As president of SDLG, I am concerned that the Hill's 'sense of place' is slowly being eroded by poor planning decisions in both the bulit and natural environment. One of the most dramatic changes to the Belgrave landscape is the recent and continuing removal of mature eucalypts, the defining element of our Hills environment. Eucalypts provide the structure for the things we hold dear about the Dandenongs - fern gullies, creeks, lyrebirds, rosellas and platypus and the restorative values of clean air, temperature modification and rainfall production. Individual mature trees throughout the Hills act as corridors and conduits to the Dandenong Ranges National Park, protecting flora and fauna by allowing the maintenance of genetic diversity. Without genetic diversity, populations get in-bred and die out.
Three mature euclaypts are scheduled for removal in the hub proposal and several more indigenous trees have not even made it on to the 'tree removal/ site demolition' page of the plan, page 10 in the on-line version. The hub site is 750 metres from the DRNP and backs on to the Belgrave Rail Trail which links to Birdsland, Lysterfield Lake Park, Churchill National Park, the FTG unit of the DRNP and beyond.
The plans are availble for viewing at the Upwey, Monbulk and Lilydale YRC offices. Please have a look at the plans to see whether you think this building and modern landscaped development is
a) really needed as proposed - could it be made smaller and still provide better Inspiro services?
b) is a good fit in to the Hills 'village/township' landscape - does it reflect a Dandenongs 'sense of place'?
c) will duplicate services and facilities - we could be out-sourcing so many more community health support services to the Community House network, all local GPs have upgraded their facilities and the services provided
d) will realistically have a health services catchment area from Cardinia to Knox - will the data justifying the project stand scrutiny
e) will have ongoing funding for ancilliary health programs eg. we need all sorts of support and preventative health groups which could be facilitated by inspiro - an aphasia group being one such group. Whatever happened to the walking groups which used to run?
f) is it value for money as proposed?
What potential threats could this proposed multi-purpose hub pose to Belgrave and its communities e.g. Apart from the design, does it further erode our sense of community by attracting people as far away as Healesville and Cardinia? Should YRC rates be spent servicing other municipalities? Currently, some services for local residents on low incomes are referred to Knox because there is nothing available at Inspiro. Is it suitable as a drop-in centre? Is it accessible by public transport to the user groups their data states will attend? Does the style of the building say 'Hills' or generic modernism? Could the $8.9 million be better spent on a smaller community preventative health centre and a modernisation of the Belgrave Pool, Hayes Carpark or other services which are needed? Is the planned building genuinely accessible by disabled people? There will be no net gain for parking - could the proposed revamp of the Hayes carpark be postponed to have a 2010 YRC redevelopment plan incorporated into the hub proposal? Will the rermnant bushland outside the construction zone be protected by an environmental code of practice by the developers? Is the shared vehicle and pedestrian access to the bulding safe and the best option for access? Is the Cameo management happy that community spaces have been identfied for use after hours but no public toilets are planned for the site? Do the mock-ups of all the views of the building fill you with confidence that the plan is sensitive to our local environment?
Residents can still lodge objections to this building by going to the Yarra Ranges Council website/planning/Susan Hartley, Planning Officer.