Campaign 2016A: Retaining the Secondary College open space and vegetation
THIS CAMPAIGN HAS FAILED TO SAVE MANY TREES, BUT IT STILL SEEKS INDIGENOUS PLANTING.
- Planting Hotchpotch critique seeks 100% indigenous plants, not 28%.
- Wholesale tree destruction occurred on the 8 hectare College site.
- Professional arborist’s report on trees on the Secondary College site
- The 2 over-large ovals reduce the buffer to Long Hollow and tree numbers
- VSBA documents, and video of Heather Stewart on the site
- VSBA ‘Information Session’
- BCS Inc. Information Session, high-resolution zoomable site view
- Letter to the Education Minister
- Crowdfunding for an arborist’s report
- Early morning turnout by 250 citizens after BCS Inc. letter to the Premier
- BaysideCity Council resolution, radio and television clips
- See video of Daniel Andrews, later Labor Premier, with James Merlino, later Education Minister, telling people in 2013 gathered at the north-east corner of the school that the choice was between Labor’s plan for a new school, and its opponents’ likely sale of the site for other uses.
- Separation of Long Hollow Reserve instigated by Geoffrey Connard MLC
- * BCS Inc’s critique of VSBA’s PlantingList hotchpotch is a looming issue for the site, as 72% of new planting would be exotic and non-indigenous plants, which is totally inconsistent with the important Vegetation Protection Overlays that cover Beaumaris in order to help maintain its distinctive indigenous plant character. BCS Inc. advocates that new planting on this site should match the land in the bushland corridor – which it is part of – by being 100% indigenous planting. That could be sensibly and economically sourced from Bayside City Council’s Community Plant Nursery, which is just north on Reserve Road. Regardless of any exemptions that the Education Minister might have, the College site is nevertheless shown on the Bayside Planning Scheme, which was published in the Victoria Government Gazette after its necessary approval by a former Planning Minister, as having a VPO3 overlay. As that State Government VPO3 overlay purports to protect against wanton removal of indigenous vegetation, it misleads the public into believing the overlay protects flora here. * The desultory and indifferent ‘consultation’ that the Victorian Government’s School Building Authority was conducting with opponents of the extent of unnecessary tree removal came to an abrupt, and unannounced end when it brought in chainsaws and very large excavators to destroy numerous fine trees on the College site, as many residents and BCS Inc. members – who had only been made aware of the coup by an anonymous text message that BCS Inc. had received – watched in anger. The video in a Facebook posting by Victoria’s Shadow Planning Minister, Hon. David Davis MLC, who was present to witness the slaughter, records graphically how two of the large trees were toppled, early on Monday, 19 December 2016. Murray Thompson, MLA for Sandringham, and Sue Pennicuik MLC were also watching this. See BCS Inc. President’s article in The Age. * The professional arborist’s report on trees on the Secondary College site – commissioned with the support of crowdfunding and other very generous donations – now appears here. See BCS Inc. President’s media statement here. BCS Inc. appealed to the Melbourne Cricket Club, which remained in the shadows and whose plans for a ‘world class’ sporting precinct are at the heart of the proposed environmental devastation, to do the right thing. That would have involved removing a few metres at the extremities of oversized sporting facilities and making other minor design changes. See a video of the architect for the school speaking, and also the Cricket Club CEO.That would not only have saved many trees, but would have provided a much-needed buffer to the continuous bushland and wildlife corridor, interrupted by only two roads, that consists of the nearbyBeaumaris Reserve, the Long Hollow Heathland Reserve, and Balcombe Park.* The two over-large ovals in the College plan are a cause of the great loss of trees and general amenity of the area. Questioning the Victorian School Building Authority on why the northern oval, for the Melbourne Cricket Club, was to be so big was answered by its claim, “That is the minimum size need for first-class cricket”. However, the International Cricket Council regulations state, “A circular cricket field is considered as the perfect field, but generally a cricket pitch is slightly oval. Its diameter varies between 137 m and 150 m. The ICC Test Match Standard Playing Conditions Law 19.1 defines the playing area as a minimum of 137.16 m from boundary to boundary square of the pitch, with the shorter of the two square boundaries a minimum of 59.43 m. The straight boundary at both ends of the pitch is a minimum of 64 m. Distances are measured from the centre of the pitch” Based on that, the MCC northern oval size sought seems to far exceed the minimum standards for even Test Cricket! Using the above specifications, a re-drawing in the diagram below of the boundaries to meet the standards reveals extra space to save and plant more trees, and even extra car parking. Similar savings of tree numbers on the site would result from a correspondingly smaller Community Oval south of it also. Reducing the size of that southern oval would save much more of the bushland to its south and west. The on-site marking of the northern boundary of the bushland buffer width to be left between the Long Hollow Reserve and the southern edge of the southern oval shows it to be very narrow, compared with the VSBA diagrams and leaves little distance between the Reserve’s boardwalk and the southern oval. To enlarge the diagram below of the northern oval, double click on it. See the proposal for Melbourne Cricket Club facilities for the site.
