our gridlocked roads; more kids in our overcrowded schools… Whatever you oppose personally, it is time to start writing those letters to our Politicians and Councillors (contact details below) and make your disapproval of this rezoning before it IS too late .

It is also imperative that the local community stands united and attends the Public Meeting held by Wyndham City Council on Monday June 30th, 6:30pm at Arndell Park Community Centre, Federation Bvd, Truganina. We need large numbers of community members at this meeting to show the Baillieu Government that Point Cook needs it last remaining large open spaces, not more housing developments. See the Save Point Cook’s Green Wedge Facebook Page for more information.

The Hon Ted Baillieu, Premier of Victoria – ted.baillieu@parliament.vic.gov.au
Level 1, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, VIC

The Hon Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning – matthew.guy@parliament.vic.gov.au
Level 7, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC

The Hon Terry Mulder, Minister for Transport and Roads – terrance.mulder@parliament.vic.gov.au
Level 16, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC

The Hon Jill Hennessy, Member for Altona – jill.hennessy@parliament.vic.gov.au
PO Box 6519, Point Cook Town Centre, Point Cook 3030

Colleen Hartland MP, Western Metropolitan Region, Australian Greens Party – colleen.hartland@parliament.vic.gov.au
PO Box 318, Seddon West 3011

Our Green Wedge: “The Lungs Of Point Cook”


Point Cook's Green Wedge

At 8 degrees Celsius, it was a freezing winter’s morning at the Point Cook Town Centre. Even when the rain started, it did not deter our concerned residents and environmentalists from supporting the “Save Point Cook’s Green Wedge Protest Meeting” rally. There were approximately 30 people in attendance, including speakers Paul Harder, (the main organiser of the rally), The Hon Colleen Hartland (The Australian Greens Party), Cr Glenn Goodfellow (Deputy Mayor, Wyndham City Council) and Harry van Moorst (Director of the Western Region Environmental Centre).

Above image taken from: Logical Inclusions Advisory Committee, Report No 4: West Growth Area, November 2011

What Is A Green Wedge?

There are twelve Green Wedges (non urban areas of Metropolitan Melbourne) that essentially form a ring around the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). Point Cook’s Green Wedge is 443 hectares of open land bordered by Point Cook Rd, Aviation Rd, Hacketts Rd and several housing estates (including Lincoln Heath, Alamanda and Featherbrook).

Sir Rupert Hamer, former Liberal Premier of Victoria, protected Melbourne’s Green Wedges in Legislation in 1971. He proclaimed these wedges to be ‘the lungs of Melbourne’, ensuring open space in our ever growing urban sprawl. Sir Hamer was clearly a man of great foresight! More information on the history of Melbourne’s green wedges can be found here.

Rezoning Point Cook’s Green Wedge

On June 13th 2012, the Victorian State Government announced changes for Melbourne’s urban growth. It was a double edged sword for Point Cook. We heard the fantastic news that the Point Cook West Precinct would not be going ahead in its current form, and the devastating news that our Green Wedge had been rezoned to ‘farming’. Ms Hartland stated this rezoning and further reduction of green wedge land was a serious attack on all of Point Cook’s population.

The rezoning of this land is not a recent proposal: Wyndham City Council (WCC) has reportedly highlighted Point Cook’s Green Wedge as a candidate for inclusion in the UGB since 1999. In August 2011, WCC highlighted Point Cook’s green wedge as a ‘logical inclusion’ to the UGB and submitted their request for inclusion to the State Government. Despite community protest, the State Government recommended to the Growth Areas Authority (GAA) to rezone the land in September 2011.

What Was Said At The Rally?

The rezoning of this privately owned land from Green Wedge to farming does not mean it is immediately available for housing development. During his speech, Cr Goodfellow expressed his concern that residents believe WCC is the enemy and stressed that we need to work together as a community. He maintained that it will take time for further rezoning to an urban growth zone or a residential zone. WCC has not approved any development of this land, and any proposals would be done so with public consultation.

