September 2021 – Help Reclaim Blackburn’s Tree Canopy – See below two recent examples of planning applications that reduce the tree canopy and prevent replacement canopy tree planting opportunities by over developing the site. You can Object to these applications by lodging an objection by email, Attention: Planning Department to email@example.com. Include your contact details and the address and the WH reference number in your objection.
36 Jeffrey Street Blackburn WH/2021/124
This permit application which has been lodged with the Council involves erecting a new garage and installing a swimming pool and decking at the rear of the property. What is proposed will mean that there is almost no unencumbered land in the rear setback and therefore no potential for landscaping. The land at the rear of the site is almost entirely covered by a gravel driveway, large new garage, swimming pool, decking, paving, cubby, stairs and concrete path. What is proposed is totally inconsistent with the Preferred Character Statement contained in Clause 22.03 Residential Development which states that “The larger rear setbacks will accommodate substantial vegetation including large canopy trees”
While the streetscape is an important element of the Bush Character for a site, the rear setback is also important and cannot be overlooked. It should also be noted that a number of years ago the rear setback to this site did include vegetation including trees.
The proposed plans also do not conform to the landscape objectives of SLO2 as:
- The dominance of vegetation cover in keeping with the bush character environment will not be retained
- The development of sympathetic buildings within an envelope that ensures the maintenance of a tree-dominated landscape will not be achieved
- The proposed development is not compatible with the character of the area
The Council should reject this permit application, or approve the application, but include a condition requiring the applicant to plant a suitable canopy tree in the rear setback.
10 Boulton Road Blackburn WH/2021/361
Council is required to assess permit applications on the Preferred Character for the site not on nearby non-compliant properties as recommended in this application.
Site coverage for this proposal amounts to 41.1% and greatly exceeds the 33% included in the SlO2 permit requirements. This proposal involves an overdevelopment of the site.
There will be only one tree on the site capable of reaching 15 metres at maturity and because this tree is mature now may not reach this height. This compares with a requirement of 6 trees based on the decision guidelines of SLO2 and the size of the site.
The property when developed will not present as a Bush Environment because:
The trees are not distributed throughout the site
There will be no screening of the buildings from the street, the rear boundary or from one side boundary
On the other side boundary there is limited scope for landscaping
The proposed plan does not conform with the landscape objectives of SLO2
- The dominance of vegetation cover in keeping with the bush character environment will not be retained
- Buildings and works will not retain an inconspicuous profile and will dominate the landscape.
- The proposed development is not compatible with the character of the area.
The proposed plans also do not comply with the Preferred Character Statement for a Bush Environment contained in Clause 22.03 Residential Development as:
- The streetscapes will not be dominated by vegetation with subservient buildings frequently hidden from view behind vegetation and tall trees.
- The larger rear setbacks will not accommodate substantial vegetation including large canopy trees.
The proposed development does not meet the objectives of Clause 22.04 Tree Conservation in that:
It does not assist in the management of the City’s tree canopy by ensuring that new development minimises the loss of significant trees
In addition, this proposed development does not meet the requirements of Clauses 21.05 Environment and 21.06 Housing.
25 February 2020
Strength in Numbers helps at VCAT Hearings.
The power of strong community groups has been demonstrated by two recent VCAT cases. The hearings have demonstrated that the worst of development applications in SLO2 are not supported by VCAT. This is the case particularly where Inadequate provision is made for landscaping and planting of replacement indigenous canopy trees. BVRG, residents and other local groups have made strong submissions to VCAT hearings in support of Councils decisions to reject applications. Decisions include:
124-126 Blackburn Road – application for 5X2 storey units on this site with 2 level underground carparking and tree removal without adequate space for replacement. VCAT rejected the application on 22 Nov 2019.
1-3 Naughton Grove – Subdivision with proposed building envelope and tree removal. VCAT rejected the application on 25th February 2020.
An upcoming VCAT hearing on 20 and 21 April 2020 for 18 Glen Ebor Avenue will also involve BVRG and residents. The application is for 4X2 storey units on this site, without adequate space to meet the tall tree and landscape requirements of SLO2.
199 and 201 Canterbury Road are two other planning applications on large sites in SLO2 areas that are at advanced stages with Council. Both have submitted amended plans that, like the above examples, have inadequate provision for landscaping and planting of replacement indigenous canopy trees.
