Point Nepean planning must be fair and transparent
The Victorian Government must ensure the Point Nepean master planning process is fair, transparent, inclusive and publicly accountable.
It has been revealed that the University of Melbourne has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Victorian Government that would facilitate the development of a proposed Centre for Coasts and Climate Change at the Quarantine Station.
Giving the University of Melbourne the status of a 'preferred occupier' pre-empts the master planning process, which is not due for completion until the end of the year.
There is scant information about the university's proposal. Its earlier proposals were flawed, either providing too little benefit to Point Nepean National Park, located in the wrong place or involving new and unnecessary buildings.
The Victorian National Parks Association would vigorously oppose any similar proposal.
When the master planning process is completed, the Victorian Government should invite expressions of interest from community, corporate, philanthropic and educational organisations and individuals.
To ensure a fair and transparent selection process, the University of Melbourne's proposal cannot be given favourable treatment over other expressions of interest. Preferred uses should be those that are open to public scrutiny and maximise benefit to the national park, not those for which the public has been sidelined in the process.
We believe that for any proposal to be successful, it must satisfy key criteria including:
- Consistency with the park's natural and cultural heritage conservation objectives.
- Being of significant benefit to the park and its management, including a strong financial return that supports the park's long-term future.
- Being part of a diverse mix of tenancies that generates a vibrant place for people to visit.
We would welcome a proposal from the University of Melbourne if:
- The university were to pay market-based rents for the lease of buildings.
- There were no new buildings proposed for construction.
- The research facility were to be located at the western end of the Quarantine Station in buildings adjacent to the Jarman Oval.
- There were opportunities for other tertiary institutions, such as Deakin University, to be involved.
- The planned adaptive reuse of heritage buildings was best practice and protected their heritage fabrics.
- There were restrictions on night-time access to minimise impacts on nocturnal native animals.
- The proposed building uses were of greater benefit to the national park than uses proposed in other expressions of interest.
- There was no support for the construction of a new jetty.
- That any extraction of water from Port Phillip Bay and the Ticonderoga dolphin sanctuary zone, for use in the research facility, was the subject of an independent environmental effects statement.
- The facility's research was relevant to and supported the implementation of the park's objectives.