However, Mr van Moorst believes that although “…Council and council officers were well-intentioned when they decided to nominate the Point Cook green wedge for development (as a “logical inclusion”) … they were very naïve. [Whilst] the area was zoned as green wedge there were legal protections that disappeared the moment that it was rezoned … to farm land”. Rezoning the land has “placed the development of the area more firmly under the control of the developer and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), or the Minister”; WCC has effectively lost any real power to protect the land.

A document handed out by Cr Goodfellow at the rally (Point Cook Logical Inclusions – Statement from WCC) stated that: “When Council, in August last year, resolved to support this logical inclusion it did so with reference to a very broad conceptual plan that included:

  • Buffers between farming and housing in the order of 200 to 300 metres, with a range of possible uses including a golf course;
  • The retention and rehabilitation of between 80 and 120 hectares of wetlands;
  • Around 30 hectares of public open space;
  • Around 3000 dwellings;
  • A primary school.”

Mr van Moorst maintains that “Point Cook residents need the green wedge land as open space, recreational space (such as a nature reserve) and NOT 3,000 more houses and the thousands of extra cars on its roads”. In addition, Paul Harder pointed out that Sanctuary Lakes already has a great golf course which is struggling, so the viability of yet another golf course just down the road is questionable.

Why Should Point Cook Residents Care?

Point Cook residents have plenty to be upset about with the rezoning and inevitable development of this land: the environmental impact; the addition to the existing glut of available housing developments; more cars on our gridlocked roads; more kids in our overcrowded schools; further pressure on our local primary care medical system; and so on. My family lives on the edge of the wedge. We purposely purchased land in this area under the guidance that it was protected and would not be developed for at least 30 years. Whatever it is that you personally oppose, we all need to speak now or forever hold our peace.

You Can Help!

In response to the community’s concern about the rezoning of this land, a public meeting will be held with Wyndham City Council on Tuesday July 31st. The details will be announced closer to the time. I urge residents to attend this meeting. We need to continue to demonstrate to the State Government that we are a united community, working along side our Council to produce the best outcomes for our suburb. By standing together, we can still save a large part of our green wedge.

In addition to attending the community meeting, you can also help by writing letters to the following authorities expressing your concern about this rezoning and future development of Point Cook’s Green Wedge and related infrastructure:

  • The Hon Ted Baillieu, Premier of Victoria – ted.baillieu@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • The Hon Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning – matthew.guy@partliament.vic.gov.au
  • The Hon Terry Mulder, Minister for Transport and Roads – terrance.mulder@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • The Hon Jill Hennessy, Member for Altona – jill.hennessy@partliament.vic.gov.au
  • Colleen Hartland MP, Western Metropolitan Region, Australian Greens Party – colleen.hartland@parliament.vic.gov.au
  • Cr Glenn Goodfellow, Deputy Mayor, Wyndham City Council – glenn.goodfellow@wyndham.vic.gov.au

What do you think would be the best use for this land? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Census Data Released – What Does Point Cook’s Data Mean For The Future Of Our Suburb?

The 2011 Census data are starting to be released. I have taken a look at the QuickStats for Point Cook and have provided an overview of that data below.

In August 2011 there were 32,413 people living in Point Cook,  approximately a 220% increase from the data five years earlier, supporting all previous reports that we live in one of the fastest growing suburbs in Australia. This growth rate indicates that this data that has just been released already underestimates how many people are living in our suburb now.  However, it is great to finally have some more recent and accurate figures at our hands rather than working off assumptions and predictions based on five year old data.

86.9% of dwellings in Point Cook house families, with 9,081 families living in Point Cook. 69.7% of those families have children, with an average of 1.8 children per family.

The average number of people per household is 3.1. This is significantly higher than the state average of 2.6 people per household and this variance can make a significant difference when projecting population in an area based on number of households.

For example, the population estimates given when Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan was first drafted calculated population in the area at 2.8 people per household for conventional housing and 2.5 for medium density housing. On this basis the future population of this area was estimated at 4,746 residents. However, census data supports one of the arguments PCAG used against these projected figures. Point Cook attracts larger average number of people per household than the Victorian State average and therefore future planning should reflect this in their projections, as this has a significant knock on in regards to provision for other vital infrastructure, such as schools, health care and community leisure and wellbeing options.

