Mernda plans approved

PUBLIC pressure appears to have influenced a City of Whittlesea council meeting last week with two key Mernda projects progressing.

Whittlesea councillors approved a planning application for Mernda Town Centre, while Mernda Aquatic Centre reached the final stages of planning.

After a cancelled meeting on February 5 due to poor attendance, councillors Lawrie Cox Ricky Kirkham, Caz Monteleone, Alahna Desiato, Emilia Sterjova, Sam Alessi, Stevan Kozmevski, Kris Pavlidis and Tom Joseph were all present to represent their constituents at last week’s council meeting.

Cr Norm Kelly is on leave and Cr Mary Lalios forwarded an apology.

The planning application for the 24.9 hectare Mernda town centre includes supermarkets, specialty stores and shops, food outlets, a medical centre, gym and parking spaces that exceed acceptable standards.

However during the approvals, councillors could not refrain from commenting on the delay, which stems back to last year.

“Every time I talk to my fellow residents they ask me – when will the town centre go ahead?” Cr Sterjova said.

“I’m disappointed with the delays.”

Cr Joseph said the approvals were long overdue and that he was disappointed with the previous council’s processes.

“We have a second grade option – this is what we have but I’m happy to support it,” Cr Joseph said.

Two options relating to Mernda Aquatic Centre were also put forward for further consideration.

One option was the proposed $48.7 million centre with an eight-lane 25-metre swimming pool, while the second option was a $47.4 million centre, with no lap pool but a 200 square metre teaching pool.

Cr Kirkham put forward a motion to amend the two options to include at 50-metre pool but the motion was not supported due to budget concerns.

“We have to be prudent, we have to provide for a majority – this motion is reckless,” Cr Kozmevski said.

Mayor Cr Lawrie Cox asked Cr Kirkham ‘Where’s the cash flow coming from?’

Cr Monteleone supported Cr Kirkham by suggesting other contractors could be consulted for a more affordable option.

Deputy Mayor Cr Joseph supported Cr Cox saying “we simply can’t afford it.”