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September 21, 2019 | |Post a Comment

first_imgA rift has erupted between the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GCM) and the State government of Victoria, due to the delay in rezoning the area that includes the GCM’s property in Bulleen.Purchased in the mid-80s by members of the community, the future of the site and its use had been a subject of great debate for some 30 years. In 2017, the community finally revealed some well-thought out plans to build a new ‘Greek Centre on the Yarra’ featuring an array of amenities including aged care facilities, schools, community and function spaces, and sporting fields.Now this ambitious plan may fall victim to the Victorian Government’s North East Link road project, as the land in question may be subject to a compulsory acquisition as part of designs to build tunnels that will link the Eastern Freeway and the M80 Ring Road.As detailed in a letter sent to the GCM members by the director of the Community’s Greek Centre, Jorge Menidis, the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne decided to refer the site, located at 49 Greenaway Street, to “yet another Panel hearing at a yet to be determined date with yet to be detailed terms of reference.”This, as Mr Menidis stresses in his letter, comes on top of two previous panel reports, which led to a series of meetings between the GCM and the Minister, who had “clearly dismissed” the notion of the land being referred to another panel.“At these meetings, the Minister and his team undertook to consider the site on its own merits and not refer it to a Panel subject to the receipt of specific reports and drawings,” Mr Menidis wrote. “We furnished the requested information at significant expense to the Community but always with the clear understanding that the Minister and other leading Government officials were supporting our request. Our reports and drawings were submitted and seemingly ignored.”Calling all GCM members to contact their local MPs, Mr Menidis expressed the Communiy’s “extremely bitter disappointment,” coming “on the back of the Minister and leading Government officials having promised to consider the site’s rezoning application following our community’s overwhelming 94 per cent vote in favour at the AGM in February of 2017.”“Our disappointment is compounded by the fact that we thought we had secured bi-partisan support for our plan when, at the February 2018 Lonsdale Street Festival in front of 50,000 people attending on the night, the Leader of the State Opposition Matthew Guy promised to rezone Bulleen as one of his first actions if the Coalition were elected in November,” reads the statement.“The Community needs to rezone the land to ensure its financial future with the sale of approximately 1/4 of the rezoned site for 17 million dollars. This sale could proceed tomorrow but for the Minister’s actions.”WAR OF WORDS BETWEEN GCM AND PLANNING MINISTERNeos Kosmos contacted the Victorian Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, who said that the future zoning of the land owned by the GCM “needs to be considered in accordance with the planning laws that apply to all Victorians.”“It has taken many months for the GOCMV to submit a valid application and provide the necessary information, that all other developers need to provide. Having only provided the information in July, they need to be patient and abide by the laws that apply to others,” reads the Minister’s statement.“The proposed development will now be considered by a Ministerial Advisory Committee, which enables members of the public, adjacent landowners and others with an interest to submit objections and address.“Throughout the process the GOCMV were told that their application would need to be considered by an Advisory Committee, alongside another proposal for the development of the nearby Yarra Valley Country Club.“The previous Panel referred to, was held some 15 years ago and is not relevant to the current planning. There are significant issues about flooding, access, the form of the proposed residential development and the size of the proposed community building that need to be resolved. More recently the government announcement of the North East Link may impact on the land.”This statement led to the GCM issuing another response, stating that a meeting with the Minister was held on 26 February.“We received correspondence from the Minster on 28 March detailing what was required for a submission to be made and then met again with him on 3 April.“In preparing the submission, we engaged the services of Contour Town Planners, Biosis Ecology and Heritage consultants, KUD architects and TGM consultants. Further, we sought and received referrals from Melbourne Water and Manningham City Council. The application was made on 29 June 2018.”THE OPPOSITION REAFFIRMS PLEDGE TO RE-ZONE THE SITEGiven that this turn of events has already led the relations between the GCM and the Andrews Labor Government to deteriorate, it was not too long before the Opposition seized the opportunity to reaffirm Matthew Guy’s pledge to re-zone the Bulleen property, if he is elected in November.“Consistent with what is called a Gibson report, I want to make sure that your land out there in Bulleen is subsequently properly re-zoned, so you can get that centre underway, as you’d expect it to be,” the Liberal Leader had said at the Lonsdale Street Festival.Reaffirming this pledge in his recent statement, Mr Guy accuses Daniel Andrews of turning his back on Victoria’s Greek community “by refusing to re-zone the Community’s site at Bulleen.“This raises the question: is Daniel Andrews planning to compulsorily acquire the Greek Community’s Bulleen site after the election as part of his North East Link project?” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more