By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Greater Dandenong Council will fight a developer’s proposal to fell 40 mature River Red Gum trees for nine extra dwellings in the Yarraman Village estate.
At a meeting on 23 March, the council resolved to oppose the application at Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), as well as to explore lodging a third-party caveat on the land at 48-74 Hanna Street, Noble Park.
Councillor Peter Brown successfully moved for the council “to engage solicitors … with all legal means possible to protect that public open space and River Red Gums.”
“If VCAT does not support council’s position I would be bringing it up to council that we proceed to appropriate court action.”
He said the “established” and “substantial” trees and the open space reserve were an “integral part” of the original 158-dwelling permit granted by Greater Dandenong in 2016.
Cr Tim Dark also rose against the felling of the trees on the estate’s north-east corner as part of a “horrific” and “crazy” development.
A council report said the original open space reserve offered a buffer between Eastlink and homes, as well as unencumbered ease of use for the public.
Under the proposal, public open space would be halved and confined to the Mile Creek corridor – a location that was “not satisfactory” to the council.
River Red Gums are regarded as locally significant under the Greater Dandenong Planning Scheme.
“It is considered that their local historic contribution cannot be compensated through offsets and every effort should be made to retain and protect these trees.”
Developer, The Village Building Company, recently lodged an amended permit at VCAT after the council failed to decide within the statutory 60-day limit.
It argued that open public space would still comprise 9 per cent of the estate.
Nine neighbours objected to the proposal on the grounds of the developer promising a community green space, the loss of trees and the narrow streets within the estate.
ConnectEast, which operates Eastlink, has applied to join as a party to the VCAT hearing.
It is concerned by noise mitigation, drainage, access, light spill and construction works impacts on its freeway reserve, the council report stated.
Greater Dandenong has one of the lowest rates of tree canopy coverage (9.8 per cent) in metropolitan Melbourne.
As part of its Greening Our City strategy, it is seeking to increase the coverage to 15 per cent by 2028.