Congratulations, celebrations and complications …

Trisha Avery

Well, dear readers; here we are in December 2020. Can you believe we did it? What a great achievement that every single person has contributed to.

The sun is shining, and we are mask-less (outdoors) and mobile, how fantastic. Congratulations!

In November’s column and in the news content of this newspaper you would have read of the concerns of those Montague residents living adjacent to all of the massive construction in Normanby Rd and Montague St.

The main challenges for them was lack of communication about the construction and the disruption to their day to day lives, e.g. incessant noise – blocked carpark access, etc.

These challenges have been a direct result of the Minister for Planning’s decision to fast track all the permits that had been held back in Montague.

All these sites began demolition and pile driving within weeks of each other, which compounded the noise and levels of dust in the atmosphere and their effects on the community.

We were grateful that these residents at Montague Towers contacted the Montague Community Alliance, so we were able to assist.

And through us, on November 12 a meeting was set up with the chair of the Fishermans Bend Development Board Meredith Sussex, members of the Fishermans Bend Taskforce and the City of Port Philip.

While it was great to have everyone on the Zoom call, it was very frustrating to be talking with those responsible about the very same issues we have been speaking about for seven years.

And it still amazes me, in particular, that those in positions of power over the amenity of our part of Fishermans Bend do not understand the precinct well, or how the development affects, on a day-to-day basis, residents and businesses.

One of the key areas of discovery for me from that meeting is that there is still an unconscious bias by the bureaucrats that there is hardly anyone living in the precinct, and that there are similarities to how residents managed during construction in Southbank and Docklands.

There is, and has always been, residents in the Montague Precinct of South Melbourne. And in relation to Docklands and Southbank, those fabulous areas have developed high-rise or low-rise in areas that were industrial or commercial, without existing residents.

AND the majority of the buildings are double glazed, something that existing homes and even new builds in this precinct do not have.  

What were the outcomes of that meeting? Did they say “yes” to a neighbourhood agreement – to work to bring the developers/builders and the community closer together?

Did they promise that Fishermans Bend, the largest development area in Australia, will have special consideration for the existing community?

Did they say that they would put in place the proposals agreed by previous incumbents (don’t get me started on how each time there are new staff, we have to start our communications again) including putting a staffed office in the Montague Precinct to provide information and communication to the community?

Did they say they would work with developers and then Development Board to recommend that those marketing this precinct specifically point out they are buying into a high development area?

Well no … we have received an email from the council saying it would send various staff to check out the precinct – we had assumed this was part of their job and was being done already.

No discussion of a staffed office in the precinct, and the communications office sent me (rather than communicate directly with the community) some material to put on our Facebook Page … great work everyone … I hope if you are intending to move here and you are reading this, please do join this neighbourhood but do so with your eyes wide open and with the knowledge that the next several years will be challenging to your ability to have quiet enjoyment of your home.

As a personal postscript – in 2021, we are leaving Montague as residents. We will be still be commercial residents with an office and studio in Montague and will remain with the Montague Community Alliance – but I am delighted to say that with my partner and dog, we are becoming Southbankers … we’re so excited!

Wishing you all, dear readers, a fun-filled festive season and optimism and good health for 2021 •  

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