“Softly Softly” – pulling the wool, showing your hand

I’ll show you what Villawood want to smash flat to put in their access road to their “new, improved” suburban enclave behind the golf course. It’s a steep gradient up the creek escarpment, from Gregory St., (past Anslow St. on the way to Tylden) –


. . . and this:

This is the road reserve for Gregory St, north of Forest St. It’s been like this since European settlement. It’s significant habitat for all manner of native animals and birds.

But according to Villawood and their newly-found local friends – Mr Stuart Bonnington and Stockdale and Leggo – it’s collateral damage in their War on Woodend. Victory spoils? $50M return on ‘investment’.

You can’t buy ecosystem or habitat, Stuart; Rory. But you can destroy it.

The day we see a D8 Caterpillar rolling up that hill to carve out the foundations of their “Softly Softly” access road (oh, after building a million dollar all-weather causeway:

across 5 Mile Creek – further destroying aquatic habitat that locals have spent long hours trying to remediate from the mistakes of the past) then you’ll know their venal idiocy has triumphed.

In a parallel universe, this one, that doesn’t happen.

To that end, here’s a letter concerned locals have put together for us to send to our new crop of Shire Councillors, to persuade them to look long and hard at any “new” proposal Villawood put in front of them. Pass this around to as many people as you have email addresses for, and get them to deluge the Council with communication saying

as loud as possible!

Hi folks,

I met with a new group last night called Settle Woodend, partly in regards to some concerning activity from Villawood.

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but recently the C84 Panel Review Interim Report was released (can be found at this link), which is considering a number of submissions on changes requested to the Settlement Stategy – relevant pages to Woodend are pp 49-60.

Villawood have been sneaking around all this time that we were relaxing, and this report is one of many worrying appearances that has caught some of us off guard. Unfortunately Villawood and people associated with them made themselves heard very clearly to this panel, seeking to undermine the work that has been done by councillors on the Settlement Strategy, in particular to loosen the statements on our projected population growth, and town boundaries. Of course!!

A number of us are pretty concerned about this Report and would like our responses to be heard at the next Council meeting to be held at 7pm on 28 November in Romsey. In order for our responses to be included, they need to be sent to councillors asap – and before end of Sunday preferably. Hence this email.

Two things needing your action:
– email to councillors
– attendance at the Council Meeting to show we care as much as we did 18 months ago

Please have a look at the report I’ve linked to, and I have included a letter template that you are welcome to use, tweak, add to, etc etc and send to the councillors regarding this issue. This template was written by Judith-Ann Robertson.

Reference is made to Prof Ray Green’s work – you don’t have to include the recommendation of his methodology, but if you’d like to check him out here he is: http://upclose.unimelb.edu.au/episode/110-empowering-communities-preserve-character-place. we have been hoping to involve him soon in our discussions, and the Great Place Woodend crew are interested also. I think however we involve Prof Green could be a great opportunity for us to engage with these issues intelligently in the face of these GRQ*-focussed operators!

*Get Rich Quick



Cr Graham Hackett <ghackett@mrsc.vic.gov.au>;
Cr Henry McLaughlin <hmclaughlin@mrsc.vic.gov.au>;
Cr Jennifer Anderson <janderson@mrsc.vic.gov.au>;
Cr Joe Morabito <jmorabito@mrsc.vic.gov.au>;
Cr John Connor <jconnor@mrsc.vic.gov.au>;
Cr John Letchford <jletchford@mrsc.vic.gov.au>;
Cr Roger Jukes <rjukes@mrsc.vic.gov.au>;
Cr Russell Mowatt <rmowatt@mrsc.vic.gov.au>;
Cr Sally Piper <spiper@mrsc.vic.gov.au>

Dear Councillor _____________________

First, congratulations on your election to office. We are sure you will excel in the position. We believe that those in positions of responsibility will honour the commitment shown by the community to have all the interests of the community reflected in all your policy decisions.

As you may be aware, following the release of the Planning Panel’s interim report on Amendment C84 two weeks ago, it seems that there are significant gaps between what the councillors and staff of the MRSC released in their Settlement Strategy last year and this interim report.  It seems to us that the Council’s respectable body of work has been ignored or disregarded in the most recent process which has resulted in the interim report.

Given that it is interim report and not in any way definitive, may we respectfully suggest that the council employ an independent consultant to examine how the interim report has not acknowledged the work of the shire nor the details of the community consensus which led to the formal release of the SS.

We would also strongly commend to you, your fellow councillors and the MRSC, University of Melbourne’s Associate Professor Ray Green.  Dr Green has developed a ground-breaking research methodology to defining a community’s sense of place, the ‘environmental psychology’ wherein a community is able to define the character of its neighbourhood. This community based research gives substance to the community’s voice and feelings.  It also provides councils (councillors and planners) with gives substantive evidence for a strong town planning basis that resonates with community expectations. This is a methodology seeks to restore the balance of power between communities, local governments and external bodies such as planners and developers. As one example, this approach allows the shire councils to ensure that ResCode assessments meets the needs and desires of the community itself and that identifiable attributes can be included into community and shire defined development controls which in turn can be applied to any new development proposal to ensure that any such proposal will be more compatible with the community’s conception of town character (something sadly lacking in the above referenced interim report, particularly the 10 pages regarding Woodend).

We thank you for your consideration in this matter and in particular thank you sincerely for taking the time to consider our request in what will be very early days in your office.

Yours sincerely,


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