7th March 2019
Today 4 Hills Common Alliance members attended the compulsory VCAT Hearing in Melbourne. 2 Yarra Ranges Shire staff, 4 Parks Victoria staff and 2 lawyers for their side also attended.
Nothing was going to sway these people in their decision to remove all the amazing trees and put in an oval on this ‘community’ land.
The ‘potential’ cultural heritage issue could so easily have been looked into and the sporting field could well have been located in that spot.
This would have provided for the sporting groups, kept the parkland for all the community and saved the land for our kids and future generations.
This avenue would have taken extra work on their behalf, but it was not to be considered. It is a disgrace that no attempt was made to consider the wishes of a very large part of the community.
Some people might feel proud of this destruction and lack of respect for the rest of the community, that is their choice.
History of the fight to save The Olinda Golf Course.
Hills Common Alliance members are not opposing a minor sports and recreation facility on the former Olinda Golf Course.
We are opposed to it requiring the removal of many beautiful trees when a slightly smaller sporting field could easily be created, as per the previous plans, and much of the top of the golf course kept intact.
VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) An appeal has been lodged with VCAT against the planning approval of the oval by Yarra Ranges Council.
V.C.A.T. HEARING DATE SET – 13th May 2019
Yarra Ranges Council Meeting, 9th October 2018 – A ‘minor’ sports and recreation facility has been approved to be built on the top three fairways of the former Olinda Golf Course. This second oval in our small village will be on the only flat, open land available to every community member.
More than 30 beautiful, mature trees will be removed, the land completely flattened, lights installed and the parkland will be lost forever.
Cr Mike Clarke and Cr Tim Heenan both voted against the proposal as it stands and Cr Mike Clarke proposed it be made slightly smaller and moved a short distance so that the existing large, beautiful trees could be preserved.
This proposal was totally ignored. It would definitely reduce what is becoming a huge community divide. It could be acceptable. But 7 other councillors, Parks Victoria and James Merlino’s Steering Group do not appear to have the vision or generosity to share and compromise.
We ask for fair and transparent community consultation on this matter. We welcome talks with James Merlino, Parks Victoria, and the Yarra Ranges Council.
This is the approved minor sports and recreation facility, overlayed on the top three fairways and showing clearly all the beautiful trees that will be removed. This image is from the Parks Victoria plans.
The current plans for the ‘Olinda Precinct’ vary greatly to what was originally presented to the community. See the original proposed layout that many people were very much in favour of here.
‘Potential’ Indigenous conflict was claimed as a reason to discard sensible plans to place the second sporting oval in the corner of the land near the swimming pool. There is no conflict, as the land has been used and changed over the years, this ‘potential’ conflict has been obviated. This information has come from a Barrister with extensive experience in these matters.
There has been a complete lack of transparency and proper community consultation and the bulk of the community was not represented on James Merlino’s steering committee to decide on what happens to our community parkland. This is supposed to be the ‘Olinda Green’ according to the sign as you enter the land.
This is planned to be a minor sports and recreation oval for junior players – Why then does it have to be so big when juniors in the younger teams play on a 3/4 size field?
James Merlino has stated publicly that the oval will be for training and official football matches – Clearly, much bigger plans exist as scoreboards, parking, spectator areas, fencing, change rooms etc. will be added over time. The entire top, flat area of our community space will be engulfed.
This ‘piecemeal’ approach should not be accepted by our community. VCAT is known for a lack of tolerance with this type of deceptive planning.
Part of the conditions of the plans that Yarra Ranges Council approved includes- no permanent fences or permanent structures to be erected around the Olinda Green.
To play competition matches it will require more than has been applied for.
The parkland has become a thriving community hub for passive recreation. Local residents and visitors to the Dandenongs currently enjoy the views and open spaces, that are so rare in the Dandenongs, picnics and parties have been held over the summer months. The Autumn colour is stunning and the entire park is used all year-round, every day of the week.