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Letters to the editor

20 Mar 2012

Up close and personal for Southbank residents

There’s a planning amendment in the works which promises to make your life as a Southbank resident uncomfortably up-close and personal.  The proposed C171 Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendment will bring your neighbours into peeping distance from your home.

It will affect the degree of sunlight and daylight on your street and into your apartment, the noise and wind levels on your street, the extent of traffic congestion in your neighbourhood as well as the walk-ability of Southbank.

The C171 Amendment is part of the Southbank Structure Plan 2010 which, in turn, is part of the Melbourne Planning Scheme. The structure plan and the amendment seek to change current planning policy on tower and podium height, building separation and offset, plot ratios, the set back of buildings from streets, interaction between building frontages and streets, pedestrian permeability and the like.

Many of the specific provisions of C171 Amendment are not in the interest of residents. They seek to introduce greater flexibility in tower height, reduce separation between buildings from 24m to 10m, remove the provision of the maximum plot ratio of 12:1 and, in general, allow for huge towers massing along our main streets.

This will inevitably affect the quality of life of every one of us in Southbank,  

In view of the numerous objections against C171 raised by residents in 2010, the State Government appointed a specialist panel of three experts to hear and consider written submissions from the public. The panel met over a four-day period – February 9, 10, 14 and 15 – to hear submissions and experts speak.

A number of major developers and architects made presentations to the panel, supported by highly-paid experts and lawyers. It was an awesomely-organised and expensive effort by the “big guns”. They obviously have deep pockets and determined ambitions for Southbank.

Essentially, they seek the lifting of height restrictions, of separation and setback parameters and active building frontage requirements to enable them to extract every last dollar from each site in Southbank.   

On the other hand, all of you 13,000 Southbank residents were represented by two lonely souls – yours truly being one of them. We weren’t even aware that a formal presentation could be made to the panel.

However, the panel kindly accommodated us at the last minute, and we put together a presentation over the February 11-12 weekend in an attempt to represent resident views. (Our submission is available on

In summary, the outlook for us residents does not look sunny (pardon the pun).

We are fighting a stacked-deck. And, given the deep pockets of the developers, our only hope is the owners’ corporations in Southbank getting together to express their united and co-ordinated views through the Southbank Residents Group.

Unless this counterpoint is quickly organised, the politicians will probably cave in to the pressures of the developers. Taller and more towers in Southbank means the City of Melbourne takes in more taxpayer rates and the State Government proudly exhibits more cranes in the sky.

People power has influenced Government policy change in other situations. It can also do so for us in Southbank. Here’s what you can do. Send a protest tweet to Planning Minister Mathew Guy twitter@MathewGuyMP or an email to

Cedric Saldanha


Intersection needs intervention

I wish to bring this very dangerous intersection to the notice of all local government, state and federal politicians.

As a resident of the Southbank area since 1993 and having seen so many changes and population growth to our area, I feel that the intersection of Kings Way, Coventry St and Sturt St is the major drawback to living here.

We need a pedestrian overhead crossing of some description – be it a ramp or even a plaza joining the two lovely outdoor areas on both sides of Kings Way. It is an accident to happen when pedestrians have to almost run across to get to tram stops, etc.

I have written to the City of Melbourne, which in March 2010 only passed my letter to the regional director metropolitan of VicRoads’ north west region.  VicRoads claimed people would not use a ramp crossing and pointed out that there had not been a pedestrian-related crash there over the past five years.

At the moment, three large developments are in the process of being built – meaning another approximately 900 more apartments in our immediate area.

We mostly shop in South Melbourne as banks, major supermarkets, and the post office are in this area.

With proper planning and imagination, I am sure that this intersection could be transformed from a very ugly and dangerous place into one of beauty.

In this area, we should be shown the same consideration as areas around schools and universities.

Stuart Murray

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