Tag Archives: gleneira open space




Last week’s Council Meeting (20/5/2014) saw some 35+ residents protest against Council’s decision  to demolish the conservatory and return it to open space. The decision (a 4 to 3 split decision) to remove the conservatory (Council Meeting 29/4/2014), came some 7 months after the previous unanimous decision to (24/9/2013) to restore and replant the landmark Conservatory.

The protest involved residents entering the Council Chamber towards the start of the meeting and chanting, for some 4-5 minutes “SAVE OUR CONSERVATORY”,  then departing.

As stated in our below posting, the 24/9/2013 decision to restore and replant  the conservatory, reflected the view, clearly and consistently, expressed by residents in 4 consultations over a 5 year period (a period in which Conservatory neglect continued).  The last consultation (July, 2013) being an extensive mail out and telephone survey in which residents were asked to rank the various alternative uses – the unambiguous survey results were

  • Most preferred option – restore and replant (49% of respondents)
  • Least preferred option – remove (50% of respondents)

The 20/5/2014 decision to remove is primarily based on Council’s estimated cost of restoring and replanting ($120K) being lower than the average cost ($297K) of structural restoration tenders received (an amount of questionable significance in terms of Council’s annual $73+m budget).   Re the removal decision – no community consultation occurred and no information was provided in support of Council’s $120K (restoration and replanting) cost estimate.   Additionally, the comment  “that if residents were aware of the cost when surveyed, the outcome would most likely have been different” (Leader Article 21/5/2014)  lacks foundation and does not acknowledge that, although residents requested cost estimates be provided for the various 2013 survey options presented, none were provided.

GERA maintains it’s view that Council’s decision to remove the conservatory is inconsistent with

  • Council’s goal of incorporating community input into its decision making process
  • The principles of good governance



The issue of what to do with the  Caulfield Park Conservatory (subject to a Heritage Overlay) has been raised 4 times in the past 4 years. Predominantly the options presented to the community have been restore, remove or convert to café.   Although, each time the community has voted for restore, the conservatory has remained neglected.

The last community consultation was held in July, 2013.   In addition to the usual Council consultation announcements (ie Council’s website, Glen Eira News and Local Media),  Council also undertook

o a 3200+ mail out of a pictured survey brochure, which requested residents rank the below alternative options in order of preference

Café – indoor/outdoor – capacity 50
 Café/Tearooms – indoor/outdoor – capacity 80-100
 Children’s garden/playspace, environmental education hub
 Community Rooms
 Native/sustainable garden
 Plant Nursery
 Recreational/exercise area
 Remove Conservatory and return to open space
 Retain the Conservatory, repair, restore and replant garden
 Other

o a telephone survey of 300 residents and
o promoted the survey in prominent locations within Caulfield Park.

Although residents, and the Friends of Caulfield Park, requested cost estimates be provided to enable residents to make informed decisions on the various options, none were provided.

The results of the returned surveys (24/9/2013 Council Meeting Minutes – Item 9.14) were

• the most preferred options

o the Conservatory to be repaired and restored, with its gardens replanted (49%)
o the second most preferred option being that the Conservatory be used for a native/sustainable garden (31%).

• the least preferred options

o remove the Conservatory and return the area to open space (50%)
o used as café/tearooms – with an indoor/outdoor seating capacity of 80-100 people (44%)

As a result, Council passed the following motion

That Council:
(a) Note feedback received during consultation process,
(b) Repair and restore the Conservatory and replant its gardens,
(c) Investigate options for community involvement in the restored

At the last Council Meeting 29/4/2014  (Council Meeting Minutes – Item 9.8), the Caulfield Park Conservatory was raised once again. The Officers Report presented states that the Council Budget provided $120k for restoration of the conservatory and the average of the tenders received for the restoration of the conservatory was $297K.   The explanation for this cost over run was that in “The process of preparing the tender specification and the tender process itself identified additional issues”*, which we believe are predominantly structural and brings into question the costing exercise undertaken to determine the budgeted $120K.

The options presented at the last Council meeting (29/4/2014) were

“Options include, but are not limited to:

a. select a tender for the restoration of the conservatory and accept the significantly increased cost;
b. remove the conservatory and return the area to open space including new plantings of exotic species – estimated cost $75k;
c. remove the conservatory and amphitheatre and return both areas to open space including new plantings of exotic species –estimated cost $140k;
d. undertake consultation on alternative proposals;
e. other action as directed.”

