February newsletter

This month:

– Launch of the BRN traffic survey
– Budget blow out for Brunswick Library re-development
– Council to debate key Brunswick planning amendment
– More multi-story buildings
– Lots of cultural events in February and March

Launch of BRN 2014 traffic survey – Wednesday 26 February

Brunswick Residents Network will launch the 2014 traffic survey on Wednesday 26 February at 6pm. We’ll have a community report back with results of the survey, which will be officially launched by Brunswick MP Jane Garrett.

Some 415 households, representing more than 1100 people, have completed the survey. It’s been an overwhelming response, with people commenting on traffic, cycling and pedestrians; and indicating priorities for managing traffic in our neighbourhood.

We are hard at work analysing the results. A summary of the results will be presented on 26 February, and the full report circulated to Council, residents, bicycle users groups and other community organisations. We’ll be launching a number of initiatives to improve traffic management across the suburb, and working to ensure Council allocates the funds to implement recently adopted transport strategies.

Thanks to Jane Garrett and her staff for helping with the mailing and return of paper surveys which ensured a broad response.

WHAT: Launch of the BRN traffic survey 2014
WHEN: Wednesday 26 February, 6pm – 7.30pm.
WHERE: Fleming Park Hall, 98 – 100 Victoria Street, Brunswick East – (next to the Brunswick Bowling Club, enter from Victoria Street).

Library budget blowout

Last month, we reported that the Brunswick Library re-development was running behind schedule, and the library will not be re-opened till mid-year.

Now, Council’s capital expenditure report shows that the project is flagged “red” because of cost overruns. So far, the cost has more than doubled from the original budget of $685,000 to expenditure of $1,395,000 as of December 2013 (a budget blow out of $710,000). The projected cost by the end of 2014 will be $2,296,383!

Council to discuss Amendment C134 this week

After months of delay, the proposed Amendment C134 to the Moreland Planning Scheme will be discussed next Wednesday night at the February 2014 Council meeting.

If and when the amendment is introduced into the planning scheme, it will create new permanent planning controls for many parts of Brunswick, with major implications for height levels, building design quality and other planning issues.  However since it was first launched, the long-running process has been delayed many times and was recently confused by the state government’s new residential growth zones and other planning amendments.

This week’s meeting will see a proposal on the way forward to deal with the vexed issue of mandatory heights, given that amendment C134 was first exhibited on 26 October 2012, just one day before the 2013 Council elections that saw the defeat of pro-skyscraper councillors!

Council has since reaffirmed a commitment to mandatory rather than discretionary height controls. In spite of this policy by elected councillors, Council officers continue state that their “preferred approach” is an “approach [that] also allowed greater heights where appropriate at the discretion of Council and the VCAT” (p271 of this week’s Council papers).

Between 26 October 2012 and 1 March 2013, 189 submissions were lodged by residents, developers and local businesses, commenting on amendment c134. A year on, Council staff have finally prepared a series of standard responses to each of the key issues raised in the submissions (mandatory heights, notification and appeal, traffic, rezoning etc) as well as responses to individual concerns.

You can see the full report on Amendment c134 in this month’s Council papers (pp261-426) – go to Attachment 1 of the Council papers (p281-336) to see their official response to your submission

In their report to Councillors (which will be voted on this week), Council officers have proposed revisions to Amendment C134 to include:
a) mandatory rather than discretionary building height controls.
b) reinstate notification and third party review rights with respect to building height controls in the Design and Development Overlays (DDO).
c) remove the DDO19 from the Piera Street Precinct in East Brunswick.
d) substitute the new Commercial 2 Zone where previously the Business 2 Zone was proposed.
e) remove references to “urban villages” in Brunswick (a hangover from past planning strategies) and rezone two areas of industrial land on either side of Lygon Street, between Victoria and Albert streets, Brunswick.

The issues of mandatory heights and notification were raised in the vast majority of resident submissions, so it’s great to see Council finally responding to these community concerns and adopting these changes.

The removal of the Piera Street precinct from the Lygon Street development zone is also a welcome step. Seventeen community submissions were lodged to protect this residential area, which is a long way from Lygon Street and should not face the multi-storey mayhem underway in the main north-south corridor! Even the Council’s report recognises the existing zoning status for the area (Mixed-use zone) is a “historical anomaly”.

