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.