Moreland Council has joined the community in calling for a parcel of VicRoads land by Merri Creek in Fawkner to be retained as public open space. The land is zoned Public Park & Recreation Zone (PPRZ) and is actively used by the community and wildlife. VicRoads has declared the land 'surplus' to its requirements; the majority of the land is headed for a rezoning before it is sold for residential development. Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) is calling on the state government to show leadership to protect the land, a vital part of the Merri Creek corridor.
The VicRoads land is located at the rear of an industrial area at 106 McBryde St, Fawkner, and extends to Merri Creek. More than two years ago, VicRoadsproposed to divide the land into two parcels; one parcel, a 35m wide strip of land next to Merri Creek, is for transfer to Moreland Council. In exchange, Moreland City Council agreed to sell VicRoads a parcel of nearby Council-owned land at the end of Hood St Fawkner, also near Merri Creek. The Hood St land will provide a second point for road access to the VicRoads land - a desirable option if residential development of the land proceeds. (right above: VicRoads Concept Plan for the site).
There are multiple problems with the proposal. The 35m-wide creek corridor falls well short of the minimum 50m-wide creek corridor that is an objective in Moreland Council's own planning scheme. Council's agreement in principle to the land swap, made back in Dec 2015, occurred without community consultation about the future of the area. And the decision was made in the absence of any strategic analysis of future open space needs in the area, either recreational or ecological. The experience of Merri Creek further downstream shows that community demand for this type of open space is continuing apace, especially as urban consolidation proceeds. The fact that the land swap was opposed by Council's own open space unit is telling. For more detail, read MCMC's objection to the subdivision application.
In late October 2017 Moreland Council decided in favour of issuing a planning permit for subdivision of the VicRoads land into two parcels, to create the 35m creek reserve, consistent with the decision Council made almost two years ago for the land swap. However in a welcome move in early December, Council resolved to explore options to retain the entire parcel of land as open space. This decision is warmly supported by Merri Creek Management Committee.