May 2013 newsletter

This month:

  • Council delays anger swimmers, bookworms and transport buffs.
  • Have your say on the Community Plan, cultural precinct, ‘Tomorrow’s Library’ and the future of Coburg.
  • Join Brunswick Resident Network activities in June.

MORE COUNCIL MISMANAGEMENT:

Moreland Council is having problems implementing infrastructure programs in Brunswick, with significant cost overruns and delays. Even as Council spends thousands of dollars on new feasibility studies for the future – the Moreland 2025 Community Plan, the Fleming Park Master Plan, the Brunswick Place Framework – they’re having a lot of troubling managing existing commitments. A few examples:

1)  Brunswick Baths

The re-development of the Brunswick Baths continues to drag on and on, with the 50 metre outdoor pool requiring massive re-building.  Damaged tiles and small cracks in the outdoor pool floor, allegedly caused during rain last January, mean that the contractors Kane Construction have to remove the affected sections of the pool’s base and replace it with a new base.

According to Council, “At this stage, it is estimated the works will take 4-6 months, with opening likely to be Spring 2013, however further advice will be provided as it becomes available.”  Watch this space, because Council has been pretty tardy in keeping people up to date. The project was already delayed due to contaminated soil at the construction site, so let’s hope we don’t lose another summer of outdoor swimming.

After the indoor pool, spa and sauna opened on 19 April, Brunswick Baths members can no longer use facilities at others centres such as Coburg, Fawkner, the Northcote Aquatic Centre or Ascot Vale Leisure Centre!

In their original PR, Kane Constructions said: “Following a successful tender process, Kane Constructions worked with the client and design team to identify a number of cost savings prior to finalising the $16 million lump sum contract.”

These cost savings may have disappeared now! For some reason, the Brunswick Baths project is not listed as a “Featured” or “Current” project on Kane Construction’s website

2) Brunswick Library

If you can’t go swimming, at least you can access Moreland’s library network – a great community facility, with good inter-library loans, books and DVDs in a range of languages, and really helpful staff. But there are worrying hints that the redevelopment of Brunswick Library could become another swimming pool saga.

Brunswick Library is closed until December for re-development, with plans for a new computer room, WiFi, better lighting, seating and other facilities. In the interim, the library has moved into a small area upstairs at the Brunswick Town Hall. Although you can still reserve and order books and there are new facilities (like self-serve check-out), the re-location has created a few inconveniences (for example, there is no after-hours book return: you can only access the return chute when the Council offices and gallery foyer are open).

Buried in this month’s Council budget papers is an ominous sentence in the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) listing for the Brunswick Library: “Construction progressing with delay and expected budget overrun due to latent conditions. Project is a cross financial year project and any additional costs would be referred to 2013-2014.”

What is a latent condition? Will the year-long re-development of the Library become another Baths saga? Will Council let us know whether the time-line is going to blow out? Will ratepayers bear any cost overruns? Possibly councillors could ask CEO Peter Brown a few questions, and share the news with us book worms.

3)  Brunswick Integrated Transport Strategy (BITS)

Council staff have nearly finalised the “Brunswick Place Framework” to identify actions, investments and policies to deliver their “community vision” for Brunswick in coming years.  This overarching strategy for our suburb also includes the Brunswick Integrated Transport Strategy (BITS), which was developed from a report prepared by GTA Traffic Consultants, after two community consultations in August and September 2012.

The Brunswick Place Framework is to be presented to Council at the next meeting on 12 June. After Council consideration, there will be a period of “public engagement”, followed by final endorsement by Council.

At the same time, Council staff are currently preparing this year’s budget as well as the “2013-2017 Council Plan” for the next four years, to be submitted to the Minister for Local Government by the end of June.

Submissions from residents on this plan and on Council’s 2013-14 Budget must be made by Friday 7 June.  However senior council staff have refused to release the Brunswick Place Framework and Integrated Transport Strategy before the next Council meeting on 12 June, so it’s a bit difficult to comment on priorities for our neighbourhood before 7 June!