The motion passed by Council (Moved by Cr. Lipshutz, Seconded by Cr. Delahunty) was

“That Council remove the conservatory and amphitheatre and return both
areas to open space including new plantings with exotic species with an
estimated cost of $140,000”.

Voting for the motion – Crs. Delahunty, Esakoff, Lipshutz and Pilling
Voting against the motion – Crs. Lobo, Magee, Sounness.

Following on from the recent well-publicized and highly contentious removal of trees from Caulfield Park, the Friends of Caulfield Park are understandably aggrieved at Council’s decision to overturn (within 7 months) the 24/9/2013 decision to restore and replant – a unanimous decision that was based on extensive community consultation. The split decision to overturn was made without any community consultation and on a questionable budget estimate.

GERA supports the Friends of Caulfield Park in their objection to the decision to demolish the conservatory and their request for Council to reverse their decision to demolish the Conservatory.   The decision to demolish the conservatory is

  • contrary to the repeatedly expressed wishes of the community,
  • contrary to Council’s frequent claims incorporating community input into its decision making process
  • contrary to the principles of good governance (GERA 2011 Governance Posting).  Such principles do not support overturning a previous decision, that was based on an extensive community consultation, due to an underestimated budgeted amount.


For those interested, we also highlight that Council’s DRAFT 2014 Community Engagement Strategy has been published and is available for community consultation (submissions to be lodged 21/5/2014). We encourage all residents to review and make a submission. As per this Draft Strategy,

“Community engagement is about enabling the community and other interested parties to be informed and invited to contribute to Council services, events, strategic plans, issues and projects. Engagement strengthens the community by involving citizens in the democratic process and providing them with opportunities to express their points of view. Participation in civic life is recognised as being central to good health, developing strong and supportive networks and creating a positive community spirit.

By engaging with the community, Council acknowledges the right of citizens to have their say and get involved with local issues that affect them, their family and their community. It also enables Council to meet the needs of the community by ensuring that planning and decision making is based on an understanding of the needs and aspirations of community members”.


* Additional issues identified during the tender process

• A significant area of the roof structure was found to be supported by the
• New lintels and steel columns would be required to support the roof.
• Much of the polycarbonate roof sheeting, windows and doors need to be
• Existing steel trusses also need structural reinforcement.



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.

cf 1998 2013 T

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.

  •  Reporting

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.

Master Plans

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.

cf 1998 2013 Racecourse Centre T

 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 EiraThe 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.

 Tree Protection

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



As much as GERA would like to report that Glen Eira Council acquired the rare and unique 3142 sqm open space opportunity at 487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena, we are unable to.  Regrettably, the property went under the hammer at 6.30 tonight and was passed in at $2.6m with the vendor’s representative being confident the property would be sold later this evening – presumably for high density multi-unit dwellings.  Council was noticeably absent.

Although at less than 20% higher than the top of the quoted sale price of $2.2m, the final negotiated sale price should be well within Council’s range (given the almost $2m paid for 2 Packer Park house lots which were considerably smaller than the Neerim Road property, lacked mature native vegetation and required demolition and rehabilitation works).

Despite GERA lobbying Council and individual Councillors (refer to the two postings below) and a Leader Article on the sale (18/12/2012)

Leader Article 18/12/2002

acquisition of the property was not mentioned at last Tuesday’s (18/12/2012) Council Meeting (nor was it discussed at any previous ordinary Council Meeting).  Council’s only response has been a letter, from Mayor Hyams (refer to our earlier posting below), outlining the reasons why Council was not considering purchasing property.   No individual Councillor responded.

Council’s failure to consider purchasing the property is another instance where Council’s encouraging words are not matched with corresponding actions.  Since 1998, residents have continually expressed concern over Glen Eira’s lack of public open space and the need to acquire additional open space in both the Community/Council Plan and the State Governments Satisfaction Survey.

In evaluating how well Council has responded to residents clearly expressed and well documented wishes residents should consider the following:

  • At last Tuesday’s Council Meeting a Public Question (Council Minutes 18/12/2012 – Section 11.4) re the value of revenue collected from the Open Space Levy paid by developers over the past 10 years and how it was spent (parkland acquisition vs maintenance/development of existing parks) was asked.

