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Tram shame

Residents fight to protect the Shrine

14 Dec 2014

Residents fight to protect the Shrine Image

By Sean Car

A new community group has been launched in direct protest to current, approved and proposed Southbank developments, which cast a shadow over the Shrine of Remembrance.

Freshwater Place resident and Vietnam veteran Graeme Plumridge formed “Save Our Shrine” last month after noticing a huge shadow being cast over the Shrine by the new Prima Pearl development from his apartment earlier this year.

“I think this is wrong that were shading the Shrine,” he said. “I would think that all veteran communities in Victoria would be concerned about that simply because the Shrine is a revered place.”

Mr Plumridge, who was conscripted in 1967, captured images of shadows cast over the Shrine, which he emailed to former Liberal Planning Minister Matthew Guy after hearing of plans for the then proposed Australia 108 tower.

The former Planning Minister had announced the adoption of permanent and mandatory planning controls back in April, which he stated would protect the Shrine from encroaching development.

After giving Mr Plumridge the same assurances in his responding email, the Planning Minister then in June approved what will now be the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere.

“I wrote to him and said that I understood that it’s going to be taller than Prima Pearl and Prima Pearl was only in construction at that point,” Mr Plumridge said. “I asked him how could you say this won’t shade the Shrine?”

“He came back very succinctly and said ‘no, it will not shade the Shrine or its precinct’.”

“A week later 108 was approved, so I wrote back to him again and said how can you say this won’t happen and I haven’t heard from him. So I suppose I’m just supposed to go away.”

An independent study commissioned by the Freshwater Place Owners’ Corporation found that Australia 108 and the proposed Queensbridge Tower would both overshadow the Shrine during winter.

In deliberating on overshadowing of the Yarra River at a Future Melbourne Committee meeting in August, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle stated the Yarra, the Shrine and State Parliament were sacrosanct.

Mr Plumridge said he and his group would campaign vigorously to prevent any further overshadowing of the sacred memorial.

“The only thing that we’ve probably still got our hand on is, as everybody says, the Shrine, which is sacrosanct and shouldn’t have shadows,” he said.

“The fact is Prima Pearl is already there so the boundary has shifted. Let’s see if we can stop anymore from happening.”

Southbank Residents Group president and returned serviceman Tony Penna said he has been appalled by the lack of competency shown by the former planning minister.

“It shouldn’t happen,” he said. “Overshadowing the shrine is off-limits, period,” he said.

“We will be fighting overshadowing of the Shrine just like if it were overshadowing the Yarra.”

“It’s sacrosanct and I am appalled at seeing the applications that have been approved and I believe the minister claimed that he was not aware, which to me says that the minister is incompetent."

Mr Penna said he was disappointed by the lack of public consultation and said he hoped the newly-elected Labor Government would adopt a renewed focus on the issue.

“The minister should be aware, the minister should be asking those questions, because this is absolutely fundamental and critical. It’s part of our heritage. It’s part of our community and it’s just wrong.”

Albert Park MLA Martin Foley said his government, featuring newly-appointed Planning Minister Richard Wynne, was committed to cleaning up the mess left by Mr Guy.

“We want to make sure that everybody has clarity on the rules rather than the current mess of a developer-driven frenzy that Matthew Guy has left behind,” he said.

Mr Plumridge said “Save Our Shrine” would seek a meeting with Mr Wynne to demand the following conditions were met to protect the Shrine from overshadowing:

  • Suspend any new project, which will cast a shadow;
  • Reject any new or pending applications; and
  • Commit the Government to enforcing planning controls, which prevent overshadowing.

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