Burning bridges to fight Berwick Springs redevelopment

NE roundabout - edited
The entrance to Berwick Springs. The roundabout will be expanded and moved south (further back). Photo credit: Billy Spencer

The fight against the redevelopment of the Berwick Springs estate entrance is “effectively on standby” but there are plans to block a bridge-building permit.

The Save Berwick Springs Promenade Entrance group has been left with little to do after council unanimously voted at the meeting on February 21 to proceed as recommended with the Alira estate development plans from the Victorian Planning Authority.

These plans include the relocation and expansion of the roundabout at the intersection of Greaves Road and Berwick Springs Promenade, which passed council despite strong opposition from the group.

Roundabout plan
Layout of the roundabout changes. Source: Metropolitan Planning Authority: Berwick Waterways DCP

“We exhausted all of our avenues for objection with the council,” said active and prominent member Aldónio Ferreira.

“We have subsequently asked council various questions about the process and the outcomes of this particular decision … the mayor ruled them unacceptable.”

The Save Berwick Springs Promenade Entrance Facebook page has posted and shared links about their struggles to get answers from Casey mayor, Cr Sam Aziz.

“To us, it’s really offensive… it’s our democratic right to have questions be put to council and answered by council.” Mr. Ferreira said.  “He’s denying to keep accountability.”

The group recently learnt that developer Moremac has requested a building permit for a bridge over the waterway to the north of the roundabout, which will be the group’s next target for objection.

“The first element is to look at the application and put our objections.” Mr Ferreira said.

A fundraiser on gofundme.com was set up in December 2016 to raise money for, among other things, fees for VCAT; an option Mr. Ferreira says is “on the table.”

“VCAT is the next step that will follow from that if we thought there was some failures in the process.”

The ultimate goal of the permit blocking is to make council reconsider their options. Mr. Ferreira believes a viable alternative is to move the development east to the intersection of Greaves Road and Domain Drive.

According to Mr. Ferreira, “the Domain intersection has heaps of space and could be developed into a better access for people living on that side already.”

Mr. Ferreira is eager to assure that the group’s sole concern is the estate entrance, not the Alira estate or Greaves Road.

“It’s never been our intent to stop the development of that road.” Mr. Ferriera said. “Our fight is about the fact that the developer is putting the roundabout on our side… and that is grossly unfair.”

Mr Ferreira said that the estate could lose around 7.5 million dollars due to an estimated one percent drop in house prices.

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