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Montague Community Alliance

09 Oct 2018

Montague Community Alliance Image

At last, a Fishermans Bend Framework!

On Friday, October 5, the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynn, released the Fishermans Bend Framework plan.

The overwhelming reaction from the Montague community has been positive to the lower heights, although the word discretionary does makes us a little queasy!

And lessening the number of towers to allow for more street level community activity, with the development of arts and community hubs is a great addition.

These community hubs will continue to ensure current and future communities engage with each other and further develop our already dynamic neighbourhood.

The exact words in the Framework for the Montague Precinct are to develop …

“A diverse and well-connected mixed use precinct celebrating its significant cultural and built heritage, and network of gritty streets and laneways.”

Of course, Montague will still have towers, but there will be differences of heights within the precinct.

The Framework describes North and South Montague – North being the area abutting Normanby Rd, which will continue to have buildings of up to 24 storeys, like the Gravity Building (corner of Montague and Gladstone streets).

South Montague will have low to mid-rise ranging from four to 20 storeys, like the Nightfall building in Gladstone St. Happily, Buckhurst St is to become a “green spine” with heights up to 12 storeys and a bike track connecting Bay St with the city.

Developers will have a short period of time to resubmit their plans to fit within these new guidelines. Obviously, there are some permits that have already been issued for towers up to 30 storeys in the precinct and, hopefully, these will be developed sensitively with great design to fit in to the revamped Fishermans Bend Framework.

There are many things for us locals to be content with, and there are some that need more attention such as the lack of parking for existing workers and residents, the 109 tram that is already over-crowded and the increasing amount of recently-arrived residents and workers using the streets and parks and how that is impacting the environment.

We look forward to the more detailed precinct plan and to continuing to develop our Neighbourhood Agreements with the relevant stakeholders.

Please don’t forget we have an “Interrogate the Candidates” meeting on October 30 at The Boyd Community Hub in City Rd at 6.30.

This is a free event but you will need to register with Eventbrite (sra-mtc-vic2018.eventbrite.com). Please book early as places are limited and you will have an opportunity to directly question the three state candidates – Martin Foley (ALP), Andrew Bond (Liberal) and Ogy Simic (The Greens).

We are delighted to be collaborating with the Southbank Residents Association on this event and look forward to seeing you all on the 30th.

Meet a Montaguan…

Who are you?

I am Memuzin River, a Kurdish/Egyptian Australian. I was educated at the Baltara and Turana Juvenile Detention Centres and on the streets. In my youth, I met Father Bob who gave me a stable home and, with his help, I went to school and eventually did a BA at Melbourne University.

I have worked on and off in the community services/care sector for 30 years and I’m also a social and environmental activist, a documentary film maker and a musician/composer.

Currently, I’m the CEO of The Father Bob Maguire Foundation based in the Montague Precinct (MP). 

What brought you to work in Montague?

In 1970, my family moved to South Melbourne from occupied Kurdistan. My mother and father worked in Montague, which in the 1970s was the gateway to the vast and expansive manufacturing sector of Fishermans Bend. 

It was my ‘hood, so after my family moved to the western suburbs, and because I knew lots of local Turkish and Kurdish kids I would keep coming back, squatting and sleeping among the shrubs and dunes at Port Melbourne beach. In 2013 Father Bob started a warehouse community pantry and outreach centre in the Montague Precinct and five years ago he asked me to come back to work with him. I have now married a local lady, Josephine Lettieri and we have two-year-old son. 

What are the best or most interesting things about working in Montague?

The most interesting thing I’ve seen is the transformation of the area. It’s like jump-cuts of a film. Every time I’ve come back, the area has sort of gentrified just that little more. I say kind of gentrified because the area was quite grungy and run down (in the 70s and 80s). Now some of those same people are the people living in the gentrified version of the same tiny cottages worth more than $1.5 million.

How does working in Montague affect your quality of life, including your work?

This was my ‘hood and it makes me feel good being here, I feel quite grounded and at ease and it’s a comfortable fit for me. At the same time, I see people coming to Father Bob’s warehouse in MP for help. I have known a lot of these people for a long time, and see that they and their children are poorer than when I first knew them.

So, I suppose it’s a strange kind of balance, nostalgia, feeling grounded, at ease and yet sad to see people that haven’t moved on, or up, or in fact have the quality of their lives decline.

What are the challenges of working in Montague?

The challenges are how to build a cohesive community when there are the disadvantaged in social/public housing, wealthy residents and those who come here to work. This the long-term objective, to bring people together and see our community become cohesive while respecting and celebrating diversity in an equal opportunity environment.

What would you change about working in Montague?

More affordable housing. Currently, the area lacks the middle socio-economic demographic. To live here one is either very poor, or wealthy and this makes it hard for the community to integrate. The differences between people are too significant. We need a middle way.

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