Here is the content of a speech to council written by Erin McCuskey and Diane Chester; presented to council Wednesday 27th March by Diane Chester.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight. My Name is Diane Chester and I am a spokesperson for Ballarat East Network (BE Net). I speak to reinforce the position of the council officers in the case of 809 Wilson St to NOT support the plans of the developer at the VCAT hearing.
BE Net is an information sharing group started by Ballarat East residents over two years ago. We were brought together by a sense of being under siege from over-development. Our major concern is the erosion of our neighbourhood character; the lack of support for the environment and wildlife, the lack of public and private open space in many new developments and the lack of access to council services.
Ballarat East is characterized by rolling hills and slopes, greenery and vegetation, roads that curve and climb, homes that are set back with wide front yards and even bigger backyards. Where the natural environment is nurtured and built with rather than built over, where fences go around trees, where most homes have a shed and a gumtree, and the paths are ramshackle where they exist.
Our city of Beautiful Ballarat is unique. It’s unique because it is surrounded by diversity – and Ballarat East is an important part of that diversity.
However developers are changing the face of Ballarat East because they are treating it as a green field site, just a square block where as many monopoly houses as can fit are built. They are building over some of our best assets, concreting over waterways, cutting down trees.
Once this is gone, it is gone. The development proposed for Wilson Street sits adjacent to the forest. The developer in Wilson St wants to carve and slice to build over our natural environment and waterways. This block is not flat, is not dry, it is a pathway for wildlife to and from the forest, their home.
Our city’s Koala Plan of Management and related Overlay has received awards and recognition. It is in place to protect, and enhance land for wildlife. Our council officers state this development if allowed to proceed does not fit with this overlay. We know that and support their decision to refuse this application.
Ballarat East residents were happy when the Activity Centre Strategy for Ballarat indicated there were to be no activity centers planned for Ballarat East. However we cannot accept a situation where high-density development is happening in Ballarat East without those services. We deplore planning by default, by developers who want to jump in and make a quick buck. We implore the council to consider more strategic planning for Ballarat East before its too late and the special place that exists now is gone forever, gone for the city as well as the east.
As a city we need to state clearly with one voice to developers “Do Better!” Ballarat deserves it.
We demand developers consider a more sensitive response to our environment; we demand more site-specific design responses.
We implore the Council to back the efforts and expertise of your council officers, to protect our area using the overlays in place throughout our area that are meant to protect our built heritage, our significant vegetation, our environmental heritage, our koalas. And please vote to support good development and deny this inappropriate development.
The report of what happened at the meeting is here. http://ballarateast.net/counil-mtg-report-wilson-st/