Bayside Council’s Discussions with Federal Government Minister

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CSIRO site in Highett – Discussions in Canberra

Date: 17 August 2011

The discussions regarding the future of the CSIRO site were held in Canberra last week between the Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity, the Honourable Gary Gray, and Bayside Mayor, Cr Alex del Porto, and Council Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Robb.

Mayor del Porto and Mr. Robb met with the Minister to outline Council’s priorities for the future of the Highett CSIRO site on behalf of the Bayside community.

Council believes that the future development of the site has the potential to provide better linkages through Highett, provide additional housing, conserve significant Grassy Woodlands vegetation and provide passive recreation open space opportunities.

“It is Council’s view that three to four hectares of the site can be protected and restored along with providing open space for passive recreation.

“Council is seeking the remainder of the site to be developed for residential purposes in a manner that complements the Highett Activity Centre consistent with the adopted Highett Structure Plan” said the Mayor.

The site is located within close proximity to the Highett train station, the Highett Neighbourhood Activity Centre and the proposed Southland train station.

It comprises an area of approximately 9.5Ha and is considered by Council to be of strategic importance to the City of Bayside.  Amongst other features, the site contains an area of regionally significant Grassy Woodlands – one of the last remaining stands of such vegetation in south east metropolitan Melbourne.

Following the meeting held in Canberra on Wednesday 17 August, the Mayor said he was pleased with the hearing given to Council by the Minister on this important issue and said he believes the meeting was a positive step in securing Council’s preferred outcome for the site.

The Mayor said he was confident that the Commonwealth would consider a range of outcomes for the site beyond simply achieving a maximum price.  He believes that the Federal Government will take into account the environmental, as well as the amenity issues, arising from the sale of the site and not just the economic issues.

“As well as taking our case to Canberra, Council is also actively engaging with other relevant Federal and State politicians to advance our priorities for the site,” said Cr del Porto.

Over recent months the Mayor and senior representatives of Bayside City Council have made contact with a long list of influential CSIRO site stakeholders including Federal and State Members of Parliament, Federal and State shadow members and senior representatives of the CSIRO.

Following is a list of some of the CSIRO site stakeholders contacted by Council to date:

  • The Hon Gary Gray AO MP, Commonwealth Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity.
  • The Hon Andrew Robb, AO MP, Member for Goldstein, Federal Shadow Minister for Finance and Debt Reduction.
  • The Hon Matthew Guy, MLC, State Minister for Planning.
  • Senior representatives of the CSIRO and State Government departments.
  • Commonwealth Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon Tony Burke MP;
  • Commonwealth Minister for Finance and Deregulation, the Hon Penny Wong MP; and
  • Senior Commonwealth and State Government departmental representatives.

Mayor del Porto said Council will continue its advocacy campaign on behalf of the Bayside community.

“We will continue advancing our priorities for the Highett CSIRO site in an effort to get the best possible outcome for our current residents and for future generations of residents” he said.

“We are also reviewing available documentation relating to the significance of the Highett Grassy Woodlands to ensure its conservation.”

Council is committed to protecting and restoring the area of Grassy Woodlands on the site, recently confirmed an endangered vegetation community in the Gippsland Plains bioregion and an area of regional significance for its biodiversity values.

“Council believes that the CSIRO plans to resolve the sale of the Highett site this financial year under the guidance of the Commonwealth Property Disposals Policy which, it is pleasing to note, not only identifies opportunities for surplus land to provide increased housing, but also improved community amenity and job creation as future drivers for surplus Commonwealth property.”

“Council is also advocating for appropriate consultation with the local and wider community to be included as part of the planning process”.


Background Information

Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) advised Council that it intends to dispose of their Highett site as part of consolidating a number of its Victorian sites. The sale of the site is likely to occur within the 2011/12 Financial Year.

In response to this news, on 29 March 2011 Council resolved to:

  1. advocate urgently for the retention of substantial areas, amounting to perhaps three or four hectares, of the CSIRO Highett site to provide for the conservation – as naturally as possible – of the very significant vegetation community and passive recreation, together with appropriate access;
  2. be prepared to accept such areas into the Council’s ownership and management;
  3. pursue advocacy on this basis, to relevant State and Federal Ministers and Members of Parliament, including through deputations, and to others as appropriate;
  4. advocate for the Council to be fully engaged in the determination of the planning controls in relation to the CSIRO site; and
  5. receive a further report on this matter at the earliest opportunity, given the possibility of this matter advancing rapidly’

Further to its March resolution, on 3 May 2011 Council resolved that it:

  1. Advocates for the following planning provisions to be applied to the site as part of the rezoning, consistent with the Highett Structure Plan and Bayside Planning Scheme:
    1. Residential 1 Zone (R1Z), with the potential to apply the Public Park and Recreation Zone (PPRZ) to open space and the Public Conservation and Resource Zone (PCRZ) to conservation areas;
    2. Environmental Audit Overlay (EAO), Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) and Development Plan Overlay (DPO); and
    3. The Development Plan Overlay Schedule will reflect the directions of the Highett Structure Plan and Clause 22.08 Highett Neighbourhood Activity Centre Policy and include prescriptive design guidelines for development form and height, including controls to manage the adjoining residential interface.
  2. advocates for Clause 52.01 of the Bayside Planning Scheme to be amended to require an open space contribution in the order of 3 to 4 hectares of the site pursuant to Council’s previous resolution;
  3. advocates to the Minister for Planning for these Planning Scheme provisions and controls; and
  4. in the event that Council receives the open space, a Masterplan is formulated taking into account ;
    1. Environmentally sensitive areas
    2. Passive areas
    3. Active areas.


Source Link: Bayside Council’s Discussions with Federal Government Minister ( Bayside City Council Media Release)