Response to Council report and revised recommendation
CLICK HERE to read our response to the report and revised recommendation
Council officers report
CLICK HERE to read Council officers report and recommendation to Councillors
Response to issues raised by Boroondara Council
CLICK HERE to read our letter to Council.
Detailed answers to the questions Council have posed are listed below:
Can you provide a more detailed plan of your proposal? Location of playground equipment, furniture, plantings?
We have provided Boroondara Council with a concept plan and images of what the restored park could look like. These were generously developed voluntarily by local supporters. As we have repeatedly emphasised and as Boroondara Council is perfectly aware, it is Boroondara Council’s responsibility to develop a detailed design for public consultation. We made this point at the meeting with the CEO and the Director of Planning in 2018. We made this point at the campaign launch and we wrote to Council CEO on 16 October 2018 to urge that this process commence as soon as possible. The key design parameters are clearly identified in the petition submitted to Boroondara Council in June 2019: restore the historic parkland by dedicating a segment of Reserve Road and the surrounding crown lands which are currently being used primarily as a free commuter carpark for Council staff. We look forward to Council commencing this process, in accordance with the open space design and management guidelines in the Council approved Boroondara Open Space Strategy.
Who do you propose will be the users of the open space?
At the moment, the open space is benefiting the private interests of Boroondara Council staff. As we have repeatedly stated, we want our park restored so it can, once again, be enjoyed by the whole community, as it was from the mid-nineteenth century when it was established by the Governor of Victoria for this purpose. This includes the increasingly large number of local families and children who live in apartments being approved and encouraged by Council in and around Camberwell Junction, and the many business owners and employees in the area, including Council staff. The Boroondara Open Space Strategy, approved by Council, acknowledges that additional open space is needed in this area to cater for the forecast population growth. The space can be used as it was for generations, until Council ended arrangements that allowed local school children to play on the whole site in 2012. It is unclear why Boroondara Council is seemingly so unreceptive to the idea of schoolchildren playing on the site. They are also local residents and part of our community.
If the park is restored, how will this impact Camberwell Primary School staff?
Camberwell Primary School Council has made it abundantly clear to Boroondara Council that it supports the campaign to restore the park and it has done so since the campaign launched. See what the President of Camberwell Primary School had to say in 2018.
While a small segment of the car park is currently used to provide parking for teaching staff, the school has emphasised that this should not be used as an excuse by Council representatives for not restoring the historic parkland. It should be noted that Boroondara Council charges the school staff commercial rates this privilege, yet it provides its own staff with commuter parking privileges at no cost.
The school’s priority is that this public land is once again used for the well-being of local children and their families, who are desperately in need of open space. We hope that Boroondara Council is capable of demonstrating the same level of leadership.
If the park is restored, where will visitors park?
As we have repeatedly pointed out and as Council knows, while the carpark nominally appears to serve the public (as a 2P public carpark), parking studies show that it is rarely used by visitors. It is not surprising that Council representatives informally refer to the historic parkland as their “western carpark” given that during business hours, 98%-100% of publicly available car parking spaces are used by Council staff to park their private vehicles all-day for free (identifiable by discrete Boroondara Council Staff stickers on their windscreens). On weekends and after hours, when not in use by Council staff, this incredibly valuable and historically significant land sits empty and unused with mature trees protruding through the asphalt. This is not an optimal use of this crown land.
If the park is restored, where will Council employees park?
Boroondara Council staff must be asked to comply with the same parking restrictions that apply to the public. The surreptitious arrangement by which Council staff provide themselves with financially beneficial car parking privileges must be brought to an end. Moreover, bringing this to an end would free up hundreds of short-stay visitor parking in Camberwell Junction.
Council establishes and requires the public to comply with on-street and off-street timed short-stay visitor parking restrictions. Its own staff should lead by example and be required to comply with these same parking restrictions. If members of the public want all day parking in and around Camberwell Junction, they must pay commercial rates for this purpose. So too should Council staff. Employees at the City of Melbourne for example, do not issue themselves with discrete permits to ignore the parking restrictions that they apply to the public. Neither should employees at the City of Boroondara.
How will parents and carers pick up and drop off if Reserve Road is partially closed to traffic?
We have included various options for providing additional visitor parking as part of the concept design, including additional angle parking along the periphery of the park and along segments of Reserve Road. However, these are simply suggestions. It is the responsibility of Council’s traffic engineering department to develop the most appropriate pick-up and drop-off arrangements. This is the core business of Council and it should form part of the detailed design to be issued for public consultation by Council. We wrote to the Director of City Planning on 18 September 2018 to seek confirmation that traffic assessments had commenced. We did not receive a response. If Council has not commenced this process, we encourage that it does so as soon as possible. This was reiterated at the campaign launch. It would be a travesty if Boroondara Council considers that the historic parkland cannot be restored because its traffic department is unable or unwilling to develop the most suitable traffic and parking arrangements to best complement the proposal.
