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Southbank Residents Group

17 Sep 2013

Recently Roger Gardner (Docklands Community Association), Michael Kennedy (Eastenders) and I spent an hour with Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, discussing key issues facing residents in the Capital City Zone (CCZ) on behalf of the Coalition of Resident and Business Associations (CoRBA).

We spoke at length on three top issues – 1. Tower massing and separation; 2. Legitimate community consultation; and 3. Transparency and governance of ministerial planning decisions.

On tower massing and separations, we discussed that, while existing residents are keen for the completion of CCZ suburbs, we must ensure sensible development occurs that does not adversely impact resident amenity and liveability standards. It was our contention that current minimum tower separations of only 10m fall short of international best-practice standards of 20m and that Melbourne should be adopting a stronger push to this better standard.

Likewise, we put forward the case that inadequate tower separations not only lead to visual massing concerns, but that such development has negative impacts on wind tunnelling effects at ground level, and, additionally, has serious consequences on sunlight penetration and resident privacy between buildings.

On community consultation, we made a clear case for greater community engagement in the CCZ. Planning notification rights that are afforded to most residents of Victoria do not exist within the CCZ – with most residents finding out about developments after they have been approved and discussed in the newspapers.
We asked the Minister to consider introducing a “yellow board” planning development notice process, where developers are required, as part of the planning application submission, to erect a large development proposal notice at the front of the development site. The erection of this notice (which occurs in Sydney and some council districts in Victoria) ensures that neighbours to the development site and any passing traffic/pedestrians are made aware of the intention to seek a planning permit and advises residents of how they can obtain a copy of the permit being considered. This process will ensure that residents are well informed in advance of any decision being made with respect to development proposals in the CCZ.

On the final matter of transparency and governance, we outlined to the Minister that residents are becoming increasingly disillusioned at their exclusion from the planning application process, more so when Ministerial decisions are made in a manner that appears to be at odds with the prevailing planning guidelines and that no context or reasoning for these decisions is publicly provided.

We advocated for the consideration of introducing a planning advisory committee – similar to the system in NSW – where any planning matter requiring a Ministerial decision is referred to the committee. This committee has the ability to take public submissions regarding a planning application in an open forum and then provides the Minister with a recommendation on the planning application for ratification.

While the Minister didn’t commit to any of our discussion points during the meeting we did leave feeling confident that our case regarding improved tower separations and the “yellow board” process would be given serious consideration. The final idea on the planning advisory committee appeared to be an unattractive proposition. While disappointing, if we continue to advocate for the “yellow board” process, at least residents will be informed prior to a planning decision being made – and will have time to make a submission direct to the Minister’s office or council, either for or against the proposal.

We will follow up the Minister on our requests for greater tower separations and development notices in the coming weeks.

AGM and call for nominations

The SRG Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday, October 31 from 6pm-7.30pm in the Assembly Hall at Boyd (207 City Rd, Southbank). The AGM will run through the activities of the SRG over the last year and will also seek to appoint a new president and vice president of the group who will set the agenda for 2014.
If you, or someone you know, may be interested in becoming the next president or vice president of the SRG, please send me an email at srgi2000@gmail.com and I’ll get in touch to discuss the roles in further detail.

Membership

In order to hold a position with the SRG, or to vote in president/vice president elections, you must be a registered member. Individual memberships are only $10 p.a. and membership for owners corporations are either $350 p.a. or $550 p.a., depending on the number of apartments in the building. To become a member or to renew, simply visit

www.southbankresidents.com.au/membership

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