Croydon community Precinct plan…..

Due in by Jan 26th, if you want to have your say, support or oppose any of the issues, make sure it is in by this date …click here https://yoursay.maroondah.vic.gov.au/croydon-community-precinct

Before you do that you can read the official CCS response below, which was sent to Council on the 6th Jan.

Response to the Concept plan for the Croydon Community Hub Activity  Centre

From Croydon Conservation Society committee

Context:

Into the next decade, as a community representative group, we will be focusing on anything that negatively impacts the environment and extrapolates to affect the climate. We will be focussing on making best practice choices environmentally.

Sustainability as a primary focus

Cost benefit analysis environmentally

Whilst Council has not yet declared a Climate Emergency, many in the community believe at the very least Council should act as though there is. Putting environmental costs at the forefront of any decisions taken is of ultimate importance.

As a complete project looked at from an environmental / conservation perspective, our members believe that the carbon footprint created by demolition of this expansive and extensive proposal including demolition of all the current buildings, and extensive earth works required in remaking bowling grounds elsewhere, means an enormous area of Croydon is to undergo a complete urban makeover and become a more generic, less environmentally friendly and potentially wasteful exercise.

Croydon has always pushed for the retention of its village feel.  This includes low rise buildings and a “country style” heritage. The proposed multilevel structures are likely to become potential air conditioned, heat sink style of buildings, not what Croydon desires, are not in keeping with the surrounding structures in close proximity and are poor environmental choices we believe.

We strongly request that the Design Concept Plan should undergo a full environmental assessment to address the overall effects of this on the environment. It should consider, reuse of materials and re-purposing anything possible to prevent it all from becoming landfill. Works like this, on such a large scale will have a perceived negative effect on life in Croydon as many users of the facilities will attest to.  If a decision to proceed is taken, we would expect to see local offset planting within Croydon to mitigate the carbon effects of wholesale demolition and environmental costs of re-manufacturing all the new materials.

In short; we would rather the Council finances be put to some retrofitting and minor refurbishment of some of the facilities and the remainder used instead to address some more pressing social problem like homelessness.

Observations

If we are to believe community groups who claim they have not been consulted, Leader News Dec 17th and the Mayor’s suggestion that an occasional email to the lead person of each group, is consultation, then we say that that form of discourse is not really consultation, but merely a token gesture to tell the community what might or might not be the plan. This is a very inappropriate form of consultation for a plan which is apparently designed to provide new facilities for all current users.

Croydon residents expect clear and open communication regarding their leisure time places of activity.

So far, with meals on wheels, the brass band, wind symphony and concert band, library users, all saying publicly that they have not been asked to participate in meaningful consultation, this indicates a very poor approach to a Council decision, when Council is supposed to represent the community at large. Even worse off is the RSL, who say they have not been offered space at all. If that is the case, it is extremely disrespectful to those who offered their lives for us during times of conflict.

In response to the plan offered, 2.02 Hectares of open space is welcome in this area, however we question the “development opportunities” buildings as being an unnecessary intrusion into what is currently an extensive area with many facilities which are used and loved by those in the community.

We wonder whether these buildings will remain Council owned as revenue rentals, or worse, privately owned buildings intruding into land that is currently used by the whole community.

Provision of passive open space as well as structured play space, family gathering place with a BBQ area sound like a good idea, although these could be ideally located within Croydon Park, behind the Main St shops just as easily, integrating the skate park, so that children of all ages can be accommodated in the one location, along with family groups.

Other specific comments

The layout design…concept plan

We believe that too great a percentage of the available open space is paved or pebbled, creating heat sink areas. Croydon has always preferred the environment natural over contrived urban looking outdoor spaces.  The proposed low structures surrounding elevated small gardens do nothing to allow for interaction between people seated, instead they will be seated in a row, like birds on a wire, and unable to communicate effectively. This is not a great example of good urban design.

We also note that some trees appear to be stand-alone trees in gravel, or pebbled spaces and wonder why additional mid storey planting is not incorporated around the trees as habitat for biodiversity such as smaller birds, butterflies and dragonflies, which are attracted by the pond. Stepping stones of habitat (pockets of good mature vegetation) are useful for birds and small creatures, and should be of the highest priority in urban open space.