We encourage you to write to CEO Peter Brown (pbrown@moreland.vic.gov.au), Mayor Oscar Yildiz (oyildiz@moreland.vic.gov.au) and the three South Ward Councillors Sam Ratnam (sratnam@moreland.vic.gov.au ), Lambros Tapinos (ltapinos@moreland.vic.gov.au ) and Meghan Hopper (mhopper@moreland.vic.gov.au)

  • Ask them to release the BITS transport report NOW for community information
  • Call on them to ensure that there’s sufficient funding in the 2013-14 budget so we might see some action this year to implement traffic management in Brunswick, rather than wait another year!
  • Call for a dedicated budget line for implementation of the Brunswick Place Framework, with a clear timeline for implementation.

You can make submissions about the budget online

On Thursday 20 June, the Brunswick Residents Network will organise a community meeting about the Brunswick Place Framework – details to follow soon, but pencil the date in your diary.

PLANNING AND SERVICES:

Moreland 2025 Community Plan

On May 15 and 16 there’s another chance for Council to pick our brains on the Moreland we’d like to see. Council is moving to Phase 2 of the “Moreland 2025 Community Plan”, yet another visioning document on the future of the municipality.

The community forums will take place at the Coburg Town Hall on Wednesday 15 May between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm and on Thursday 16 May between 6:00 and 9:00 pm. These are drop-in sessions where you can arrive any time, and spend 30 minutes or more.

You can also complete a surveyon Council’s website from 20 May

Brunswick Town Hall and Mechanics Institute redevelopment

Council is planning to re-develop the public space around the intersection of Sydney Road and Dawson Street, including the Mechanics Institute forecourt, Brunswick Town Hall forecourt and part of Dawson Street.  With theatre and performance spaces at the Mechanics hall, art at the Counihan Gallery and the Library slowly being transformed, there’s real potential to improve this area as a cultural hub.

If you’d like to have a say on your ideas for public realm improvements to the Mechanics Institute and Brunswick Town Hall forecourts, you can conduct an online survey or contact Urban Designer Aditya Andley, on phone 9240 1111 .

East West Link

There is growing debate in inner-city electorates over the proposed East West Link, with Tony Abbot pledging $1.5 billion for the road project if elected, while the ALP and Greens are arguing for priority for rail projects.

Our neighbouring City of Yarra has established and funded a Public Transport Advocacy Community Steering Committee (PTACC), with representatives from community groups, organisations and individuals. This group actively supports the Trains not Toll Roads Campaign, Doncaster Rail and opposes the proposed East West Road Link.

To join their mailing list email Trains-not-tollroads@yarracity.vic.gov.au

Tomorrow’s Library
 “Tomorrow’s Library” is a two-year-long review of Victorian public libraries being run by the Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Libraries (MAC).

It’s looking at the inter-connection of library services across the state, with ideas for sharing of resources from all Victorian libraries.  What will this mean for Moreland? (for example, our libraries have a good collection of resources in languages other than English. If they’re now to be accessed across the state, will this mean less books for people from non-English speaking backgrounds in our municipality, given that many other libraries don’t have the same level of material in foreign languages?)

To have your say on “borderless libraries”, emerging technologies, e-books, telephony, internet, partnership arrangements and the increasing role of libraries as community spaces, go to the Tomorrow’s Library page and comment by 16 May

VCAT RULINGS:

Nicholson Street: VCAT has approved a six storey building in Nicholson Street Brunswick East with a ground floor shop and 23 dwellings (7 one-bedroom apartments, and 16 two bedroom apartments). 20 car spaces are provided in triple stackers and two at grade spaces. The original proposal for an 8-storey building at 65 Nicholson Street (on the west side of Nicholson between Miller and Glenlyon Streets, Brunswick East) was knocked back by Council but VCAT has approved this new design, which breaches height limits from the Brunswick Structure Plan.

FRDT Pty Ltd & Anor v Moreland CC & Anor [2013] VCAT 561 (19 April 2013)
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2013/561.html

Albert Street and French Avenue:  VCAT has approved a permit for a six-storey building in Albert Street, East  Brunswick, close to an area with numerous other high-rise buildings in the Brunswick Major Activity Centre. 92-96 Albert Street, an old industrial site between Lygon Street and French Avenue, will contain 120 apartments (45 one-bedroom and 75 two-bedroom) and 4 offices and 124 car spaces. The proposed development will dominate and visually overwhelm the surrounding low-rise houses on French Avenue and Albert St and is one storey higher than the limit specified in the 2010 Brunswick Structure Plan.

