Ian PenrosePam LawsonIan PenrosePam LawsonIan PenrosePam LawsonMark McDonaldIan PenrosePam LawsonMark McDonaldIan PenrosePam Lawson

- Saturday, September 17, 2016

Please like us on Facebook. On our new Facebook page we will be posting information about Amendment C101, dispelling the myths and misinformation that has been spread about this environmental protections measure. 96% of municipalities around Melbourne have Environmental Significance Overlays protecting land of environmental significance. We want Nillumbik to follow suit. C101 is about protecting plants and wildlife into the future.

Here's our Facebook link:   https://www.facebook.com/Friends-of-Nillumbik-1620067468310343/?ref=br_tf

Friends of Nillumbik Inc.
Election bulletin 1, September, 2016
Dear supporters/associate members,
In this issue:
1.      Election timetable
2.      Nomination highlights
3.      Helping out
4.      Facebook link

1.    The election race is on!
In the 2016 Nillumbik local council elections we have a big field of 69 candidates jostling for just 7 council vacancies (VEC web site).
The decision to prohibit candidate’s preferences appearing in the VEC voting booklet, will add more uncertainty than usual to the outcome.  Our next bulletin will provide guidance for voters.
Remember: Completed ballot papers must be received by the Victorian Electoral Commission by 6.00pm, Friday 21st October.  Ballot papers will be posted to voters from 4th to 6th October.
2.    Nomination tea-leaf reading:
In a colourful first for Nillumbik, there are no less than 7 members of two families standing for election!  Would voters want to have political influence concentrated to this extent?   It’s also worth asking why we have 6 candidates with an anti-council rural agenda, seeking to represent urban residents?
Is this move being driven by the anti-council, anti-environment people who want to dump Amendment C101 which would protect bushland habitat essential for flora and fauna survival? (see earlier FoN bulletins for background on this important Amendment)  
Voters need to be aware of the behind-the-scenes agendas being run in this election.
3.    Can you help?
There are good candidates standing in this election who need help distributing their election material.  If you can spare a bit of time for letterboxing in one of our urban wards, please let us know.  
Friends of Nillumbik will have election expenses: If you can donate to help cover the cost of our leaflet production/distribution you can make electronic donations to:
Account name: Friends of Nillumbik; Account number: 60406216; BSB: 923100; or cheques can be sent to: Friends of Nillumbik Inc. PO Box 258, Eltham, 3095
4.    Our Facebook link:  
Please go to this link, (tell your friends to as well) and “like us”!

We thank you for your continuing support and for taking the time to read this bulletin.  Your feedback is valued so let us know what you would like to see in your FoN bulletins.  Email us at mail@friendsofnillumbik.org
You have received this email because your email address is on our supporters/associate members list.  If you no longer wish to receive these bulletins, send a reply to: fon_supporters-leave@friendsofnillumbik.org

Friends of Nillumbik Inc.
Bulletin supplement for August, 2016

Dear supporters/associate members,
In this issue:
1.      Extending the trail – a big thank you    
2.      Biodiversity and the elections
3.      Eltham - “apartment city?”
4.      Eltham Lower Park
5.      Facebook

Thank you, from Trailblazers:
It’s been three years since Friends of Nillumbik held the “extend our trail” public meeting in Hurstbridge.  Helen Legg of Trailblazers says: “A big thank you for your support”.
“Just over three years ago “Trailblazers” began their mission…..to keep the long awaited trail extension through to Hurstbridge as a very high priority for Nillumbik Council.  We worked together with Friends of Nillumbik and Cr Anika Van Hulsen to collectively ensure that the council realized how important this trail was for the community.
Fast track to today and we are very excited to see the trail awaiting the required period of time to allow all to see the next stage of acquiring all the land that is required to serve the greater good and provide this wonderful community asset.
You will not be disappointed.  Just like the recent bicycle lane works along our main road, the trail will bring so many recreational pursuits to our neighbourhood.
None of this could have happened without community support!  A VERY BIG THANK YOU TO YOU ALL”
Biodiversity in doubt at council elections
Our last bulletin (9th August) reported on the danger of losing protection for bushland habitat essential for Nillumbik’s unique flora and fauna – depending on election results.
Some owners of rural land who have formed the Pals group claim Amendment C101 is not needed because bushland on rural properties is already being appropriately managed.  They reject what they see as council interference.
But if there’s nothing wrong with bushland management on private land in Nillumbik, why (with the exclusion of kangaroos) are our native plants and wildlife continuing to be at risk?  
Our unique biodiversity includes over 1,381 species of indigenous plants and animals including 14 nationally threatened species and 120 listed by DSE as rare or threatened in Victoria. (Nillumbik Biodiversity Strategy, 2011)
It’s well known that Australia has one of the worst records in the world for the loss of animal and plant life:  In Victoria 44% of native plants and more than 30% of animal species are already either extinct or threatened with extinction. (N.B Strategy, 2011)
Like the rest of Victoria, Nillumbik faces a serious environmental challenge.
Land owners who already manage their bushland to protect habitat can have no issue with Amendment C101; and if they want to continue that good land management once their land is sold on to the next owner, a council regulation like C101 is a sensible arrangement helping to ensure bushland protection whoever the owners are.
Every other green wedge municipality around Melbourne has similar planning scheme overlay protections.
The dumping of C101 would only encourage poor land management and biodiversity loss.
It’s a choice between giving native plants and animals the best chance to survive into the future, or allowing their continual decline.  Amendment C101 will help Nillumbik’s local flora and fauna survive.
This October vote for pro- C101 candidates.