Council’s response was that for the period “2003/4 to 2011/12 … During those nine years Council received $12,769,669. … Council spent $1.911m acquiring the properties abutting Packer Park”.

It is interesting to note

      • that Council’s original proposal for funding of the acquisition of the 2 Packer Park properties was to sell the former Packer Park bowling club rather than using Open Space Levies paid by developers.  
      • linking the acquisition of the Packer Park house lots with the open space levy is somewhat redundant since these house lots are in fact the only additional parkland purchased by Glen Eira in the past 9 years.
      • The 1998 Open Space Strategy recommended that there be “a 50% split between acquisitions and improvements”.  Based on the figures presented above, which show an 86:14 split, Council has not complied with the recommendation in their own strategy.
  • The Open Space Levy is legislated by the State Government to provide Council with funding for the purchase of additional open space or maintenance of existing open space.  The Open Space Levy is currently set at a maximum of 5% of the land value at the time of subdivision.   Unlike other Council’s
    • Glen Eira open space levy rates vary across the municipality and rarely is the full 5% charged.  (Glen Eira Planning Scheme – Open Space Levy Rates).   Most Council’s charge an across the board 5% (ie for all areas within their municipality).
    • While other Council’s set aside the open space levy revenue for the specific purpose of purchasing new/additional parkland rather than parkland maintenance, Glen Eira does not.  Consequently, when unexpected open space opportunities arise other Council’s have funds readily available to act on the opportunities, Glen Eira does not.

The Recreation Land Fund, which was previously created (circa 1998) to set aside funds for parkland purchases is no longer included in Glen Eira accounts.

  • The 2012 Glen Eira Community Plan (Theme 5- Recreation and Open Space), includes the statement that “Council will actively seek new opportunities to increase and optimise open space for residents.”    Yet, in outlining Council’s reasons for not considering the purchase of the Neerim Road property, Council has apparently added two additional restrictive stipulations which have not been endorsed by the residents
    • “New open space may well be of even greater priority than enlarging existing open space” .   Such a statement implies a limitation on the parkland opportunities that will be considered rather assessing each opportunity on it’s own merits  – size, cost (acquisition and rehabilitation), the localities expected population growth etc. are some, but not all, factors that should be considered.
    • Council’s priorities will be to adopt and implement a prioritised and costed plan to meet the communities need for public open space”.   Such a statement lacks clarity as it implies focus on events that can be planned and costed (eg maintenance of existing parkland, pavilion developments) rather than recognition of the unexpected nature of parkland opportunities.
  • The current Glen Eira Open Space Strategy is dated 1998.  As mentioned previously, Glen Eira residents have been voicing the need to increase open space since this time.   The Open Space Strategy is a strategy that should have been regularly monitored and reviewed to ensure that the policy continually meets the needs of the community, particularly when the community is experiencing dramatic population growth and high density multi-unit developments.  Unfortunately this has not happened and the strategy is now the subject of a major re-write.

With the impending new Open Space Strategy review and community consultation residents should again be vocal about their wishes and actively ensure Council adheres to the strategy in coming years.  Unique opportunities such as this particular property should not be let go – they should be actively sought and secured for current and future residents.

UPDATE – 21/12/2012

The Sold sticker was on the property’s real estate sign this morning.


Late yesterday, GERA received a letter, from Mayor Jamie Hyams,  in response to our letter (6/12/2012 refer below posting) which

  • alerted Council to the opportunity to purchase 3142 sqms of cleared open space abutting Riley Reserve, Murrumbeena (namely 487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena)
  • outlined the benefits of acquiring the property, located within easy walking distance of the Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and Dandenong Road Housing Diversity (high density) areas.

Unfortunately, Council has decided not to purchase 487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena.   Although located in a minimal change area and a rare opportunity to acquire a sizeable addition to the Municipality’s open space (at approximately 50% of the Melbourne Metropolitan average per capita open space, Glen Eira has the least open space in the metro area), Council argues financial considerations prevent the acquisition of this property.  Hence a valuable open space opportunity will be lost forever to high density development (as emphasised in the below sale advertising material)


The following is GERA’s response, dated 15/12/2012, to the Mayor’s letter.  The response has been forwarded, via email, to all Glen Eira Councillors.


