Preview Kew Cottages Coalitions Submissions

Dateline: 25-Sep '07
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The following members of the Coalition and expert witnesses will be giving evidence to the Public Hearing on 26-Sep '07

Ann Brewer, Secretary Kew Cottages Coalition; Geoff Harris, former Chief Planner,  Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, Don Anderson,
former Chief Landscape Architect of  Victorian Public Works Department , Max Jackson, former CEO Kew Cottages,  Brian Walsh, President., Kew Cottages Coalition.

Public Land - Background...

Geoff Harris is an expert on Melbourne's Green Wedges. In 2006 he was a keynote speaker at the Coalition's AGM. His presentation was called  The Strategic  Background to the Kew Cottages Debacle

But as Geoff said at the outset

I intend to outline some strategic issues, which should form a context for any decisions as to the future use of “surplus” Cottages land (if any). However, Mr. Chairman, perhaps I should clarify what I’m talking about- a debacle is a confused rout, and as we will see, that is a major understatement! 

You can download and print Geoff's full presentation in pdf format here

"The Cottages land forms part of the Crown lands which were with-held from subdivision and sale, at the direction of La Trobe. Figure 1 in my 2005 paper, Melbourne’s Green Belt and Wedges”, shows the extent of those lands in 1852. The future cottages land was shown as a “village reserve” on Ham’s 1852 map. However, by 1862, a bean counting outlook prevailed... (more..)

...Melbourne’s Green Wedges

A second issue relates to the Kew Cottages land’s position in the Yarra Valley. In the Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) Metropolitan Planning Scheme in its final form in 1984 (prior to transferral of staff and powers to State Government), the land, together with Studley Park, formed the apex of a green wedge extending outwards through Warrandyte, along the Yarra River, as part of a non-urban area, shown on a “Strategic framework Plan”, on page 19 of Reprint No. 12. The Ordinance contained overall strategic objectives, including “to conserve and permanently maintain the rural activities and significant natural features and resources of areas shown as non-urban on the strategic framework plan.” (page 23) Housing clearly wasn’t envisaged there!     

These Yarra Valley provisions were raised in furtherance of the Victorian Government’s Statement of Planning Policy No. 4, which came into effect in September 1971, at the direction of the Honorable Alan Hunt, Minister for Local Government. Alan’s services  have since been well recognised in several awards including Order of Australia.               

Now, let’s jump forward to the Melbourne 2030 report, October 2002. At page 66, it says- “The 12 non-urban areas that surround the built-up areas of metropolitan Melbourne and are outside the urban growth boundary are known as green wedges. They are an important legacy of past metropolitan planning. Most of them lie between the ‘fingers’ of urban growth that follow the transport corridors---- Melbourne 2030 will protect the green wedges for non-urban uses and encourage proper management of these areas”.

Doesn’t that give you a warm feeling! Apparently, the green wedges, conceived decades ago, and virtually diced in the Kennett era, are back in vogue. The urban growth boundary, in most cases, accords with the above statement, and that’s fine. But whoops! There’s a problem. The lower Yarra Valley and Dandenong Creek Valley, within which lands have previously been identified as green wedges, with parts acquired for metropolitan parks in accord with the former Metropolitan Planning Scheme, are now not outside the urban growth boundary and thus, not within green wedges!

Several people have questioned why these two valleys have been omitted from the green wedges. Each have received the same answer- it’s not necessary, because the land is reserved. But elsewhere, such as at Point Cook, reserved lands have been included in green wedges! So, apparently, the Kew Cottages land can now be sold off for housing, in complete conflict with previous strategic policies of a former state government! So, what is the future for the former Yarra Valley and Dandenong Creek  metropolitan parks?

It is time that the government and opposition stopped playing silly buggers, and agreed to settle down and institute a meaningful bi-partisan process directed to establishing a viable, long term  strategy for Victoria....  (Download )

Public Land - Action
Ann Brewer is the founding Secretary of the Kew Cottages Coalition, and her brother still lives at the Cottages today. She explains here on video how her family had to fight hard to stop him being removed from the Cottages against their will, and the action she took to help establish the Coalition....(YouTube Dur: ~ 4min)

Public Land - Access
Don Anderson is
a former Chief Landscape Architect of  the Victorian Public Works Department. His son Bruce has now left the Cottages after being a resident there for 36 years. Don says that the people of Victoria, were never properly consulted by the Government of the day when the decision to close the cottages and sell this property to a private developer was made.... (Download )

Public Land - Alienation
Max Jackson is a former CEO of Kew Cottages
. " So, while the Government has determined, and as noted on the Department of Human Services website, that the site is suitable to accommodate new private housing development to a level of “around 380 houses and apartments” with “the majority being detached houses”, the same Government has said that the site is not suitable for the vast majority of the original occupiers except for approximately one hundred.

These facts are worth emphasising because they go to the core of alienation..." (Download)

.....Relationship to the Terms of Reference
Clearly, under the legal definition of alienation, the Government has usurped both the legal and moral rights of both citizens of Victoria and the traditional occupiers of the site by seeking to sell the land and open space for private development.


As a concluding comment, the writer urges the Committee not to dismiss the relationship between the Terms of Reference and the traditional occupiers of the Kew site.  Those people with a disability, people who in many instances chose to remain on the site, but for many this option was rejected.  Those, people for whom the State Disability Plan 2002 -2012 and the IDPS Act 1986 and Disability Act 2006 were promulgated to protect and confirm their rights.  Documents, in which the concept of choice and the right to be treated the same as other citizens of Victoria have been enshrined.

If the Committee accepts the above, then the writer submits that the Committee has no option but to make the following findings and recommendations.

That to proceed with the sale of the public land known as the Kew site for the purpose of private development constitutes an:

1. Act of alienation against the traditional occupiers of the site.

2. Act of transgression against the published intent and published content of the Victorian State Disability Plan 2002-2012.

3. An illegal transgression against the letter and intent of the IDPS Act 1986

4. An illegal transgression against the letter and intent of the Disability Act 2006

5. An illegal transgression against the Equal Opportunity and Anti Discrimination legislation.
On the basis of the above findings, the writer therefore charges the Committee with making the following recommendations.

That the Committee recommends that the site known as the Kew Cottages or the Kew Residential Services site:

1. Not be sold for the purpose of private development.

2. Be held in trust, on behalf of the citizens of Victoria, for the development of a minimum of twenty to a maximum of one hunded free standing dwellings to be used in perpetuity for the purpose of accommodating people with a disability.

3. And further, for the remainder of the site to be retained as a green wedge public open space. (Download)

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