4/2/2014 – Unfortunately the recent Festive Season and associated vacations has meant GERA has been remiss in updating this posting. Apologies to Council for not acknowledging their 23/12/2013 response earlier. Unfortunately Council’s response did not include the requested details of 11.9 ha increase in open space over the past 15 years and to date our follow up requests (9/1, 23/1, 3/2) for that information remain unanswered. Details of those requests and our analysis of Council’s 23/12/2013 response are included in our subsequent post.
19/12/2013 – Below is GERA original posting on our Submission to the 2013 Open Space Strategy. Our submission refers to a 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) open space area difference between the previous open space strategy and the currently proposed strategy – a period when Council divested land. As yet GERA’s requested clarification of this difference ( 3/12/2013 ) remains unanswered and was followed up today.
Below is GERA’s submission to Council on the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy.
13th December, 2013
The Glen Eira Residents’ Association (GERA) thanks Glen Eira Council for the opportunity to present a submission to the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy.
Please note that Council has yet to respond to our 3rd December, 2013 request for information on the disparity between Glen Eira’s open space area as reported in the 1998 (161 ha) and the 2013 (172.9 ha) open space strategies, ie. an increase of 11.9 ha or 119,000 sqm.
Since this increase occurred during a period when Glen Eira disposed of more property that was, or had the potential to be, open space than it has acquired (either by purchase or government grant) , GERA requests the right to make a supplementary submission when the requested information is made available by Council.
In addition to the above, itemised below are a number of concerns we have with the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy
Open Space Strategy Time Frame and Reporting
- Time Frame
The 1998 Open Space Strategy has been in existence for 15 years and the 2013 Open Space Strategy is proposed to have a similar life span. GERA believes that dramatic population growth, as experienced over the past 10 years and predicted over the next 10 years, requires a more frequent review of the Strategy to ensure that open space facilities address changing demographic needs (eg. passive vs. active, soccer vs. Australian Rules, junior/adolescent vs. senior) and are appropriately budgeted for.
During the 15 years of it’s existence little or no reporting of performance against the 1998 strategies/performance measurements has occurred and unfortunately a number of key elements in the 1998 Open Space Strategy have been overlooked (eg. use of open space contribution levy, passive vs active sports needs). These key elements will be highlighted in subsequent points.
Similarly, the 2013 Open Space Strategy while it contains strategies and performance measures has no periodic performance reporting requirements included. GERA believes that the inclusion of reporting requirements, set after community consultation, is warranted and would do much to
- alleviate the community’s well documented (as indicated in the 4 yearly review of the community plan and the annual State Government Satisfaction Survey) and long standing (over 10 years) dissatisfaction with Glen Eira’s limited open space.
- ensure that key elements are not overlooked in the future.
- Enhance Council’s open, transparent and accountable governance statements.
The 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy lists 10 master plans or concept plans or management plans for parks within Glen Eira. The dates on these plans range from 1999 to 2004. In line with our above comments on the Open Space Strategy timeframe these master plans need to be reviewed and subject to community consultation to ensure that they meet the dramatically changing needs of the community.
Centre of the Racecourse
The substantial Caulfield Racecourse Reserve (including the centre of the racecourse) is crown land with the designated equal uses of racecourse, public park and public recreation area. Historically limited access and accessibility, combined with a lack of, or inappropriate facilities, have limited it’s use as a public park and public recreation area. Since the 1998 strategy, development of the Phoenix Precinct (Monash University and the MRC’s Caulfield Village) has been approved and the racecourse centre’s available land for public use has been substantially reduced.
The significance of this open space (particularly the racecourse centre) has been excluded in the Draft Strategy’s Key Priority Projects, based on its restricted access provisions. The long standing issue of public access to the centre of the racecourse receives only a recommendation that Council “Liaise with the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) and the Victoria Government as required to investigate the feasibility (GERA emphasis) to include structured sporting use into the areas already set aside for public access”.
The exclusion of the centre of the racecourse has occurred even though the
- 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy recognises the significance of reserve and highlights that the area,which abuts Phoenix Precinct is forecast to have the “greatest population change” within Glen Eira. The intensity of the Phoenix Precinct development, even taking into account the nearby Booran Road Reservoir and the recent landscaping of the centre of the racecourse, open space provisions are considered to be “inadequate” for the Phoenix Precinct’s forecast residential population. Open Space provisions for the Phoenix Precinct’s non-residential population (workers), patrons and visitors were not taken into account in the “inadequate” determination.
- Council’s March, 2013, “”Position Paper on the Racecourse Reserve” (Council Meeting Minutes 19/3/2013 – Item 9.10) advocated that “The Crown Land should be managed to achieve all three purposes – not one at the expense of the others” and outlined a number of issues (eg. removal of training and stabling, fencing and carparking, improved accessibility) that need to be addressed to achieve this, and
- Council’s May, 2013”, “Caulfield Racecourse Reserve – Potential sporting and recreational uses” (Council Meeting Minutes 9/4/2013– Item 9.4) states that currently “Demand is continuing to exceed supply, despite Council having undertaken various infrastructure projects in the past few years designed to increase the load capacity”
GERA believes that the public access to the centre of racecourse and the removal of training should be included in the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy’s Key Priority Projects. Their exclusion downplays the significance of the Centre, both currently and in the future. Rather than being seen as a distinctly separate issue, it should be seen as an integral element to Glen Eira’s Open Space Strategy.
