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Southbank Residents Association

05 Jun 2018

Southbank Residents Association Image

Where to start?

So much has happened last month, where do I start?

I think it fitting to commence this month’s column congratulating Sally Capp on her election to lord mayor.

After our exceptionally successful “meet the candidates” event, Sally gave me her commitment to meet with the residents again, whether her campaign was successful or otherwise.

Sally then reiterated this during her lord mayor-elect interview with Neil Mitchell on 3AW at the end of May.

So, I thought I better reach out to her to work through some detail about meeting our residents again and have a serious and frank conversation about issues affecting Southbank.

I met with Sally in her mayoral office on June 1 and I can tell you she has hit the ground running and was keen to hear what I had to say and possible ways forward.

Our committee decided it is probably best to invite the Lord Mayor to our upcoming AGM as a guest speaker to continue the dialogue with our community there instead of holding a separate event (as such events require much effort to arrange – remember we are only a volunteer organisation – more on that later).

So … I encourage all our members and the wider community to attend our AGM and be part of the conversation. Mark the date in your diary – Wednesday, July 18, 6.30pm at Boyd Community Hub. We would love to have you there to not only hear from the Lord Mayor, but also hear first-hand what your local resident community group is involved with.

The City of Melbourne is currently exhibiting its Southbank heritage review – Amendment C305. SRA commended council for this review, although it’s probably 10+ years too late. But, as they say, better late than never.

There is still heritage left in Southbank and it is important to try to preserve what is left, or at least some of it.

What I mean by “some of it” is that, while an item might be identified in the heritage review for protecting, if there is already a planning application on the site, then unless there is some goodwill from the developer (as we saw with the art deco Opera Australia building at 35-41 City Rd), then the heritage item will be lost.

So why bother giving a heritage overlay to an already approved development site you ask? As I found out, if for some reason the development doesn’t proceed, and the application expires, then the heritage overlay will automatically apply to the site.

So, the overlay is not retrospective. One good example is the Queens Bridge Hotel site on Queens Bridge St, which currently has a planning application to build the proposed Crown/Schiavello Queens Bridge Tower development. We can only hope this development doesn’t proceed and not only for heritage sake. If you have an interest in our heritage, I encourage you to visit the Participate Melbourne website and review the amendment there and certainly contribute to the review.

Council has released its draft budget for 2018-19 and it is currently open for submissions until Wednesday, June 13. In short, while it is great to see council continue to fund Southbank Boulevard upgrade with $22 million (of which works will commence in July), I am most disappointed, once again, that they have left the City Rd upgrade out.

Before any of the City Rd stages can commence, a detailed design and draft functional layout was supposed to have been funded in the 16/17 budget. It was further overlooked in the 17/18 budget and now here we are considering the 18/19 budget and once again it is not considered, without any explanation from anyone in council.

If council can’t meet its anticipated time frames, then when were they going to inform the community? Many aspects of the project are being influenced by other projects, such as Southbank Boulevard and Swan Street Bridge upgrade, but all these projects where known at the time the master plan was adopted with its proposed implementation plan.

I cannot see any reason why the Alexandra Ave stage of the plan could not have commenced in 18/19 now that Swan Street Bridge upgrade is completed.

If City Rd is important to you, then I suggest you make this known to council while they are still considering the final budget. SRA will be taking the argument to council and letting them know loud and clear that the community is not happy, but you need to let them know as well. Visit the Participate Melbourne website to review the budget and have your say.

Finally, to finish on a positive note, what an exciting announcement by the Premier and our local member for Parliament and Creative Industries Minister, Martin Foley, for the commitment to purchase the CUB site and kick-start the expansion and upgrade of the arts precinct.

Martin gave me a call the night prior to personally break the news to SRA. This upgrade has been discussed for many years and it is heart-warming to know the government is serious about looking after the creative institutions of Southbank and expanding our global presence in this space.

These institutions have already reached out to SRA to ensure the community is informed and kept abreast of the project as a major stakeholder in the area. I will certainly keep you informed as this begins to take shape.

Once this project is completed, it will certainly give us Southbankers more reason to be proud of our neighbourhood and community.

Let’s hope that whichever government will be formed later this year, they will honour this commitment and see the project through to the end.

As mentioned earlier, our AGM will be in July. We are calling out to anyone in the community who would like to get involved in their community and join our committee. If you are interested, please make contact by emailing president@southbankresidents.org.au

Tony Penna

President

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