Tag Archives: Packer Park


Those of you who have been following our previous posts on the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy will be aware that GERA has been requesting details of the strategy’s reported 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) increase in Glen Eira’s Open Space from that reported in the 1998 Strategy.  GERA’s initial (3/12/2014) and follow-up requests do not stem from a desire to  “nitpick” but rather a belief that the practice of “good governance” (and its principles of openness, transparency and accountability) requires advising the community when a change of definitions has occurred and providing an analysis of the impact of the definitional changes when presenting documents to the community.  The significance of Glen Eira’s well documented lack of open space* and the community’s long held and well expressed governance concerns adds emphasis to this requirement in this instance.

GERA received the requested details (ie. the 1998 Open Space Strategy’s Working Paper C – Public Open Space Inventory and Inventory of Buildings within Open Space Areas last Friday (7/2/2014) and has undertaken Council’s recommended D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) comparison/reconciliation.

The comparison/reconciliation results are very disconcerting due to the disparity of the results;  area differences are recorded for most parks (whatever the size) and those differences are often contrary to expectations.  The statement that “From these definitions it can be deduced that the 1998 strategy did not include Council leased facilities such as tennis courts, bowls clubs and croquet, etc.”  indicates a reasonable expectation of area increases in those parks with such facilities and a zero area change to  those parks without such facilities.  Yet surprisingly, and inexplicably, this is not necessarily the case.  For example, Bailey Reserve records an area decrease of 1.37 ha or 13,700 sqm, Duncan McKinnon Reserve records an area decrease of 0.27 ha or 2,700 sqm, and the Glen Rigney Memorial Reserve has doubled in area – 1998 0.03 ha or 300 sqm to 0.06 or 600 sqm in 2013.  There are numerous other such discrepancies. 

Such unexplained anomalies raise many questions re the detailed knowledge and management of Glen Eira’s extremely valuable open space assets and the validity of the data presented in both strategies.  While doubts may be readily cast on of the 1998 Strategy,  doing so legitimately raises additional questions related to the time elapsed (16 years) to identify the 1998 “errors” and the validity of park master plans (all based on the 1998 strategy and which Council indicates are strictly adhered to, eg. the recent controversial Caulfield Park tree removal).

With reference to our earlier posting querying the 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) increase, please note the following results recorded in GERA’s comparative analysis of the 1998 and 2013 surveys

  • Mallanbool Reserve (2.21 ha or 22,100 sqm) was not included in the 1998 survey and is a valid addition to Glen Eira’s open space in the 2013 Strategy.
  • Even without detailed data,  a rough calculation that factors into the 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) increase
    • the unexplained reduction in the Bailey (1.37 ha) and Duncan McKinnon Reserves (0.27) and East Boundary Road Reserve (2.46 ha), and
    • the addition of Mallanbool Reserve (2.21 ha), Booran Road Reservoir (1.7 ha) and Packer Park (1.99 ha**).

indicates that most of the net 11.9 ha increase is attributable to “definitional change” and  highlights the governance aspect raised above.

It also highlights GERA’s comment, included in our  submission to the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy  that Council’s exclusion of the Centre of the Caulfield Racecourse on the grounds of “restricted public access” is fundamentally flawed when the “definitional change” allows for the inclusion of leased facilities that cumulatively approach the Centre in size yet have more restrictions to public access than does the Centre.

**  the reported increase in Packer Park (1.99 ha, 19,900 sqm) includes the purchase of two house lots and the previously leased bowls club that Council proposed to sell to raise funding for the purchase and rehabilitation of the 2 house lots.  Generously assuming that the house lots comprised 0.4 ha (4,000 sqm), the remaining 1.5 ha (10,500 sqm) of the 1.99 ha increase constituted Council owned and leased land and as such is considered to be a definitional change.  Under the revised definition of open space, had the  Bowls Club remained it would have been included in the 2013 Strategy.  Council’s rehabilitation works changed public accessibility rather than the area’s definition status.

