June Column

 

Sorry for the delay in posting columns due to illness and shortage of personnel.

But back now.

 

Western Distributor Network

I attended an information night run by Council for residents on Wednesday June 8 but some questions remain unanswered.

For example, why has the title of the project changed to the West Gate Tunnel project, when the tunnel section is only part of the project ?

Also, found out that the exit emptying onto Footscray road has been shifted a few hundred metres North from Costco to close at  the Westgate freeway. You need a magnifying glass to read the maps and the new position of the exit is very hard to see. Why shifted unexplained.

In addition, the added traffic onto Footscray Road will largely go up Dudley Street, adding to the already heavy traffic, both car  and commercial, using the road. This added traffic will either continue up Dudley into the city or turn right into Wurundjeri Way which continues down to Flinders Street. Rather than continuing up to Dynon Road where it joins Wurundjeri Way, traffic going into the city and South will take the short cut into Dudley Street.

The is also questioning of the flyover across E gate, the former railways land which will affect proposed housing and the development of that area.

Will continue to press for answers.

 

Council Election Donations

There is a call for capping election donations. In the 2016 Election it has been reported the Doyle Team received $ 314,000, by far the largest amount and largely from developers. One could think that this would affect decisions on development, particularly high-rise.

There is also a call for a return to attendance voting at polling booths rather than the postal only voting as at present.

 

Protest Rally –Parliament House re Planning Law Changes

I attended the Rally last Thursday June 8; well attended by some 200 residents from various suburbs, requesting the following:

 . reverse recent change by Minister for Planning to allow multi –unit construction in Neighbourhood                  Residential Zones

. reverse recent  change to increase maximum height of developments

. introduce protection for Melbourne’s heritage retail strips

Spokespeople included opposition MP’s, Professor Michael Buxton and community leaders.

Unfortunately Docklands is classified as a special case about which we can do little as already evidenced by high-rises crammed in and associated problems.

 

Owners Corporations – requests for assistance

The OC Network is receiving requests for advice and assistance from OC’s in suburban complexes in regard to OC management issues. Issues vary according to the size of the complex.

 

On a Lighter Note – Ed Sheeran coming

Etihad Stadium has announced that Ed Sheeran is booked to appear in concert at the venue next March.

 

General

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on gardnerjohnstone@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook. 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member

you are welcome to email as above or call me on 0412 097 706

 

Regards to All

Roger Gardner

President DCA

 

 

 

 

 

February  Column 2017

Good to be back talking to you. Trust you has a good Xmas and NY break.

Etihad Fireworks etc

The transfer of the fireworks to Etihad Stadium might suit the AFL but it doesn’t suit the public. The show at Etihad is shorter in height and nowhere near as spectacular. Presumably the Council was happy to offload the cost.  Previously the fireworks ignited from a barge in the middle of the harbour

went higher and was visible from all vantage points. I don’t believe the public should be short –changed to please the AFL, which has a crammed calendar and doesn’t need it.

The AFL is only one of many larger scale businesses In Docklands. It occupies a relatively small space gradually being reduced in size as land around it is sold off for more highrise development. Yet it hangs on grimly to what it promotes as a favourite venue. It takes anything from rock concerts, military bands, cricket and football to caged fighting and even a speedway event. At the same time, vacant land used for outdoor parking is being eaten up by continuing development. 

A reason for its hanging on in the face of some opposition is presumably because it has become a home ground for a number of AFL clubs, which have left their traditional grounds; why?  Reasons can include central location, a roof and lower costs. So with the Presidents of these clubs sitting on the AFL Commission any change at this stage is unlikely.

Speeding cyclists

Speeding cyclists are increasing in number along the Esplanade and New Quay promenade at peak times. They don’t use bells and come up fast behind pedestrians with little noise. They race one another as though they’re in a Road Race. As with anything uncontrolled they think they rule and push the limits. Very rarely are police seen in the area.

As has been said in the past and by others, bicycles should be registered so that they can be identified, but of course nothing is done.

Recently my wife and I were one of a number who have turned into the bicycle lane by mistake for the narrow road entrance immediately next to it [turning North into The Esplanade from Bourke Street]. This is not helped by poor design and inadequate signage. Well, we were assailed by abusive swearing cyclists, at least three of whom got off their bikes, called the police and grabbed our car keys from inside the car. When the police finally came they lied about what had happened, which I stated. Clearly their behaviour was unacceptably obsessive and indicative of the way they speed and race. Cyclists also speed through pedestrian crossings.

