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”

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.


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).

Working Together – Support Councils Objection To The PCW PSP

I attended the Community Information Session on the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan (PSP 39A) on Wednesday, 29 February and I was pleased to see council and residents working so well together. There was a real buzz in the room, we were all on the same side wanting the same outcome.

We must continue to work together to keep the pressure on. We can do this by commenting on the motion by council on the Council resolution opposing this Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan which was passed on the 27 February 2012.

What You Can Do To Help

It can be a simple letter stating which points you agree with and general reasons why. It is important to put it into your own words and then send the letter out to as many as possible.

For example:

To who it may concern

I wish to state that I agree with all motions raised in the Councils resolution opposing the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan in particular the first motion “address traffic impacts occasioned by the release of this land for housing, and in the context of Point Cook’s already strained road network”.

It already takes me 30 to 45 minutes to get out of Point Cook everyday and that is just to get to the freeway before I can even travel to work, adding more residents without addressing the traffic issues will simply create even further stress on a suburb in gridlock.

Bill Forrest, Director of advocacy for the Wyndham City Council, advises:

“I would encourage you to forward the Councils resolution opposing this precinct structure plan to interested friends and colleagues in Point Cook.”

A full copy of the Council report is available here – (refer p.82)

“It is not too late to submit your own views to the Growth Areas Authority. You can email your comments to amendments@gaa.vic.gov.au and put “Point Cook West PSP” in the subject line. They need to be submitted by 7 March 2012. You can also forward a copy of your submission to Local State Members of Parliament.”

Who To Write To

Reponses should be sent by 7 March 2012 to Simon Cotterill, Structural Planning Manager, Growth Areas Authority, Level 29, 35 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000. Email: Simon.Cotterill@gaa.vic.gov.au.

Click here for contact details of Local State Members of Parliament to cc your response to, as suggested by Bill Forrest.  Don’t forget to also send to:

The Hon. Matthew Guy
Minister for Planning
Address: Level 16, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Email: matthew.guy@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 03 9938 5990

The Hon. Terry Mulder,
Minister for Public Transport
Minister for Roads
Address: Level 16, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone: 03 9095 4330
Email: terence.mulder@parliament.vic.gov.au

You are invited to a key event on Sustainable Transport on the subject: Are Melbourne’s Growth Areas Sustainable?

You are invited to a key event on Sustainable Transport on the subject: Are Melbourne’s Growth Areas Sustainable?

4.00 – 6.30 pm, Wednesday 22 February 2012, Swanston Hall, Melbourne Town Hall – Swanston Street, Melbourne (entry adjacent to main staircase on Swanston Street)

Program of Events

4.00 Opening Terry Laidler, Master of Ceremonies;
4.05 Introduction by Chair, Metropolitan Transport Forum
4.10 – 4.20 Cr Glenn Goodfellow, Deputy Mayor, City of Wyndham
4.20 – 4.30 Meredith Sussex, Administrator, City of Brimbank
4.40-4.50 Griff Davis, General Manager Advocacy and Communications, City of Whittlesea
4.50-5.00 Janet Rice, Senior Strategic Transport Planner, City of Hume
5.00-5.15 Paul Hamilton, Manager Transport, City of Casey
5.15-5.25 Commentary, Professor Michael Buxton
5.25 – 5.50 Peter Seamer, CEO, Growth Areas Authority
5.50- 6.25 Questions to Speakers
6.25-6.30 Close, Chair, Metropolitan Transport Forum

The Metropolitan Transport Forum is hosting this public event on sustainable transport as part of the Sustainable Living Festival (SLF) series of events during February 2012. The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) are also sponsoring this event.

There is no entry charge or booking required. You are welcome to pass on this information to others interested in transport.

Further details, visit: Metropolitan Transport Forum or Sustainable Living Festival

A Resident’s Views On The Proposed Provision For Leisure In The PCW PSP

For those that have been following news and rumours in Point Cook, you would be across the proposal to develop the land on Hackett’s lane, into a high and mixed residential development. This development is referred to a the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan (PCW PSP).  This area includes two ovals and 6-12 tennis courts. It also has space for possibly two convenience stores and roads to future bridges (that there is no funding commitment to build within the next 15 years). They conservatively expect over 5,000 people into this area. To read the full plan check out the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan – Draft For Consultation (December 2011).