Apartments in Eltham - overdevelopment?  
Locals who are shocked by the rash of huge apartment buildings proposed or approved for Eltham, could trace the transformation back to then planning minister Guy’s introduction of new residential zones into our planning scheme in 2013.
Guy imposed the new Residential Growth Zone around the margins of the commercial area.  This zone has an expectation of development, at the expense of neighbourhood character, so there seems little opportunity to retain landscape amenity such as trees and generous building set-backs appreciated by residents.
Our local councillors must lobby the new planning minister Wynne to amend Guy’s Growth Zone so that it takes more account of landscape amenity and Eltham’s established character.  Higher density living should not mean huge bulky buildings which trash neighbourhood character standards.  Eltham deserves better.

Parkland or mini-railway?
Supporters report surveyors have been at work down at Eltham Lower Park and we wonder if the mini-railway people are continuing with their aspirations for a greatly expanded railway network?  Park users may have to question election candidates before voting?

Friends of Nillumbik on Facebook
For those supporters who had recent difficulty finding us, we now have a new Facebook page more appropriate to our status as a community group.  We ask you to visit Friends of Nillumbik and to like us.  We intend to be more conscientious about posting regularly to keep our friends and supporters updated.

We thank you for your continuing support and for taking the time to read this bulletin.  Your feedback is valued so let us know what you would like to see in your FoN bulletins.  Email us at mail@friendsofnillumbik.org
You have received this email because your email address is on our supporters/associate members list.  If you no longer wish to receive these bulletins, send a reply to: fon_supporters-leave@friendsofnillumbik.org


Friends of Nillumbik Inc.
Bulletin for May, 2016

Dear supporters,
                                         Green Wedge protection still hangs in the balance.
On Tuesday 26th April, before a capacity gallery noisily disrupted by an organised group of objectors,  council narrowly voted to send Amendment C101 (mapping for habitat protection) to a panel hearing, rejecting their previous decision of 13th April, to abandon it. (see “shock decision” bulletin, April). Crs Young and Coleman this time joined Hattam and Van Hulsen making the vote 4/3 for a panel.    Crs King, Perkins and Klein stuck with abandonment.  
What next?
We now know that Cr Klein will seek to have this decision rescinded at the council meeting of 24th May, no doubt in favour of abandonment once again.
Landscape protection:
The 24th May meeting will also decide the future of Amendment C81 which protects rural landscapes.  C81 has been endorsed by an independent panel (with changes) but councillors still need to hear community opinions about the panel findings and these will be heard at the Tuesday 10th May Policy & Services meeting (7.00pm tomorrow) Supporters of landscape protection will be needed in the gallery.  Please also register to speak (council web site or phone)
So the ordinary meeting of council on 24th May will be of great significance for the future of Nillumbik’s Green Wedge.
Facts, allegations and misinformation about C101:
The only fair way to resolve contentious issues with a planning scheme amendment is with a panel hearing (like what has just happened for C81).  It doesn’t favour either side of the debate and gives objectors, submitters and the council another chance to put their case and have viewpoints rationally and independently assessed.
Council has already provided clarification through the officers’ report in the Policy & Services meeting agenda of 13th April and their web site link: “Find out the facts about C101” – but there’s been a lot of ill-founded scuttlebutt and rumour doing the rounds.
The link describes all the most common complaints which were made by objectors to C101, and officer responses suggest that the points raised are either groundless, based on misinformation, or have been remedied.   Objectors who remain unconvinced have access to an independent panel.
It’s clear that some are deliberately peddling misinformation about C101 for what can only be assumed, are political reasons – after all, there’ll be local council elections later this year.  
Once again, it’s a case of: “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good (anti-council) story” – and the usual suspects are involved.  They hope to gain from more council meeting disruption/intimidation.
For Nillumbik, this is nothing new. There’s no substitute for checking the facts oneself.  All the documents are readily available.