The whole concept is in contradiction to Maroondah’s own water sensitive city strategy subheading Heat wave resilient it reads on page 17 resilient places

Water plays a strong role in local climate regulation. Greener, irrigated spaces naturally stay cooler as they won’t store heat like concrete and buildings do. By keeping trees healthy we will also enjoy a better shade canopy in our streets and parks.

Two of the 4 key outcomes of Councils Water Sensitive City Master plan are green spaces and trees and amenity.

The library

Relocation of the Library is in our opinion, a very unpopular concept, from many we all have spoken with. Visitors and users of the current Croydon Library comment on how light filled it is with magnificent pond view from the armchair seating area. We are so very lucky to have what is probably one of the most naturally beautiful and biophilic viewing windows to the water and wildlife, from a public library anywhere in Victoria.

We ask why would anyone want to destroy what is such an architecturally beautiful building to relocate it to the front of the Mt Dandenong Rd block, where there does not appear to be any suitable parking available for Library users. Mention has been made of underground parking, but this is not only expensive but also soul-less and unpleasant to use after dark, for many.  It should be possible to retain the current Library space and retro fit it, if necessary, to bring it up to standard.

Another concern is that with an ageing population, many of whom spend considerable time at the Library as they catch up on magazines, papers, CD’s and books, that there needs to be serious consideration to the provision of close proximity parking. Most of the people we have spoken with, who have visited the library at REALM, say it is inaccessible from cars, for a quick visit. This is corroborated by the queues of cars in Ringwood St waiting to enter Eastland parking. Once in, it is not easy to find to the Town Square parking, and places there fill very quickly. Once in the REALM space you are not actually in the library, but must use stairs or the small lift (if you can locate it) It lacks the external amenity of the Croydon Library.

Other user requirements to note are that the library needs to be accessible for young families coming in for reading times. It is also clear that with 71,000 Maroondah library users, there is a great need for accessible parking at ground level, with sufficient spaces. Acknowledging our retired ageing population means making a Library easily accessible via vehicle.

The potential swimming pool, beside the Leisure centre

The inclusion of a new open-air swimming pool in place of the library is not acceptable. This seems to trigger memories of a push from Council, in recent past, to replace/ remove the Croydon Outdoor Memorial Pool and claim back land for other purposes? This pool issue has been fought over before, with residents making the strong point that the Memorial Pool was designed for the public and funded through community donations, to ensure all children learned to swim and become water safe. Because of its origins, Croydon residents believe the pool belongs to the community, and that Council are only the managers. We understand that older facilities require upkeep, but in times where young people are devoid of meeting places, the ambience of the park setting under shady trees is a great place for young people to meet and have meaningful interaction.

A minimalist swim pool does not replace this function, and will leave residents much worse off in terms of “park like” public open space for enjoyment and wellbeing of families, and individuals.

You wouldn’t find a “Country Town” opting to remove a pool like the Croydon Memorial pool. Under the FAQs on the Council website it states that under this plan “The village feel and local character of Croydon is preserved”. Maintaining the outdoor pool helps retain that character.

The RSL Monument

The colonnade to the RSL monument, is neither welcoming or natural. We question the idea of a prominent piece of Croydon’s past history being placed deep within a park, and surrounded by harsh materials rather than a focal colourful memorial garden.

With regard to moving the monument, we ask if the RSL absolutely on board with having the monument moved? If not, we ask “why move it?” If traffic can’t stop for a special service on a public holiday then we’re being hypocritical about the importance of it. It should not be relegated to less obvious part of a distant park.

Possible solution….

If the rail line at Croydon Station is to be elevated, maybe the monument could take pride of place at the end of Main St, where it used to be and as is the custom in many country towns across Australia. We see this as a better option to “maintain convention” rather than have visitors to Croydon wondering where to find the monument. As a focal point, it is always a pleasure to see the beautiful neatly kept floral display that Council provides to offset the monument, and it serves to make you stop and think of the young who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives.

