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Southbank Residents’ Group

18 Mar 2013

Metropolitan Planning Strategy

By the time you read this, we would have held our community forum for the Metropolitan Planning Strategy at the Town Hall.

At time of print we had over 40 registered attendees coming to hear more about the draft discussion paper and what it means, in particular, to the future of the Melbourne CBD and immediate surrounds.

The question I have for you as residents is: are these community forums a sleight-of-hand on the part of the State Government to make it appear that they are actively engaging with the community – knowing that they may not take on-board any of our feedback, or is it a legitimate call for feedback on shaping our future?

I pose this question as the Minister for Planning has just approved the development of Australia 108 on the corner of Southbank Blvd and City Rd. At 108 storeys, 388m high, it will be the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere. When the planning application was discussed at the Future Melbourne Council meeting, councillors and the Southbank Residents

Group spoke about the advantages of the design to the greater cityscape of Southbank and the city, and the disadvantages associated with a lack of vision on what the future growth of Southbank would look like if this development – in contravention of the Melbourne Planning Scheme and Southbank Structure Plan – were to be approved.

Based on the planning guidelines which are publicly available, the SRG opposed this application and the council unanimously rejected it. Why? Because our planning guidelines do not allow for this large-scale development, both in terms of height and plot ratio. Here we have an example of an open and transparent planning process in action. The guidelines say no, the public say no, the council ultimately says no. All this decision-making and discussion was held on the public record.

So, why then, did the Minister approve it? No one knows. There is no public forum to discuss or challenge his thought process. There is no public gallery where we can hear the state’s arguments for/against the development. And with the Minister choosing once again to ignore his own planning guidelines, what certainty do we have in the future of what our suburb could potentially look like? And where is the public record that clearly articulates his planning guideline reasons for approval?

This lack of good governance and transparency in decision-making is making a growing mockery of what should be a genuine effort for government and community to come together to shape a positive future for our suburbs.

Melbourne Men’s Shed

On a positive note – Barry and I were pleased to attend the inaugural Melbourne Men’s Shed meeting held recently at the Multicultural Centre. There was a great turnout at the meeting where a full interim committee was appointed. About 30 people from across the City of Melbourne, plus a staggering 40 apologies were noted. Great numbers to justify the establishment of a shed in our city.

The committee is now spending the next fortnight finalising a proposal and will call a first official meeting where permanent office bearers will be elected and calls for membership be made.

If you would like to be kept posted on this great initiative or to get involved, please email us at srgi2000@gmail.com and we’ll get you in touch with the Melbourne Men’s Shed team.

Michael Smolders
President
Southbank Residents Group

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