“C117 was a threat to the green wedge. The Planning Panel did a first class job of identifying its problems and flaws. The officers’ report continues to push it, in a wordy document the intent of which is clear but the arguments not. We will find out at the next Council meeting how the Councillors respond. Does the Council support the green wedge concept, or is development the key to happiness?”

This is how we ended our last report on C117. On the agenda for last night’s Council meeting was the officers’ report on C117, with its recommendation to ignore the Planning Panel’s advice and recommend that the Minister accept C117, and in particular the amended clause 21.07.

Cr McLeish moved that the officer’s recommendation be accepted, and then spoke in a derogatory way about the Panel’s report, calling it ‘laughable’, without successfully engaging with any of its arguments. At one point he said that he suspected that land banking was happening in Manningham, seemingly implying that C117 would address that problem but without explaining how.

Cr Chen spoke (very) generally about the need for Council to take a ‘proactive approach’ and about ‘long term sustainability’, also failing to address any substance. She mentioned that C117 didn’t ‘change zones’, which of course it didn’t and couldn’t. Cr McLeish made a similar observation, but since one of the issues the Panel had with C117 was tension between it and the RCZ this would not seem to be an argument in C117’s favour.

Cr Galbally, who seconded Cr McLeish’s motion, couldn’t think of anything to add.

Cr Conlon was the lone speaker against the motion, that is to accept the Planning Panel’s recommendation, and in the vote he was the only vote against. Crs McLeish, Galbally, Kleinert, Haynes, Zafiropoulos and Mayor Piccinini voted for the motion.

Given the superficial and general nature of the discussion of a topic as significant as a Planning Scheme amendment, and a disagreement with a Planning Panel to boot, the impression is that this Council does not ‘get’ the green wedge and its vulnerability. Not the permanent organization who were responsible for C117 in the first place, and for continuing to support it against the Planning Panel’s advice, and not the Councillors who trod lightly upon the issue last night. The impression given is that as a Council they were not very interested in the issues raised by their own amendment.

Responsibility now falls on the Minister for Planning, The Hon Richard Wynne, MP, to properly support the green wedge.  His email address is richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au