COUNCIL plans to investigate the possibility of rezoning 53 hectares of green wedge land within the boundary of Braeside Park, Southern Golf Club, Springvale and Governor Rds for residential development have been labelled a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.
Kingston councillors voted five-four earlier this month to consult with land owners, consulting firm Planisphere and council officers on the proposal before the matter would be referred to state planning minister Matthew Guy (‘Wedge opened’, The News, 12/3/14).
However, Mr Guy told state parliament on 12 March that he had no intention of “approving anything” on land near Southern Golf Club.
The golf club is concerned its operations may become unviable if homes are built near the golf course and has made its concerns known by teeing off in a scathing letter to council sent earlier this month.
Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee had advised Mr Guy in state parliament that Southern Golf Club members were worried about “a development proposal for land next to the club – land that is part of the green wedge”.
Mr Guy said the club had no reason to worry. “I have no intention of changing the urban growth boundary near their golf club or of approving anything,” he said.
Defenders of the South East Green Wedge secretary Barry Ross applauded Mr Guy’s stance on the issue.
“Council should stop wasting time and resources pursuing their ill-conceived attempts to convert large tracts of the green wedge for residential purposes”, he said.
The green wedge land earmarked for potential residential development includes Mentone Grammar’s Keysborough playing fields.
The News revealed the private school made a 2012 submission to consultants Planisphere requesting the playing fields be moved into the urban growth boundary, potentially freeing up the area for residential development (‘Land plan puzzle’, The News, 12/2/14).
Planisphere was finalising its recommendations for Kingston’s Green Wedge Plan at the time.
The firm recommended the school’s playing fields should remain within the UGB. Kingston City Council decided to keep Mentone Grammar’s submission confidential.
Southern Golf Club president Ron Coghill wrote to Kingston City Council to stress that allowing homes to be built on land abutting the golf course would have “a catastrophic impact on the future existence and viability” of the club.
He said allowing housing along the course’s eastern boundary would undoubtedly lead to legal action by homeowners if “errant golf balls” entered their property.
Noisy machinery also used each day to maintain the course greens early in the morning could cause neighbours to complain about noise.
Mr Coghill said the club’s board was “appalled and extremely disappointed with council’s lack of consultation” on the possible rezoning.