Save Lake Knox Update

Update from the President of the Knox Environment Society - August 2020

Development Victoria’s Community Reference Group for Lake Knox

The President of the Knox Environment Society along with 7 other community members attended a Zoom meeting for the first meeting of the above group. The 8 community members were very keen to take an active role in the form, structure and development of this area to make it world’s best practice but their hopes were quickly dashed when we found out that our only role was in doing things like having input into street names.

The KES president was so angry about the whole process that he sent the following email to our local politicians – Nick Wakeling MP and Jackson Taylor MP:

Dear Mr Wakeling,

Firstly I hope that you, your family, your staff and your colleagues are all well and standing up to what must be a really difficult time for you. I know that you would be very busy at this time, however I do have something I would like to share with you.

I am writing to you to let you know just how disappointed I am with the so called ‘community consultation’ process being offered by Development Victoria for their Knoxfield site on Burwood Highway. Last night I was sadly involved in the farce, the sham and the con that was their Community Reference Group.

The DV websites uses wonderful platitudes such as:

“Development Victoria is committed to and values community engagement on our projects.”

“Development Victoria is committed to engaging with the local community, and stakeholders to ensure they're given opportunities to provide valuable feedback.”

So 8 community representatives gathered via zoom hoping to really have a major input into this project with the two statements above to make us feel good and wanting to ensure that Knox would finally get a community driven, top quality, environmentally sensitive and community focused development that was world’s best practice and that we could be proud of what was built and be a beacon for future projects.

We were confronted by 7 DV ‘heavies’ who were more interested in talking to us rather than actually listening to us. Peter Hood the Senior Director Property Group for DV soon put us in our place by telling us they have their ‘experts’ produce their reports and designs and we were not qualified to make any input.

So for our community group

The wetlands design and form was set – no discussion

The Masterplan was already done – no discussion

The Builders for the site were close to being finalised – they would decide on housing form and design – no discussion.

So what were we to talk about?? Well we had the REALLY big issues

1) Elements of a wetland

2) Landscaping

3) Public open space

4) Street naming

5) Wayfinding, signage, public art, historical references

6) Linkages to Blind Creek

7) The Commercial Zone

8) Establishing and integrating with the new community

Well to say I was disappointed is an understatement. But then why should I be surprised?? We have been trying to talk to DV for a couple of years now but they have always been the ones talking to us and we are expected to just listen and accept what they say. Not once have they taken our wants, needs and requirements for a development in OUR community that WE have to live with and effects OUR way of life.

For example our initial discussions with then 2 years ago was on their initial design for the Lake and wetlands. After all our campaigning, letters, posters and not to mention a petition with thousands of signatures their master plan showed exactly the same design in exactly the same place.

Their simple response is that the lake is not safe and that may well be true, in its current form, we have had advice from a company who does work for South East Water and their desktop review of DV’s report is that the lake could be fixed and probably for under $1 million dollars. It’s just that they are not interested / willing to do anything except what they want NO MATTER what the community think. Maybe they could have saved the money from these meetings and used it to fix the Lake.

Right from the outset the KES has spent a lot of time on this development including a number of meetings, we also put in a submission (attached to this email) about the development (which were being asked for on line) and now with their community group. As someone who is happy to freely give of their time this is OK but what I asked of them all the way along was how will how feedback be taken and fed back into the development and design phase in a meaningful way that respects the time, effort and expertise of those contributing. Well I now know the answer!!!

I find this lack of respect toward the community and its representatives disgraceful and disgusting but so typical of the way we are treated by all levels of Government.

I know that there may be little that you can do but one does tire of it!!

For more Information

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This campaign is run by the Friends of Lake Knox Sanctuary and supported by Knox Environment Society, First Friends of Dandenong Creek, Greening Knox and the Friends of Blind Creek Billabong.