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The  initial  proposal received  more  than  700  community  objections  and was withdrawn in 2010 following a request by my predecessor.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.