Residents say Montague is a “dumping ground” for construction sites
By Katie Johnson
Residents of a Montague apartment building say that amenity in the area has significantly decreased since being encircled by three construction sites.
The flood of construction workers has meant residents are often unable to park in their area or receive deliveries, and the streets are often littered with rubbish and construction materials.
Montague Towers resident Helen Robertson said that construction workers and Port Phillip Council “don’t care” about the locals and refuse to take accountability.
“We just want to be treated like residents; construction seems to be able to overrule everything and there’s zero consideration for the residents who are trying to live here in very difficult circumstances,” Ms Robertson said.
“It’s like a dumping ground for them because it’s a work environment, but we’re trying to live here peacefully.”
Montague Towers, situated on top of a storage facility at the corner of Montague St and Normanby Rd, is home to around 50 residents.
It is currently surrounded by three live construction sites – the R Iconic, the Normanby and the Oakwood – which residents say they weren’t warned about when they moved in.
Construction on the sites occurs six days a week from 6am to 5pm, which often means parking facilities are often completely occupied by the hundreds of workers.
Ms Robertson said that residents were unable to park, receive visitors, trades or deliveries during work hours as a result.
“When we went into the last lockdown, one of our residents had to go into isolation as she was a teacher at Bacchus Marsh which was an exposure site,” Ms Robertson said.
“She wasn’t able to get her food delivered as there was nowhere for the drivers to park.”
“Concrete and other large trucks are often parked across our driveway who refuse to move to enable entry and exit to our garage on Woodgate St as well.”
As construction workers have quarantined half of the parking on Normanby Rd and Boundary St, and often completely occupy Woodgate St, residents have asked the council to create a parking permit system.
Ms Robertson said that to date the council had ignored their requests, despite construction workers often parking illegally in no standing and other zones.
“Where is the capacity for us to be able to influence where we live? Why don’t you give workers parking at the DFO – which is never used – for a reduced rate, and free up space for us so we can have some enjoyment in our own environment?” Ms Robertson said.
“This construction will not end for another five years as all blocks between National Storage and the R Iconic building are already approved for construction but there is inadequate infrastructure for the construction workers to commence work.”
“It’s also completely unacceptable that they can close roads like Woodgate St off, and work out of hours, without any communication to us,” Ms Robertson said.
Port Phillip Mayor Louise Crawford said that as all on-street parking in the vicinity of Montague Towers was public parking, council “cannot direct workers not to park in legal parking areas”.
“We undertake regular patrols in Woodgate St. If parked trucks are witnessed blocking driveways, for example, enforcement is undertaken,” Mayor Crawford said.
“We understand concrete trucks often park and idle in Woodgate St as they queue to attend nearby construction sites. The vehicles have usually moved on when our officers arrive after receiving a complaint.”
Montague residents have also complained that rubbish is often strewn across Woodgate St from the construction site which made it difficult to drive down.
“All of the plastic bollards and orange matting [are] strewn all across the road – I wasn’t sure if I could drive over it because there may have been steel inside which would have given me a flat tyre,” Ms Robertson said.
“The construction management doesn’t care because the maximum fine for littering is a thousand dollars so they’re not being held accountable or cleaning it up.”
“We need local laws to be more vigilant with them because we’re having to call up constantly.”
Ms Robertson also said that workers would often leave work papers, lunch wrappers, coffee cups and construction-related signage which was not adequately secured all over Woodgate, Normanby and Montague streets.
“It makes the area look awful and they need to be held accountable,” Ms Robertson said.
To deal with this issue, Mayor Crawford said that local laws officers would undertake proactive patrols and speak to construction companies as they returned to work.
“As a waste management measure, we have installed public bins in nearby public spaces, including extra bins in the Port Melbourne light rail reserve,” Mayor Crawford said.
“Street cleaning is undertaken on a programmed monthly basis and our litter pickers manually pick up litter in this area every week.”
Aside from the parking and littering issues, residents have also requested that the council install mirrors on the Montague Street Bridge to allow for greater visibility.
The calls come after an elderly Montague Tower resident was knocked over by a bike coming down the light rail underpass ramp, who now experiences ongoing tendon damage.
Ms Robertson said the lack of visibility at the bridge was a “fatality waiting to happen”.
“Requests to council for mirrors to show both bike, pedestrian and car traffic – who are now bypassing the Woodgate/Montague corner and driving on the pathway as the exit to Montague St is blocked with traffic or construction vehicles – have gone ignored,” Ms Robertson said.
Mayor Crawford said that the council’s Traffic Safety Team was not aware of the incident and was currently reviewing that location to determine if signage or line marking treatments were required.
However, she said that the council no longer installed or maintained convex mirrors on roads or footpaths “as the shape of the mirror distorts the image”.
“This means reliance on convex mirrors is considered potentially dangerous as objects appear to be smaller, further away and travelling at a lower speed than in reality,” Mayor Crawford said.
“Convex mirrors have also historically been highly prone to graffiti and required frequent maintenance.” •