Interestingly 4,097 people, that’s 12.6% of Point Cook’s population, are aged between 0-4 years, with 28.4% of the suburb aged 0-14 years. There are 5,111 (15.8%) 5-14 year olds (approximate P-9 school age) and 1,588 (4.9%) 15-19 year olds (approximate 10-12 school age). What does that mean for our already bursting schools? If you look at the number of people that are currently in the 15-19 year age bracket and then look at the age bracket below and our overall growth rate as a suburb, you don’t need to have passed maths with a Distinction to see that we are going to have twice as many people in years 10-12 in four years time than what we have now. Where are they going to go to secondary school? I haven’t seen any plans to build another Year 10-12 College or to double the size of Point Cook Senior College. Already we have many families sending their children as far as Bacchus Marsh, or in some instances much further to ensure quality education for our children. Think of all those extra cars and school buses on our roads, not to mention our children having to commute for up to an hour each way when they could otherwise be using that time to participate in sports or do their homework. It won’t be until much later in life that we will see what impact this will make and by then it will be too late.

The other significant age group in Point Cook is 25-44 years (14,277), making up a combined total of 44% of our population. These consist of the parents of these children and contribute to a large proportion of our commuting workforce. Employment details are yet to be released, but unfortunately statistics such as where people work have not been captured in this study. It would be interesting to see how many people work locally and how many people exactly we have battling to get out of Point Cook each morning via one of our three exits into town. More interesting would be the number of people that would prefer to work locally should options become available in areas such as the proposed, but yet confirmed Werribee Employment Precinct.

It will come as no surprise to Point Cook residents that we are a suburb reliant on our motor vehicles. In fact only 180 dwellings (1.8%) are without a motor vehicle. This is significantly down on the State average of 8.4%. Could our poor public transport have something to do with this perhaps? The average number of motor vehicles per dwelling is 1.9, with 53.8% having 2 motor vehicles, significantly greater than the State average of 37%.

The median household income is $1,986 per week, up from a State median of $1,216. However, with 73.7% of us being home owners rather than renters, it looks like this slight income advantage is going straight into the mortgage repayments. Our median monthly mortgage repayments are $2,200 compared to the State median of $1,700.

Point Cook is a multi-cultural suburb. Whilst Australia tops the country of birth (54.4%), other top responses in order of population numbers were India (5.7%), China (4.4%), England (3.9%), New Zealand (3.3%) and Philippines (21.1%).

Point Cook’s infrastructure is struggling to cope with the current number of residents in the suburb. Public transport is inadequate, arterial roads are at a standstill during peak times, there is limited local employment and our schools are bursting at the seams. Trying to squeeze more people into the suburb by releasing more land for development and/or approving applications for high-density housing in already populated areas of Point Cook should therefore be put on hold until our infrastructure issues catch up to at least support the requirements of our current population, as agreed by Planning Minister Matthew Guy. If not, then where are these people meant to work, go to school or develop other life skills such as learn to swim? There is no provisions for them to do that in Point Cook and they will struggle to get a bus or be able to drive elsewhere to do any of these things either.

So how does this data compare to what you though and what implications do you think this has for Point Cook as a suburb. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy says “We heard You!”

PCAG were invited to a meeting by the State Planning Minister The Hon Matthew Guy to discuss the issues we are currently facing, and how future plans for Point Cook and the surrounding area will deal with these. Also in attendance were Peter Seamer – Executive Officer of the Growth Areas Authority, MP Bernie Finn and MP Andrew Elsbury being the members for Western Metropolitan Region.

The meeting began with Andrew Elsbury introducing Matthew Guy to the group, Mr Guy began with “call me Matthew” and thanked us for coming to the meeting. He said that there wasn’t a day in his office that Point Cook didn’t come into discussion in some way. He congratulated the PCAG for “making ourselves known” and for “making enough noise”. He assured us with a few humorous murmurs from around the room “we heard you, we heard you in the papers, we heard you on the news, in all the letters (prompted Mr Seamer), we have heard you, we’re here aren’t we?” This prompted a few chuckles from the members of our group; it was a positive start to the meeting.