Why should C101 be supported?
1.       Planning law says our planning scheme must provide for the “maintenance of ecological processes and genetic diversity.” (Sec 4(1) Planning and Environment Act, 1987)  This is what C101 does!

2.       Most rural land in Nillumbik is in the Rural Conservation Zone.  The purpose of this zone includes: “To protect the natural environment and natural processes for their faunal habitat…..values, and the biodiversity of the area”, and, “To provide for agricultural use consistent with the conservation of environmental and landscape values of the area” (35.06, Planning Scheme).  C101 matches the purpose of the land where it will apply!

3.       The Bushfire Royal Commission wanted biodiversity conservation to be given “due consideration” (Recommendation 39); and it recommended setting limits to the removal of native vegetation (Recommendation 41); and it called for biodiversity mapping throughout Victoria (Recommendation 43)  Biodiversity mapping is what C101 is doing!

4.       Council’s Biodiversity Strategy (2011) points out: Australia has one of the worst records in the world for the loss of animal and plant life:  In Victoria 44% of native plants and more than 30% of animal species are already either extinct or threatened with extinction.  So if biodiversity management is to be effective then it should become a core function of local government.  This is what C101 will do!

It’s clear to see why council is pursuing Amendment C101. It’s in the public interest.

Co-operation or conflict?
Private owners of rural land play an essential role in conserving our Green Wedge for the future.  Good land management practices maintain sensitive habitat areas in accordance with the land’s zoning and help local flora and fauna survive.  It seems clear that owners who are already doing this will not be affected by the requirements of C101.
We hope misinformation about the amendment has not damaged the spirit of co-operation which is important for habitat protection on private land.

While we’re talking about biodiversity:
Have your say on the State Government’s draft, “Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2036”.  Submissions are due this month.  Log onto Dept. Environment, Land, Water and Planning web site.

Greg Johnson (President)

We thank you for your continuing support and for taking the time to read this bulletin.  Your feedback is valued so let us know what you would like to see in your FoN bulletins.  Email us at mail@friendsofnillumbik.org
You have received this email because your email address is on our supporters/associate members list.  If you no longer wish to receive these bulletins, send a reply to: fon_supporters-leave@friendsofnillumbik.org

Friends of Nillumbik Inc.
P.O. Box 258 Eltham 3095

Strategic and Economic Planning,                        
Nillumbik Shire Council,
Civic Centre,

18th Jan. 2016

Submission on proposed Amendment C101 (ESO’s)

To Whom it May Concern

Friends of Nillumbik Inc. supports council’s proposed Amendment C101 which will introduce new ESO overlays into the Planning Scheme (ESO1, 2, 3 and 4).

We recognise there was a compelling case for reviewing the accuracy and application of the current ESO’s which were based on the 17 year old NEROC report.  While that key study  played a significant role in protecting the shire’s habitats, we accept that some habitat values have been lost to urbanisation in the intervening years (as predicted by NEROC) and planning decisions based on ESO compliance need credibility at VCAT when tested – also (among other things) some state and regional policies have changed in the interim.

We understand the need to define the various types of habitat (Core, Buffer and Urban) accurately as to their varying biodiversity significance so that the overlay reflects reality.  In the words of the consultants, this will achieve greater transparency in the delineation of ESO’s.

As reported, while 2,308 hectares of land will be removed from ESO1, an additional 6,610 hectares will be included, which adds up to a significant net increase of protected habitat across our rural areas.  The new Waterway ESO4 will also bring a very significant net increase in the number of properties where waterway habitat will be protected.

We are concerned about the removal of protection for the vegetation on low density land abutting the south side of the Diamond Creek Road “Windy Mile” on the Urban Growth Boundary.  While its habitat value may be questionable, its value in the landscape is important and it should at least have SLO protection.

It was reassuring to have the detailed reports from Ecology Australia and Abzeco available for examination, ensuring transparency of process.  
We congratulate council officers for the thorough work which went into the amendment.

Yours etc,

Friends of Nillumbik


FoN presentation on C85 on 8th September 2015
Friends of Nillumbik thanks you for the opportunity to speak on C85 Amendment. We support the Independent Panel’s Recommendation and accept that this site has to be sold in order to get ratepayers’ money back so, however much we would love to see a Nature Reserve or Land for Wildlife there, the reality is that this cannot happen without a rich and generous philanthropist coming forward.