9 December 2019
Whitehorse Council approves VicRoads Shared path plan – trees to go.
Council at its meeting of 9 Dec 2019 endorsed VicRoads plans for the shared path linking Laburnum to Blackburn. The vote was not unanimous. It is disappointing that Blackburn Ward Councillors in supporting the motion voted to remove Main Street trees. The works are expected to be completed by end of June 2020.
The Laburnum section of the path completes the bike path from Box Hill to Ringwood and is designed to improve commuter cycling connectivity. The Laburnum to Blackburn leg was the last to be resolved and for Blackburn it means that the village shopping centre will lose more shade street trees, adding to the loss already apparent from the level crossing removal works. 5 trees on the Main street western footpath will go.
VicRoads and Council were persuaded to adjust the alignment to be less intrusive through Laburnum Park. They couldn’t be convinced to use the existing Diggers Way lane at Blackburn, that would have preserved the streetscape character of Main Street and activated the underutilised Diggers Way. There is no room for replacement street trees with the shared path plan in Main Street as shown in green below.
Council endorsement means the Laburnum section of the Box Hill to Ringwood Shared Use Path between Middleborough Road and Blackburn Railway Station includes:
- The installation of new traffic signals across Laburnum Street south of the railway line.
- Installation of bicycle ‘sharrow’ line marking, bicycle signage and permanent 40km/h speed limit along Laburnum Street between Whitehorse Road and Main Street.
- Installation of raised intersection treatment at the intersection of Laburnum Street and Main Street.
- Installation of exclusive bicycle lanes along the west side of Main Street between Laburnum Street and South Parade. On-street car parking, traffic lanes and outdoor trading will be retained. The works will require the removal of five existing trees along the west side of Main Street.
- A modified T-intersection with reversed traffic priority, to be introduced at the intersection of Main Street and South Parade including the installation of pedestrian (zebra) crossings. This will also include altered on-street car parking and kerb extensions on South Parade. No on-street car parking spaces will be removed.
23 November 2019
Flooding issues in South Parade, Blackburn will be fixed by works carried out by Level Crossing Removal Authority starting November 2019. BVRG has written to the authority and Council a number of occasions since the level crossing was completed. The flooding issues are unintended consequences of drainage works installed to stop flooding the Blackburn Station subway that couldn’t cope with short duration heavy storms. The resulting flooding overflowed into South Parade properties. Such storms are more frequent with the changing climate and drainage needs to be engineered to cope. See the information flyer sent to local residents.
VCAT rejects development proposal for 124-126 Blackburn Road, as it does not achieve an acceptable outcome
What is the tribunal’s Conclusion?
‘The subject land is suitable for multiple units given its size. The proposal for five dwellings would have benefits in terms of housing growth. However, the subject land is in a location designated through the scheme as having specific characteristics that are sought to be protected and reinforced through control of new housing development. The elements that contribute to its environmental and neighbourhood character are sought to be conserved and enhanced. I am not satisfied the proposal assists to achieves these outcome. Rather, the size and scale of the proposed dwellings is too great to respect neighbourhood character, contribute to the preferred character and to achieve the objectives of SLO2. In addition, the development results in unacceptable off-site and internal amenity impacts.’
- See full VCAT document.
15 October 2019
Vale Ron Grainger – 12.8.1928 ~ 15.10.2019
Ron was one of the founding members of BVRG. In 1987 a major shopping centre proposal in the Blackburn shopping centre outraged local residents who formed BVRG to oppose it. Ron held several positions on BVRG committee over the years including a long stint as secretary. More recently he was an active committee member until resigning in 2016, when he and Kay moved to Bega, NSW to be closer to family. Kay moved into an aged care facility at Bega shortly after.
Ron had a passion for Blackburn and its special character and his achievements through BVRG have made a lasting contribution to the retention of the bushland character so valued by residents. …more…
18 Nov 2018 – Expiration of SLO9 Interim Tree protection – 31st December 2018.
What does this mean – Canopy trees are important for residential amenity and reducing urban heating, softening the streetscape and providing shade and habitat. The Planning Minister provided 12 months of limited protection to canopy trees from indiscriminate removal across Whitehorse where protection had not previously existed. The interim controls were provided to allow Whitehorse council to develop formal controls and expire at the end of December 2018..