Until something is done we will have to endure the inconvenience and dangers.

 

Western Distributor

As mentioned previously, I wrote to the various Authorities stating our concerns about the effects on Docklands traffic. Council likewise conveyed concerns, including our summary. You will recall that Transurban had on its own initiative proposed the Western Distributor network essentially to ease the congestion on Westgate bridge by diverting traffic to other roads in nearby suburbs.  In the case of Docklands, questions were immediately raised about the traffic effects, for example, with the emptying of traffic onto Footscray Road near Costco, without explanation of traffic effects and volumes.  We are still awaiting an adequate response.

 

 

 

Harbour Town

The owners recently added a large pirate ship to the displays for children. It adds to the entertainment and rest areas already installed. These improvements should add to the foot traffic.

 

General

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on gardnerjohnstone@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook. 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member

you are welcome to email as above or call me on 0412 097 706

 

Regards to All

Roger Gardner

President DCA

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year to you all. Sorry there's been a short lay-off due to ilness but back on deck now and raring to go in 2017

September 2016

 

Western Distributor Project

Further to the mention last month and the questions asked, below are further specific questions which are of concern:

 

These questions are being addressed to senior people in the Department, Transurban, Council and Places Vic referring to an email received, it states:

 

"Connection to Footscray Road - the Western Distributor will connect to Footscray Road near Costco. This will connect traffic from the west directly with CBD employment precincts taking traffic off the congested West Gate Bridge and and reducing pressure on the south city entrance points on the M1."

 

But where will this extra traffic, both commercial and private, from the West go when it hits Footscray Road near Costco? Not explained. Your statement that the connection to Footscray Road will connect traffic from the West directly with CBD employment precincts indicates that the emerging traffic will be free to disperse through various  streets in the CBD including Docklands. What are the expected directions, volumes and volume changes of such traffic ?

 

It also states [under point 2]:

 

"[Re the Dynon Road connection],Providing a direct route for these trips will reduce traffic which currently travels through the CBD or via Dudley Street to reach Melbourne's inner north"

 

But wont this alternative emptying into Footscray Road  increase the traffic up Dudley Street and for that matter along the Esplanade.  We suggest that it will suit the incoming traffic heading for the CBD  and South via Wurundjeri Way to have a  a quicker access via Dudley Street and possibly the Esplanade, than having to go around beside the freeway up to Dynon Road first.

 

We are concerned about the lack of clarity and information and have requested further details.

 

Dog box Development

More high-rise buildings are going up with flat facades and no protruding balconies to provide visual relief.  This construction costs less. Quality of materials is also questionable. All this is being done under the eye of Council, Places Victoria and the State Government. Gone in the name of cost cutting are the grand designs of yesteryear. Not a word is said. The fact that it is current fashion is just stating that it exists and is no excuse.

 

Political Donations

The term donations is a euphemism. It is coming more under scrutiny. As a case in point , the Doyle team in Council on a number of occasions has had to excuse itself from voting on a number of development projects because of a conflict of interest, thus indicating it has received donations from people involved. This is an abrogation of responsibility.  

 

A suggestion is being made from some quarters that individual donations should be limited to $ 500 per Councillor and declared shortly after receipt.

 

Additionally Councillors with no particular affiliation joining together in a block vote is not healthy.

 

General

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on gardnerjohnstone@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook. 

 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member

you are welcome to email as above or call me on 0412 097 706

 

Regards to All

Roger Gardner

President DCA

 


 

August 2016

Western Distributor Network

 

I presented the following to Council at its meeting on Tues July 19 :

 

“We read a lot about the effect of the network on areas such as N/W Melb, the CBD, Parkville, but little if anything about Docklands and we in the Docklands are worried about the effect on us.

The network appears to enter Footscray Road a couple of hundred yards from Docklands and will thus increase traffic into The Esplanade, Dudley Street, and other through streets. We need information on the expected effects on what roads and streets. The planned connection of Wurundjeri Way to Dynon Road may offset to a degree but the effect is unclear. In fact there appears to be a general lack of volume stats. Additionally, there is a planned connection shown running across E gate. It appears this has not been taken into account in the plans for redevelopment of this large former railways site. Clearly this connection will bring noise and heavy traffic through this relatively quiet site and cause a redesign of the planned redevelopment. In all, we need considerably more information on the effects.”

