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Name it Domain!

Southbank Resident Group - Open space is needed in Southbank

12 Sep 2011

After 13 years of existence the Southbank Residents Group is still lobbying for open space in our suburb.

The latest strategy plan remarkably omits a satisfactory solution to the acute lack of public space and the provision of community services.

The SRG was formed in April 1998 by concerned early residents to try and instil some order into this rapidly-growing area of Melbourne.

The developers had taken over and it seemed the legislators had lost control.

Little consideration was being given to the long-term needs of the projected thousands of apartment dwellers expected to inhabit this region of Melbourne. Organised planning was virtually non-existent and provision for community facilities and open space was ignored by local and state governments. It was a developer’s utopia with fortunes to be made by developers in constructing high-rise residential buildings.

Southbank is a complicated area and can be divided primarily into four broad uses: arts, tourism, business and residential. Something had to be done to integrate these divisions in an orderly and cohesive way, taking into consideration the substantial projected population growth.

Hail the new Southbank Structure Plan 2010, the most recent of about four such plans generated in the last 15 years of our existence. The most significant statement was the expected residential population to grow from the present 11,500 to 32,000 by 2025 and a staggering 74,000 residents by 2040+.

Obviously the only way to accommodate these numbers is in high-density, high-rise developments. Remarkably, this 30-year vision of Southbank omits a satisfactory solution to the acute lack of public space and the provision of community services.

The City of Melbourne has deemed that Southbank should have a minimum of 0.26 hectare of open space per 1000 residents. It currently has less than 0.1 hectare per 1000 residents and, to add insult to injury, the council is in the process of selling two thirds of the recently-acquired Boyd Girls School site of 0.77 hectare for private development.

What is going on in their thinking? It defies logic that population density and public space are not somehow interrelated.  But this is lost in its “tangle of neurons”.

Of course, nothing ever runs smoothly, particularly in government at all levels. Most of our elected representatives would seem to operate in a fog with their long-term vision linked to their electoral term. We are, therefore, constantly monitoring our wonderful location for the seemingly no end of overt changes to the long-term plans, usually to our detriment.

We urgently need men and women of vision who can listen to reason, apply logic and look beyond their elected term of service.

Where are the enlightened LaTrobes with his contribution to reserve large areas of public parks or the Hoddles who designed the square grid on which Melbourne is built?  People like these are painfully absent and Southbank reflects a lack of foresight. It continues to be dictated by developers and their friends at the Ministry of Planning and the autocratic VCAT.

Hopefully all is not lost and the refurbishment of the Boyd Girls School will go to plan and fill a “black hole” in the provision of some services. We hope that our elected representatives at all level of government will emulate those great men and women that have preceded them in developing a long-term vision of Melbourne as a city by the people, for the people.

Joe Bagnara
President of the Southbank Residents Group

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  • Graeme at 12:33pm on 15/09/11

    AMEN! I’m particularly amazed that Prima-Pearl was able to get approval for such a huge building on such a small site.

  • James Mahony at 12:54pm on 14/07/12

    Ever heard of the Botanical Gardens? It’s only 500m away and one of the largest open space areas in Melbourne.

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