- * The ‘Information Session’ on the Secondary College site held by the Victorian School Building Authority, at the Beaumaris Community Centre on Friday, 25 November 2016, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm disappointed many that went. Many people left early, commenting that it was nothing but a sham. It was just a static display of plans, many of which were on VSBA’s website. A significant plan on its website did list 18 trees that might now be reprieved. Seats for those present were not put out, there was no public address system, but 2 policemen were on duty there for 2 hours. The VSBA Senior Advisor Community Engagement and other VSBA staff were there and would engage with individuals that approached them and answer some of their questions, but they declined requests to address those present as a whole so that all those present could hear the questions and answers.
Murray Thompson, MLA for Sandringham, at left, and Greg Mier, BCS Inc. President, on the stage putting, points to those present, but Victorian School Building Authority staff present made no public response.
One of the three State MPs present, Murray Thompson, MLA for Sandringham, took the initiative, walked up onto the stage, and asked those present to hear points he thought needed to be made. The BCS Inc. President, who had previously listed some of the many community concerns, corrected VSBA statements that BCS Inc. was happy with the situation, but VSBA staff made no public response. The Shadow Education Minister, Hon. Nick Wakeling MLA, mingled with residents discussing their concerns with them, as did SuePennicuik, Greens MLC for Southern Metropolitan. Somebody had removed, by Saturday, the many people’s banners on the school site fence that had still been there on Friday! * At last, obtained on 2016-11-09, six important documents, sought from the Victorian School Building Authority. See a 7-minute video of Heather Stewart on the school site putting the case for the trees. * See overflow information session – with standing room only – at the Beaumaris Community Centre, on 2016-11-16. A 96 MB aerial photo gives a zoomable high-resolution view of the school site then.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * COPY OF A SIGNIFICANT LETTER TO VICTORIA’S EDUCATION MINISTER
* The following correspondence was sent to the Education Minister, James Merlino, on 18 November 2016 from a person who speaks with considerable experience in planning and design matters, and we have been provided with consent to share it with you, our concerned members.
I am a resident of Beaumaris and I support and applaud the government in its proposed redevelopment of the Beaumaris Secondary College. However, I am most concerned about the secret deal that has been struck with the MCC to occupy a substantial area of the crown land that is the Beaumaris Secondary College site. You and two other Ministers are the only government agencies exempt from the operation of the Planning and Environment Act. All other agencies including transport and utility authorities are required to follow the due process (full environmental assessment and consultation) in obtaining sign off for major projects. This has obviously led to a serious complacency in dealing with affected communities that will inevitably have political consequences. In this case, that complacency has led to the VSBA and government:
- signing an agreement with the MCC to occupy a substantial area of crown land with unknown implications for the local community
- committing the government to a major multi-purpose recreational facility on land which was to be redeveloped for a secondary school complex
- shoe-horning the proposed new school into the corner of the site to allow room for these major facilities
- shoe-horning the overall development into the site at significant cost to the local environment in loss of vegetation
- proposing a major change of land use from educational to include a major multi-purpose sporting complex with apparent day/night activity
- potentially exceeding your authority to operate under the order-in-council exemption from planning scheme compliance.
