The lack of public open space in Glen Eira has been noted again and again by residents and council. It is therefore important to review council’s performance over the past 6 years since the introduction of its 2014 Open Space Strategy to see exactly what has been achieved. Not much we would say and is evidenced by the following public question (and response).

The spin merchants are really out in force with this response. Here is why:

  • After nearly 6 years only 34% of the 2014 ‘very high’ priority recommendations have been completed. Most of these recommendations were for the creation of additional open space. Not achieved!
  • Aileen Avenue cost over $2m and has been rented for the past 3 years. It is a stone’s throw from Princes Park. In the latest open space ‘refresh’ the idea of arterial roads being barriers has been jettisoned. So Aileen Avenue was bought with the argument that Hawthorn Road was a ‘barrier’ despite the fact that there were lights providing safe crossing to Princes Park. We are now at the stage that part of this road will be converted into ‘open space’ together with the property. Another year or so of waiting is in line and despite strong community opposition.
  • Perhaps council should define exactly what ‘connectivity around Virginia Park’ really means when they are in favour of at least 3000 new apartments in Virginia Estate?
  • We have to laugh at their so called ‘achievements’ when we read ‘input into Caulfield Racecourse Reserve land planning’! etc.etc.etc.

The best example of smoke and mirrors comes with council’s claim that in 6 years they have added 4000 square metres of public open space. We remind readers that council counts public open space as the TOTAL AREA of a site. That means that pavilions, car parks, shelters are included in the calculation. So now we have the reverse argument: because two scout halls have been demolished this is supposed to mean that we now have additional open space. Council can’t have it both ways. Either these structures are not counted as part of open space and hence the municipality’s open space is much less, or these structures are counted and hence the removal of 2 scout halls adds a big fat zero to the amount of public open space available.

Worth pointing out is that Booran Reserve has 11% of its 17,800 square metres sealed off from public use behind huge iron wrought gates! Also council has had ‘management’ responsibility for this site since 2010 and the land did not cost them a penny. The play ground was opened in April 2017. Again, 7 years and close to $13m to create this park. Would also be interesting to know how much concrete covers this site?

Gardenvale park has an interesting history. It had a public acquisition layer placed on 53 Magnolia road shortly after the park opening . This was then removed by council in 2008. Then in 2015 the public acquisition overlay was put back on. But only after the house had stood derelict and abandoned for years and was being used by squatters and druggies. The land size was a paltry 253square metres according to this link! ( Council claims it was 497! Thus, years and years of doing nothing resulted in increased pricing for the land and the addition of perhaps 18000 square metres to our total public open space.

Further, the Mimosa/Mile End road measures approximately 1100 square metres. The public acquisition overlay was applied in 2016. Thus another 4 years have gone by without any progress. How many more years residents will have to wait until open space is provided is anyone’s guess!

The bottom line is that this council is more concerned with ‘show’ than with the acquisition of new green open space. Here’s an example of the 2016/17 budget. Nothing has changed where the vast majority of the open space levy goes on ‘development’ rather than the purchase of new open space.

Time and time again residents have been promised at least a 50% split between the acquisition of NEW open space and development of existing open space. That’s what the 1987 open space strategy promised. Even better was that council passed several resolutions that all of the levy was to be used for new open space in 2014. That of course went out the window with the gazetting of Amendment C120.

Council’s record in acquiring new open space in a municipality that has the least amount of public open space per capita is really appalling. This new strategy does nothing to fix the problems. The message from residents is absolutely clear. Stop squandering a fortune on needless ‘redevelopments’ and start creating new and viable open space.