HELP WITH SAVING THE HEALESVILLE FREEWAY RESERVE
As you know, the VicRoads’ community consultation period in relation to the recently released three “concept” plans for the Healesville Freeway Reserve (HFR) expires today.
It is very disappointing but quite expected to receive this reply from VicRoads to our letter asking for the community consultation to be extended to one month after the council response is made public.
They have waffled on about the wonderful consultation process, not responded to any of the issues we have raised and said the community consultation will close on Monday 23rd Dec at 5pm, refusing to extend the period.
Here are both communications for your information.
Letter to VicRoads Reply from VicRoads
So this is the last chance to have your say about the three concepts that have been put forward. See the information below on how you can assist by emailing VicRoads and politicians regarding the request before 5pm today.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Here is a request for you to email VicRoads regarding the community consultation workshops (draft email as below!)
On the basis that it is clearly unreasonable for VicRoads to expect any meaningful community consideration of the plans during this busy time of Xmas, we are trying to get VicRoads/the Vic Government to extend the consultation period. The full rationale for the request is set out in the email below.
Please help us in our efforts!
All you need to do is email the pre-prepared email below (or amend it to reflect your concerns) to the relevant decision-makers.
Please do so as soon as you can given the timing involved! Please include your name at the bottom of the email. To avoid the recipient claiming your email is “spam”, please also add your contact details. For those living close to the HFR, ideally please add your address and telephone number, or at least one of those. For those living far from the HFR, please just add your mobile telephone number (to avoid them disregarding your email because you live “too far away”).
If you are happy to send the email, please send it to Vic Roads and Minister Mulder with a copy to the people listed below and then forward a copy of your email “as sent” to the “Friends of the Healesville Freeway Reserve” for our records. If you receive any response, please let us know. Please do not worry if you have already responded to VicRoads regarding the Concepts, you can still email if the issues highlighted below concern you – the more pressure and “faffing around” we can cause them, the better.
Thanks for your support! Please email if you wish to discuss.
Please send the email to all of the following people (email addresses below):-
Their email addresses are:-
Draft email: please cut and paste the below and send.
Please put as the subject : “Healesville Freeway Reserve – response to VicRoads’ Concepts/concerns re community consultation
Dear Minister Terry Mulder and Mr Peter Todd,
HEALESVILLE FREEWAY RESERVE (“HFR”): COMMUNITY CONCERNS REGARDING CONSULTATION PROCESS AND VICROADS’ CONCEPT PLANS
This letter is a formal response to the request by VicRoads for public comment on the 3 Concept Plans released by VicRoads on 25 November 2013 (“Concepts”).
I do not support any of the Concepts. This is because I have grave concerns in relation to the community consultation being conducted by VicRoads and also in relation to the Concepts themselves.
Concerns about the Concepts: While I support the Shared Path/Biolink component itself, I do not agree with any of the three Concepts as they were presented, for the following reasons:-
Too much housing: The community was never asked at any community consultation whether it wanted housing or not. Significant community sentiment is against housing in the HFR. All 3 Concepts contain the same amount of saturation housing, giving the community “no choice” regarding housing. Further, no information has been released by VicRoads about any consideration of the effect of the proposed saturation housing on surrounding environment, residents, schools and other amenities and public infrastructure.
Bellbird Dell: The Concepts do not provide for the eastern extension of the Bellbird Dell (the alpaca farm). This section is more environmentally valuable as it integrates the NADRASCA vegetation with the Dell.
Stanley Road extension trees: This reserve of mature trees is not protected despite the need to protect native vegetation. Further, these trees have been excluded from the scope of Vic Road’s Flora and Fauna survey of the HFR without any plausible explanation from VicRoads.
Destruction of Bellara Street mature trees: VicRoads plans to cut down a large stand of native trees from Bellara Street to Terrara Road to make way for housing.
Horticultural Centre: 9 metre high (3 storey) dwellings are to be built behind the Jolimont community gardens and council nursery (Horticultural Center). This will create problems with shade and loss of air flow to the community gardens (the first community garden in Australia).
Adverse impact on Vermont Secondary College: VicRoads has allocated no land for Vermont Secondary College despite that school having been at full capacity since 2002. Where will the children of the new families study?
Lack of study of traffic impact: There is already traffic chaos on Morack road which is choked during the am-pm school times. Further, VicRoads admitted at the recent Community Workshops that VicRoads has done no traffic analysis of the proposed housing on local roads in particular Morack and Stanley Roads.
Lack of information about impact on local infrastructure: VicRoads has not released any information about the impact of planned housing on the local water supply infrastructure, sewage disposal, electricity supply and telecommunications facilities.
Heritage sites (Greenways & Mirrabooka): Sites not retain for educational and community use.
Concerns about community consultation
Suppression of result of Deliberative Forum: Despite VicRoads stating that the results of the Deliberative Forums form the basis of the Concepts, VicRoads has refused to release the Deliberative Forum report to the public. Further, Minister Mulder has also refused a Freedom of Information request for disclosure of the report. This raises serious concerns about the transparency of the actions of the Minister and VicRoads.
Lack of community consultation: The November 2013 Community Workshops were held just one day after the Concepts were released by VicRoads to the public. On any view 24 hours is not a reasonable time frame for the community to view the Concepts and consider the impact of what VicRoads itself calls complex plans. This raises serious concerns about the reliability of any data and opinions that have been gathered at the workshops.
Lack of due process: VicRoads will cease accepting community comments regarding the Concepts on 23 December 2013. This time-frame set right in the middle of the Christmas period raises serious concerns about the bona fides of the consultation process as the convenience of the community has not been considered. Further, the release of the Concepts was delayed by 8 months by VicRoads (they were due for release in March 2013), yet the community is now being penalised with this unreasonably hurried and extremely badly-timed consultation time-frame.
Lack of basic information regarding Concepts: The community was not fully informed at the November 2013 Community Workshops. No information was given about the total number of dwellings and the break-up of how many low and medium density dwellings were allowed for in each Concept. Despite VicRoads stating that the proposed sale of the HFR is so that “VicRoads can realise a reasonable return on its investment”, VicRoads refused to reveal any information about the value of VicRoads’ investment in HFR. Without these vital pieces of information the community cannot give an informed and considered opinion on the Concepts.
Denial of right of community to consider Whitehorse Council’s position: The VicRoads’ community consultation period expires before Council is scheduled to comment on the Concepts and the release of Council’s Draft Vision for HFR. This has the unacceptable consequence of the community being asked for an opinion of the Concepts without any knowledge of Council’s response to the Concepts.
Lack of cooperation between VicRoads and Council: Despite Council being expected to maintain HFR infrastructure, the Concepts were released without consultation with Council. VicRoads plans to put infrastructure onto Council-owned land without informing Council or obtaining their consent.
Suppression of environmental impact studies: VicRoads has refused to release an updated Flora and Fauna survey of the HFR which covers significant sites “missed” by VicRoads previous survey.
Request for extension of community consultation time-frame
In light of all of the above factors, on any view it is absolutely imperative that the community be given more time to consider and respond to the Concepts, this should be until at least one month after the public release of the Council’s formal response to the Concepts.
Minister Mulder and Mr Todd, please let me know as a matter of urgency whether you will extend the community consultation period until such time.
I am a supporter of the activities of Friends of the Healesville Freeway Reserve and Concept 4 Preservation.