Packer Park labelled picture T

GERA believes that, as mentioned in our previous posting, in the 16 years since 1998 little has been achieved with regards to increasing Glen Eira open space and that which has been achieved has been primarily the result of government grants and which have not been augmented by Council actively seeking purchasing opportunities.  In the past 16 years, open space acquisitions (ie. “real” rather than definitional) have been limited to the

  • Mallanbool Reserve (2.21 ha, 22,100 sqm) – Crown land (State), management rights granted to Council
  • Booran Road Reservoir (1.73 ha, 17,300 sqm) – Crown land (State), management rights granted to Council in 2010 – rehabilitation works scheduled to commence in 2015/2016.
  • 2 Packer Park house lots of unknown area (assumed to be 0.4 ha or 4000 sqm – refer above) purchased in 2011 ($1.911m).

This limited achievement comes despite residents continually expressed open space long term goals, a rapidly rising population and Council statements recognising Glen Eira’s need for increased open space and promises of active acquisition (via purchase and government grants).  The 1998 strategy’s “suggested” expenditure of the developers open space contributions as 50% split between acquisition and existing park improvements has been ignored.  Aside from the Packer Park house lots, open space contribution ($12.8m for the period 2003/4 to 2011/12) has been spent on capital works in, or maintenance of, existing parkland.  This is an imbalance that needs to be rectified.

GERA re-iterates the points made in our 2013 Open Space Strategy Submission (insert link)

  • Increased frequency of Open Space Strategy reviews
  • Open Space Contributions to be held in reserve for the purchase and rehabilitation of the purchased additional parkland.
  • Regular reporting of open space contributions – revenue received and expenditures
  • Ensure that the current maximum open space contribution rate of 5% of unimproved land value to applied to all multi unit developments within Glen Eira as a priority.
  • Council should join with other Councils currently advocating to the State Government for higher open space contribution rates to apply to Commercial and Mixed Use Zones (currently exempt from open space contributions)

In addition GERA also advocates that, in line with good governance practices, Council advises the community when definitions change and provides an analysis of the impact the changes.



* Glen Eira has the least per capita open space ratio in Metropolitan Melbourne which, at 1.4 ha per 1000 population, is approximately half of the average ratio for Metro Melbourne.


Many thanks to our guest speaker (Julieanne Bell, Protectors of Public Lands*) and our many members who attended the successful GERA Annual General Meeting (21/11/2012).

Julieanne Bell commenced her informal presentation with an outline of the well documented benefits of open space and the recognised threats to open space before opening the forum to a discussion of the threats.  Julieanne stated that the primary source of all threats to public open space and natural habitat is population growth.  Population growth is outstripping provision of open space and natural habitats.

From population growth stem the following issues which are increasingly recognised as serious threats to open space and natural habitats

  • Competition for available land from developers
  • Competition for park usage (passive vs active)
  • Loading up of infrastructure
  • No open space strategy
  • No master plan for planting and revegetation
  • Liquor sales for fundraising by sport clubs
  • Sale of Land or parts of land

In the informal discussion, the above threats were highlighted by examples by AGM attendees

  •  Competition for available land from developers – especially applicable in established inner and middle ring municipalities such as Glen Eira.  Available suitable land is in scarce supply and demand for development lots result in rising prices.  As urban intensification (particularly high rise, mulit-unit, boundary to boundary developments) is focussed along all hard rail routes, transport and retail/commercial hubs so too is the need/demand for public open space within, or in close proximity, to these areas.  This has been a long standing issue, which the State Government recognised years ago when it introduced the Open Space Levy (along the lines of  “make the developer pay”, the levy is a maximum of 5% of land value at the time of subdivision payable by developers to Local Councils) as a means of providing Councils with the funding to acquire and develop additional land for parkland.   Council’s should be levying the maximum 5% and funds should be “held in trust” to ensure they are available when acquisition opportunities, which are mostly unexpected, arise. 

GERA Note:  Glen Eira Council reported receiving $1.63m and $1.66 from the Open Space Levy in 2010 and 2011.  An estimated $1.9 m is anticipated in 2012/13.  Glen Eira does not charge the maximum 5% Open Space Levy and the Levy payable varies across the municipality. (insert link)