We note however some confusion has arisen in the Community because of the various titles applied to this project. Originally conceived as “Ageing in Place” it then became “Intergenerational Housing”, “Social Housing” and now “Liveable Nillumbik”. Until it is decided exactly what it is, it’s difficult to put in a definitive submission.

We support the Panel’s Recommendation recognizing that the timeline for this project will cover several years and we expect to have more input in the future. We have already expressed our belief that the number of dwellings proposed is unacceptable and should be considerably reduced. Both private and public open space is essential. The height limit must be revised. Initially we supported 2 storey housing but on further consultation with our supporters and the community in general we raise the question of the suitability of two storey housing for elderly people.

The Development Plan Overlay must be uncompromising in providing height restrictions and protecting the environment and must comply with the Hurstbridge Design Guidelines, the Hurstbridge Township Strategy and the Hurstbridge Concept Plan. The appearance and amenity of the township must not be compromised so that neighbourhood character is preserved. Particular attention must be given to the difficulties of building on this sensitive site  near the creek and the Riparian vegetation must be preserved, indeed enhanced with much revegetation. To this end money should also be set aside for maintenance and weed control.

We recognize the importance of companion animals especially for the elderly but for the sake of the wildlife and the environment they must be contained.

FoN acknowledges some dissent in the Hurstbridge community, some brought about by misinformation. We will be consulting with our supporters and the local community over the next three years to achieve the best possible result for this Green Wedge township.

Alison Fowler,                                                                           11th February, 2015
Senior Strategic Planner,
Nillumbik Shire Council,

Submission to Amendment C85 (Lot 1 Graysharps Road, Hurstbridge.

Friends of Nillumbik congratulates council for seizing this opportunity to provide well planned and socially responsible intergenerational housing for Nillumbik residents.  

We support DDO7 (design objectives, requirements for permits and development plan; building configuration; landscape and public realm integration; decision guidelines etc) in as much as they are consistent with the following:

Maximum number of dwellings?  While about 40 seems appropriate we are concerned that the resulting density should be comparable to the general nearby neighbourhood rather than the highest density which might be found in Hurstbridge.

Maximum height for buildings?  We support a two storey limit which is consistent with the nearby Hurstbridge township.

Number of bedrooms per dwelling?   We support a 20/60/20 breakdown i.e. 20% single bedroom; 60% two bedrooms; 20% three bedrooms.  A suitable number of the smaller 1 or 2 bedroom dwellings should be at ground level, or if on the second level, should have lift access.

Percentage of social housing?  We would urge the percentage of social housing should be more like 20%

Regarding the governance model?  We didn’t feel sufficiently equipped to express a view on this and would urge councillors to take advice from officers.

Energy rating?  We would urge something better than 6 star.  World’s Best Practice is worth aspiring to because Nillumbik prides itself in being environmentally conscious and has a reputation in this regard.  It would set a standard for future similar developments.  Costs of course need to be considered.

Site design and open space?  There should be both private and public open space to encourage socialising.  Landscape plantings must consider the view of the development from the Main Road entrance into Hurstbridge.  There should be sufficient boundary plantings of canopy trees to partly screen the development and help it blend in with its vegetated valley landscape.  Vegetation should also separate the dwellings.  Plantings should be indigenous species as is customary for Nillumbik.

Wildlife corridor along the creek?  Given its proximity to the creek environs we urge companion animals must be controlled in some way.  Companion animals are obviously going to be important to residents but they must acknowledge the sensitive nature of the setting.  We urge cat enclosures be mandatory and could perhaps be constructed free of charge by environmentally-minded local men’s shed participants? (residents purchase the materials)  The creek environs will need ongoing maintenance to control weeds and rabbits etc.  Consideration should be given to making a fund available for this purpose.

Car parking?  One per dwelling and space for wheel chairs will be needed.  
What provision for fire danger?  The “leave early” advice would seem to be appropriate.

Safety at the rail crossing?  Given there’s only one crossing over the rail line, we urge some warning system for the crossing will be necessary.


