Planning: Avondale Heights
I rise to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Planning, who is also the minister responsible for the statutory authority Places Victoria. The action I seek is for the Minister for Planning to release the master plan for 69-89 Military Road, Avondale Heights – formerly a Kangan Institute of TAFE campus – or commit to a clear time line for its release and a consultation period. The 4-hectare Kangan TAFE site was purchased in 2009 by Places Victoria, formerly VicUrban, which initially proposed to develop a 270-dwelling estate. That development would have included one-bedroom apartments, two-storey townhouses and a five-storey apartment complex.
The initial proposal received more than 700 community objections and was withdrawn in 2010 following a request by my predecessor.
Local residents felt that the initial proposal presented serious risks for traffic congestion, adequate service provision and the general amenity locally. In 2011 the Minister for Planning promised a new proposal capped at 130 dwellings and a maximum of two storeys. The minister’s media release of 6 April 2011 states that:
- The … government will work with the Avondale Heights community and Moonee Valley City Council to ensure a satisfactory development outcome for the former Avondale Heights TAFE site.
Mr Guy said he expected a new development proposal for Avondale Heights to be submitted to the council in the coming months.
Unfortunately for the local community in and around Avondale Heights and Keilor East the coming months have become years. It is now over two years since the minister released his press statement stating the government would work with the local community and a submission would be made to the City of Moonee Valley in coming months.
The community’s concern and the need for clarification and information on the site cannot be underestimated. In the Moonee Valley Leader of 1 October 2012 Avondale Heights resident Helen Johns said that the community was still sensitive about what could be proposed at the site. She also said:
- Avondale Heights does have a country heart and people move here for open space.
During my campaigning and doorknocking before the Niddrie by-election on 24 March 2012 I experienced firsthand the local Avondale Heights community’s anxiety about what would happen with the former Kangan TAFE site.
On 28 January this year the Moonee Valley Leader published an article titled ‘Avondale Heights development shrouded in mystery’ which quoted Places Victoria spokesperson Stephen Zelez as having said:
- The master plan is currently on track to be ready for community engagement in the first half of 2013.
It is now June. No plan has been released and no consultation has taken place. However, the ongoing waiting game, as Avondale Action group spokesman Jim Little described it, is not conducive to genuine local consultation and thus a development that fits comfortably as a part of the community.
Just last week I inspected at the site and was appalled to see that large amounts of rubbish have been dumped there. This site should be seen as an asset, not used as a dumping ground.
The City of Moonee Valley deserves to be congratulated on its work in developing the Avondale Heights community precinct vision and master plan, which was released in June 2012. To quote from a participant involved in its development, ‘It’s about time something was done for Avondale Heights’. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Avondale Heights.
As such I call on the Minister for Planning to release the master plan or to commit to a clear timeline for its release and a consultation period and to explain why this vital step of the project has been delayed.