THE western end of Murray Street in Wonthaggi will never be re-opened after Bass Coast councillors voted in favour of keeping the gazetted road reserve as parkland last week.
Utilising the unmade section of road an access point to surplus land next to the Connecting Skills Australia (formerly Moonya site) has come up multiple times at council meetings in the past 18 months.
Councillors had already rejected a proposed $20m planning permit which requested access through the road reserve not once, but twice.
The last decision was appealed at VCAT by the developer back in April, with the tribunal ultimately siding with council.
Complicating the entire matter greatly was the former Borough of Wonthaggi council allowed a house to be built partly over the road reserve over 20 years ago, at the end of Asquith Court.
During debate over the issue at last week’s council meeting, Cr Phil Wright said he was glad to see the back of the subject.
“We’ve discussed this extensively over the last 12 months; I’ll be pleased to have it off our books,” he said.
Cr Wright also said future generations will thank the current council for its decision to retain “this great piece of natural reserve” so close to the centre of Wonthaggi.
Ward councillor Neil Rankine was unable to comment or vote on the matter after declaring a conflict of interest.
The decision to return the road reserve to the Crown came to council last week after a panel hearing at the end of March, where three councillors – Crs Kimberley Brown, Jordan Crugnale and Brad Drew – considered 11 submissions from the public.
A report presented to councillors noted that the main theme throughout these submissions was that discontinuing the unmade government road has been interpreted as closing off access to the park.
There were also calls for the open drain at the back of the reserve (Guide Park) to be covered over.
Last week’s decision came on the same night the council accepted a petition with 209 signatures asking for that end of Murray Street to be re-opened for vehicle and pedestrian access.
Cr Brown said concerns raised in the petition would be considered when a master plan for Guide Park is pencilled in for the 2016/17 budget process.