Housing on Keysy school site

The former Maralinga Primary School site is destined for a housing estate. 228288_11 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

The former Maralinga Primary School’s future as a housing estate has been confirmed.

Shortly before Christmas, Victoria’s Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved the controversial rezoning of the Keysborough site to a Neighbourhood Residential Zone of up to two storeys.

It sits between homes off McMahen Street and Maralinga and Woomera avenues as well as a light industrial zone and Chandler Road Reserve.

Key details such as public open space requirements and the future of Chandler Road Reserve have not yet been released.

Nor has the report of a Government Land Standing Advisory Committee, which held public hearings in early 2021.

A Government spokesperson said the Minister’s approval of Amendment C211gdan was based on the advisory committee’s advice on 6 April.

“The Minister accepted all recommendations of the committee and approved rezoning the land from a Public Use Zone to Neighbourhood Residential Zone enabling applications for residential development to be lodged with the council.

“There is a requirement for any residential development at the site to include a public open space contribution.”

During the hearings, the Government dropped its submission for zero public open space on the site.

It had been in negotiations to waive open space in exchange for leasing its majority portion of Chandler Road Reserve to Greater Dandenong Council, it told the hearing.

It’s unknown whether a lease to preserve the parkland has been signed.

According to the Government, the council suggested a further two-metre-wide reserve on the western side of the school site – as part of a 5 per cent open space requirement.

At the hearing, Greater Dandenong opposed the rezoning due to a lack of public consultation on the zero open space proposal.

The council has subsequently “noted” Mr Wynne’s decision.

“When a planning application is lodged to develop this site, Council will work with the applicant at that time to seek to achieve a high quality outcome for the community,” planning and design manager Brett Jackson said.

Public submissions raised concerns on increased traffic, removal of vegetation, neighbourhood character, the underground petrol tanks, Aboriginal and cultural sensitivities and stormwater.

Opposing the amendment, Keysborough resident Gaye Guest asked the hearing how it could decide on the school site without knowing the fate of Chandler Road Reserve.

The proposed rezoning on flood-prone land was “ludicrous”. As was converting the dead-end Maralinga Avenue and McMahen Street, and Woomera Avenue and Malcolm Crescent into through roads, she said.

“This is a quiet residential cell that is in fear of being invaded by excessive overdevelopment.”

Ms Guest noted eight schools had been merged into four in recent years.

“I’m interested to also know if this becomes a residential development where these children who occupy this proposed development will be educated.”

Maralinga Primary School closed in 2014 – four years after merging with Chandler Park Primary School.

In 2015, the Department of Education and Training deemed the site as surplus for educational needs.

The question of whether the land was needed for a school was not considered by the GLSAC hearing.

The committee report and Minister’s response are expected to be published after notice is published in the Victoria Government Gazette.