Dear Mayor Hyams,

Thank you for your 14th December, 2012, response to our recent letter (6/12/2012) alerting Council to a rare opportunity to acquire additional parkland (487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena).  While GERA accepts that Council (like every organisation and individual) has finite resources and needs to prioritise those resources, Council (like every organisation and individual) also needs to retain a degree of flexibility so that unexpected/unplanned opportunities can be capitalised.  For the reasons outlined in our above mentioned letter (copy attached), GERA believes that acquisition of 487 Neerim Road is one such unexpected/unplanned opportunity and requests Council reconsider it’s decision not to purchase the property.

In a point by point response, to your letter (14/12/2012) GERA respectfully submits the following

  •  Packer Park Acquisition  

While GERA does not contest the distinction between our wording of the 2 house lots “adjoining Packer Park” vs. your wording of “jutted in to the park”, GERA points out that the property at 487 Neerim Road is considerably larger than the 2 house lots, has the added benefit of possessing mature native vegetation and additionally is not encumbered by the presence of buildings.  The Neerim Road property estimated price of $2.2m+ therefore compares favourably with the Packer Park house lots (almost $2m) which required demolition and rehabilitation works.  Since the former bowls green at Packer Park was Council property (which it is noted Council originally proposed to sell to fund the acquisition of the 2 house lots), no acquisition costs were incurred.

  • Former Glen Huntly Reservoir (also known as the Booran Road Reservoir) 

In the period 2006/8, the Glen Huntly Reservoir was declared surplus to South East Water requirements and an “ïn principle” agreement to transfer the land to Glen Eira Council for conversion to public open space was made.  In March, 2008 (prior to the November, 2008 Council elections) Council held a public consultation on proposed usage at which residents voted overwhelmingly against selling the reservoir site for development and in favour of conversion to parkland.   In 2010, the wheels of government moving slowly, management responsibility (not ownership) for the land was officially transferred to Glen Eira.

Council’s 2012 10 year Strategic Resource Plan includes the following budgeted amounts for reservoir conversion – 2017/18 $4m, 2018/2019 $3.5m.

While GERA welcomes the addition of this new park, particularly as it is located in the Glenhuntly Housing Diversity (high density) area, GERA recognises that, unlike 487 Neerim Road, acquisition of the reservoir site is a planned opportunity and that the proposed new park will not become a reality for some considerable time.

  •  Council Advocacy

GERA supports Council’s advocacy for the Caulfield Racecourse Centre and the Elsternwick Plaza.  However, it is noted that neither are new parks, or involve additional parkland.  Additionally, Council advocacy for these two parks is not new – Council advocacy for the two was included in the soon to be replaced 1998 Open Space Strategy.

 In relation to the centre of the Caulfield Racecourse, Council’s 2011 agreement with the Melbourne Racing Club appears to have stalled since improvements (eg. removal of the Queens Avenue palisade fencing) have failed to meet their scheduled completion date.

  • New Open Space Strategy

As with Council Advocacy, GERA welcomes and supports the proposed new Open Space Strategy.  Replacement of Council’s 1998 Open Space Strategy is long overdue as, over the past 14 years, the policy has failed to keep pace with Glen Eira’s population growth and the changing needs (re parkland requirements and parkland usage) that accompanies such dramatic population growth.

While GERA notes that the 2012 Community Plan includes the broad statement that “Council will actively seek new opportunities to increase and optimise open space for residents”, GERA is concerned that your statement that “New open space may well be of even greater priority than enlarging existing open space” may imply a limitation on which open space opportunities will be considered.  Admittedly, the open space is not evenly distributed across the municipality and open space opportunities should be pursued in those areas with little or no open space.  However, this should not preclude significant open space opportunities in other better served areas, particularly when

      • those areas are zoned for dramatic current and future population growth and
      • open space accessibility, within the area or suburb, is restricted by railway lines.

GERA would welcome the opportunity to further discuss this issue, and the related issue of funding of future open space acquisitions, with Council.

