Turf war  over prime site
Kate Uebergang
Urban affairs reporter
The Herald Sun, Melbourne
3rd November 2003

KEW Cottages supporters say the State Government and Boroondara Council are ignoring the needs of the intellectually disabled while carving up the controversial site.

Kew Cottages Coalition president Brian Walsh yesterday said the council and the Government appeared to care only about petty-minded bureaucratic turf wars.

"Both stand condemned for ignoring the real accommodation needs of Victoria's intellectually disabled, while the bureaucrats fight among themselves on how best to carve up Kew Cottages," he said.

Community Services Minister Sherryl Garbutt and the council have been trading rebukes over the handling of planning issues for the 27ha site.

The council said it would push ahead with its plans, calling for public submissions on the framework it approved in August. But Ms Garbutt criticised the council for ignoring the State Government's framework, which was released a fortnight ago.

The Government's plan, involving buildings up to five storeys high, would leave 27 per cent of the site as parkland.

The council's plan guaranteed 50 per cent would be parkland.

Ms Garbutt said the State Government was not confident of the council's ability to conduct the planning process in a timely manner.

"The redevelopment of KRS is a project of statewide significance and is too important to get bogged down in petty local politics or individual agendas," Ms Garbutt said.

"Boroondara Council took a year and a half to develop the draft urban design framework -- a task that should have taken six months.

"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.

"The Kew redevelopment is far too important to get waylaid by planning uncertainty and council indecision."

Boroondara mayor Judith Voce said the council was only interested in the best outcome for its community.

"Council is not interested in getting involved in petty politics," Cr Voce said. "We . . . reiterate our invitation to the Government to submit its revised proposal to the independent process in the same way any other developer is required."

Mr Walsh called for a moratorium on further development at Kew and an independent inquiry on the future of intellectual disability services in Victoria.

"The planning process has now obviously gone completely off the rails."