  • Competition for park usage (passive vs active usage).  The need for, and the benefits of, parks providing grounds for active participative sports (commonly referred to as organised sport) is well accepted.  Equally accepted is the need for, and the benefits of, parks providing passive recreation opportunities (i.e. picnics, dog walking, informal sports, running and walking).  Historically, provision of active sporting facilities (ovals, associated pavilions and parking requirements) have been given greater significance than providing for passive recreation.  However, this emphasis is shifting towards passive recreation as it is increasingly being recognised that active sporting facilities
    • cater for a smaller population segment than passive recreation which caters for all ages and abilities
    • involve significant land requirements (for ovals, pavilions and parking) yet are used by relatively few people (players/umpires) for significant periods (eg. game duration).  On the other hand passive recreation involves less open space consuming facilities and available open space can be shared by many people at any time.
  • Loading up of infrastructure – Infrastructure includes multi-purpose pavilions (and their ancillary car parking and vehicle access requirements), BBQ and Picnic Rotundas, public toilets, concrete paving etc.  While infrastructure can enhance parkland, improve  accessibility and encourage parkland usage it also consumes open space and therefore needs a balanced well planned approach.  Unfortunately, many local Councils are focussing on “bigger is better” multi-purpose facilities which are under-utilised.  In the case of Glen Eira, attendees raised the issue of the Caulfield Park Pavilion, GESAC (and it’s increasing car parking requirements), the Packer Park Pavilion replacement and expansion and the location of the Glen Eira Parks Depot in Caulfield Park as notable infrastructure loading examples.
  • No open space strategy – An Open Space Strategy is a long term strategic plan for the future provision of sport and recreation infrastructure, facilities, services, trails and open spaces. Such strategies include identifying and confirming the community’s sport and recreation needs, developing a strategic and coordinated approach (that includes funding strategies and open space management arrangements) to meet those needs. 

Residents commented that the current Glen Eira Open Space Strategy is dated 1998 and over the past 14 years the policy has failed to keep pace with Glen Eira’s population growth and its changing needs (re parkland requirements and parkland usage).  Despite Glen Eira residents consistently ranking open space as a major issue, in both the Community Plan and the annual State Government Council Satisfaction Survey,  the Strategy that should have been regularly monitored and reviewed to ensure that it meets the needs of the community has lapsed. 

  • No master plan for planting and revegetation – Sitting under Open Space Strategy, a master plan for planting and revegetation (focussing on tree protection, native vegetation cultural and heritage significant of plantings and maintenance) should be developed for each public park within the municipality to ensure that open space and natural habitats remain inviting, healthy and safe (for both residents and vegetation). 

Residents referred to the September, 2011, removal of 178 cypress trees along the eastern and southern borders of McKinnon Reserve as indicative of Glen Eira’s lack of Planting and Revegetation Master Plans.  In a  Melbourne Bayside Weekly article on the cypress tree removal Glen Eira spokesman Paul Burke said an independent arborist had identified the need to remove the eastern (Tucker Rd) and southern rows of trees.   He said the trees were in poor condition with branches falling and had to be felled to “eliminate the risk to people, powerlines and property”.  …   New trees will be planted later this year, though the species and the exact timeframe are yet to be determined, Mr Burke said.” 

  • Liquor sales – for fundraising by sport clubs require secure areas to control the sale and consumption of alcohol.  Management Plans are required to ensure the sale and consumption of alcohol does not impact other park or facility users, particularly children.   In the case new or multi-purpose facilities such plans should be in place before any liquor license agreement is decided.
  • Sale of Land or parts of land – The 2009 proposed sale of the disused Packer Park lawn bowls club to finance the purchase of two house lots in Packer Park was presented as an example of a significant threat to open space.  In the Packer Park case, the public outcry (the Protectors of Public Lands joined residents in objecting to the sale) was such that Council retained and converted the lawn bowls club to parkland.  Unfortunately, residents did not achieve the same result with the earlier sale of the bowls club that adjoined the Hopetoun Gardens in Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick.

Despite achieving mixed results and experiencing seemingly limitless frustration, Julieanne Bell, believes residents should be active in preserving and enlarging Glen Eira’s limited open space.  Open Space lost is lost forever.


* Julieanne Bell is the convenor of the Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria.  The Protectors of Public Lands (Vic) was established in 2004 and is an organisation comprising over 80 environmental, community, heritage and residents groups and is affiliated with N.S.W. and S.A. branches of the Protectors of Public Lands as well as other action groups (Save our Suburbs, Planning Backlash, Sustainable Population Australia, Green Wedges Coalition).  The aim of the Protectors of Public Lands is the protection and preservation of public lands in public ownership for present and future generations (ie National, State, Local Government and Government Agencies (eg. Melbourne Water, VicRail) lands are lands held in trust for the people).   Public land, once sold, is land lost to the people forever.