  •  Open Space Improvements 

GERA acknowledges that Glen Eira’s limited open space is well maintained and that open space maintenance involves considerable expense.  It should be noted that residents question some of Council’s maintenance decisions (e.g. installation of concrete plinths, pavilion expansions), particularly when the expenses incurred by those decisions are seen to prevent or limit acquisition of additional open space.

 The need for flexibility and willingness to take advantage of unexpected open space opportunities, is reflected and highlighted by your mention of the $1.1m Murrumbeena Play Space Project   The Murrumbeena Play Space Project experienced a “leap forward” in the priority list when the unexpected State Government Grant ($259K) was announced and Council was able to unexpectedly provide the additional $850K required.

  •  Council Borrowings

Repayment of the GESAC loan (budgeted to be $23.4m at the end of the 2012/13 financial year) should be an issue for Council.   However, given

      • Council’s confidence that GESAC revenues will rise to cover not only running costs but also interest and principal repayments and
      •  the currently budgeted 2012/13 financial year surplus of $6.87m

brings into question Council’s focus on GESAC debt reduction at the expense of acquisition the 487 Neerim Road property.

  • Defined Benefit Fund

GERA seeks clarification on the $7.1m fund shortfall and its impending payment mentioned in your letter.

The July 2012 fund shortfall announcement was featured in a Glen Eira Leader Article dated 14th August, 2012.  In this article Council spokesman Paul Burke said “Council directors had identified the shortfall risk last year, and had put $3 million into its 10-year Strategic Resource Plan” … He said “$4.1 million now had to be found with the shortfall paid over 15 years

The clarification GERA seeks is the related to reconciling the significance and urgency applicable to payment of the Defined Benefit Fund shortfall as outlined in your letter and the Leader Article.

  • Rates

In order to remain focussed on relevant issues, GERA will refrain from commenting on the past election campaign matters raised in your letter.  Suffice it to say, that unexpected/unplanned open space acquisitions should not be seen to automatically result in increased rates or rate increases that are higher than expected – particularly in light of the following points:

      • with a budgeted 2012/13 financial year surplus of $6.87m,
      • the impending success of GESAC and
      • a 10 year Strategic Plan that provides for annual rates increases of 5-6%

As mentioned in this letters introduction, Council also needs to retain a degree of flexibility so that unexpected/unplanned opportunities can be capitalised. The closing comment that “Council’s priorities will be to adopt and implement a prioritised and costed plan to meet the communities need for public open space” does not reflect the community’s open space aspirations included in the 2012 Community Plan nor does it reflect unplanned/unexpected nature of open space opportunities.   Without the flexibility and willingness to take advantage of open space opportunities as they become available, Council’s vision is incomplete and the community’s needs will never be met.

As time is of the essence (487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena is to be auctioned 20/12/2012) GERA urges Council to

  • consider the acquisition advantages outlined in our 6/12/2012 letter,
  • consider the points raised above and to
  • reconsider it’s decision not to purchase 487 Neerim Road.

GERA looks forward to receiving Council’s response to this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Don Dunstan,

President,  Glen Eira Residents Association (Reg. No. A00390820L)

Box 212 Elsternwick, Post Office, 3185 Victoria

Cc:  All Councillors via Email, Glen Eira Residents via GERA website posting


The following is the content of a formal letter, delivered today to Mayor Jamie Hyams, alerting Council to an opportunity to acquire a significant parcel of cleared land (3142 sqm) which abuts Riley Reserve, Murrumbeena, and could readily be incorporated into the Reserve.

The self-explanatory letter, which has also been emailed to each Councillor, outlines the benefits and advantages that GERA sees arising from the acquisition of the property located at 487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena.  The letter is also in line with residents aspirations for increased open space as expressed in “The Glen Eira Community Plan, 2012” (Theme 5- Recreation and Open Space, page 25), which includes the following statements

“Open space is a vital community asset that provides benefit for the whole community … The immediate benefits of open space are well documented … The City of Glen Eira has the lowest amount of open space of any city in Melbourne and Council will actively seek new opportunities to increase and optimise open space for residents.”  Council “invests a significant amount in providing facilities that meet the needs and aspirations of a growing and dynamic community”

As the property’s auction date is 20th December, 2012, GERA realises time is of the essence (as is typical of unexpected or unplanned opportunities) and trusts that Council will undertake actions to acquire the property.  GERA and Glen Eira residents look forward to Council’s response which will be posted on this website. 