- Friday, May 8, 2015

Despite significant criticism of the town square project’s café component, councillors seem determined to press ahead with the awarding of a tender for the project at a special meeting on Tuesday 12th next week.  
With $800,000 already spent on consultants’ fees and planning, a further $2.5 million has been budgeted for the total project which includes $500,000 for the controversial council-owned café.
Despite recent claims by Mayor Coleman that, “extensive and wide-ranging community consultation” has occurred, residents were never asked if they preferred a “no-café” option, with a petition and written objections to this effect ignored by council.
When asked: “How will the construction of an 80 seat café/restaurant in the Eltham Town Square improve services for shire ratepayers?” – The Mayor referred to undefined “economic benefits” over 15 years and some increased employment.  Clearly the café will not improve ratepayer services.
Friends of Nillumbik believes this project was misconceived and poorly planned from the start and the café/restaurant is a waste of ratepayers’ money.
We urge you to tell councillors they should exclude the café component from the tender.

For full deatils read The Parish Pump.

 Presentation to Planning & Building C'tee (2nd town square application)                    

9th Sept, 2014

FoN’s objection is to the construction of a council-owned food and drink premises in the Square.  We support the other upgrades but call for, tree plantings to be indigenous species rather than exotics, and that the excessive tree removal plan be reconsidered.  

The current plan with one café building is a compromise proposal, however, despite the compromise, we believe contentious issues remain:

Is the café building needed?  
With the recent opening of “The Common” restaurant, and the planned restaurant on the Morrison Kleeman site, there will eventually be five food and drink outlets along the western edge of the Square.  It appears that the EMAC Structure Plan strategy about encouraging appropriate businesses to locate adjacent to the town square, is already happening!  The EMAC Structure Plan vision is being realised and it’s all happening with private investment.  Why is direct Council spending on yet another café, needed at all?
Commercial risk:
We understand that when private tenders were called to construct and operate a café in the town square, there were no takers.  How does this fit with the consultant’s optimistic predictions about it being an attractive business proposition?  How certain can we be about the likely success of a council-owned café when it will have plenty of close-by competition?
There is no guarantee it will be a sustainable business and what happens if it fails?  If it’s not a successful retail outlet, both the interests of ratepayers and the town square suffers.  Why should ratepayers be exposed to commercial risk unnecessarily?  What uses for the building are considered acceptable if the food and drink idea fails?  
These questions are not planning matters of course, but they go to the heart of the matter.

Radical departure:
Para 50 of the officer report claims the proposed food and drink premises in the Square can be compared to other commercial uses on council owned land i.e. Shillinglaw cafe; Library café; Leisure Centre and Yarrambat Golf Course.   But, none of these examples is in the middle of a shopping centre and all are ancillary to a heritage, educational or leisure service facility, unlike the proposal.  This is an unprecedented course of action for Nillumbik which is more reason to be cautious about where this initiative takes us.

We ask that councillors delete the food and drink premises from the application.  We hope for an informed debate.


- Friday, May 2, 2014

At our AGM on 19th March 2014, the Friends of Nillumbik Inc. members voted for a special resolution which gives us a new statement of purposes. This resolution (see below) was carried unanimously.


That Friends of Nillumbik Inc. (i) adopt the Model Rules for an Incorporated Association set out in the Associations Incorporation Reform Regulations 2012, Part 3, and (ii) replace the current statement of purposes with a new statement of purposes as follows:
Friends of Nillumbik Inc will work to support and promote the environmental and landscape values, neighbourhood character, orderly planning and good governance of the Shire of Nillumbik. In pursuit of the above and where resources allow, we:

1. Support at our discretion, council candidates at local elections who will further the values, character, planning and governance of the Shire in accordance with our statement of purposes.

2. Consider the appropriateness of planning applications including support for residents seeking to protect neighborhood character.

3. Promote the importance of sustainable development, energy efficiency and renewable energy use, as appropriate responses to the problem of climate change.
4. Participate in VCAT hearings.

5. Make public interest submissions at the local and state level on strategic planning including Melbourne –wide planning, Nillumbik township planning, and Green Wedge planning.

6. Support appropriate management of public land.

7. Support recreation and tourism facilities appropriate for Nillumbik’s special urban and rural character.

8. Participate in Nillumbik festivals.

9. Provide regular bulletins to our supporters.

10.Lobby other levels of government.

11. Monitor our local council including submitting on the council plan and budget where appropriate”.

-  carried unanimously

- Friday, May 2, 2014

The Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, has signed off on Amendment C60. This ensures that the Hurstbridge Township Strategy is now incorporated into the Nillumbik Planning Scheme. Policies and controls are now in place to help protect the unique character of Hurstbridge's built environment along the Main Street. We consider that a recent decision by VCAT to refuse a proposed development at 780 Main Road, Hurstbridge is an early indicator that the Hurstbridge Township Strategy will be referred to in future VCAT considerations.