‘Having trees is absolutely critical to us’: Yarraville locals protest against stadium plan for park

Residents fighting to stop an indoor basketball arena being built on parkland in Yarraville are angry the local council has ignored their concerns about the loss of green space in the western suburbs.

Some locals have waged a campaign against the proposed six-court area at McIvor Reserve, which is used for team sports, dog walking and recreation between the West Gate Freeway and the old Bradmill denim factory.

Yarraville residents have been split over the stadium, with opponents (pictured last year) saying the area cannot afford to lose any green space. Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

The CFMEU last week announced a “green ban” on the project over the loss of green space, meaning the powerful construction union will block work on the development.

But on Friday afternoon Maribyrnong City Council issued a revised master plan for the development, after making some design changes to limit the loss of green space.

Maribyrnong councillors will vote on whether to endorse the plan at a meeting on March 29. If approved, detailed designs would be completed and major work would not start for at least two years, the plan says.

The council started planning for the stadium in 2021 to help address a shortage of local sports facilities across the area, with local the Westgate Basketball Association previously saying children in Yarraville, Footscray and Braybrook are already unable to play because of a lack of courts.

Australian NBA player Josh Giddey, who said he spent his “childhood at McIvor kicking a footy, playing cricket, and walking our family dog around the park”, last year wrote to the council in support of the proposal.

The revised plan released Friday says the arena would now take up around 0.6 hectares of existing green space – an area a bit smaller than a soccer field, and covering 3.3 per cent of the entire reserve – after repositioning it partly on top of an existing car park on Hawkhurst Street.

But Friends of McIvor Reserve member Shari Liby said it was unacceptable for the area to lose any parkland given it was in such short supply, and would become more precious as 2000 new homes are built on the old Bradmill factory site next door.

“Having trees is absolutely critical to us,” she said. “Our metrics for urban space and tree canopy is very poor and yet here they are looking at paving over some of it.”

Liby said the inner-west was full of disused industrial sites that could be used for a new basketball stadium, and there was no reason new facilities had to come at the cost of parkland.

“Council has created a false impression that this is dog people versus kids,” she said. “This space is being used by children right now.”

The council surveyed 1143 community members last year found that 45 per cent of them opposed the development, 43 per cent supported it and 12 per cent were unsure.

In the plan released Friday, Maribyrnong Council said the new design meant the McIvor Reserve dog park will now only shrink by 17 per cent, rather than by half as originally planned.

The loss of 1600 square metres of space would be partly offset by designating 600 square metres next to the baseball field as an off-lead dog area, the plan says.

The development will require removing 114 of the park’s 625 trees, which is 49 fewer than would have been destroyed in the original design. It will no longer impact the Yarraville Footscray Bowling Club.

“An extensive and thorough engagement process was undertaken over a ten-month period collecting a wealth of feedback, which, along with technical investigations and specialist advice, has informed the development of the master plan,” the plan says.

However Friends of McIvor Reserve said the council had not been transparent with the community or given them enough information to properly assess the proposal, with the master plan released on Friday consisting of a one-page map and limited explanatory notes.

Maribyrnong City Council has been contacted for comment.

Get to the heart of what’s happening with climate change and the environment. Our fortnightly Environment newsletter brings you the news, the issues and the solutions. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article