Fenude Pty Ltd v  Moreland  CC & Ors [2013] VCAT 322 (20 March 2013)
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2013/322.html

Since the VCAT ruling the land and permit have been put up for re-sale by tender!

ACTION:

Save Coburg public meeting

Save Coburg will hold a public meeting on Thursday 6 June with guest speaker Dr Michael Buxton (Professor Environment and Planning, School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University).

Michael Buxton will speak about new zoning and planning laws in Melbourne, how they will impact on Coburg. He has held senior positions in four Victorian planning and environmental agencies and contributed extensively to national and state environmental and planning policy. Michael will speak at the beginning of the meeting and inform the discussions that follow to agree on key resolutions to put forward to Moreland Council prior to their voting on planning Amendment C123 in mid June 2013.

Reserve this date, Thursday 6 June, and pass onto your fellow residents.

Subject:                ‘What’s driving planning and development in Coburg?’
Date:                     Thursday 6 June
Time:                     6.30-8.30 pm
Venue:                 Coburg Library (cnr Louisa Street and Victoria St Mall)

FUTURE NETWORK ACTIVITIES

FOCUS GROUP ON HIGH DENSITY CODE:  Members of the Brunswick Residents Network are participating in a focus group on the evening of Thursday 30 May, together with urban designers at the University of Melbourne. The research aims to better understand issues related to intensification of existing areas close to good public transport. The proposed focus group will allow residents to give feedback on modelling of Moreland’s proposed High Density Design Code, based on a digital 3-D model of a section of Lygon St in East Brunswick.

If you’ve noticed all the cranes in the area, have some opinions about design, open space and urban planning and you’d like to contribute to this discussion on 30 May, please contact Jo on 0425 735 715 or Nic on 0421 840 100 to find out further details.

JUNE COUNCIL MEETING
: Come along to the next Moreland Council meeting on Wednesday 12 June, to ask questions about the Brunswick Place Framework, which will be presented to Councillors that night (6pm at Richard Lynch Senior Citizens Centre, 27 Peacock Street, Brunswick West  *Check that this proposed venue has not changed* ).

COMMUNITY MEETING ON BRUNSWICK MASTER PLAN:  On Thursday 20 June, Brunswick Residents Network will be organising a information night to explain the “Brunswick Place Framework” and Brunswick Integrated Transport Strategy. Come along to discuss the master strategy for our suburb! Venue and time to be confirmed soon, but put 20 June in your diary.

PUBLIC HOUSING:  Not sure of the difference between affordable housing, social housing and public housing? BRN has begun to network with people from Coburg, Fawkner and Glenroy concerning public housing in the municipality. We’re planning a public meeting in the middle of the year and further campaigning to extend public housing rights. If you’d like to be involved, please contact us at albertstreet2020@gmail.com

FACTOID OF THE MONTH:

The municipality of Moreland has a number of suburbs with significant numbers of people from non-English speaking backgrounds: Fawkner (44.2 per cent); Glenroy (35.5 per cent); Hadfield (30.2 per cent); Coburg (28.9 per cent).

Source: City of Moreland Community Profile, .id Consulting Pty Ltd, 2011

NEXT MORELAND COUNCIL MEETINGS

Urban Planning Committee
Wednesday 22 May 2013 – 6 pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

Full Council meeting
Wednesday 12 June 2013 – 7 pm
Richard Lynch Senior Citizens Centre, 27 Peacock Street, Brunswick West

Special Council meeting
Thursday 13 June 2013 – 6 pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

Special Council meeting
Monday 24 June 2013 – 6pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

Urban Planning Committee
Wednesday 26 June 2013 – 6 pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

Full Council meeting
Wednesday 10 July 2013 – 7 pm
Fawkner Senior Citizens Centre, Jukes Road, Fawkner

(Check times and location at the council website: http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-council/council-and-committee-meetings.html )

MAILING LIST AND FURTHER INFORMATION:

To contact organisers of the Brunswick Residents’ Network, offer to help with future activities or be added to our resident’s mailing list, please email albertstreet2020@gmail.com, or phone 0421 840 100. Please let others know about this monthly newsletter. Copies of past newsletters are on this website

Check out our Facebook page: Brunswick Residents Network     If you’re on Facebook, please help us  by “Like-ing” our page, adding comments, and sharing news and events.

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