FTG Community Group response

December 9th, 2013

This response arises from residents’ meetings held at Mountain District Learning Centre in October – November 2013. Chaired by the Centre Manager, Janet Claringbold.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.’

We welcome the proposal to include the FTG Village Activity Centre (FTGVAC) in the Foothills Overlay with its recognition of the area as a place of special landscape value.

We consider there is more involved than preserving a few glimpses of a mountain. For us, this is about a way to live in, as well as preserve, a place of significant landscape beauty. Many of us envisage a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle, one where people help each other and where frail, weak or disadvantaged people feel welcome and protected.

With this in mind we welcome the Draft Plan with the principle exception of the proposals for medium density housing with buildings to the height of 11 metres.

  1. Reasons for objecting to three storey 11 m heights:

These are mainly the same reasons that limit increased population in the rest of Foothills area:

  • Strain on infrastructure in this narrow valley: drainage, utilities etc
  • Problems of car parking and traffic flow
  • Visual intrusion of bulk (even in spite of setbacks) because of height
  • Massed buildings in themselves affect climate (radiant heat), airflow and ‘bush atmosphere’

We do not agree that medium density housing is the only source of future investment and refer to MDLCs and Traders proposals for economic contribution from: third sector caring cluster (staff and clients), heritage, arts, and tourism activities. EG. ‘FTG, the nearest place to Melbourne where you can get a perfect change of scenery and a sniff of mountain air’ From Prolific in God’s Gifts, p.143 quoted in Knox@50 booklet p.3).

2. Re Guidelines on Built Forms. We welcome the recommendation that the special circumstances of FTGVAC require guidelines to be mandatory and that the importance of generous setbacks to reduce the visual bulk of buildings is acknowledged.

3. A separation is proposed for ‘core retail/commercial’ to be on the western side of the railway with community services focused on the eastern side. We are aware that this separation is not proposed as legislation but we are seriously concerned that it should be expressed in the narrative of the Plan. It shocks us that Knox Council with its emphasis on inclusivity in all its recent planning should give voice to a separation that only too easily leads to ghettoisation.

FTG Village is acknowledged as home to a significant cluster of caring organisations and much loved day centres for people with special needs, with whom we are proud and privileged to share our beautiful space. Nothing should be proposed that could diminish this regard by removing them from the normal life of a village activity centre.

4. Re ‘Prosperity ‘ and a new view of the future: We refer to the recent Plan Melbourne with its recognition of the need for Special Neighbourhoods ; we are aware of the initiatives of groups like Renew Australia Inc with its vision of economic value from Social Enterprise and local made. Sustainability, heritage, arts and culture are all key words indicating new ways to live with simpler expectations that we expect to become ever more urgent. We see so many possibilities for Foothills townships becoming centres of best practice along these lines that it is crucial for this Plan to preclude anything which hinders such development. Indeed it is important to begin to make provision for such a future.

We think that on the outer eastern edges of Melbourne’s rail system, Foothills phenomenon trumps railway stations in relation to reasons for three storey medium density housing. Plan Melbourne encourages communities to propose the special needs of special places. (see page 60 on Residential Zones and page 140 on the Dandenong Ranges). This is what we are doing. If other interests are to prevail they should be recognised as imposed, not necessary, solutions and not part of the majority views expressed in the earlier community consultation.

FTG Community Group

 Views on Amendment C129

Response from the FTG Community Group

  1. Our view on Amendment C129 is that anything that allows for the construction of buildings over a height of eight metres be removed from the amendment.
  1. The existing requirement for retaining setbacks should be retained.