There are two further points to note. Firstly, the current arrangements along Reserve Road, which expose young children to road safety risks on a daily basis, are currently untenable. Camberwell Primary School has brought this to the attention of Boroondara Council. Changes are needed.
Secondly, if the parking privileges that Council staff give themselves are brought to an end, there will be a massive increase in the availability of visitor parking in Camberwell Junction. There are literally hundreds of short stay parking spaces around the Camberwell Junction Civic Centre that members of the public cannot currently access because Council staff are using these to provide themselves with free all-day commuter car parking.
How should the project be funded?
It is telling that Council asks us to explain how the project might be funded, given that funding parks and recreational facilities is a core responsibility of local government. Indeed, Council proudly claims that its budget is framed around delivering on the recent Boroondara Community Plan 2017-2027. This was prepared after largest community consultation ever undertaken by the City of Boroondara and the provision of parks and open spaces features prominently.
While the final cost would depend on the detailed design prepared by Council, the cost of restoring the park, is a comparatively simple and low-cost solution to providing much needed open space, as there are no land acquisition costs required. It should therefore not be too much of a challenge for a Council with an annual revenue of almost $250 million and a capital works budget of $75million, to incorporate this project into its future capital works forecasts if it wants to. Keep in mind that Council also imposes a levy on developers, including those in Camberwell Junction, for providing additional open space. We already discussed these issues in the meeting with Council’s CEO and Director of Planning.
It is disappointing therefore that Council’s CEO publicly expressed reservations at the community meeting in October 2018 about Council’s willingness to fund the restoration of the park because it is crown land. By contrast, spending ratepayer funds to convert the historic parkland into a carpark that primarily serves the needs of Council staff did not pose a financial challenge for Council.
How can we ensure the land remains public open space rather than an extension of the Camberwell Primary School grounds?
The petition calls for the State Government to restore – by way of State legislation — the permanent historic reservation of the land for “public gardens”.
No one has asked for this land to become a part of Camberwell Primary School, not even Camberwell Primary School. The School Council and the School Parents Association have actively supported the petition. Boroondara Council is aware of this, yet the suggestion that we are not seeking the restoration of the parkland continues to be touted in discussions by Boroondara Council representatives and in questions like this for reasons only known to themselves.
The Camberwell Green website shows the Camberwell Primary School sporting grounds and it is unclear if they will be for broader community use.
Camberwell Primary School has at all times made its sporting grounds available for community use outside school hours. Boroondara Council is aware of this, and the School has repeatedly made the point, yet Boroondara Council continues to suggest otherwise by asking such questions.
It is also unclear how the Camberwell Primary School sporting grounds are considered in conjunction with Camberwell Green?
As we clearly state in promotional materials that have been available to Council from the outset, we would like the Department of Education to eventually upgrade the school grounds and facilities in a manner which complements and enhances Camberwell Green for the whole community to enjoy. Camberwell Primary School has some, albeit a highly inadequate amount, of active sports fields, which would abut Camberwell Green. The community has always used these sports fields outside school hours as Council is aware. These active recreation spaces would complement the opportunities for passive recreation that would be provided by the restored historic parkland. For example, consider the open space surrounding Camberwell High School.
Council is concerned that Camberwell Green will result in a loss of open space at Lower Reserve?
It defies belief that Council representatives could suggest that a community proposal to restore historic parkland which Council took away from the community so its staff could use it as a commuter carpark, could somehow result in the removal of one of the remaining parcels of the historic parkland established by the Governor in the mid-nineteenth century, on a site which is not even adjacent. That Council can suggest something so preposterous demonstrates the extent to which Council representatives are willing to stoop in an attempt to discredit our campaign.
Lower Reserve is permanently reserved as public gardens. Our petition is absolutely clear that we also want Crown Land parcel 113C which Council is using for car parking to be similarly reserved by an Act of State Parliament for public gardens. We also made this point in our meeting with the Director of City Planning in 2018, at the public launch and in the campaign video.
Lower Reserve will be greatly enhanced by the restoration of the adjacent of public gardens, and by the upgrading of the school grounds and facilities by the Department of Education. We look to Boroondara Council working with residents in petitioning the State Government to restore the historic legislation on allotment 113C, so it can be protected for future generations as is Lower Reserve.