DINGLEY residents who fear a plan to subdivide the Kingswood Golf Course into 514 lots for housing will drive traffic congestion will have their formal say on a planning application by property fund manager ISPT submitted to Kingston Council.
A majority of councillors voted at Monday evening’s public council meeting (25 September) to ask Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne to begin the exhibition process for community feedback on the proposed housing development.
Many residents, rallied by the Save Kingswood group, also say wildlife will be impacted by the removal of thousands of trees and vegetation to make way for housing.
“We accept that going to the Minister and exhibition and therefore having an ability to object is the best way to go,” Save Kingswood Group Incorporated secretary Kevin Poulter said.
The application submitted to council by Melbourne-based ISPT states about 11 hectares, just over 20 per cent of the site at 179-217 Centre Dandenong Rd in Dingley Village, will be public open space.
“With the exception of the water bodies which are proposed to be vested in Melbourne Water, all areas nominated for public open space would become council owned,” the application states.
Mr Poulter said the open space pledge is “horrendous”.
“Twenty thousand trees are going to be bulldozed and they get away with that because officially a tree is not a tree unless it is 1.1 metres in circumference,” he said.
“A gum tree might be 30 or 40 feet high but not meet the 1.1 circumference.”
He said some of the open space will be a retarding basin for water overflow so is likely to be “soggy wet ground”.
Mr Poulter said the group’s members will make submissions to the planning process.
North ward councillor Steve Staikos stressed at Monday’s meeting that council has not yet decided to approve or reject the planning application.
“Opening this consultation period doesn’t mean council has made up its mind on which way to go and we won’t be making up our mind on which way to go until we see all of the submissions from the residents and have an opportunity to examine those,” he said.
Cr Geoff Gledhill, a Liberal Party candidate for Mordialloc at next year’s state election, welcomed community input into the planning process.
“Put bluntly, if council were to reject this at this point obviously it would go straight to the Minister and council’s participation from that point on, we could make a submission. If we hear directly from the community via the proper exhibition process then we as a council are still working with the community,” he said.
“I want the community to be well assured that we are acting in their best interests and, as far as I’m concerned, it is imperative that council stays part of this process as long as possible.”
Cr Rosemary West said the housing development proposal is “highly contentious” and is “at odds” with council’s golf course policy adopted in 2015 that states council prefers such land to be used for public open space if a club becomes financial unviable and a golf course is to be sold off.
“Ideally, I think the way our planning scheme works we should refuse applications that don’t comply with our planning scheme however it’s considered prudent, and I agree, for council to engage in a very thorough and detailed planning process.”
ISPT spokesperson Anna Martiniello said the property fund manager welcomed council’s decision.
“We’re pleased the process is moving forward,” she said in a statement.
“ISPT has worked with council and the community for more than two years to create a design that will meet council’s requirements and community needs while retaining and enhancing the community feel and spirit that is obviously much loved by the Dingley Village community.
“We look forward to the next stage of the process where the community will be able to see the detailed plans and make a formal response.”
The planned housing development will be built in seven stages.
The planning application aims to rezone the site from part Special Use Zone (Golf Courses) and part General Residential Zone to a General Residential Zone to allow for redevelopment of the site for residential purposes.
Crs Georgina Oxley and Tasmin Bearsley voiced opposition to the development at Monday’s meeting.
“I won’t be supporting this simply because I used to live in Dingley and I used to live in a house that backed directly onto this golf course,” Cr Oxley said.
“When we look at planning scheme amendments and developments like this we need to look at the infrastructure that is there and I don’t believe we have the infrastructure in Dingley to even entertain an idea like this.”
Cr Bearsley said she could not see “a net benefit” for the Dingley area.
People who wish to follow the planning process and make submissions can register interest at kingston.vic.gov.au/kingswood or call Kingston Council on 1300 653 356.