Open Space Contribution/Levy
- Open Space Contribution Rate
Although the 1998 Open Space Strategy recommended imposing the standard maximum rate (5% – of land value at the time of subdivision) for multi-unit developments across the municipality, the Glen Eira Planning Scheme (Clause 52.0) contained a complex system of contribution rates (dependent upon base rates by locality subject to increments determined by various criteria) which resulted in varying rates being applied across the municipality.
GERA welcomes the 2013 Draft Strategy simplification of contribution rate calculations by applying a standard flat open space contribution rate across the municipality (as originally proposed in 1998). However, GERA opposes application of a calculated average rate, anticipated to be 4.75% (as advised at the community consultation) and instead advocates that the maximum 5% be applied across the municipality.
Additionally, GERA advocates that Glen Eira joins other inner and middle ring Councils in lobbying the State Government to enable applying a maximum 8% contribution rate (of land value at the time of subdivision) for multi –unit dwellings in areas designated as medium to high density development areas, particularly the Commercial and Mixed Use Zones which allow for residential developments without prescribed height limits.
- Open Space Contribution Expenditure
Although the 1998 Open Space Strategy suggested open space contribution revenue be expended on “a 50% split between acquisition and improvements” basis, Council’s response to a public question on 18/12/2012 (Council Meeting Minutes 18/12/2012 – Item 11.4) shows more being spent on improvements (85%) than acquisitions (15%).
“Council’s readily accessible records span nine years: 2003/4 to 2011/12. During those nine years Council received $12,769,669. ….. Council spent $1.911m acquiring the properties abutting Packer Park.”
Open space contribution expenditure as discussed in the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy is nebulous. For example, the highest priority listed is (p. 294)
“Allocate open space contributions for land acquisition or capital works depending on the purpose for which the monies were collected. The proportion of project funding should be commensurate with the use by the new population on whose behalf the contributions are collected. The budget should maintain the percentages allocated to open space contributions, especially over the life of the strategy”
Without assessment guidelines (on how the “purpose of collection” or “the use by the new population” is to be determined), performance measurement or reporting requirements, there is little ensure that any funds collected will be reserved for the acquisition of new parkland. GERA believes that all open space contribution revenue should be reserved for the acquisition of parkland only – capital works and on-going maintenance should be funded from Council funds or government grants.
Active vs Passive Uses
Both the 1998 and 2013 Open Space Strategies recognised/s that open space is used for diverse purposes, broadly classified as being active (ie. structured sports) and passive ( eg. walking, dog walking, exercise, unstructured sports, playgrounds, relaxing, socializing). Both strategies also recognise that passive recreation is the most popular parkland activity and that Glen Eira lacks adequate open space for both passive and active sporting needs.
Since 1998 Glen Eira’s focus has been on active sporting needs (pavilions, sports ground improvements) to the detriment of passive needs. While GERA accepts that sports grounds, when not being used for structured sports, may also be used for passive needs, GERA argues that vacant sports grounds do not provide the same enjoyment and relaxation benefits that are provided by specifically designed biodiverse passive recreation areas/parks.
GERA therefore advocates a more balanced approach to providing for passive and active needs within existing parkland and larger parkland acquisitions. GERA supports the acquisition of pocket parks (suitably landscaped and equipped, eg. seating and playground equipment) as partly addressing the community’s passive recreation opportunities.
The 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy recognises that streets are part of the public realm and, although primarily used for used for transport, are also used for socialising and exercise (eg. walking and cycling). As such streetscapes provide complementary uses to the open space network, provide valuable links within the open space network and contribute to “openness” of the urban environment.
While both the planning scheme and Council policies recognise the public realm significance of streetscapes by restricting buildings intruding into beyond property line there is a disturbing trend to grant planning permits for developments, particularly in medium – high density areas, with balconies that intrude into the public realm. Such intrusions are to the detriment of community and the “openness” of the urban environment.
GERA therefore advocates compliance with the Planning Scheme and Council Policies and that existing buildings which intrude into the public realm be considered to be anomalies rather than precedents.
GERA welcomes the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy’s recognition that the community regards trees as “the most highly valued feature of open space” and the recommendation that Council’s preparation of “a Strategy to address short and long term management of trees and canopy cover in Glen Eira. This is to include trees on all public land including open space and streets as a minimum” be seen as a very high priority.
The 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy includes approximately 25 items as being either very high or high priority issues. GERA advocates Council preparing a schedule, which can be presented for community consultation, ranking these 25 items against a timeline for completion.
GERA appreciates the opportunity to submit comments on the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy and to make a further submission when details of the 1998-2013 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) increase in open space are provided.
Footnote (added to post 17/3/2013)
In response to a number of readers’ requests below are links to the