However a key feature of the revised amendment is the proposed rezoning of industrial land between Victoria and Albert streets on either side of Lygon Street, Brunswick, for mixed-use and commercial purposes. The first area is on the western side of Lygon Street and affects properties in Pitt Street, Evans Street, Albert Street, Trafford Street and Ann Street. The second precinct is on the eastern side of Lygon Street between Albert and Victoria Streets. The proposed rezoning affects properties on Gale Street and along the southern side of Victoria Street between Lygon Street and Fleming Park. For maps of the proposed rezoning areas, see pp421-23 of the council papers.

If Councillors agree next Wednesday, the revised Amendment will be presented to a Planning panel (appointed by the State Government).  As the report notes: “Council is unable to actually make changes to the Amendment at this time. However, it is able to propose changes to the Amendment in the course of its submissions to a Planning Panel. Accordingly, this report sets out various changes to the Amendment that are proposed to be put as part of Council’s submissions to the planning panel when it is convened.”

It’s up to the Planning Panel to accept or reject these changes. On mandatory heights, there is a danger that the Panel will not accept such a late change of policy if Council has not done the work to justify the changes. The report notes: “some State Government policies state (for example Plan Melbourne) that mandatory controls may be suitable in some situations; however they must be sufficiently justified.”

Given that a policy on mandatory heights was adopted 15 months ago by our Council, we continue to ask: why has the work not been completed to justify to an independent planning panel that Brunswick’s heights must be capped?

Come along to hear the debate next Wednesday, then watch this space for details of the planning panel, where objectors to the amendment have yet another chance to reiterate their long held views on planning, development and liveability in our suburb.

Action needed on ‘improved public spaces, civic places and streetscapes’

Our Council is doing well to increase the number of one and two bedroom apartments in our neighbourhood. But transforming old industrial sites across the suburb should mean much more than this – a fact recognised even by the State Government!

The Department of planning provided a report on High Density Development to Council in September 2013. The report notes: “Moreland’s transport corridors exemplify the renewal outcomes that integrated land use and transport planning can achieve and represent considerable policy success in focusing population growth around public transport infrastructure. At the same time, it is also understood that the success of council’s vision has precipitated significant increases in demand along these routes that has in turn generated travel time and capacity issues that need to be addressed….

The report adds: “In Brunswick, there is an imperative for Council to ensure other objectives for its activities areas are also progressing including those related to creating ‘great spaces and places’ and ‘improved public spaces, civic places and streetscapes’ as per the Brunswick Structure Plan.”

Planning permits online

The Moreland Council website now has the function to view all current planning applications online.  You can find them here:

For information and details of projects in your neighbourhood, you can view recently advertised applications for planning permits and subdivisions or check the status of existing applications.

VCAT and new developments

May Constructions Pty Ltd v Moreland CC [2014] VCAT 50 (20 January 2014)

Once again, developers have gone to VCAT to override Council policy and the height levels specified in the Brunswick Structure Plan. In January, VCAT amended a Council permit for a 7 storey building at 26 Breese Street, comprising 64 dwellings with 1 shop at ground level with a reduction in car parking and waiver of a loading bay requirement, with two basement levels.

The area around Breese and is one streets is under major redevelopment. Directly to the south is a 9-storey apartment building at 597-603 Sydney Road. Across the road, at 33-35 Breese Street, works have commenced on a 7-storey apartment building while further to the north at 37 Breese Street, another 7-storey apartment building is approved for construction.

Council repeatedly loses at VCAT because Council officers and the Urban Planning Committee routinely override the height levels long established under the Brunswick Structure Plan when they make recommendations for a planning permit. Council’s ambivalence on this issue and the long delay in introducing mandatory height controls has meant that Council subsequently has great trouble persuading VCAT to reject developer appeals on height levels and setbacks.

Velo Cycles Pty Ltd v Moreland CC [2013] VCAT 2133 (18 December 2013)

Have you enjoyed a cup of coffee or a cold drink at the cafe at Velo cycles, on the Capital City bike trail at 815 Nicholson Street, North Carlton? Now the cafe is being transformed into a late-night restaurant!  Once again, private encroachment into public space and parkland is underway: the long-standing video store on the site got transformed into a bike shop, the bike shop added the cafe in 2009, with a permit for daytime trading. A week before Christmas, VCAT approved a new permit to allow the cafe to be transformed into a restaurant with a liquor licence and late-night trading.

