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New council, new approach

20 Nov 2012

As reported, the City of Melbourne has a new council and councillors have expressed their desire to provide Southbank residents with a louder voice when it comes to planning decisions.

Councillor Jackie Watts told Southbank Local News she was confident a greater commitment to transparency and disclosure was going to be advantageous to the Southbank community.

“More information flow from the City of Melbourne will empower Southbank residents and ratepayers, hopefully allowing them to be in a stronger position to debate issues of concern and influence decision making,” Cr Watts said.

“I hope that the new council might become a more effective advocate on behalf of Southbank residents, particularly with State Government which, as a consequence of tower developments, has too much control and not enough regard for liveability.”

Newly-elected councillor Rohan Leppert and his Greens counterpart, returning councillor Cathy Oke, agreed that the council needed to lift its game when providing residents with an outlet to voice community concerns.

“Southbank residents are right to be concerned with how planning and future growth is managed and we see a need to return the right of appeal to residents by either removing the Planning Minister’s veto over large developments or through a review of the appeals rights in the capital city zone,” the Greens councillors told Southbank Local News.

“In the interim, large-scale developments without appeal rights could be automatically called into council to allow residents the opportunity to voice any concerns or support,” they added.

Councillors were also keen to proclaim Southbank as a success story for urban renewal.

Cr Arron Wood said Southbank was a good news story for urban renewal and an exciting precinct.

“I support the Southbank Plan in taking a long-term view of planning for growth in this vibrant part of the city and I understand residents have concerns about growing pains in the precinct,” Cr Wood said.

He also said there were issues he and the council would need to address open space in the area as well as sound traffic management.

“City Rd, in particular, is an extremely busy thoroughfare that impacts on the amenity for residents and I think an east-west public transport link could help to ease some of this congestion,” Cr Wood said.

Re-elected planning chair Ken Ong said the rising population of Southbank must be managed carefully, with open spaces and community facilities at the forefront of the council’s mind.

“With the Southbank Structure Plan that has been developed by council, it is hoped that the Planning Minister (Matthew Guy) will support council’s position to ensure liveability in Southbank,” Cr Ong said.

Cr Kevin Louey agreed with his contemporary, saying his vision was to: “Protect the uniqueness of Southbank whilst enhancing the amenities of the area and planning for sustainable growth.”

“It is important that planning decisions are made which take into consideration all of the competing needs of the area,” Cr Louey added.

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