 

It has been incorporated in the following Council submission to the Minister, requesting further information on the project prior to a decision on whether to support the project, which was debated at length at the meeting.

 

Council determined to write to the State Government to inform them that the City of Melbourne reserves the right to oppose the Western Distributor unless certain design elements are changed, including:

 

The Footscray Road double deck raised road option is removed and alternative at grade solution developed for a better urban design outcome.

  • The Dynon Road exit is removed
  • Further open and transparent traffic modelling is conducted with real time and projected traffic scenarios for the CBD, Docklands, North and West
  • Melbourne, Carlton and Parkville; including implications of Metro Rail and
  • Grattan Street closure.
  • Further modelling on demand management conducted to look at maximising existing infrastructure such as peak demand management, mode shift for commuter traffic and increasing Regional Rail, Werribee and other relevant commuter rail line frequency and capacity.
  • The fly over cutting through key urban renewal area E-Gate is removed.
  • No impact on rejuvenating Moonee Ponds Creek.

 

School

 

We recently wrote to the State Government again expressing concern ate the lack of determination in provision of a school in Docklands. A reply was received last week from the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino. The following are a couple of relevant extracts from his letter:

 

Stage One of the school provision review in Docklands is now complete. Stage One found that more capacity will be needed before 2031 to meet the expected increase in demand for government primary and secondary school places. Stage Two of the review is underway and will look at options to better meet the needs of Docklands residents. This will involve further consultation with the community and key stakeholders. The review will contribute to our decision making on school provision across the inner city into the future.

 

Unfortunately this doesn’t give us anything to go on for the near future.

 

General

 

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on gardnerjohnstone@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook. 

 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member you are welcome to email as above.

 


 

July 2016

Greetings everybody.

Trust you are coping with the winter chill. Hope your side gets in with the Election ! Sure is a close

call. My time’s been a bit taken up following an eye op.

 

Collins Street Traders Meet Lord Mayor

I attended a function on June 29 at which The Lord Mayor was guest of Honour. He faced a grilling from traders concerned with the apparent effect of the rail tunnel works on city streets and business. Questions such as will the works undermine building foundations and the length of time that construction of the project will take were asked. I mentioned that Docklands residents are concerned about the effect of the Western Distributor Project on traffic flows in Docklands and E-gate and asked if Council is also concerned. Cr Doyle replied that Council is concerned and is setting up a taskforce to investigate.

 

HarbourTown Upgrade

The appearance and image of HarbourTown has been substantially upgraded by the extensive improvements carried out. These works include a transparent fabric ceiling, wooden decking down the centre of the Eastern main walkway, a central seating and eating area, and children’s play equipment. The open air walkways were always open to rain and also to hot sun. The improvements should increase through pedestrian traffic.

 

Short Stays

It was good to see Council at its meeting on June 7 voted to write to the Ministers for Planning and Consumer Affairs requesting a reconsideration of the powers of OC’S on a range of issues including short stays. It is a pity that Council didn’t take up the issue more strongly at the Panel hearings last year.

 

Owners Corporation Network Vic [OCNV]

The Owners Corporation Network Vic continues to grow. We currently have 9 on the committee; media releases are being issued and a website has been established. We have members from small to large apartment buildings, with a range of issues.

 

Police and Community Consultation Committee [PCCC]

Look forward to the next PCCC committee meeting later this month, which reviews crime and other statistics and other issues affecting Docklands. 

 

Central City Built Form Review

Development in the central city in the last 10 years has been unprecedented with dozens of large towers under construction, and dozens more in the pipeline.  Built form controls in the city have failed to keep up with community expectations with regard to built form and amenity, the effect of towers on existing city character, and the majority of developments have taken place without any notion of ‘giving back’ to the city and its inhabitants. It is great to see the Minister introduce Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendment C270 to create firmer built form controls in the

central city – the Amendment includes the Hoddle Grid and the Southbank area. 

 

Of particular interest to heritage enthusiasts is the plan to further recognise, strengthen and even extend the protection of ‘special character areas’, which notably are all areas with high concentration of historic buildings.  The central retail core of the city is already covered by a 40 metre height limit, and the proposes to extend this 40 metre limit to include the shops on the west side of Elizabeth Street in the Hoddle Grid.  This is very welcome, but ideally it would go a few metres further and meet with the Hardware Lane and Guildford Lane special character areas.