If the area under the railway line could be utilised as a pedestrian walk through between Croydon Central shopping precinct and Main St, then exposure of this monument would be vastly more accessible to regular passing foot traffic as well and would be still accommodate the crowd on ANZAC and Remembrance days away from a traffic roundabout, and accessible to all.

Accommodation for the RSL to meet

We strongly believe that the RSL who are a group of our forebears, who offered their lives and service during times of significant conflict should be provided a space within any new design of the urban space, to continue the networking and comradeship that they deserve and need for their wellbeing. To not offer accommodation is in our opinion disrespectful. There will always be new RSL members with our forces having been involved in Vietnam, East Timor and Iraq in recent times, and we know many can only find solace in meeting with others with shared experiences.

This too supports Councils Wellbeing as “Enhancing the health and wellbeing of all people in Maroondah is central to the work of Council” is stated on Council’s website. (https://www.maroondah.vic.gov.au/About-Council/News/Maroondah-news/News-Public/Planning-for-the-health-and-wellbeing-of-Maroondah?BestBetMatch=wellbeing|343173ea-20f9-4fce-8807-781204829566|50efa68a-f050-4cce-8be5-2c37125c123a|en-AU) and continues the aim of the plan’s vision of ensuring “ opportunities for social connection; improved health and wellbeing; and exciting opportunities to bring together new learning experiences that raise the wellbeing of our community.”

The play ground

We suggest that a more extensive Children’s Playground be erected in the Croydon Park, in close proximity to the skate facility, along with BBQ facilities. From the Concept Plan, we note that the Children’s playground has no shade trees in close proximity, leaving children exposed to direct sun. Croydon has always considered itself “The Natural Choice” which was the motto for Croydon before Councils amalgamated. We would not like to see this shade absence issue, resolved with shade from synthetic sails or similar. Trees and shrubbery together with opportunity for imaginative play are the best option. We wonder whether a wet area for children to play is possible. It certainly has fascination and a calming effect on both children and adults, adding to their wellbeing mentally, which is another of MCC’s strategies for Wellbeing.

The BBQ facility

From the Concept Plan, regarding the BBQ facilities, there are no windbreaks. Only on the hottest of days will this area be the best space for passively sitting and eating. We believe an additional South facing screen of vegetation could be efficient as a wind break and also add to the ambience. We also believe more eating spaces with tables and seating may be useful for users to enjoy a picnic, away from the smell of smoke from BBQs which some people are sensitive to.

Meals on Wheels

We are aware of the absence of a distribution facility for the Meals on Wheels, being accommodated in Croydon itself. Apart from the average age of the volunteers, being a major consideration, it makes no environmental sense for every delivery car to congest the roads into Ringwood to collect containers from Greenwood Avenue, when it could be just one trip for a food delivery vehicle from Ringwood to the Croydon hub, thus making shorter trips for the volunteers, with a reduction in car emissions and fuel use.

Heritage

The potential loss of Croydon Heritage Buildings created by volunteer labour by original residents of Croydon, such as the Maternal health building has great importance to inhabitants of Croydon. It is not to be underestimated. Croydon residents hold these places in high esteem as many descendants remain living in the area and have a sense of pride and ownership of the community history.

 We believe many people do not wish to lose the short, but no less relevant, history in a rush to replace everything with “state of the art buildings” that have no connection to our past and can be found in other municipalities that are not Croydon.



These are our comments, at this point in time, in response to the current Concept Master plan as proposed.

On behalf of CCS members

Liz Sanzaro, Duncan Caine, Neroli Wesley, Jim Burns, Ken Whitney, Gwenda Short, Pam French, Clare Caldwell, Jonathan Upson.

[i]


[i] Reference Turning a new leaf Published 1994 a publication from Croydon City residents under the guidance of the Croydon Conservation Strategy Steering Committee.

Comment from the then Mayor. ”Sustainability, Biodiversity, community; these must be the priorities of citizens of the world, of which Croydon is an integral part ”

January 6, 2020 · Liz Sanzaro · No Comments
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