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!

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.

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

Image courtesy of Digitalart

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

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

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

Who should I write to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do I start?

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

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

How do I explain my concerns?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to I close?

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

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

When do I have to send by?

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

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