Given that there is really nothing to ensure facilities are in place, not to mention the impact on our roads, I oppose this. I really oppose this.

Imagine not just the roads, but the extra pressures on our schools, childcare, internet, doctors, etc. BUT I do not oppose the development. My caveat – it is done with care of community and planned with sustainable solutions for Point Cook as a whole.

There is limited recreational facilities within Point Cook. Sure we have our shopping centres, gyms, café’s and restaurants, but we do not have a single public space that we can meander to and enjoy a swim or game of indoor sports. Yes we do have school halls around Point Cook and parks too, but the access to these facilities is limited.

We do have the Sanctuary Lakes golf course, as well as private pools and sports ovals, but these are private, not community facilities and do not cater to other sports. Finally we are presented with an opportunity to realistically ask for a space that can cater to other pursuits.

The Growth Areas Authority (GAA) is seeking community input into the development of the land at Hacketts Road. This is our chance to say as a community, and as individuals, our views on the subject.

Need for a community recreation hub

Personally, I am going to raise the need for a community recreation hub, for sports not covered by the Point Cook Road Reserve. I believe it should take on the form of a 9 hole golf course, with a community leisure facility housing a swimming pool and indoor sports centre. Why this combination, well here goes.

Mixed facilities provide greater economic returns for the centre. The facility will need to be viable, and to help ensure that a range of activities will offer more chances to get funds in. Further, each individual component that makes up the facility should be aimed at different needs within the community, drawing together a range of groups to make the centre more viable as a whole. To demonstrate the power of such a facility, there is the Kew Recreation Centre, which includes: fully equipped Health Club/Gymnasium, Group Fitness Studio, Cycling Studio, Indoor Heated Pool, Spa, Saun, and other services.

Why have I chosen this mix of facilities?

Swimming Pool

There is no community swimming pool in Point Cook. This has been raised as a need a number of times. Read the Submission for the Revision of Wyndham Aquatic Strategy developed by PCAG for more details regarding why Point Cook needs a multi-purpose community recreation hub that includes a swimming pool.

Multi-purpose Indoor/Outdoor Courts

Similar to the pool facilities there is no sports stadium within Point Cook, well apart from the halls at schools. This could take on the form of indoor basketball/netball courts that also cater for other indoor activities. Care would need to be taken to ensure this did not compete with private enterprises in the area (who have taken the risk to set up shop here).

Anecdotally, basketball is keenly supported amongst the youth – both boys and girls. I remember following Charlotte Hornets when I was a kid. Netball continues to be the number one sport played by girls in Australia. Despite this and the need identified for netball courts in the Point Cook Road Reserve (Saltwater Reserve) development, there is none planned in phase one of this development. Multi-purpose courts allow for other minority sports also such as badminton, volleyball, handball and table tennis (to name a few), whilst also providing an indoor training venue for some of the outdoor sports already catered for such as indoor football.

Golf Course

A short golf course provides an affordable entry into the sport. For those in the area interested in this sport the only local golf range is Sanctuary Lakes, which may be unaffordable for many enthusiasts (including teenagers or elderly). These grounds can also be used to protect native habitat and provide a serine natural beauty to the western region of Point Cook. Imagine a mini-sanctuary lakes (without the water) on the other side of Point Cook. With the trees and open spaces created, it would enhance the overall look of the area.

By creating a locally owned golf course, we have the capacity to use this space for public events. The Green Keeper would have nightmares over such an idea, but if managed successfully, we could have Carols by Candlelight catering to the thousands. We could use the space to have a mid-year festival to bring the people together and form a cohesive community. Let’s not forget that we are a young suburb and there is a need to define its culture and identity. These festivals would create the hub.

