November 26, 2019

COUNCIL LEADERSHIP CRUCIAL IN GREEN WEDGE DEBATE

Frankston City Council councillors recently voted against the opportunity to investigate whether a small portion of land near the 250-hectare Carrum Downs Industrial Estate should be rezoned for industrial use.  This was despite Council officers and specialist consultants recommending further investigations, as well as the estate being down to its last 20 vacant blocks.

A possible rezoning opportunity had been identified for 114 hectares of land (or 2.5% of the Frankston Green Wedge) between Eastlink and Frankston-Dandenong Road.  The opportunity for further investigations was part of a vote on whether Council should adopt the latest draft of the Frankston Green Wedge Management Plan.

Although this rezoning would encroach on a tiny portion of Frankston’s 4,500-hectare Green Wedge, the advantages for households and businesses in Carrum Downs and Frankston would be significant.

 As a crucial employment hub in the region, Carrum Downs has become a popular location for local businesses requiring access to key freeway and infrastructure networks.  According to the Committee for Greater Frankston, Carrum Downs has 8,600 employees and generates $3.65 billion in economic activity a year.

“While it is disappointing the Frankston City Council voted against the rezoning proposal, it is likely that some councillors hadn’t fully considered the major benefits to the region,” says Michael Crowder, Director.

”While I fully support the need for Frankston’s Green Wedges, and acknowledge the importance these provide to biodiversity in the area, we need to be realistic about balancing long-term business and employment needs with environmental considerations.  Council should be excited that more Carrum Downs’ businesses want to expand their operations, and that new ones want to move into the area.”

The Carrum Downs land that could potentially be rezoned for industrial use is largely marginal land, with limited environmental and other benefits.  By rezoning some of this land, while maintaining the vast majority of the Green Wedge, government can benefit from increased revenue from new businesses, greater employment in the region, and lower costs through reduced land maintenance requirements.

“The issue of rezoning the industrial land in Frankston’s Green Wedge therefore needs to be considered in the long run, including the region’s industrial and business needs a decade or two from now,” suggests Mr Crowder.
“These are difficult decisions to make, with many different stakeholders and interests needing to have their opinions heard and considered.  It is, of course, important that these opinions and concerns are heard by government.

“What is probably most important is that there is a balance between environmental considerations, the needs of workers and families in the area, including the pleasure derived from having extensive green wedges across Frankston, and the requirements for businesses to operate effectively and expand when required.”

Rather than being seen as a negative, the expansion of Carrum Downs’ industrial estate into a small portion of the Frankston Green Wedge should be considered an opportunity for Council to show courage and leadership in balancing the long-term requirements of households, businesses, Council and the environment to ensure the Frankston region remains a great place to live and work.

A balanced, considered and sensible approach to a holistic vision of Frankston’s and Carrum Downs future needs to be the primary consideration of Council.