 

Fisherman’s Bend Network

The following is an extract from a letter from the Fisherman’s Bend Network to the State Minister for Planning:

 

"The primary purpose of this letter is to strongly express our continuing concerns about the scale and development typology of applications submitted for the Montague precinct. We make particular reference to Normanby Road and 678 Buckhurst Street. The scale and impact of these proposals sit in direct opposition to the government's agenda of innovation and excellence in urban planning.

 

The impact of the interim height controls, as implemented by the Minister, in effect invites and enables developers to propose 40­ storey towers ad nauseam.

 

We endorse the City of Port Phillip's assessment regarding the deficiency of these applications and note they fall well short of the principles and guidelines set out in the Fishermans Bend Strategic Framework Plan (FBSFP).

 

Of particular concern is the impact of the "wall of towers" typology; the lack of environmental sustainability features such as renewable energy; the lack of design diversity with tower­on­podium upon tower­podium of similar heights; inadequate open space; wind tunnel effects; and a lack of adequate shading to west­facing walls.

 

These are just some of the poor design outcomes inconsistent with the FBSFP for further analysis please see our attached assessment using criteria from the FBSFP. The ongoing delay in determining the status of these development applications is clearly not consistent with good governance."

 

Western Distributor Project

Docklands will be affected by the Western Distributor connecting to Footscray Road thus it appears increasing traffic into and through Docklands, although the connection of Wurundjeri Way to Dynon Road may offset that to some extent. As mentioned above Robert Doyle stated at a function last week that Council is also concerned

about the effect and is forming a taskforce to investigate.

 

Ferry Service

The news that a ferry service between the Western side of the bay and Docklands is being investigated with trial runs is encouraging. Docklands needs a ferry connection. Whilst previous ferry connections have not lasted it is hoped this effort will and it appears this proposal will use larger vessels which should be more economical. The trials so far have been disappointing but the fare has been reduced to attract more customers.

 

Etihad Stadium

Interesting to hear that Etihad is to get a facelift. Whilst it sounds good we wonder where they’re going to put the park and walking track, considering the area is closely surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings.

 

General

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on gardnerjohnstone@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook. 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member you are welcome to email as above.

 


 

June 2016

 

Trust you are well despite the onset of winter chill. This column is larger than usual due to the amount of important Material.

 

New Laws for Short Stay Apartments

Minister Jane Garrett issued the following media release on May 23; The Andrews Labour Government will introduce new laws to help stamp out bad behaviour when it comes to short stay accommodation in Victoria. 


Under the reforms, for the first time apartment owners could be liable for any damage, noise or loss of amenity caused by their guests.

VCAT would also be given new powers to award compensation of up to $2000 to neighbours, and ban short stay apartments which are repeatedly used for unruly parties.

Guests could face fines of up to $1100 for a range of conduct breaches, including:

  • creating unreasonable noise or behaving badly
  • causing a health, safety or security hazard
  • damaging common property
  • obstructing a resident from the using their property.

Short stay apartment owners may be ordered to pay neighbours’ compensation and any damage caused by their guests to common property.

The government acknowledges that the majority of short stay accommodation is used responsibly in Victoria and these reforms are designed to reduce the number of isolated incidents of bad behaviour.

The new laws will encourage short stay apartment owners to take more steps, such as bonds and screening practices, to ensure their apartments are not used for unruly parties.

In addition, Consumer Affairs Victoria will help conciliate in short stay disputes that cannot be resolved through the owners corporations dispute resolution processes.

The changes are part of the Andrews Labor Government’s election commitment to protect apartment residents from disruption and damage to their properties caused by rouge short stay visitors.

The announcement follows months of consultation with stakeholders and industry on recommendations made by an independent panel into short stay accommodation in Victoria.

The panel’s report estimated short stay accommodation generates around $792 million in revenue and more than $160 million in wages in Victoria. It represents a multi-billion dollar industry and supports more than 64,000 jobs.

There are an estimated 170,000 short stay properties in Victoria representing 27 per cent of the national total.
Nationally, the panel found the industry supported $31.3 billion in economic activity and 238,000 jobs.

Amendments to the Owners Corporations Act 2006 were introduced to Parliament on Tuesday, 24 May.

 

My Comment

You may recall I was a member of a panel appointed by the government last year to review and recommend on the short stays issue. I was the only representative up against industry interests. I was the only one who proposed a ban on letting for a period of time. As there was no chance of getting anything longer I recommended a 7 day minimum, which would have done away with weekend parties, the main source of trouble. Not unexpectedly that was voted down too. I submitted a dissenting report to the Minister. In my opinion the proposed legislation does not go far enough and is deficient in a number of respects.