To differentiate this course from others in the region, the design could be developed with Speed Golf in mind. Speed Golf (or Extreme Golf) per Wikipedia “is a sport started in California in 1979 by American runner Steve Scott and which involves completing a golf course in the lowest combination of strokes and time. The sport is played in North America, Europe and Japan, and major tournaments are telecast by channels such as ESPN and The Golf Channel.” We could market this on the world stage, potentially bringing investment dollars into the region and tourism dollars when awareness of the unique in Melbourne experience is raised. We need to ensure that Point Cook is capable of generating revenue for itself, that’s how jobs are made. I suspect this kind of course would be more durable, so damage from a festival on its greens would be minimal.

In regards to a golf course, the plans for the 145 hectare site includes 11% of the land as open space. Interestingly this comes to roughly 15 hectares. According to Pro-W Group, an Executive or Par 3 course (9 Hole) requires 3-5 hectares of land, well within the required 11% of space and allowing for other facilities to be made. This kind of course is either all par-3, or it may have one or two par-4 holes and maybe a par-5 hole. They are designed for the time-poor and beginners alike. Here are some xamples of such a course and the small amount of land they take up:

Why do I object to more AFL ovals and tennis courts?

The proposal for Point Cook West as it stands now, lists the space for 6-12 tennis courts and two AFL ovals. Given the development of the facility on Point Cook Road, why is there a need for these? Surely the ovals and courts being built now, in addition to what already exists, need to be used to make them sustainable. With more tennis courts in the area, I would be concerned about the risk of one or the other tennis courts already in the area becoming economically unviable.

Now I am not against any sports being catered for, far from it, but I am questioning why more of the same when so many other recreational opportunities are overlooked, limiting choice? I am sure that die hard footy and tennis enthusiasts would argue that although catered for there is still not enough. At least they have something! Surely this development is the ideal opportunity to provide facilities for those sports and active recreational pursuits not currently catered for at all. I would’ve thought that would be a higher priority?

Now if the space of land is deemed too small for a 9 hole course and recreation facility, then perhaps the GAA could allow for space for just the community leisure facility comprising of a swimming pool and indoor/outdoor multi-purpose courts. In light of the facilities being built around Point Cook already, the ovals in the proposal could be considered excessive and could easily be reviewed for use as mentioned above.

PCW PSP Provides Opportunities

The PCW PSP provides the suburb an opportunity, I just hope that those in Government and in the GAA undertaking this process consider the needs of the community and listen to us. If you want to be heard, please write your letter to the GAA and raise the matters you are concerned about. Send these letters to the Council and Politian’s too.  For further details on how to lodge your feedback on this plan take a look at A Guide To Writing A Letter In Response To The Proposed Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan. We only get one shot at this. Once the decision is made and land sold up it will be too late.

Do you think that Point Cook needs a community leisure hub? What do you think of my proposed mix of facilities? If you disagree, please indicate your preferred mix and the reasons why in the comments below.

URGENT UPDATE: GAA Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan Information Sessions

Last week we posted details of the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan Information Session that was scheduled for 31 January and then later cancelled due to too much interest.  The Growth Areas Authority (GAA) still came to PCCLC on 31 January out of respect for those that may not have heard of the late cancellation and provided information to those people.  Another session was also held on 1 February.

There are two remaining information sessions scheduled to be held at the Point Cook Community Learning Centre for residents to speak with representatives from the GAA regarding the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan (PCW PSP) as:

  • Tuesday 7 February 6.30 PM to 9.00 PM
  • Wednesday 8 February 7.30 PM to 9.00 PM

If there is a demand they may also arrange weekend meetings. You will need to make a booking for these sessions with the GAA directly via Simon.Cotterill@gaa.vic.gov.au or phone 9651 9635 to book an appointment. If you can’t make the sessions they are happy to discuss over the phone.

PCAG have developed a PCAG GAA PCW PSP Flyer to provide more details for residents.  PCAG is encouraging residents to download this flyer and share it with other local residents.  We are currently getting 500 of these flyers printed for letterbox drops and as posters. Those residents willing to assist with additional printing and/or participate in a letterbox drop to assist in distributing this information over the next week, should email info@pcag.org.au with their name and phone number and you will be contacted with further information on how to get involved.

Please also note that PCAG is encouraging all residents to write to the GAA directly to express any concerns you may have regarding this development.  For more information on how to do this, please check out this guide on how to write a letter in response to the proposed PCW PSP.