By Bonny Burrows
The Nar Nar Goon Progress Association has employed a private company to create a township strategy for the railway town in a bid to avoid “ad hoc” development.
Nar Nar Goon and Tynong are two local towns which Cardinia Shire Council has signalled a need for a township strategy to guide growth and development in the communities, but to date council has been unsuccessful in its bid to create such strategies.
At the 4 September Cardinia Shire Town Planning meeting, the council expressed concerns that an inability to create township strategies for Nar Nar Goon and Tynong was making it difficult to decide whether applications for developments were suited to the towns.
Cardinia Shire Council’s general manager of planning and development Andrew Paxton said council had advocated for several years now for the creation of these strategies, which outlined key issues, objectives and actions relating to the environment, residential, economic and community development, physical infrastructure, traffic, transport and urban design within a township.
However, he said, due to a plan to protect Melbourne’s Green Wedge Zone and its agriculture and environmental resources, the government had prevented the council’s creation of these documents for the railway towns.
“We’ve written to the minister for planning who has declined council the ability to do a township strategy for those towns, saying the green wedge plan is fixed, and there will be no further change,” Mr Paxton said.
Nar Nar Goon Progress Association president Geoff Bramley said the community group had been working for “many years” to get a strategy for the town, however, it too had been blocked by the government.
So the group has instead taken up an offer by a private company to put together a strategy, to then be submitted for government approval.
“They said they’ll do it. It’s currently underway, and we expect it to be completed within the next month or so which we will then give to council to adopt,” Mr Bramley said.
Mr Bramley argued a strategy was desperately needed “as development in the town is occurring “ad hoc”.
“At the moment, individuals may have his or her block and want to do something with it, and they do it in isolation. Development in the town is incoherent and inconsistent; it doesn’t fit with each other,” Mr Bramley said.
He said the Nar Nar Goon and Tynong communities should have been consulted when the Pakenham Racecourse was developed, and also on the Pakenham East development, “but we were ignored”.
Despite the community’s best attempts, Mr Bramley said the government refused to collaborate with Nar Nar Goon residents.
“Minister for Planning Richard Wynne refuses to discuss it. I’ve made four calls and sent three letters to his office, but he just point plank says no to Nar Nar Goon,” Mr Bramley said.
He said the document’s intention was not to stop development, but to streamline the town’s growth.
“We have great assets in our town, and know it’s going to develop, we just want a plan in place to ensure development meets with the country nature of the town,” Mr Bramley said.
“We’re quite happy for it to grow, but we want it done in a planned manner… we want a plan in place before any major development occurs.”
A spokesperson for Planning Minister Richard Wynne said township strategies were encouraged “but not if they’re encroaching on the green wedges”.
“We made a commitment not to change the urban growth boundary and further eat away at our precious green wedges – and that’s not going to change – but that doesn’t preclude councils from preparing township plans for Nar Nar Goon or Tynong,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Paxton said once complete, the council would look at how it could use the strategy “as an advocacy piece of work to get the State Government to look at the railway towns again”.