The Bulleen site was acquired through the funds of the members of the Greek Community, by a previous Board of the GOCMV, and has been the subject of much public discussion since the purchase. In 2001 Helen Gibson published a report by an advisory group attempting to clarify the issues relating to any development in the Bulleen green-field site, some of which have been included in Mr. Peter Darmos’ letter.
It should be noted that the Bulleen green-field site was acquired in 1986 and that no previous Board has ever obtained a planning permit that could be utilised for any development of this land.
As everyone is aware, any recommendations of an advisory group are subject to review, in light of variations in zoning and planning policy at the time of any planning permit application. The current Board of the GOCMV met with the relevant Council Officers in 2013 so that it fully appreciate the zoning and planning restrictions that may be applied in any future development. It became apparent, in discussion with the Council Officers, that any development would involve a significant cost in order to obtain a useful permit for the land. It was the preliminary view of the Council that only a small portion of the land would be available. Hence the site currently has no zoning, which would allow any mixed-use development. The Council advised it would not favour any retail development, and would prefer a height restriction to two levels.
Mr. Darmos is also correct when he states that a portion of the Bulleen green-field site will need to be given back by the Greek Community, without charge, to Parks Victoria. This was the position of the Council.
Clearly any major project needs to be carefully examined. The current Board is keen to not overextend itself and threaten the financial stability of the organisation. The current Board has no program to sell the site. This has been communicated publicly on a number of occasions; hence we query the current question by Mr Darmos. In fact, the Board has adopted a methodical approach of one major project at a time.
More recently we have embarked on the most exciting building project in the Greek Community’s history. The 15-storey contemporary Greek Cultural Centre is almost there. The Centre will occupy the corner of Lonsdale and Russell Streets, as a beacon of Greek history, language, culture and the arts. The project is on time and on budget for completion in mid to late 2014.
* Dr Marinis Pirpiris is a current board member of the GOCMV and an orthopaedic surgeon.