 

Residents’ Bill of rights
There have been meetings around Melbourne voicing widespread resident objections to Government and Council plans for re-development. As a result a residents’ Bill of Rights has been developed and is being distributed. It reads as follows:

 

RESIDENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS (RBR)     

 

We, the current residents of Melbourne, country and coastal areas of Victoria, call on the government and opposition at all levels to act to protect our homes, communities and cities from over-development.

 

WE REJECT:

  • The current trend of excessive population growth through the ever increasing levels of immigration.
  • The excessive influence of vested interests and lobby groups upon residential planning and government decision making.
  • The increasing densification of residential areas and the consequent impact on our infrastructure without commensurate infrastructure upgrades at all levels.
  • The continual changes to planning law and regulations that provides no certainty for the peaceful enjoyment of our neighbourhoods by the current and future residents.
  • The continual urban sprawl into Melbourne’s green fringe and farming land.

 

We DEMAND:

  • Population growth targets to be limited to sustainable levels based on OECD averages which is currently around 0.63%. (Australia’s rate of growth is currently 1.7% ).
  • Infrastructure be upgraded to meet current needs and kept ahead of requirements to meet our cities population growth requirements.
  • A bipartisan planning environment that provides certainty and protects residential areas against densification in any form.
  • Councils to be the sole “responsible Authority” for issuing planning permits and building permits.
  • VCAT’s role to be confined to resolution of legal planning disputes and ensuring that lawful planning regulations are met.
  • FIRB rules and penalties designed and strictly applied to prevent destruction of existing housing stock and neighbourhood character by foreign nationals.
  • Expansion and development of regional cities and associated infrastructure to support population growth and lifestyle quality.
  • Developer donations to be deemed illegal with mandatory disqualification, forfeiture, or dismissal from or of any current or future development.
  • Protection of current open space and tree canopy to retain or replace as required on all redevelopment sites.
  • Government, at all levels, legally required to assess and protect the interests of residents ahead of developers’ interests.  
  • All planning committees and reference groups to have  resident representation.
  • Legislate to ensure permits can be refused where a poll of residents/owners living within 300m radius of the proposed development indicates objection by a majority of existing residents/owners.
  • A national uniform code be developed to define minimum dwelling size, minimum open space per bedroom and maximum occupancy limits.
  • Enforceable minimum Victorian building standards regulations administered by an independent authority.
  • Any breach of a planning permit or building standards should result in a prosecution by the relevant authority or the State or local Government to ensure proper rectification
  • Developers to meet infrastructure costs necessary for all   new developments including drainage, sewage, water supply, telecommunications, gas and electricity.
  • Developers to be required to contribute to a general community/Council infrastructure fund,  based on the number of bedrooms or estimated improved value of the property.
  • Neighbourhood character, architecture and heritage requirements to be met by every new residential development.
  • Establishment and enforcement of resident and visitor car parking standards, for new multi-dwelling developments, at the rate of 0.75 spaces per bedroom, for residents and 0.25 spaces for visitors.
  • Character protection for heritage and traditional local shopping strips.

Published & authorized by PLANNING BACKLASH  on behalf of it’s 250

supporting residents' groups in Melbourne, country & coastal 

PO Box 1034 Camberwell, Vic. 3124

                             

Pressure for more schools

 

 

The following is a quote from part of an email from our local member:
 

 

"Children have even been asked to bring in headphones so they can listen to lessons on their iPads, as there’s four teachers competing against each other in a double classroom jammed with 100 students,"

 

- Julie in the Herald Sun.

 

Take north Melbourne Primary School for example, some of our kids are learning to read and write in unheated stairwells. The Government is really keen to invest in building Victoria as the "Education State", except the state of education for our city kids is nowhere near where it needs to be.

 

 

Western Distributor Project

A meeting with officials is being held in North Melbourne this month to hopefully explain more. I will be attending.

 

General

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on gardnerjohnstone@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook

 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member you are welcome to email as above.

 


 

May 2016

Lack of Councillor quorums to consider high-rise developments

 

It has happened again where there was a lack of a quorum to vote on another large twin high-rise development, this time near the corner of Latrobe and Exhibition Streets. Apart from absence of one Councillor, the reason for the lack of a quorum was the Doyle group of five Councillors declaring a conflict of interest due to donations to their electoral fund. This has occurred on a dozen or more occasions.

