Park or parking?

Permit parking only next to the central pocket park at Keysborough Townhouses. 402379_03 Picture: ROB CAREW

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

Residents at a densely-packed estate in Keysborough have been rocked by a proposal to sacrifice its only pocket park for car parking.

Body corporate The Knight has notified residents at the 116-dwelling ‘Keysborough Townhouses’ estate of a plan to “transform” green space with car parking.

The bid will go to a residents’ ballot on 30 April.

If the park was removed, it would leave residents at the 452 Cheltenham Road estate at least 500 metres away from their nearest green space at Tatterson Park.

A resident said the park with a barbecue shelter, bench seating and landscaping was crucial open space.

“It’s our only green space so it’s just not acceptable.

“People don’t have much of a yard. Some have converted them to decking or concreting.”

Neighbours park on the narrow streets due to having single garages and a lack of space in their front yards, the resident said.

As a sign of the pressures, some of the estate’s on-street car parking is permit only.

Greater Dandenong Council city futures executive director Sanjay Manivasagasivam said the council had not been notified of the proposal.

“An amendment to the planning approvals on the site would be needed.

“Council is committed to maintain open space for residents and would encourage the body corporate to seek advice before proceeding any further.”

Ward councillor Rhonda Garad said it seemed unlikely that the council would approve the proposal.

“The open space would be critical for the quality of life for the people living there, particularly for many with small children.

“Many of them have little to no yards, there are no other play areas.

“It seems quite bizarre that the body corp wouldn’t know it would be knocked back. (The permit) was only approved a few years ago.”

Cr Garad said the lack of private yards and parking was a trade-off for the “relatively lower” cost of housing.

“It’s a case of ‘Buyer Beware’ – people knew there would be limited parking options.

“To forego forever that small open green space for the sake of a few car parks seems incredibly short-sighted and not mindful of the health and wellbeing of those living there.”

Keysborough resident Gaye Guest said residents have been “sold the Australian dream, but not the same one as in the past”.

“Residents bought in not only because of liveability but also because of the amenities they thought were going to be provided onsite for them.

“People only have to reflect back to our recent pandemic years to realise what made their life bearable back then and open space was a high priority.”

The Knight declined to comment.

In 2021, the under-construction estate came under fire from the public over safety concerns.

These included a corner townhouse being built about a metre from a slip lane and truck access road into the nearby HomeCo shopping centre.

Nor was there room for a footpath to link the Cheltenham Road bus stop and a child care centre and shops at HomeCo.

A council-instigated safety review found the development “fully compliant” with planning policies.

However after public pressure, Greater Dandenong Council negotiated with developer Salter Brothers for a series of safety upgrades.