Residents may wish to make their own representations to Councillors re the acquisition of the land.



Dear Jamie,

Re:  Opportunity to purchase additional Parkland

We are writing to alert Council to a rare and unique opportunity to purchase a large property (3142 sqm) at 487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena which adjoins Riley Reserve and would be a significant addition to Glen Eira’s parklands.  The following advertisement re the sale of this property appeared in “The Weekly Review”, dated 28th November, 2012.   Additional details from the Agents Website are provided as an attachment.

487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeenaa

GERA strongly advocates that Council give appropriate consideration to acquiring the property for the purposes of increasing Glen Eira’s limited public open space (on a per capita basis, Glen Eira has the least open space in metropolitan Melbourne – Glen Eira 4 hectares per 1000, average for Metro Melbourne 7 hectares per 1000).

The advantages of acquiring this property are

  • Adjoins existing Riley Reserve and at 3142 sqm would be a significant addition to the reserve
  • The property has been cleared of previously existing dwellings while significant mature vegetation has been retained.  Therefore, costs of converting the property to public open space would be minimal.
  • The top estimated price for the property is $2.2m which favourably compares to the $2m Council paid for 2 house lots adjoining Packer Park in 2011.  The 487 Neerim Road property is approximately 25% larger than the 2 Packer Park house lots and, unlike the 2 Packer Park lots, does not require demolition works.
  • The property is located in a minimal change area and acquiring the property for parkland would add significantly to local amenity and retention of the neighbourhood character and streetscape.
  • The property is conveniently located close to the Chadstone Shopping Centre and the Murrumbeena, Hughesdale, Dandenong Road Housing Diversity (high density) areas.  All three housing diversity areas are undergoing rapid transformation from being predominantly single/dual occupancy and 1-2 storey dwellings to becoming high rise (minimum 3-4 stories) multiple unit dwellings with limited private or communal open space.  Such developments will result in demand for public open space far exceeding the provision of open space in the area.
  • It is noted that in 2009 against substantial opposition from local residents, Council approved a development application for the site (23 double storey residences).  This application was later appealed at VCAT and a much larger development (3 stories, 28 residences) was approved.  VCAT considered proximity (within 500 metres) to the Murrumbeena Housing Diversity Area outweighed any minimal change or neighbourhood character considerations. VCAT’s 2009 decision effectively set a precedent for high density “creep” into this minimal change area.  Council acquisition of the property for parkland would prevent this “creep” and secure a substantial addition to parkland in an area with a high demand for parkland.
  • Funding (even if the purchase price is higher than the quoted $2.2m) for the purchase should be available from the State Government legislated Open Space Contribution Levy, paid by developers (a maximum 5% of land value at time of subdivision) should enable Council to fund both the acquisition and costs to convert the vacant land to public parkland.

In view of the above advantages, GERA strongly advocates that Council avail themselves of this rare opportunity to make a substantial addition to Glen Eira’s well-known lack of public parkland.

Cc:       Via email –  all Councillors, Via website posting – Glen Eira Residents


Attachment – Ex Hocking Stuart Website – 5th December, 2012




Last Wednesday’s (13/6/2012) Booran Road Reservoir Concept Plans  Consultation gave residents the opportunity to confirm the views they expressed at the March, 2008 consultation (Friends of Glen Huntly Reservoir website – FOGHR) – this they did.   The majority of the 50+ attendees preferred the passive recreation option over the active or mixed options.

Booran Road Reservoir – Background

The Booran Road Reservoir (also known as the Glen Huntly Reservoir) is 1.6 ha of crown land located on the corner of Glen Huntly & Booran Roads, Glen Huntly.  The site shares a rear boundary with Alamar Ave and abuts nine properties along Roseberry Grove.

The reservoir has not been used to store water since the 1970’s.  The site was/is considered to be the last undeveloped piece of land in Glen Eira that can be reverted to publicly accessible open space. Around 2006/8,  the site was declared surplus to South East Water use and in 2010 it was  formally handed to Glen Eira Council by the State Government to manage* as publicly accessible open space.   In March, 2008, given the impending State Government handover, a community consultation was held to discuss proposed uses.   Council presented two options to residents: a) sell the land for development or b) convert the land to passive parkland with synthetic soccer pitch  – residents overwhelmingly voted for passive parkland. 

