Game over for playing fields move

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THE door has finally shut on a secretive bid to move Mentone Grammar’s playing fields in Keysborough in to Melbourne’s urban growth boundary, ending the possibility of the sports fields being sold off for residential development.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne wrote to Kingston Council last week to reject council’s request to rezone Green Wedge land at 732-928 Springvale Rd and 327 Governor Rd, Braeside.

“Current government policy does not support expansion of the urban growth boundary or allow inappropriate urban development in the Green Wedge Zones,” Mr Wynne stated in his letter.

“The urban growth boundary supports the orderly development of land, discourages the unnecessary extension of community infrastructure and helps preserve the qualities of non-metropolitan and rural areas.”

The land council asked to be rezoned included the elite private school’s playing fields and, while the school denied it planned to sell the land for property development, The News revealed early last year that Mentone Grammar approached council behind the scenes to have the Keysborough land included in the urban growth boundary.

Mentone Grammar wrote to council’s hired planning consultant Planisphere just before the firm finalised a green wedge report for council’s consideration in August 2012.

The school asked for its Keysborough playing fields to be included in the urban growth boundary, instead of staying in the Green Wedge, where development is extremely restricted.

Planisphere recommended the playing fields remain within Kingston’s Green Wedge in its 2012 Kingston Green Wedge Plan.

Council, for reasons never explained, decided to keep the school’s submission confidential. Other submissions to Planisphere were made public.

The month before it was revealed Mentone Grammar pushed to have its Keysborough land rezoned, a narrow majority of Kingston councillors voted to investigate the possibility of moving the urban growth boundary in the area.

Crs Tamara Barth, David Eden, Steve Staikos and Rosemary West were outvoted four-five in a bid to stop the rezoning move in January last year by Crs Tamsin Bearsley, Ron Brownlees, Geoff Gledhill, John Ronke and Paul Peulich.

Kingston mayor Cr Geoff Gledhill said this week Mentone Grammar had been advised of the state government’s decision but “council hasn’t had a chance to discuss it”.

“We’re mindful of the fact that when we bring up the urban growth boundary the Planning Minister is not going to just think about that in terms of Kingston but in terms of the entire state which is an onerous task,” he said.

Mentone Grammar principal Mal Cater sent a statement when asked for the school’s views on the state government rejection of the rezoning request.

“This is a process Mentone Grammar has limited control over. This is a matter for the Kingston Council and the state government. We are delighted to have outstanding playing fields at Keysborough.”

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 30 September 2015

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