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What’s behind the lights?

Southbank Residents Association

06 Oct 2016

Council profits at residents’ expense

I have a great update for you this month, with news, events, updates and even a personal announcement.

Let’s start with the bad news. Last month we received the disappointing news that our Boyd Park open space campaign was unsuccessful. Once again the City of Melbourne has essentially agreed with the previous developer to give them back their contract, albeit with some minor changes.

What irritates me about this deal is that the City of Melbourne gained a windfall of $7million from the time of awarding the previous contract to rescinding it and now awarding, and NONE of it will be spent in Southbank.

While I am happy the City of Melbourne is getting good value for the sale of any land assets, this windfall has essentially come at the expense of local residents. You might be wondering why this $7million won’t be spent in Southbank? The reason is that some years ago, council passed a policy that revenues from any land sales across the municipality will go towards the Queen Victoria Market renewal fund – and that’s exactly where it will go. Such a shame.

More disappointing news was that two City Rd developments were not considered at council because of conflicted councillors. SRA and member buildings made written submissions to both of them and I was at council to speak to both agenda items, but they were not able to be considered because too many councillors were conflicted for accepting developer donations. In particular, it was the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle’s block of five which led to a loss of quorum.

We elect councillors to represent their constituents and when they accept donations they allow themselves to become conflicted, regardless of the law (because it’s not actually illegal). This is poor judgement in my opinion and I hope the constituency takes note in this election year.

Talking about planning applications, the residents of Sturt St currently have a fight on their hands trying to convince council – and then the Minister – that a proposed development at 135 Sturt St should not be approved, as it is an overdevelopment of the site. The area in question has a 40 metre discretionary height limit and we believe the current proposal for 60 metres and compromises on setbacks.

It is our view that the development is not suitable for that low-rise section of Southbank and would spoil the character. We will also be doing whatever we can to get the right message to the people who need to hear it. Feel free to show your support and follow their campaign by liking their Facebook page – @savedoddsstreet

We hope you had your say on the Better Apartments discussion paper last month. We certainly did. We now wait for the standards to be finalised and legislated and this can only be a positive for the future development in Southbank.

Now for something a little more uplifting. As you read this edition we will be holding our second community trivia night in collaboration with Boyd. As I’m writing this, the numbers are looking good and it’s set to be another cracker evening of trivia with more than $500 in prizes from Southbank local businesses. We’ll let you know how the event goes in our November column.

I also have some personal news and some of you may have heard I have decided to run for council. This was a spontaneous decision in the final week of nominations but naturally in keeping with wanting to make a positive difference in Southbank.

This means there’s a chance this could be my last SRA column, or my last before saying goodbye (November column). If I’m successfully elected later this month, I’ll have to resign from my position as president of SRA. But it won’t be easy, trust me.

As you know, I’ve spent three years advocating for Southbank and putting my heart and soul into SRA – building it up to where it is today. If I’m successful, I’m confident the committee will cope without me (everyone is replaceable right?) but if I’m unsuccessful I intend to renominate and serve as the president of this esteemed association for another year at least.

I’m excited about the weeks leading up to the election and I thank you in advance for your support.

Another great upcoming event hosted by SRA is the Meet the Candidates event at Boyd Community Hub at 6.30pm on October 13. This is your opportunity to ask the hard questions to the candidates to help you decide who your vote should go to.

So far we’ve received RSVPs from almost all teams, so it should make for a good night. For those hoping to grill me as a candidate, I’ll have my SRA president hat on for the event and won’t be one of the panel candidates. But don’t worry, my Together Melbourne team will be in attendance and I’ll be available to chat with you after the event.

Finally, it’s AGM time again and if you’ve ever considered nominating for the committee, now’s the perfect time to do so. We’re holding our AGM at Boyd at 6pm on Monday, October 17 and everyone is invited.

Come along to hear first-hand what we’ve achieved throughout the year and what’s planned for next year. Our guest speaker is going to be the City of Melbourne Transform Southbank Boulevard project team who’ll give us an update on the project and field any questions from residents.

These AGMs come around far too quick for my liking though! If you are interested in joining our friendly volunteer committee, please email us at with your nomination or questions and we will be sure to get in touch. Remember you need to be a member of SRA before you can nominate to join the committee, and trust me, it’s a truly rewarding experience to be able to give back to the community.

As you can see, it has been a busy time for the committee of SRA with three big events happening in October. I look forward to seeing you out and about, whether at a SRA function or in my capacity as a candidate. Please make yourself known and say hello.

Tony Penna


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