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What’s behind the lights?

Southbank Residents Association

09 Jun 2016

We’re almost mid-way through the year, and this month we have had some good progress.

As mentioned here last month, I was invited to an information session for the widening of the Swan Street Bridge. Our committee treasurer, Arji Fry, attended and, as a motorist herself, she reported that it is indeed a very exciting project and a lot of thought has gone into the design to ensure cyclists and pedestrians are not overlooked at the expense of motorists.

We are so happy with the project that we have invited VicRoads to hold an information session exclusively for the residents of Southbank, hosted by Southbank Residents Association (SRA). If you’re also interested to know more about this project, please join us at the Malthouse Theatre on Sturt St on Wednesday, June 15 at 6pm.

Southbank Owners’ Corporation Network (SOCN), which is convened by Southbank Residents Association, turns one this month. So happy birthday to this extremely engaged and active group of OC chair people.

This month they considered the C270 Amendment to the planning scheme, announced late last month. We were very fortunate to have Prof Michael Buxton, a leading urban design voice, speak to our group to assist us with better understanding the potential impact and implications of this amendment before making our submission.

Subsequently we have been selected to present to the panel and elaborate on our concerns further. We are most grateful the Planning Minister’s Department has extended this invitation to our community group.

The biggest news was the announcement that the City of Melbourne has withdrawn the planning permit/rights from Mackie Group for the residential tower that was to be built on the Boyd park site.

We argued from the onset that the entirety of this block should have been converted to open space, preferably green space in the form of a park.

With current Southbank open space sitting at 2.5sqm/resident when the city’s own goal is 20sqm per resident, we are clearly falling far short.

We believe it is a no-brainer that the entirety of this space should be left for the public, especially in that immensely dense part of Southbank where green space is almost non-existent without a 15 minute minimum walk.

We assume council feels obligated to sell that one third of the block to fund the investment that has already been made to the Boyd site, and also the investment that needs to be made to create the park on the remainder of the site.

While this has merit, I don’t recall council selling off parts of Docklands to fund the $22 million state-of-the-art library - which is about four to five times larger than our Boyd facilities – for their 8000 resident population versus our 15,000 and projected to be 25,000 in the not too distant future.

It just doesn’t add up to me! So what is going to happen with the site now you ask? Well I’m not entirely sure, but I believe council will probably put the development back to public tender to find an alternative developer.

We as a community need to send a very strong and clear message to council that developing this site for more residential accommodation is not acceptable. We need a park! You can help us by signing our petition.

Our committee has been busy scrutinising the budget and is pleased with a number of the investments and initiatives for the coming financial year. However, what stood out to me is that there had been no allocation for the City Rd upgrade.

We have made a submission to council on the budget and have asked whether Southbank is going to have to wait another year before these works get underway. I am also going to be quite vocal about it because I feel that once again Southbank has been forgotten.

While on the subject of being forgotten, in October 2014 SRA made a submission objecting to an atrocious development on 248-250 Sturt St.

Thankfully this application was subsequently rejected by the Minister and referred to VCAT by the developer. We have been following this application closely and recently learned that there was some confidential negotiations behind the scenes and an agreement reached with the City of Melbourne and a planning permit issued (by the City of Melbourne).

We, the residents of Southbank, rely on Council’s Future Melbourne Committee to not only inform residents of planning considerations but it’s also our forum to have a say since State Government legislation deprives us notice rights.

I am appalled that council didn’t send this application back to Future Melbourne Committee so we can have a further say and I must add that what I have seen in the approval has holes all through it - shame on this council!

If you feel strongly about your neighbourhood or the need to retain the entirety of the Boyd site for open space, then join with us and show your support by becoming a member of Southbank Residents Association and keep abreast of what is happening in our neighbourhood. You can also sign our petition at

Tony Penna


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