Threat to Merri Creek Path with Sale of Lakeside Secondary College site

20140726-Merri-creek-path-sale-lakeside-sc
Merri Creek forms an important parkland for the north-south length of Fawkner and Reservoir. It is also an important corridor for wildlife and for users of the Merri Creek Shared bike path which winds its way along the creek sometimes on the east and sometimes the west bank.

The path uses the east bank of the creek behind the Department of Education site in Reservoir, where Lakeside Secondary College once stood. The title to the this site at 31 Radford St, Reservoir extends down to the creek verge. The Educational Department wants to sell the property and has requested the site to be rezoned for Industrial use.

Several hectares of the site lie outside the school fence on a bend of the Creek and have been planted and managed for about 30 years by Darebin Council, as part of the Merri Creek open space corridor.

If the creek frontage is sold without transfer of title to the Crown or Darebin Council, access to and use of the Merri Creek Shared pathway could be threatened.

The creek frontage corridor has substantial value:

  • as recreational open space listed in the Darebin Open Space Strategy.
  • for the Merri Creek Shared Path/Trail which is part of the Metropolitan Trail Network and connects the Yarra Main Trail north along Merri Creek to the Western Ring Rd path.
  • as an urban biodiversity refuge with nationally-listed EPBC species and communities which have been mapped and described in detail in Darebin Council’s draft Natural Heritage Plan 2011.
  • as a significant waterway in Melbourne much appreciated, used and loved by residents and visitors.

The Education Department has offered to sell the creek frontage to Darebin Council, but the Council does not want to pay the price being asked. Indeed, why should it spend ratepayers money when this land is already owned and used by the public. It’s title should either be retained by the Crown or transferred free of charge to Darebin Council.

Transferring this land free of charge is not without precedent. In 2010 the community was able to prevent public land being sold privately when 10.7 hectares of VicRoads land along Edgars Creek was gifted as public open space to be managed by Moreland City Council. The same needs to happen to retain this important wildlife corridor, open space and shared pathway along Merri Creek bordering Reservoir and Fawkner. The creek frontage should be transferred to Darebin Council without charge.

Other groups involved in campaigning against the sale of this land include Merri Creek Management Committee and Friends of Merri Creek and the Victorian Bicycle Network.

What can you do?

Please write or email the Premier and/or the Education Minister and Planning Minister to advocate for the Merri Creek frontage of the former Lakeside Secondary College to be retained as public open space, and given to Darebin City Council.

Premier of Victoria:
Hon Denis Napthine, Premier of Victoria
Level 1, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, VIC 3002
or email: premier@dpc.vic.gov.au

Education Minister:
Hon Martin Dixon, Minister for Education
2 Treasury Place, Level 1, East Wing, East Melbourne, VIC 3002
or email: martin.dixon@parliament.vic.gov.au

Ask Matthew Guy, the Planning Minister to refuse to rezone the site until title for the Merri Creek corridor and creek frontage is resolved to ensure ongoing public access and maintenance of the area as public open space.

Planning Minister
Hon. Matthew Guy, MLC
Level 20, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
or email: matthew.guy@parliament.vic.gov.au

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