The dispute over the golf courses in the dispute over Melbourne’s Green Wedges

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The dispute over the golf courses in the dispute over Melbourne's Green Wedges

Ms. Meachem said Tulum Creek ran through the property into wetlands and the land should be preserved as a wildlife corridor.

However, Mike Kazacos, who applied for the driving range and owns the property, said the project was in line with the Green Wedge guidelines.

Sarah Meachem with residents Renee Kostiuk (front) and her husband Monty Kleverlaan. Credit:Justin McManus

“We love the environment. We love the area, ”he said. “All I wanted to do was make a modest income by working from home.”

Mr Kazacos said the project had undergone a comprehensive environmental review and had hired architects to advise where the driving bays should be placed to ensure golf balls did not land on neighbors’ property.

He said his parents used the land to graze cattle, but most of it had not been used for that purpose in more than a decade.

Mr Kazacos has committed to planting additional trees and adding screens and the development would not be seen from the street. “If you can’t see and hear it, is it really a problem?”

The state government is conducting a review of the green wedges under pressure from Melbourne's expansion.

The state government is conducting a review of the green wedges under pressure from Melbourne’s expansion. Credit:Paul Oak

The state government is reviewing the submissions to the planning system for green wedges and suburban areas with changes that are to be implemented in the coming year.

The Green Wedges encompass some of Melbourne’s most popular natural areas on the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and Nillumbik, as well as highly productive farmland.

A consultation paper published by the government showed that the total economic output of the study area reached $ 5.79 billion in 2018. The area includes the fertile irrigated Werribee, which provides 10 percent of Victoria’s vegetables.

The paper states that planning controls for green wedges and agricultural land need to be stepped up to respond to the high demand for “rural living” and urban activities to cater to Melbourne’s growing population.

One proposal for a quarry near Arthur's Seat is in a green wedge area.

One proposal for a quarry near Arthur’s Seat is in a green wedge area. Credit:Joe Armao

RMIT planning professor Michael Buxton said the recent review of the green wedges and urban areas is the first major assessment by the state government since 2002.

“You have to do this right. A lot depends on it, ”he said.

Professor Buxton said current planning regulations did not go far enough, arguing that too much gradual development had been allowed in green wedges and rural areas, which were slowly threatening to undermine their protection.

He said commercial urban uses such as retail and conference centers are incompatible with green wedges.

Melbourne's growth has put pressure on the city's green wedges.

Melbourne’s growth has put pressure on the city’s green wedges.Credit:Paul Oak

“The incremental developments are really death by a thousand cuts,” he said.

Matthew Kandelaars, chief executive of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, said his industry has recognized the importance of agricultural land near Melbourne, but a balanced approach is needed to support housing affordability.

He said a “site-specific approach” should be followed to identify truly viable agricultural land that includes soil quality and water supply.

“This is important to provide residential land for at least 15 years to support the continued growth of Melbourne and cities and towns within 100 kilometers of Melbourne,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the state government said she was acting to protect agricultural and environmentally sensitive areas in green wedges.

“Green wedges are critical to our growth and prosperity,” she said. “Planning controls will ensure they are protected from overdevelopment so they can continue to care for current and future generations.”

Janet Stanley, associate professor at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, said old trees and biodiversity would be permanently lost if residential, commercial or industrial construction were allowed in environmentally sensitive locations.

“You are simply irreplaceable,” she said.

Professor Stanley said the pandemic had shown the importance of green wedges after six lockdowns in the city.

“People flock to nature reserves and spend time in the bush because they want to. It makes them feel better. “

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