‘Keep open space’ call

Macedon Ranges Council is seeking to secure significant Gisborne land for public open space to prevent it being snapped up for housing in a projected population boom.
Councillor Helen Radnedge launched an appeal to the state government to retain or return the land known as the Gisborne Pine Plantation to the community.
The 1.8 hectares at 120 Aitken Street was donated to the local primary school for use as a pine plantation and bird sanctuary in the 1920s.
Cr Radnedge said the original intent of the donation was as relevant now as ever.
“Gisborne is growing and the vital need for more public open space is increasing,” she said.
Cr Radnedge said the land was significant for several reasons: it is believed to be the place of an aboriginal burial and the cemetery trust suggests evidence of old burial sites in this area.
“This is an opportunity to advocate for a strategic linkage both for pedestrians, for wildlife, a site to reflect on Gisborne’s rich aboriginal heritage and as of a passive place of vegetation and as a sanctuary for birds.”
Gisborne is a growth hot-spot for the Macedon Ranges with a population forecast of 20,454 residents by 2036 (Forecast ID), but with current rapid growth trends, some believe this to be a modest projection.
Cr Jennifer Anderson said it was important to begin advocacy work as soon as possible to open discussions about the future of the site.
“If we don’t do this public advocacy work the state government may make another decision and determine that this is residential land, then we have private housing and it’s lost to the community forever,” she said.
Cr Mandi Mees acknowledged the move aligned with a shift in submissions to council’s budget process from calls for sporting infrastructure to a desire for more open space.
The motion also called for the eventual pine removal and replacement with indigenous vegetation. Cr Henry Bleeck warned this could be “multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars if not multiples of millions of dollars”. He was the only councillor opposed to the motion.
Macedon Ranges Council will correspond with Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas, Education Minister James Merlino, Planning Minister Richard Wynn, Energy and Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, this month.
The state government has recently been in recent discussions with Macedon Primary School to determine its future interest in management and use of a pine plantation at Cable Street.
The site is Crown land and the Department of Education and Training has managed the site for endowment plantation since 1924. The current plantation has reached maturity and is now suitable for harvesting.

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