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Letters to the editor

15 Oct 2013

With Southbank maturing as a community with an established residential heart, why is it that the State Government treats it as a repository for shovelling in as many cranes and as many approvals as possible without regard to its citizens and their futures?

A  high rise, high density community doesn’t have to bump into flight paths as the Minister for Planning, as the all powerful planning approval tsar, has sought to make it with his failed Australia 108 project.

Nor does it have to build all the way up to footpaths with no regard to set-backs, sustainability, community or relationship to neighbouring buildings. Sound, creative design should not be sacrificed for keeping cranes in the air and maximising developer returns.

The Melbourne City Council Structure Plan for Southbank has now effectively been overridden by recent planning panel decisions approved by the Minister which fail to deliver on the design, open space or set-back goals that would help define quality high-rise, high-density community globally.

The Southbank community wants the benefits of high-density living - but its quality must be assured, its design principals world class and its relationship to an active street frontage and linked to the features of the community to make it safe, accessible and vibrant place that it can be. In addition, it must be supported by quality community infrastructure.

But this Government has abandoned these principals as set out in the MCC Southbank Structure Plan. Density and numbers, over design and quality, has been bargained away to developers. It has, after three years of promising, still not delivered local public schools - with families now effectively locked out of access to either Albert Park College or University High.

With enrolment pressures at Port Melbourne Primary at breaking point, Southbank is facing being not only school-free but denied access to any government schools. The promised Ferrars St site is looking at perhaps being available by 2017 – at the earliest, seven years after this government’s election.

The next stage of the Sturt St Arts Precinct has disappeared with the loss of Premier Baillieu as Arts Minister and his replacement by a Premier convinced that all cultural activities stop at the horse races. The community safety promises of a Southbank police presence in one of Melbourne’s policing hotspots is nowhere on the funding horizon.

Southbank was promised more. It has been ignored by the Napthine Government. It is time to treat Southbank as a community – a special high-rise, high-density quality village that should not have to face the risk of becoming a serviceless canyon of Kowloon-like towers without services or connections to one another or the wider community.

Southbank should expect better from this State Government.

Martin Foley MP
State Labor Member for Albert Park
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Infrastructure

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