 

As a member of CORBA we have submitted that any one donation should be limited to $500 and should be declared before the Election.

 

Sub-standard Construction Materials

 

Last year it was reported that UNSW research of 1,550 strata owners showed that 72 per cent had building defects in their properties. This statistic jumped to 85 per cent for apartments that had been constructed after the year 2000. A similar storey has recently been reported in Victoria.

 

A former official of Strata Community Australia (Vic) said “the usage of low-quality imported products has become rife within the country’s building industry. There’s aluminium cladding, glass panels that explode, as well as sub-standard Chinese wiring that’s coming into the country”.

 

The most prominent recent example of the potentially disastrous results of using cheap imports is the fire that largely destroyed an apartment in the Lacrosse building in Docklands and which quickly spread to other apartments in the building. It is alleged the fire was found to be fuelled by the use of sub-standard cladding.

 

We agree the government needs to introduce legislation for inspectors to be more rigid in inspecting and making sure that these products are not being used.

 

Some apartments too small

At a recent meeting of consumer groups, regarding the State Government’s Better Apartments Review, it was agreed that single bedroom apartments should not be less than 50 sq.m. which would bring us in to line with other Australian cities and cities such as London, New York and Hong Kong. Yet it seems Melbourne is considering the erection of towers with student accommodation of 12 sq.m. This would equal the size of a car space. There would be common facilities such as recreation, kitchens and studies This would formerly have been described as a rooming house. It was agreed this should not be permitted by the government. These are just two of many things that somehow get through the system and the sooner things are tightened up the better.

 

Western Distributor Project

Docklands will be affected by the Western Distributor connecting to Footscray Road thus it appears increasing traffic into and through Docklands, although the connection of Wurundjeri Way to Dynon Road may offset that to some extent. I have already forwarded papers from Council referring to current phase of consultation which is open until tonight.

 

Ferry Service

The news that a ferry service between the Western side of the bay and Docklands is being planned is encouraging. Docklands needs a ferry connection. Whilst previous ferry connections have not lasted it appears this proposal will use larger vessels which should be more economical.

 

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us via email. We’re also on Facebook. If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member you are welcome to email as above.

 

Regards to All

Roger Gardner

President DCA


An update on Docklands News and the DCA

 

You may notice my column is not in this month’s April Docklands News, but it is attached anyway. The reason is Editor Shane Scanlan decided to cease publishing it, despite acknowledging it is widely read.

 

His reason given is that at a recent forum in Fisherman’s Bend, I briefly warned, based on Docklands experience, against over-development and developer donations to election funds. Both issues are widely reported in mainstream media, but not in the Docklands News. I was jeered by a few , I don’t know whom but doubt it was by Fisherman’s Bend residents. It could have been developer representatives but it makes you wonder who in our area supports these issues. He uses phrases like my ‘’faltering  grasp of reality and being bombastic’’. I’ll leave that for others to judge as to whom that best applies.

 

Shane Scanlan avoids criticising over-development and developer donations and as well serviced apartments, which I stand up against. Last year I was a member of a government appointed panel of enquiry into short stays in residential apartment buildings.

 

Two years ago in a front page story he attacked the DCA for rules ‘chaos’, which was shown to be highly inaccurate. Although not said I assume he and friends did not want the DCA to be for residents. He is not a resident of Docklands. He has told me to stand down and  avoids  giving us publicity

 

I have suggested he tries to get over his grudges and concentrates on unbiased journalism .

 

I will continue to publish  the monthly column to members by group email; also on our website and Facebook.

 

Regards

Roger Gardner


 

April 2016

Hope you pick a number of winners in the first round of the AFL !

 

Lighting on Esplanade

You will recall that associated with the Fairfax Lunar Markets event in February there were two lines of red and white lights at either end of the stalls running down to the water. We wrote to Council suggesting they consider retaining the lights to continue to light up the area as following the conclusion of the event the area reverted to its usual dark self at night. Council has replied that can’t be done due to the reconstruction of the Esplanade and they are only maintaining the area to keep it safe. We have replied that as the reconstruction is a long term project, it appears that the additiona lights could be a medium term fix.

 

Fisherman’s Bend Forum

I attended the forum on February 29 addressed by Planning Minister Richard Wynne and Martin Foley MP when planning was discussed. At the conclusion of the meeting I warned briefly based on Docklands experience of the dangers of overdevelopment and developers expecting a return for donations. I was jeered by some, I don’t know whom, given most attendees were Fisherman’s Bend residents. I was told afterwards that I got the points across. These points are those being highlighted in the mainstream media.

