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Montague Community Alliance

04 Jun 2019

Montague – an agreeable neighbourhood?

Agreeable definition: If something is agreeable, it is pleasant and you enjoy it.

I was thinking about the definition of this word as it related to agreements. If we, in the Montague Precinct of South Melbourne are already an agreeable neighbourhood, one that is pleasant and enjoyable, how do you create neighbourhood agreements that integrate new neighbours, both residential and businesses, with those already enjoying the area? How do we create a relationship with developers and builders that could be considered agreeable?

The reason I pose this question is that recently, in an informal discussion with a senior state planner about the uniqueness of developing the Montague Precinct, this point arose. How do governments and councils engage with existing residents and businesses who were in place before the change of zoning to a Capital City Zone occurred, and life as they knew it changed? It turns about to be a dilemma for both council and state planners, as apparently, there is little or no precedence or reference for this type of integration either in Victoria or other parts of the country. Particularly as these neighbourhoods already have a community culture that would need to change as new people arrived into the neighbourhoods.

This column is often about all the things that are problematic with living and working in Montague and the challenges faced from the huge influx of new people arriving here. However, before you think we’re just being nimbies, let’s examine all the great things we already have that are agreeable:

We are a close-knit community. E.g. those of us who have lived here – precinct wide – before 2012 (the legacy community), know the names of the operators of the small businesses. We know where people need to park to assist them with their children, or elderly relatives. And we try very hard not to disrupt anyone.

We have a strong connection with our neighbours across the road in Port Melbourne. We know the names of their dogs!

We are walking distance to the South Melbourne Market, surrounded by public transport and only a couple of tram stops from the city and the beach.

There is no doubt about it: we have a fabulous location with lots of open space and bike tracks.

We are also mindful of the history of the area and we have the lived experience of that history in the hearts and minds of the existing communities. We are proud of that.

Interestingly very few of the legacy residents have left the area, I can only think of one family, but they only moved across City Rd to another part of South Melbourne.

We love our Montague Precinct. We don’t want to be anywhere else and there is virtually no one (okay, maybe one or two) who don’t understand that. Yes, we will be developed, and many, many more residents and businesses will move in. And yes, we also understand that new residents and businesses don’t know about us or the history of the area and that, from time to time, might create challenges. Indeed, I’m sure some Montague newbies (post 2012) will not understand why I write this column, or why we even have a community group.

The reason is that I write it on behalf of the Montague Community Alliance because we believe it is incumbent on all of us, the new and the legacy communities, to create an agreeable neighbourhood.

The legacy community needs to accept that we do have building works on our doorsteps. And that we will have businesses that don’t realise there is a two-year old, or a resident with the flu, or that their weekend cleaners and workmen are a challenge for those residents needing downtime on the weekends. And we would hope in time, that they (the post-2012 businesses), know as they leave at the end of their business day and go to their homes, that we need quiet enjoyment of our homes too.

I am not sure we can blame them for not really paying attention to how many of us live here but we can hope that maybe we can change their mindset in the future. Montague was an agreeable, community-minded village when we moved in. I so look forward to the day, somewhere in the future, that another resident and business owner can write the same thing.

Change is always difficult especially to those who have no control (or third-party rights) over their living or working environments. I hope that we can all work together with warmth and thoughtfulness, to create the very thing that I am sure we all want – for Montague to be an agreeable neighbourhood.

Thank you for reading this. As usual, if you have any ideas or want to offer any feedback to us, we have a twitter account @MontComAlliance and a Facebook page @MontaguePrecinct, or you can contact me at trishavery@me.com

Trisha Avery - Convener

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