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Community wants its voice heard

12 Nov 2015

Community wants its voice heard Image

By Katie Wong Hoy

The South Port Urban Responsible Renewal (SPURR) group released a statement last month slamming both sides of politics for failing to include the community in decisions regarding Fishermans Bend.

It comes after a report conducted by the Labor-appointed Fishermans Bend Advisory Committee (FBAC) criticised poor planning and a lack of community consultation by former Liberal planning minister Matthew Guy.

However, SPURR spokesperson Rowan Groves said, despite a review having already been underway for six months, promises of community engagement had not yet been fulfilled.

While the FBAC includes community representatives, Mr Groves said these same people were required to sign confidentiality agreements, which prevented them from discussing ideas and issues with the community.

“We’ve heard rumours of a community engagement plan but have not yet seen or heard of it and we are tired of being excluded from decisions about our future,” he said.

“We are keen to assure the Minister that we can help the review come up with sensible solutions to what is a disastrous situation for Fishermans Bend.”  

Mr Groves said his group would demand a meeting with Planning Minister Richard Wynne to highlight the adverse impact his decisions were having on people in the area.

Mr Wynne stressed the importance of community engagement as part of the process in planning for Fishermans Bend, and said all stakeholders, including SPURR, would be consulted.

“Confidentiality agreements were signed, not to preclude them from engaging with the community, but because members are privy to a range of confidential information and government/commercial in confidence documents. This is standard practice for a ministerial advisory committee (MAC),” he said.

“In April this year, I announced that detailed planning work would be done to create five distinct neighbourhoods with detailed consultation.”

“SPURR, along with other community groups and residents, will be included throughout the process.”

“Community groups are right to be asking for consideration to be given to acquiring land for public use after the Liberal government failed to do so. Under our government, Fishermans Bend will have well-planned neighbourhoods and plenty of jobs close to where people live.”

However, Mr Groves dismissed Mr Wynne’s reassurances, stating that there had not been any formal consultation with any state government since September 2013.

“I’m glad Minister Wynne has assured us that detailed consultation with the community will be included throughout the process. However, I’m less clear about how this could possibly occur when the review has already been underway for six months,” he said.

“The most recent permit approval has only just come to light, which is for a 10-storey tower less than 10 metres from a community garden and will overshadow the garden and the soccer club at Murphy’s Reserve.”

“It appears the decision was made by the minister after he received the first report from the MAC, which noted ‘the current arrangements for the area are flawed and if continued would result in poor urban outcomes’ for everyone.”

“It therefore seems disingenuous for the Minister to be assuring anyone of anything to do with engaging with the community.”

The FBAC report found Mr Guy’s planning to be flawed and stated that it failed to account for transport and community infrastructure such as playgrounds and schools.

A potential total of 17,600 dwellings have already been either approved or proposed since 2013.

In the area of Montague alone, 4554 units have already been approved. In comparison, 5300 residences have been developed in Docklands over the past 20 years.

Member for Albert Park Martin Foley said the Labor Government would amend the issues caused by its predecessors.

“While the former government failed to plan for all the community facilities people need close to home, our government is working to create long-term, detailed plans which include the community’s voice,” Mr Foley said.

“Matthew Guy kick-started a tsunami of greed, which lined the pockets of property developers but we are committed to righting the wrongs of the last government.”

Shadow Minister for Planning David Davis admitted that Mr Guy’s planning wasn’t perfect, but insisted claims that he did not accommodate for transport and community infrastructure were not true.

“There are always potential improvements but [Guy] got development moving,” he said.

“Of course the process would have seen a range of community infrastructure in position. This [Labor] is the government who put into place the flawed 2030 system … so we don’t think they’ve got the credibility to lecture anyone.”

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