 

Melbourne Quarter Development

On March 18 I was given a briefing on the project by the Project Director and their Development Engagement Executive. The project will be the largest mixed use urban regeneration development in central Melbourne in over a decade, comprising 3 commercial towers and 3 residential towers and running both sides of Wurundjeri Way from behind the Age building and from Collins Stret through to Flinders Street. It will have an overhead connection across the Way and open and green space. I pointed out the problems encountered in other parts of Docklands, for example, in terms of wind tunnel effects and lack of open space.

 

Local Government Act Review

We,as a member of CORBA , have decided to follow and adopt the submission by the South Yarra Residents’ group. Some of the significant recommendations relating to Melbourne City Council include limiting any donation to $500 and requiring all donations to be made public within 7 days of receipt, and restrict donors to people on the Victorian electoral role. Corporations which currently each have 2 votes to residents 1, to be reduced to one vote each. Pass legislation to give the Victorian Electoral Commission the statutory (rather than contractual as at present) obligation and power to supervise the electoral role and election processes. Regarding donations, the South Yarra submission states The "Doyle team" raised donations towards their election campaign of between $400,000 and $500,000, chiefly from property developers and parties engaged in hospitality/gaming, transport and other businesses. This was seven times more than that raised by any other candidate.

 

The "Doyle team" did not disclose details of these donations until after the election.

 

On occasions during the current term all five of these councillors have had to declare a conflict of interest and abstain from voting on generally important (often planning) deliberations by council as a result of which there is then no quorum. This has all been reported in mainstream media.

 

Vacant Apartments

Amid developer pressure for approval of ever more small apartments within inner-urban areas, it was surprising to

learn that up to 30% of existing apartments remain vacant. A City of Melbourne analysis has revealed 85% of

apartments are purchased by investors, many off-shore 

 

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on gardnerjohnstone@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook. 

 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member you are welcome to email as above.

 

Regards to All

Roger Gardner

President DCA


 

March 2016

 

Fairfax Lunar Markets

Running from Feb 4 to 14 as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the evening markets comprising Asian food stalls along Harbour Esplanade from Victoria Harbour to Central Pier added considerably to the atmosphere of the area. It was well patrolled by security. What appealed besides the various food offerings were the crowds of customers, who sat and eat under the trees near the Victoria Harbour Promenade and along the bank along the Esplanade at the water’s edge.

 

This created an atmosphere rarely seen at Docklands and highlighted what can be done to utilise and liven up the area. It highlighted our opinion that Council’s plan to erect buildings along the Esplanade will interferewith such open air usage along the stretch.

 

Associated with the event were two lines of white and red lights at either end of the stalls running down to the water. I have asked Council if they can be made a fixture, to continue to lighten up the area, as since the conclusion of the event the area has reverted to its usual dark self at night.

 

Fisherman’s Bend Forum

I have received an invitation from Martin Foley MP to attend a consultation forum on Fisherman’s Bend development to be held at the Port Melbourne football ground on Feb 29 by himself and the Minister of Planning Richard Wynne. I will be pleased to attend to see developments and in case I may be able to offer any advice relative to our Docklands experience.

 

Schools tours- addresses

We get requests from schools to address student tours on the subject of Docklands community development. On Friday Feb 26 I addressed the Y12 geography Class of Viewbank College on the subject and will give a similar address to Y12 geography Class of Emmaus College on Mar 3.

 

Melbourne Quarter Development – Lend Lease

DCA has been approached by Lend Lease offering to discuss and review the project on an ongoing basis. We will be pleased to accept the offer.

 

Better Apartments.

Broad discussion of the Better Apartments Review at the last CoRBA meeting indicated that single bedroom apartments should not be less than 50sqm, bringing us into line with other Australian jurisdictions and cities such as London, New York and Hong Kong. Yet it seems Melbourne is considering the erection of 50-storey towers of student apartments of 12sqm! These would equate with the size of a car space. There would be common facilities such as recreation, kitchens and study. Formerly this would have been defined as a “Rooming House”

 

Those present felt this should not be allowed under the Better Apartments Review.