How are things proceeding. Council has applied to the minister for an extension to the interim tree controls. This is not guaranteed. Councillors need the community to demonstrate that amenity provided by canopy trees is preferred to hard edged boundary to boundary development in their neighbourhood.
What action would help. – Contact councillors, council and the Planning Minister requesting the tree controls are made permanent. Tell them why canopy trees are important to you and your neighbourhood.
More information – Council FAQ’s
15th May 2018 – Box Hill Master Plan – Councils response to C175 Planning Amendment Panel report will be presented at Council meeting on 25th June – The Panel report that was released on 6th October 2017 and was less than charitable in it assessment of Councils proposed amendment.
BVRG’s primary concern is the future amenity at street level at Box Hill Major Activity Centre (MAC) – the human or pedestrian scale referred to in the amendment that, on our analysis was not adequately addressed in the C175 amendment. Currently there are about 40 high rise developments between 4 and 36 stories completed, under construction or planned at Box Hill adding about 5000 dwellings not counting hotel or hospital rooms.
28th November 2017 – Compromise reached at VCAT Compulsory Conference for 3-9 Frankcom Street, BLACKBURN – the initial application for an apartment building comprising 43 dwellings in 5 storeys plus a two-level basement car park was revised to 41 dwellings. A compromise was reached at a VCAT Compulsory Conference attended by BVRG and residents in November 2017 – apartments were reduced to35 with increased setbacks, revised landscape plan to include an indigenous palette, retention of some additional trees marked for removal and added additional street trees. Some balcony redesign to reduce overlooking was also agreed. David Berry (Tree Society) provided advice on the planting palette and the developer made changes resulting in a better outcome for amenity and habitat qualities of the Blackburn Creek floodway on the site.
28th September 2017 – Reforms to Residential Zones – In late March 2017 reforms were introduced to residential zones that changes allowable heights, number of dwellings permitted and garden area provisions for new dwellings. Areas without SLO protection are impacted particularly residential growth zones . WE have summarised the changes in the linked document.
There is no safe off road link joining the new shared path at Blackburn to the Box Hill section of the shared path. The use of Main Street footpath, Laburnum Street roadway and a new 3m path through Laburnum Park is proposed.
BVRG is encouraging Blackburn residents to have their say by August 31st 2017.
7th July 2017 – 21 Laurel Grove – Developer withdraws application to VCAT.
Objectors to the Laurel Grove planning application were advised that the applicant has withdrawn their appeal to VCAT. While this is good news for nearby residents and the SLO it should be treated as a temporary reprieve. It is anticipated that the developer will either resubmit a new application or on-sell the property for someone else to redevelop.
29th May 2017 – LXRA official opening of Shared Use Path – Blackburn to Mitcham –
An official ceremony is planned on Friday 2nd June at 2.00pm at the Cottage Street Overpass in Morton Park to celebrate the opening of the shared use path from Blackburn to Mitcham. The section joining Blackburn to Nunawading has been completed as part of the Blackburn level crossing removal. It will eventually join Box Hill with Ringwood. The alignment of this new path to the south of the rail line has been a contentious issue in the community. The leg from Blackburn to Laburnum is still under consideration by VicRoads, it too is contentious with significant implications for adjoining residents.
27th April 2017 – LXRA Underpass flooding update –
BVRG raised questions with LXRA relating to pumping contingency at the Blackburn underpass during construction –
- Where these pumps operating during both rain events? (25th and 26th April) If yes how is it that they were ineffective? If no, why not?2. Will adequate pumping capacity be activated for future rain events while drainage remains incomplete?
We have also raised concerns about the water proofing of the underpass as promised by LXRA.
The underpass currently has a temporary pump in place while we finish construction of the final drainage solution. This temporary pump provides better capability for drainage in the underpass than what was previously in place. However on days of continuous rain and certain levels of water means that the unit cannot keep up.
Over the coming weeks several key milestones will be reached that will bring the project closer to the ultimate drainage solution:
1. The downpipes on the new station canopies will be connected to help keep water away from the underpass.
2. The large stormwater collection pits on Railway Road will be functional
3. By mid-May the new access ramp and stairs from South Parade will be in place that will prevent water running from South Parade directly into the underpass
4. Next week the new tank will be installed and by late May the new permanent pump will be commissioned.
26th April 2017 – Blackburn Station Underpass Flooding story – The Age