The time frame handed to the VSBA for completion of the school is obviously extremely tight, excessively so in my experience. How else would there be contracts let, tenders called, equipment on-site, etc while plans were still in a fluid state and such basic investigations as vegetation reports are still being produced? While the community committee is dealing with your authority in an honest endeavour to obtain compromised vegetation outcomes, their hands and those of your officials are tied as long as the elements of the plan are fixed. There must be serious modification to the proposed development plan (elements removed) if there is to be a reasonable conclusion. Otherwise, you will be executing and enforcing this development plan over the serious and widespread concern of the Beaumaris community.* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* A crowdfunding page started by former Bayside councillor, Heather Stewart, has approached BCS Inc’s goal of $2,500 to fund a full written professional Arborist’s Report – which is now accessible above – on what has increased to 249 trees at risk and was instrumental in arguing – tree by tree – for proper justification before any tree’s fate is decided. BCS Inc. thanks the donors, whose names appear at that crowdfunding page. * Citizens wearing red – to show anger – were at the school site from 7 a.m, on Monday, 24 October 2016, to deplore the Victorian Government’s early morning sneak chainsawing, at that stage, of up to 229 trees. Talks with a representative of the victorian school Building Authority sought more details of this plan before any tree loss, which was agreed as indicated at a petition update at Change.org. BCS Inc. will provide more details of this plan here if it receives them. * See Facebook page by Hon. David Davis MLC, Shadow Minister for Planning, on importance of citizens getting specific details, and time to interact before trees go, and not just spin. He agreed that a detailed notice board should be required to appear on the 80,000 square metre site – before any axing – as residents must properly do even if applying to remove one tree from a typical 800 square metre house lot. It seems that Government notice boards only appear for projects they are proud of, and not for those they are ashamed of. * BCS Inc. letter to Hon. Daniel Andrews, Victorian Premier, from BCS Inc, seeking a halt to the planned removal of 229 trees from the Secondary College site on 24 October to give time for Bayside City Council and Beaumaris residents to learn how many of each species of tree is to be removed, the reasons, and the indigenous tree species to replace them, and for their views to be heard. An article describes this well. Some of the 250 people seeking answers and credible reasons for losing – at that stage – 229 trees.
* See unanimous resolution of Bayside City Council of 18 October 2016. Hear ABC Radio interview on this devastation, with retiring Southern Ward representative, Cr Heather Stewart, and see Channel 7 News video. Double click on the photo below to enlarge it.
* Article in the Bayside Leader on community anger about being refused details of the tree loss planned
* BCS Inc. leaflet letterboxed to all of Beaumaris south of Balcombe Road on 21 October 2016* From Murray Thompson, MLA for Sandringham: Petition form for completion by concerned citizens, letter to the Premier and the Education Minister, and his Media Release
* BCS Inc. media statement on 18 October 2016 on ‘Stop the Chainsaws!’
Google view in 2015 of the largest single inland area of public land in Beaumaris, on the west side of Reserve Road, between Gramatan Avenue and Balcombe Road
*A major email to BCS Inc. from the Victorian School Building Authority and its website page each propose the same list of replacement plants. Very many are not indigenous to Beaumaris (see schedule 3 to the Bayside Planning Scheme’s Vegetation Protection Overlay, which covers all Beaumaris residential land). Those non-indigenous plants will clash with and water down the present strong and highly-regarded indigenous character and beauty of the continuous bushland corridor, interrupted by only two roads, that consists of the nearby Beaumaris Reserve , the Long Hollow Heathland Reserve, the Secondary College, Balcombe Park , and Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s west course, as well as the many surrounding, treed gardens. * The Secondary College site of 8 hectares was separated from a previously larger area of public land – as shown in a 1992 subdivision plan – to provide for the Long Hollow Heathland Reserve. The Reserve’s boundary is around the landmarked as the 2.35 ha Reserve No. 1 with an accompanying statement that title to that Reserve land, which was formerly vested – along with the school site to its north – in the Education Department, has been transferred to the Queen. That 1992 formal subdivision was instigated by the late GeoffreyConnard raising the matter in Parliament when he was one of the two Liberal MLCs for this area. As Crown land, it has been designated a Heathland Reserve under the management of Bayside City Council. On the Bayside PlanningScheme Map, it can be seen that the school land is zoned Public Use Zone 2 (the same as the two government primary schools in Beaumaris and the neighbouring Education Department next to the electricity substation), whereas the Heathland Reserve is zoned Public Conservation and Resource Zone, which is very protective zoning. That zoning does not bind the Government, but it sets a goal for it.
Double click on photos below to enlarge them.
All the mature trees above on 04 November 2016 were unprotected, with root areas vulnerable to harm.