 

Noise from a venue

We referred a complaint about noise from a venue to Council. Interestingly Council have responded that

 

“when the State Government of the day originally created the Docklands Precinct, most uses of an entertainment or leisure nature were made ‘as of right’ within the zone, meaning that no permits were required from Council to conduct uses such as the one the subject of your complaint. Consequently, the City of Melbourne has no control over the present use of the area and Council is unable to assist you in regard to the enforcement of the noise created by the venue. You should, however, direct your concerns relating to noise and patron behaviour to the Victorian

Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation [VCGLR] and to the Victoria Police”.

 

“Generally, premises operating in that precinct have Liquor Licences with conditions relating to the playing of music, and to detrimentally affecting the amenity of the area.  The VCGLR is the authority responsible for enforcing liquor licence conditions. Council’s Health Services may have some scope to investigate your concerns as a noise nuisance

issue pursuant to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act and, consequently, I have referred the issue to them also”.

 

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on docklandscommunityassociation@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook. 

 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member you are welcome to email as above.

 

Regards to All

Roger Gardner

President DCA


 

January 2016

Greetings Everybody and Happy New Year.

 

Hope you achieve your goals for 2016.

 

Australia Day Celebrations

Development to close Waterfront CityNew Quay seemed to be the place for celebrations. It was difficult to get through the crowds on the Promenade. There were market stalls along the Eastern end and of course the major concert on the Waterfront City end, with foodstalls behind backing towards Docklands Drive. As we know only too well, MAB Developers have approval to build a multi-storey building on the site facing the water, which will destroy the open area, block the water view and prevent further concerts. A couple of years ago a public meeting of over 100 people was highly critical and opposed the planned development but to no avail, as Council, Places Victoria and the Minister all approved it.

 

When the plans went before Council last year, the public meeting and criticisms were not mentioned. But I was happy to remind them.

 

What else is new?!

 

Poor Construction Materials – La Crosse building

After the La Crosse Building fire over a year ago, Council asked for our views regarding how to avoid recurrence in terms of balcony use .I said that OC rules of which there are a number are rarely enforced; building managers are impeded by not having access to apartments without approval and not being able to see infringements. Of course in any event this does not address shoddy building materials. Whilst there was a lot of talk the issue seems to have died down and I don’t recall seeing anything further from Council. We’ll follow-up.

 

Fisherman’s Bend Forum

A meeting attended by a large number of residents was held in the library on December 8. It was addressed by departmental officers who went through the current planning stages of the Fisherman’s development. Hopefully the experience gained from Docklands and Southbank will encourage the State Government to adopt a stronger control over developments in Fisherman’s Bend.

 

We Live Here forum

A meeting of a large number of Southbank and Docklands residents was held in the Medibank building on December 14 to voice displeasure with serviced apartments. It was organised by Watergate interests who are still fighting the issue in the Courts. The meeting was addressed by State Government members who were sympathetic.

 

Better Apartments Review

The State Government has announced this review will be continued during 2016. A public engagement [input] process ran during 2015. Submissions included one from ourselves. Findings showed the primary issues regarding apartment design were adequate sunlight, adequate functional apartment space, good natural ventilation, internal and external noise and energy and resource efficiency. The input will help the formation of apartment design guidelines.

 

Consumer Property Law Review

The State Government has issued its first discussion paper entitled Conduct and Institutional arrangements for estate agents, conveyancers and Owners Corporation managers. Two issues papers will be released in coming months including owners Corporation management. The OCNV was recently asked by the SCA [ Strata Managers Association Victoria ] to comment on their proposed submission. It covers interesting topics including maintenance programs, termination [destruction of] buildings at end of life cycle and short stays. In essence we are proposing that maintenance programs should apply for all size buildings with funds provision over a certain size, regarding termination/ destruction we believe in tight voting controls with considerable majority votes required, and regarding short stays we propose repeating our position re requiring minimum 7 day bans. Further details will be provided to members and on the net.

 

Age Article- Poor Publicity

At the December Police and Community Co-ordination meeting, I raised the poor publicity in the Age article of October 18, headed ‘Ganglands, not Docklands: new high-rises harbour the gang land crowd’ which we said was highly exaggerated. It was generally agreed that it was over the top, considering the relatively low figures provided by the Police on crime in the area.

 

If any reader would like to become a member of the DCA or has any suggestions they wish to put forward regarding activities or issues, they are welcome to contact us on docklandscommunityassociation@gmail.com. We’re also on Facebook. 

 

If you would like to contact me about any aspect or becoming a committee member you are welcome to email as above.

 

Regards to All

Roger Gardner

President DCA

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