OPEN SPACE INCREASE ???

GERA had hoped that our first posting for 2014 would include the details of 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) increase in Glen Eira’s open space provisions between the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy (172.9 ha) and the 1998 Open Space Strategy (161 ha) as mentioned in our previous posting.  Unfortunately we are unable to do so.   Although Council confirmed (emailed 23rd December, 2013) that most of the 11.9 ha (119,000sqm) was attributable to “definitional changes”, Council’s response did not include the details of the “definitional differences” and Council has yet to respond to GERA’s follow-up emails  (9/1/2014, 23/1/2014 and 3/2/2014).

Council’s response indicates, that aside from the 2011 purchase of 2 lots abutting Packer Park ($1.9m – no sqm provided) Council has not actively pursued purchasing additional open space as suggested in the 1998 Strategy. Instead the most significant and “real” additional open space increase over the past 15 years has come from grants of land management from the State Government.  As per the 2013 Strategy these land management grants comprise 3.94 ha (39,400 sqm) and consist of the Mallanbool Reserve (2.21 ha – an excellent park but a questionable inclusion in the 2013 Strategy, refer below) and the Booran Road Reservoir (1.73 ha).

Council’s response (download full extract – 23rd December, 2013) includes the following

GERA is “correct in identifying ‘definitional differences’ between the current draft Strategy and the Open Space Long Term Strategy 1998. … there are clear differences in the definition of open space between the two documents. From these definitions is can be deduced that the 1998 strategy did not include Council leased facilities such as tennis courts, bowls clubs and croquet, etc.”

While GERA is awaiting Council’s definition of “leased facilities”,  the exclusion of “allow public access for outdoor recreational use” from the 2013 Open Space definition enables the inclusion of facilities with restricted access to be counted as Open Space. Please note that GERA is not questioning the significant contribution “tennis courts, bowls clubs and croquet, etc.” make to the health and wellbeing of the community nor do we question Council’s role in providing these facilities per se. What we do question, however, is their inclusion without identification or quantification (hectares/sqm) while Council’s justifies the exclusion of the centre of the Caulfield Racecourse from the strategy due to restricted access.

Similarly, GERA is also questioning 2013 Open Space definition including “larger urban and civic spaces and forecourts” and the extent to which this provides for the inclusion of pavilions and car parking.

• “The list of open space sites presented in the 1998 Open Space Long Term Strategy does not include Mallanbool Reserve, Daly Street Mall or Booran Road Reservoir, nor were some minor locations included, however, they are just as legitimate and valued”

The Mallanbool Reserve, Glen Eira’s “newest” reserve, was  originally part of the Murrumbeena Secondary School that was also part of Melbourne’s storm water drain overflow network. A condition of the mid 1990s sale of the school for residential development was that this land would be retained as a stormwater overflow facility and be managed by Council. GERA’s earlier questioning of the Reserve’s inclusion as additional parkland in 2013 strategy arises from the following 1998 Open Space Strategy action item:

“Continue to pursue the “decontamination” of the northern section of the former Murrumbeena Secondary School site to create a recreational link between Packer Reserve and Duncan MacKinnon Reserve. Develop this link with native vegetation and a sealed path with exercise equipment”

Such an action item and the 1998 open space definition suggests that the site was, or should have been, included in the 1998 Strategy even though landscaping and rehabilitation works were not yet completed (circa 2006 – making the “newest” reserve/park approx. 8 years old).

The Booran Road Reservoir (also known as the Glen Huntly Reservoir), as per our earlier post was first proposed to be given to Council late 1990s.   Although Council held it’s first community consultation in 2008 (at which the residents overwhelmingly voted for retain and convert the site to passive parkland rather than sell the site for development), the wheels of government move slowly and the reservoir was not officially placed under Council’s management until 2010. At the second community consultation in June, 2012 (residents again overwhelmingly voted for conversion to passive parkland rather than active or mixed use parkland), Council stated that “Council has budgeted for work to commence on the park in 2016/17 and would be completed in 2018/19”. The 2013 Strategic Resources Plan decision to “From July, 2013, 100% of Public Open Space contributions (a.k.a Open Space Levy or Revenue) will be allocated to acquisition or improvement of additional open space (including the Reservoir), not pre-existing open space” and resulted in the reservoir’s rehabilitation works commencement and completion dates being brought forward by 1-2 years (ie. commencement 2015/16 – $5m, completion 2016/17 – $4.5m).

While GERA welcomes bringing the park conversion forward, we are concerned that rather than funding the already budgeted rehabilitation works from Council revenue, the Open Space Contribution revenue will reserved to fund the reservoir rehabilitation works, rather than being held in reserve to take advantage of unplanned opportunities to purchase additional open space (eg. 2012 Alma Club, Caulfield North – 0.71 ha, 7,100 sqm; or in 2012 487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena 0.3 ha, 3,142 sqm) which would have doubled the size of the existing Riley Reserve).  Not actively pursuing additional open space opportunities via purchase (as well as government land grants) will be to the detriment of current and future residents as increased development intensity results in reduced private open space and a significantly increased demand on Glen Eira’s well documented, currently inadequate open space.

Minor locations …. just as legitimate and valued

Small Park Composite T

While GERA accepts that these legitimate and valued minor locations have the potential to become “pocket parks” it is unfortunate that Council appears to have down little increase their appeal to residents.

   “A detailed inventory of the existing open space is included in section 6 of the current draft strategy.  A comparison of this information with the 1998 Strategy … will provide the information sought”

 GERA is aware that Section 6 of the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy includes a locality based listing of open space included in the strategy and is willing to follow the Director of Community Relations suggestion of undertaking a D.I.Y. reconciliation of the 1998 vs. the 2013 strategy.  However, we are unable to do so.    Although the 1998 strategy references “Working Paper C – Public Open Space Inventory” and “Inventory of Buildings within Open Space Areas” these documents were/are not included in the documentation made available to residents.

 As mentioned above, GERA has previously requested this information on 3/12/2014 ( with follow up 9/1/2014, 23/1/2014 and 3/2/2014) Council’s analysis or the details that would enable us to undertake our own analysis.

At the time of posting GERA is awaiting Council’s Response.

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Open Space Definitions

The 1998 strategy (page 6) states Glen Eira has “over 60 individual parks and gardens comprising 161 ha of open space, 4.2% of the total municipal area” with the term “open space” being defined as including “ ‘public’ open space, which includes all areas owned by Council and other Government agencies that allow public access for outdoor recreational use.  This includes all parks, reserves, gardens and structured outdoor areas such as sports fields that provide outdoor leisure use for the community”.

 where as

The 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy (page 3) states Glen Eira has “70 open space reserves, 172.9 hectares of open space, 4.5 per cent of the total municipal area is open space (excluding Caulfield Racecourse Reserve) with the term open space being defined as “the publicly owned land that is currently set aside, or has the potential in the future to be set aside primarily for recreation, nature conservation and passive outdoor enjoyment. This includes parks, reserves, gardens, larger urban and civic spaces and forecourts”.

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