Bike riders should keep an eye out for what happens to facilities in other parkland, especially as Moreland Council is about to redevelop Fleming Park!

Application to VCAT over 260 Lygon Street

A revised application has been lodged on appeal with VCAT for an eight storey building at 260-274 Lygon Street, Brunswick (corner of Albert Street). Once again, another multi-storey building is proposed in breach of the height levels set out in the Brunswick Structure Plan (BSP), that will pump cars straight onto Albert Street!

The revised plans lodged for appeal to VCAT include partial demolition of existing buildings, construction of buildings and works comprising and 8 storey building containing 103 dwellings (mostly one and two bed apartments), 3 shops and 1 restaurant above 2 basement levels, use of the land for dwellings, a reduction of the car parking requirement and waiving of the loading bay requirement.

Politics in the pub debates urban development

On Tuesday 4 March, there’s a chance to hear architect Stuart Harrison talk about urban design, bike paths and high-density development in urban environments. The session is part of Politics in the Pub, organised by the Australian Greens on the first Tuesday of every month.

WHAT: Talk by Stuart Harrison on urban development
WHEN: Tuesday 4 March, 7 PM
WHERE: The Alehouse, 98-100 Lygon Street, Brunswick East (between Edward Street and Weston Street).

Improving the Upfield railway line

If we weren’t wasting money on the East-West Link, there are plenty of public transport projects that could improve life in the northern suburbs.  Check out this article in The Age that describes how the single line on the Upfield line between Gowrie and Upfield stations limits the number of trains that can be run on the Upfield line. This bottleneck impacts on the whole north-western train network:

Single line to Upfield worsens north-west rail woes, The Age, January 22, 2014


Counihan Gallery

Moreland Council’s Counihan Gallery, a public gallery located at the Brunswick Town Hall on the corner of Glenlyon road and Sydney road, want to find out your opinion about their program and Gallery activities. They are conducting an online survey to improve their service and access as a contemporary public gallery. By participating in this survey you have the chance to win a 280 page limited edition hardback NGV Melbourne Now catalogue valued at $100.

For more information about the Counihan Gallery, check out their Facebook site

Brunswick Music Festival

Don’t forget to pencil Sunday 2 March into your diary for the annual Sydney Road festival. The street party runs from 12 PM to 7 PM: there are six stages with musicians from all genres, food stalls, lots of junk and trinkets, as well as community information. Slip slop slap and join the fun:

The street party launches the Brunswick Music Festival, which runs from 2-16 March. With local and international acts- ranging from Mongolia, Scotland and Alaska- check out their full program of activities.

Mechanics Institute

The historic Mechanics Institute on the corner of Sydney Road and Glenlyon Road is now being managed by Metanoia Theatre. They’ve launched their 2014 program with a two week festival featuring dance, theatre, comedy, circus and music

There have long been battles over the management of cultural events in Brunswick, with debates over the mix of professional and community art. The new team from Metanoia Theatre are seeking community involvement to use the facilities at the Mechanics Institute: see https://www.facebook.com/theatre.performance.workshops.Metanoia


Full Council meeting
Wednesday 12 February 2014 – 7 pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

Urban Planning Committee
Wednesday 26 February 2014 – 6.30 pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

Full Council meeting
Wednesday 12 March 2014 – 7 pm
Council Chamber, Brunswick Town Hall, Corner Sydney Road and Dawson Street, Brunswick

Urban Planning Committee
Wednesday 26 March 2014 – 6.30 pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

Full Council meeting
Wednesday 9 April 2014 – 7 pm
Glenroy Senior Citizens Centre, 11 Cromwell Street, Glenroy

Special Council meeting
Monday 28 April 2014 – 6 pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

Urban Planning Committee
Wednesday 30 April 2014 – 6.30 pm
Council Chambers, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg

(Check latest times and location at the council website )


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.

Copies of past newsletters are on this website.

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

Please forward this e-letter to other Moreland neighbours who’d like a say in the way their community is changing.

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