Sprawling a map of Wyndham across the table, which highlighted our growth areas and population hot spots, transport poor areas and circled intersections across the municipality in dire need of attention, Mr Guy began by saying he wanted us to understand that he had inherited the fiasco that is Point Cook without the funds to implement the necessary infrastructure neglected by the previous government. This much we knew. He went on to state that since he had been in power he had not approved a single new development in Point Cook; the ones that are continuing to go ahead were approved by the previous government. I personally acknowledged and thanked him for that on behalf of the PCAG.

We commenced general discussion about the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan (PCW PSP), in particular the diamond interchange at Sneydes Rd. Mr Guy expressed that their intentions were to move quickly on the Werribee Employment Precinct (WEP) to help fund the construction of the interchange. He also acknowledged that if even funding wasn’t an issue that it would not be an overnight fix and gave realistic timelines of when it would be constructed. He stated that together with council they had put in a joint submission through the federal Suburban Jobs Program to form a three tiered funding commitment for the interchange to boost jobs to the area. We felt that this was a fair approach since The Labor Party had caused the growth explosion without providing sufficient vital infrastructure for the area to cope.

In further discussions about the WEP, Mr Guy explained that the pocket of land was geologically stable which made it highly suitable to establish the area as a major data centre. This would create much needed employment in the IT sector for the area, a real positive for Point Cook with so many residents in the industry living here.

We found Mr Guy to be well-versed on the transport issues of Point Cook. As a Planning Minister his main focus was to create employment in the area to help alleviate the transport issues. We discussed our disappointment in the State Budget in relation to roads funding, poor bus services, lack of station parking and train services as well as the impact the Regional Rail Link (RRL) will make on the surrounding area. We questioned him about issues surrounding North Melbourne station and the impact of the more trains to that station. He adequately explained that upgrades were going ahead to North Melbourne station as part of the RRL that would prevent the crisscross that currently occurs between suburban and country trains.

Also discussed were the plans for a Ferry Service to the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) being part of the transport solution for the area. Mr Guy explained the difficulties they are facing from old policy hurdles to funding in order to make this a reality. He said they were currently doing a feasibility study and mentioned those who were in support of plans. We expressed our reservations and had questions regarding the ferry that did not get answered due to time constraints but will most likely be answered through the feasibility study or in further discussions.

Mr Guy had another function to attend in Werribee and he had already run over time, Bernard Reilly thanked him on behalf of the group for his time. It went so quick and we had so much more to discuss. To our surprise Mr Guy offered to come back and have another meeting with PCAG. He then offered to come in peak hour traffic to experience firsthand the pain we feel in trying to get out of our own suburb. We were all very pleased. We felt he clearly understood the issues of Point Cook and he gave us hope that they were working towards viable solutions. It was a positive meeting.

We are not naive and we know that we need to hold Mr Guy and his Government accountable. We can only keep pushing the transport/infrastructure issues and continue making ourselves heard.

As Mr Guy was preparing to leave I couldn’t help myself from requesting Mr Elsbury take him via “Russian Roulette”. Mr Guy looked at me a little perplex so I explained that I meant the intersection Forsyth/Old Geelong Road. A death trap by day, but without a light pole at night time it was “Russian Roulette”. As he conversed with Mr Finn about it I cheekily asked if he could tack a light pole onto his expense account, lucky for me they both had a sense of humour. Hey, can’t blame me for trying!

This meeting was a real turning point for PCAG.  Despite only being an Incorporated Association for five short months, this meeting demonstrated the level of impact we have been able to make already. We are proud not only of ourselves but of everyone involved. The residents who have taken the time to write letters, send emails, comment in the papers and on our various social media profiles, called radio stations, attended meetings, became members supporting the group financially for our campaigns and even those who just bought a hot dog at our BBQ. We all achieved this together. No matter what anyone says it was a positive start and a big win for the Residents of Point Cook.

As I write this blog post today I am even more delighted to hear the news that the Point Cook West Precinct that we lobbied so hard for as a group has not been approved for development as a new suburb as part of the announcement that Matthew Guy made today. He was due to announce 6-8 new suburbs, with Point Cook West rumoured to be one of them. Matthew Guy seems to have stood by his word and Point Cook West has not been approved for development (at this time). It is equally pleasing to see that Matthew Guy is standing by the commitment he made in our meeting regarding the need to provide infrastructure prior to releasing more land for development in Point Cook.

