The Friends of the H.V. McKay Memorial Gardens have urged Brimbank council to reject a planning scheme amendment that proposes “chopping off” a section of the heritage-listed gardens.
A forum convened by Brimbank council last week encouraged residents to air their concerns about planning scheme amendment C148, which proposes rezoning Chaplin Reserve in Sunshine – a 2.2-hectare site abutting the McKay gardens and fronting Anderson Road – to accommodate 150 townhouses.
Sunshine City Developments purchased the reserve off Sunshine George Cross soccer club last year for an undisclosed sum.
Its sale followed the former National Soccer League team’s announcement that it was shifting to Taylors Hill, where it planned to build a new “state-of-the-art” facility.
The state government sold the land to the soccer club about 20 years ago on the condition that it was only used for the purpose of a private sports ground.
The Department of Treasury and Finance agreed to remove the restriction providing it received payment for the difference between the site’s value as a private sports ground and a residential development site.
Prior to its use as a soccer ground, it was vacant land in the heart of Sunshine’s industrial precinct.
Sunshine City Developments plans for the site show access to a proposed development via a T-intersection with traffic lights on Anderson Road. Brimbank council’s city development acting director Leanne Deans said 0.5 square metres of the memorial gardens was “required” to build the new intersection, if the amendment was approved.
“A minor works permit has been approved for that from Heritage Victoria,” Ms Deans said.
But Friends of H.V. McKay Memorial Gardens president Catherine McDonald said altering the gardens was akin to putting a moustache on Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
“The McKay Gardens are heritage-listed gardens. They are a work of art in horticulture,” Ms McDonald said.
“You can’t just chop a bit off, because you’re altering the design.
“It’s like chopping a bit off the statue of David, or putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa.”
The development plan also indicates a second “emergency” entry could be located at the north-east tip of the site, requiring vehicles to drive through the heritage-listed gardens.
Councillors will decide on the planning amendment at a general meeting on Tuesday.