By Peter Douglas
A wire fence erected inside the former Olinda Golf Course grounds is at the centre of a growing dispute between Parks Victoria and a community action group.
The Hills Common Alliance has said the construction has gone up without consultation and is not in keeping with agreements as per the Olinda Precinct Plan, which was released at the beginning of last month.
Also, the group’s members say the style of fence is “inappropriate” for the area and is an “eyesore”.
The fence divides the old course grounds with the neighbouring National Rhododendron Gardens, with work starting in recent weeks.
Hills Common Alliance member, Jenny Oxer, said the group would fight to have the fence removed.
“We have come to a crisis, resulting from the fact that a large cyclone fence has gone up in haste and without any reference to the plan and with no community consultation,” Ms Oxer said.
“It looks like a land grab, which pays no attention to the lie of the land.
“This is a stunning piece of countryside, with a lot of people coming to visit, a good 30,000 visits per annum at present, with the numbers growing rapidly, even without facilities or any formal publicity.
“Running the fence through in its present position ruins a glorious view and negates the entire community consultation process.
“The style of fence is also completely inappropriate for the area.”
Mx Oxer said members of the group had this week written letters to Parks Victoria and to their local members of parliament.
Parks Victoria Regional Director, Bryan Welch, said the fence was part of the Olinda Precinct Plan.
“The Olinda Precinct Plan identifies the need to extend the National Rhododendron Garden, realign the boundary and reconfigure the car park and visitor entry,” he said.
“The National Rhododendron Garden extension will provide a great benefit to the community, showcasing garden beds with enhanced and expanded collections of rare and endangered plants as well as extended space for passive recreation.
“Parks Victoria began installing a new fence last week to commence the extension of the National Rhododendron Garden.
“The area fenced off is approximately half a hectare smaller than indicated on the diagrams in the precinct plan.
“The exact alignment of the fence has been determined by the topography of the landscape and does not infringe on other proposed areas or purposes identified in the precinct plan.”
Mr Welch said the fence was in keeping with the style of the area.
“The style of fence is consistent with the current National Rhododendron Garden fences and will be screened with plants so it blends in with the surrounding landscape,” he said.
“The fence will also protect the environmentally sensitive fauna and flora located at the northeast end of the property.
“The National Rhododendron Garden is Crown Land that is accessible to the public.
“There is no loss of publicly accessible land.”