THE future of the Glenfern green wedge in Upper Ferntree Gully will be decided in a marathon four-day hearing at the state planning tribunal next month.
Sixty eight objections and two petitions opposing the proposed subdivision have been lodged ahead of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing which is set to open on April 22.
Each of the objectors, who have backed Knox Council's decision to refuse a permit to carve the site at 157-173 Glenfern Road into five lots, is entitled to speak at the hearing.
Speaking on behalf of the landowners, Andrew Peterson, said they were "somewhat surprised" by the amount of time allocated at VCAT, but he presumed it was because of the number of objections.
Friends of the Glenfern Green Wedge president Johanna Selleck said she and several other group members were planning to speak at the hearing.
"We are preparing for it, we'll do our best and continue what's been started," she said.
The group says subdividing the land will have detrimental effects on the environment, as well as setting a precedent for more green wedge land in Melbourne to be destroyed.
They have been trying to raise money to purchase the land themselves, but Dr Selleck said they needed a large donor even to consider that prospect. "We've had a lot of individual donations, and we're still trying everything we can."
The landowners applied for a permit for seven lots at the 30-hectare site in 2011, but that was refused by the VCAT early last year.
The new application reduced the number of lots to five and included four hectares for public ownership, plans for a possible walking trail, planting of 3000 trees and revegetation of the waterways in conjunction with Melbourne Water.
Mr Peterson, who refused to comment on how confident the landowners were feeling, previously said the application followed advice provided at the first appeal by the VCAT.
"VCAT gave us clear direction, we followed directions and this was confirmed by the council officers who recommended the permit be approved," Mr Peterson said last year. He said traffic, environment and tree experts would speak on behalf of the owners.
What do you think? Post a comment below.