Tecoma is a peaceful village in the Dandenong
Ranges, 40 kilometres east of Melbourne, with a population of 2085 residents.The Dandenong Ranges are where Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs meet the mountains and forests. Protected parklands and National Parks preserve the natural beauty of this area which includes valleys and hills covered in thick temperate rainforest and dense ferny undergrowth. It’s a bushwalking and cycling paradise with extensive trails through lush vegetation. From the peak of Mount Dandenong are panoramic views of the city, while the surrounding villages offer boutique accommodation, galleries, markets, beautiful gardens and many plant nurseries. The Puffing Billy steam train runs between Belgrave, Emerald and Gembrook, taking in the scenic landscape of the Dandenong Ranges.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Dandenong Ranges each year to experience life away from suburbia, away from mass development, noise and pollution. Locals live there for the same reasons.
- In 2011, McDonald’s lodged a planning application for a 24 hour outlet with drive thru in Tecoma.
- This application was met with a record number of 1,170 written objections directed at local Council by Hills residents.
- On October 11th 2011, local Councillors met and voted on the proposed development. 650 local residents attended to hear the decision and once again voice their objections.
- The Shire of Yarra Ranges Council UNANIMOUSLY rejected the proposal.
- The McDonald’s Corporation then escalated the application to VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) for review.
- On October 10th 2012, VCAT overruled Yarra Ranges Council’s decision, deeming the overwhelming objections of the local community as “irrelevant“, and granted McDonald’s planning permission.
- On Sunday October 14th 2012, within 4 days of this decision being passed, approximately 600 local residents united to ‘Reclaim Tecoma’ and planted a Community Garden at the proposed site.
- A month long 24 hour peaceful vigil was maintained at the garden until police eviction in November 2012.
- The community sought independent legal advice from Barristers and Solicitors specialising in planning, and a high profile Melbourne QC, in order to establish grounds for a Supreme Court appeal.
- Grounds for appeal were established, and the community sent hundreds of letters and emails to Yarra Ranges Councillors requesting that they appeal the decision at the Supreme Court.
- A motion for a Supreme Court appeal was raised at the next Council meeting, in response to the community’s concerns, but was in turn rejected by a majority of Councillors who claimed that appealing the ruling at the Supreme Court would not be a “responsible” way to spend Council funds.