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Council reviews planning process

15 Jan 2013

While the Freshwater Place residents who protested against the approved Queensbridge Tower at 1-15 Queensbridge Street have lost their battle, they have gone some way to changing the rules for future concerned residents.

Late last year The City of Melbourne acknowledged the timeline and process of the council’s involvement in the planning application for structures over the 25,000 square metre threshold needed to be reviewed.

All planning permits over 25,000 square metres are still sent directly to the Minister for Planning, but the council admits the Queensbridge Tower approval has forced it to reconsider its action for these proposals.

Councillor Stephen Mayne told Southbank Local News the council is reviewing its entire planning process.

"We are having a broader look at our planning process. No-one is happy with the Freshwater Place situation. Because the council doesn't have the power, we need to increase transparency of our roles in the process," Cr Mayne said.

He went on to say that the council would look at a different options, such as publishing its thoughts online.

Queensbridge Tower has been the most controversial planning approval the city has seen. I'm very sympathetic to the residents of Freshwater Place and their plight," Cr Mayne said.

"If we had our time again, council would have been more vocal."

Freshwater Place Owners Corporation chairman Peter Renner said the residents had had some small wins with the council, including ensuring that proposed developments were assessed by all councillors before council’s recommendation was made to the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD).

He also said he had met with a number of councillors who had expressed sympathy and support for the residents during these processes.

“We are somewhat heartened that the council is reviewing its process,” Mr Renner said.

Mr Renner was cautious not to overstate the progress, as he believes the residents are still without the basic right of input into planning matters, given that the DPCD has the final say.

“We are still dismayed by the State Government's continued lack of residential rights for buildings over 25,000 squared metres (the threshold for planning permits to be sent directly to the DPCD), which is most developments that are proposed in Southbank."

A spokesperson from the DPCD said it had opportunities for residents to air their concerns and encouraged them to do so.

"This is the case despite planning permit applications within the Capital City Zone being exempt from notification and review. It is important that residents raise issues and concerns about the planning and development of the area."

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