From the Minister for Community Services
EMBARGOED UNTIL 6am on Thursday, 13 November 2003
BRACKS GOVT PROVIDES PLANNING CERTAINTY FOR KRS PROJECT
Community Services Minister Sherryl Garbutt today announced the Bracks Government would be the responsible planning authority for the redevelopment of the Kew Residential Services (KRS) site.
Ms Garbutt said the decision for the Government to assume planning responsibility for the project from Boroondara Council would provide certainty to residents with disabilities and their families.
"The redevelopment of KRS is a project of statewide significance and we must ensure that it proceeds swiftly and appropriately to safeguard the welfare of residents with disabilities," Ms Garbutt said.
"Boroondara Council has demonstrated an inability to conduct the planning process in a timely manner - taking a year and a half to develop the draft Urban Design Framework when it should have taken six months.
"The council has ignored the Government’s offer to work collaboratively on progressing the planning for Kew and exhibited their own planning scheme amendment without any formal consultation with Government.
"This project is too important to be a political football or to be undermined by planning uncertainty.
"The Bracks Government is committed to ensuring the planning process is undertaken in a timely fashion to give security to residents and their families."
Ms Garbutt said Boroondara Council had a track record of indecision on local planning projects.
"Boroondara Council had the fourth highest number of appeals to VCAT in 2002-03, with 27 per cent of these appeals based on a failure by the council to make a decision within 60 days," she said.
"We need to take this project forward to give people with disabilities a better life, better housing and better services in the community as soon as possible."
Ms Garbutt said the decision to close Kew was supported by numerous independent Community Visitors Reports, including the latest report released last month.
"The Community Visitors report concludes that KRS is an outdated institution and its conditions are unacceptable for people with intellectual disabilities," Ms Garbutt said.
"There is an urgent need to move ahead with the redevelopment and the latest Community Visitors report urged the Government to expedite the project to provide certainty to residents and families."
Ms Garbutt said she had requested the Planning Minister rezone the KRS site to Residential 1 with a Development Plan Overlay to provide an appropriate planning framework for the site. …/2
The Government’s Urban Design Framework will form the basis of the planning scheme amendment (PSA).
"The plan will provide high quality housing for people with disabilities and preserve the character of the local neighbourhood," Ms Garbutt said.
"It will provide a maximum building height limit of five storeys and most housing on the site will be low rise.
"There is currently no public open space on site but this plan allows approximately 27 per cent of the site to be new parkland."
Ms Garbutt said the KRS redevelopment, announced in May 2001, will see 380 people with intellectual disabilities move into new community houses, with intensive 24-hour support.
"Another 100 residents will remain on site in new purpose-built housing, with access to the same comprehensive support services available to those moving off site," Ms Garbutt said.
"We are committed to continuing discussions with the Kew Parents Association, families, advocates and other interested parties to ensure the provision of appropriate housing and support services for those KRS residents who will live on site as part of a new community.
"Every cent raised from the redevelopment will go towards providing high quality housing for KRS residents in the community."
Ms Garbutt expected the planning process to be completed over coming months, with works on the KRS site expected to begin in early 2005 and continue progressively over the following two or three years.
The Planning Scheme Amendment will be available for viewing at the Department of Sustainability and Environment bookshop at Nauru House, and at Boroondara Council offices at Camberwell.
Detailed development plans will be drafted up over the coming months, and will be exhibited for public comment before the responsible planning authority make a decision.
"There will be a community consultation process to ensure the community and stakeholders can have their say on the redevelopment of KRS," Ms Garbutt said.