This is a direct result of Point Cook residents fighting hard to ensure our community is developed in a sustainable manner. On behalf of PCAG, I would like to thank all those involved.

Point Cook Issues Overlooked In 2012-13 Victorian State Budget

The 2012-13 Victorian State Budget was handed down in Parliament by the Treasurer on 1 May 2012.

It is interesting to see that there is a press release from the Treasurer titled, Coalition Government 2012-13 Budget to drive economic growth, generate jobs, deliver major infrastructure and improve community services, but when you read the detail it becomes apparent that they weren’t referring to doing any of this in Point Cook!

Wyndham Mayor, Cr Kim McAliney sums it up pretty well in a recent press release stating that The State Budget’s Approach In Growth Areas Is Irresponsible. The press release goes on to say:

Despite being the fastest growing City in Victoria, the State Government has failed to recognise Wyndham City’s dire infrastructure needs in the 2012/13 Budget – a move which has been questioned by Wyndham Mayor, Cr Kim McAliney.

On top of the existing 5 growth fronts already in Wyndham, the State Government is frantically pushing ahead with planning for a further 15 growth fronts which will accommodate 180,000 people.

In a show of disregard for the City’s growth, the State Government has not committed funding in this Budget to any new bus routes, or schools and no new funding for arterial roads or upgrades has been provided.

Wyndham Mayor Cr Kim McAiiney said the budget demonstrated a lack of understanding of the issues facing the State’s rapidly growing outer West and growth areas.

“This budget completely neglects the needs of our growing community particularly in the areas of transport, infrastructure and education,” Cr McAliney said.

“It is incredibly short sighted of the State Government not to fund infrastructu re projects and services, while our residents spend hours each week stuck in endless traffic jams, packed like sardines into infrequent trains and waiting for non-existent services to arrive.”

“The pace of growth in the outer suburbs including Wyndham means we need new schools, new bus services and upgraded arterial roads each and every year, without fail. If the State wants a year off from providing the infrastructure, then stop the growth for a year.”

“If Wyndham City is forced to wait until next financial year for major project funding, and several years for construction, another 30,000 to 40,000 people will have moved into the municipality in that time and further increased pressure on infrastructure.”

“Fundamental infrastructure such as additional bus routes and addressing congestion and safety concerns by fixing Dohertys Road and Old Geelong Road at Forsyth Road cannot be ignored.”

“Similarly, the Point Cook South Prep -9 school is now at least 2 years behind schedule and the other schools in Point Cook simply cannot cope. The State Government is not addressing these issues but is pushing for this City to continue to grow. This will further exacerbate these problems.”

“Wyndham City welcomes funding for fixing Galvin Park Secondary College and works at Werribee Open Range Zoo. Funding for completing the construction at Manor Lakes Prep-12 College and Tarneit Central Prep-9 School, Palmers Road overpass and Regional Rail Link trains were either promised in previous years or is necessary to complete existing projects.”

“Wyndham City will continue advocating to the State Government for additional funding for infrastructure and services. However in the recent past Wyndham City has refused to support two growth area plans and may need to further review its support for future plans if the State Government cannot provide the essential infrastructure for new communities.”

Let us know what your thoughts are on the 2012-13 Victorian State Budget and what it means for residents of Point Cook in the comments below.

GAA Presentation To Point Cook Action Group

Click on the link below to see a copy of the presentation given to the Point Cook Action Group on 27 February 2012:

PSP 39.1 – Point Cook West – PCAG – 27 February 2012

Please be reminded that residents are encouraged to Support Councils Objection To The PCW PSP by putting your views in writing to Simon Cotterill, Structural Planning Manager, Growth Areas Authority, Level 29, 35 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000, email: Simon.Cotterill@gaa.vic.gov.au by 7 March 2012.

If you need assistance in where to get starting in writing your letter, please check out A Guide To Writing A Letter In Response To The Proposed Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan, but please note the extension on the closing date (as above).