Booran Road Reservoir

Booran Road Reservoir Concept Plans Consultation

As previously mentioned, last Wednesday’s (13/6/2012) consultation confirmed the 2008 preference for the former reservoir to become passive recreation open space.

The plans presented were described, by the designer (Bill McLaughlin), as being “thoughts at the moment” and, although attendees were asked to indicate their preferred option (passive, active or mixed recreation) the consultation was not a forum to vote on the presented options – it was to gather attendees’ preferences so that they could be incorporated in future park plans. Paul Burke (Director of Community Services) explained that, while Council has budgeted for work to commence on the park in 2016/7, Council was commencing development of the plans well before this time so that the plans could be submitted should a government grant become available.

Given the well documented lack of public open space in the Glen Eira Municipality (a major issue which has continually featured in the Community Plan and the State Government’s Satisfaction Survey since the 1990’s), it is appalling that

  1. Some 4 years on from the initial consultation (or 2 years on from Council securing management responsibility* of the site in 2010)  Council is only now approaching the drawing board.  In November 2009 Council estimated that it would take approximately 2 years to complete construction/landscaping and commissioning of  the park**.
  2. A further 4 -5 years will pass before Council commences work on the park and that the work will take a further 2 years to complete. (Council Meeting Minutes 8th May 2008 – Strategic Resource Plan – 2017/18 budget is $4m, 2018/2019 budget is $3.5m).

That Council (Councillors and Administration) considers that the spending of multi-millions on under-utilized, parkland consuming pavilions is a better use of ratepayers funds than creating parkland (1.6 hectares) in an area targeted for high density mixed use developments does not affirm Council’s claim of reflecting the needs and wishes of residents.    What justification is there for leaving this “windfall” prime land a derelict, frequently vandalised, eyesore for the past 4 years and the next 4 – 5 years.


* “manage” and “management responsibility” gives the land to Council to use and maintain for open space purposes yet retains State Government ownership of the land Council.  Thus preventing a sale, originally proposed in 2008, of the land by Council.

** Extract from Council Meeting Minutes, 24th November, 2009 – Section 8.9

There are 5 distinct phase in a major project like the converting the former Glen Huntly Reservoir to public open space:

1. Feasibility

2. Concept

3. Planning / Design

4. Construction

5. Commissioning

The project is currently in the feasibility phase. The Concept Phase will commence after Council has secured management responsibility over the land and determined how it would like to use it. Phases 2 to 5 are likely to take at least 2 years.

Note: Management responsibility was secured in 2010.


The following is a summary of comments made by those who attended last Wednesdays Consultation and are similar to those made at the March, 2008 consultation (Comments from FOGHR ).  The community’s views have not changed. Council was aware of these views 4 years ago yet they failed to materialise in the draft design. Given council’s track record on consultation over design we are not optimistic that anything will be different this time!


  • While residents accepted the presented plans as being conceptual they did note that the all three plans were flawed in that
    • Retention of the reservoir walls, to the extent that they are retained, raised serious security issues as they created dark hidden places
    • No car parking provision is included.  The area has very limited on street parking and already demand exceeds supply.
    • No picnic facilities or play ground included
    • Multi use of area’s not taken advantage of – active sports areas could also be used for farmer’s market, outdoor theatre etc.
  • Preference for passive recreation option
    • All three options raise traffic and parking issues in an already congested area, however, the extent of the congestion varies with the use – including active sporting facilities will concentrate that congestion at specific times.  Passive recreation will not concentrate congestion (more even flow of park usage).
    • Including active sporting facilities on the land will diminish the amount of land available for passive recreation by the need to include ancilliary amenities, e.g. change rooms
    • Glen Eira has few passive recreation areas – how much need is there for another sporting facility
    • Passive recreation  use means park will be usable for the maximum number of residents – from the very young to the aged
  • Facilities to be included in plan
    • Community Garden
    • Facilities for family recreation (BBQ’s, picnic area, playground)
    • Jogging and walking tracks around park perimeter
    • Native tree planting with informative plaques
  • Other

Trees currently surrounding the site need attention now.  Tree maintenance undertaken now will generate a 5/6 year head start for the proposed park.