Here we are into March already, and what a big month it will be!

Tony Penna

Firstly, I am excited to announce the Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) 20-year history, researched and compiled by former committee member Lynne Lumsden, has finally being published.

The history book will be launched at our Southbank Community Forum at 6.30pm on Tuesday, March 23 (more about that later).

We have printed a full-colour A5 book with almost 100 pages. It’s a real credit to Lynne’s efforts in compiling this history.

SRA was incorporated in April 1998, so our 20th anniversary was in 2018.

Yes, it has taken us two years to finally get it to this stage, but I am so proud of this piece of work.

It is an important record of all the wonderful achievements SRA has achieved for our community.

There are several full-colour pictures which highlight our past heritage, certainly worth the nostalgia.

I think that anyone who reads this will be pleasantly surprised at just how active SRA is in our community and our achievements.

Lynne, this work should also do you proud, and thank you on behalf of the whole Southbank community.

The book will be available for purchase via our website or on the evening of March 23 at the book launch.

A few copies will also be provided to Southbank Library at Boyd.

As mentioned last month, following the approval of a 42-storey tower at the Boyd Park site and an uproar from the community, we received a commitment from the council for dialogue with our residents about the future of Southbank and the opportunities to be exploited and developed.

We received a personal commitment from the Lord Mayor for this dialogue and Sally has certainly done everything that she could to make this happen.

Our committee has decided to call this event “Southbank Community Forum – Southbank: What’s next?” and will be held on Tuesday, March 23 at Metropolis function venue, on the top level (level 4) of Southgate.

We can comfortably fit 200-plus people in this venue in a COVID-safe environment. The event will start at 6.30pm with our SRA History Book launch and then into the forum.

The forum will allow the community to hear directly from the City of Melbourne about where we have come from and the future opportunities in Southbank.

Representing the City of Melbourne (CoM) will be the council’s deputy CEO Alison Leighton, general manager of strategy and planning Roger Teale and manager of major capital works, infrastructure and assets Jonathan Kambouris.

We have invited two guest speakers to also join the panel: esteemed planning commentator from RMIT university Professor Michael Buxton and Leanne Hodyl – managing director of Hodyl & Co, who previously worked as the CoM’s manager of urban strategy and city plans and policy.

Leanne is also a Churchill Fellow and the founder and editor of Cities People Love.

We will of course also be joined by the Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Deputy Lord Mayor and the council’s chair of planning Nicholas Reece and Southbank’s favourite councillor, whom we all thoroughly admire for his attention to Southbank over the past two council terms, Cr Rohan Leppert, who also serves as the council’s heritage portfolio chair and deputy of planning.

As you can see, we have a great line-up for the night, and I am expecting some great discussion and insights into what the future of Southbank may look like.

I will be moderating the event and taking my lead from the 2010 – Southbank Structure Plan.

This is a 30-year vision for Southbank and being 10 years in, we feel it is a good opportunity to ask if we are on schedule, explore other opportunities and what might need to change.

I anticipated this will be the biggest event SRA has ever held. We are anticipating there will be an opportunity for questions from the audience but will be tightly controlled by myself.

This is a visionary event, and we don’t want to hear from the audience about the problems with rubbish collection on your street, graffiti, parking or any other small, localised issues. I will keep the focus on the bigger overarching issues.

I mentioned it in my previous column and want to reiterate here, this will not be an opportunity to beat up the council about its project failures and/or delays, and I won’t be allowing that to occur.

I am sure the council is aware, and we will probably hear it from them directly with where they could have done better.

Entry to the event will be free, but to assist with our COVID-safe monitoring and planning we will require those who are wishing to attend to register via our QR link below, in our full-page ad on page 6 or via our website, southbankresidents.org.au.

You can still arrive on the night without having registered, but priority entry will be given to those who have registered.

Why not make it a night and book yourself into one of the many dining establishments within Southgate for dinner before or after this event.

This is really going to be a special night and one not to be missed. I am looking forward to seeing you there •

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