March newsletter

BRUNSWICK RESIDENTS NETWORK NEWSLETTER – March 2014

This month:

– BRN traffic survey online
– Council to debate new residential zones this week
– NBN turns off copper network in Brunswick
– Developers ignore the Brunswick Structure Plan
– Pushy women on bikes
– Council transparency

BRN 2014 traffic survey

On 26 February, Brunswick Residents Network launched “Time for Action! Brunswick Traffic Survey 2014”. Over 420 households responded to the survey, and the report includes comments from residents on traffic, congestion, safety, cycling and pedestrians. It also includes your priorities for managing traffic in the neighbourhood, and recommendations for action by Moreland Council.

You can down load the full 40-page report or an eight-page summary from our website:
# Full report
# Summary

The report has been presented to councillors and in coming weeks we’ll be meeting with Council staff, bicycle users groups, police, parent groups and other community organisations to outline the findings. 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 the recently adopted Brunswick Integrated Transport Strategy (BITS).

We will be holding a meeting in the next few weeks to plan some actions on traffic management, based on issues raised by residents during the survey -we’ll advertise the details soon.

In the meantime, please write to Moreland councillors, calling on them to commit long-term sustained finance to implement traffic calming measures around our suburbs, improve cycling infrastructure, bus services and the quality of footpaths.

Council to discuss residential zones this week

Three planning policies will be discussed at next Wednesday’s Council meeting on 12 March, which have major implications for the future of our suburbs:
# New Residential Zones for Moreland under “Plan Melbourne” (Draft Amendment C153 to the Moreland Planning Scheme)
# Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF) and Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS)
# Moreland Activity Centre Framework

New Residential Zones were introduced by the State Government in July 2013 – the Residential Growth Zone (RGZ), General Residential Zone (GRZ) and Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ). There was widespread controversy when Moreland Council first exhibited the proposed residential zones last year, with many people in Brunswick West and northern suburbs unhappy that their area had been designated as a growth zones.

Based on the 2013 consultation and a series of planning policies, revised zones are now being proposed: the revised maps should be available on the Council planning website from Monday 17 March at: http://www.morelandplanning.com/zones

Under the draft proposal, the three zones would have different height and design limits (the full details are available in the Council agenda):
RGZ1 – 4 storeys (13.5m), with upper level setbacks
RGZ2 – 3 storeys (10.5m), with upper level setbacks
GRZ1 – 2 storeys (8m)
NRZ1 – 2 storeys (8m) – Average gross dwelling density of 1 dwelling per 250m2 for developments of 3 or more dwellings
NRZ2 – 2 storeys (8m) – Average gross dwelling density of 1 dwelling per 200m2 for developments of 3 or more dwellings

The current proposal for much of Brunswick is to retain its residential character, with the zoning of Neighbourhood Residential Zone 1 and 2. However there are residential growth zones proposed along much of Nicholson Street (RGZ2); Melville Road in Brunswick West (RGZ 1 and 2), especially near Albion Street; Grantham Street (RGZ 1 and 2); Dawson Street (GRZ 1) and David Street (RGZ2). Other general and growth areas in Moreland are proposed for Glenroy, Coburg, Hadfield and Fawkner.

The Draft Amendment is available in the Council papers and will be available for download at http://www.morelandplanning.com from Monday, 17 March 2014, so you have one month to submit any feedback.

Because local councils must decide on the zones before 1 July, there is only a short period for submissions about the draft proposal – if Council doesn’t determine its zones soon, the decision making will default to general status through the State government. If Council agrees on Wednesday, there will be a formal period of Public Notice and Submissions from 17 March until 17 April, where you can lodge comments or objections about the proposed zones.

The draft proposal and these submissions will then be considered by the Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee, appointed by the Minister for Planning. A public hearing will allow anyone who makes a written submission to also present their submission to the RZSAC committee in person.

If agreed by councillors on Wednesday, the Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF) and Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) will be forwarded directly to the State Minister for Planning for approval and inclusion in the Moreland Planning Scheme.

Come along to Council to hear what councillors are proposing this Wednesday 12 March at 7 PM at the St Ambrose Church Community Hall, 287 Sydney Road, Brunswick.

More details are available in the Council meeting agenda

Phone cut off in May for Brunswick!

Brunswick was an initial trial area for the NBN roll out of high-speed internet, but now residents located in the central part of Brunswick and Princes Hill will need to upgrade to a digital telephone service by May 2014. On 23 May 2014, standard telephone services using the old copper network will be switched off in this part of Brunswick.

Home and business owners in this area have 23 May to replace their existing landline phone, ADSL internet and Telstra cable internet that rely on the copper network. However don’t wait too long – it can take weeks to sort out an alternative!

Beyond standard phones, elderly people or those with medical problems should check whether their medical alert and home alarms will be affected, if they cannot connect to the new digital network. Residents and businesses are encouraged to contact their phone or internet company to find out what they need to do. The Australian government requires Telstra to have a package for low-income customers for continued access to phone services over the NBN.

Information leaflets in Greek, Italian and other languages are available at the Council offices, and please tell your neighbours who aren’t already online with NBN! For more information, phone 1800 687 626 or, if you need an interpreter please call TIS National on 131 450.

Mahesh Sharma: “Businesses, residents hit by NBN switch”, The Age, 26 February 2014

Developers ignore the Brunswick Structure Plan

While much of the north of Moreland sees backyard sub-divisions producing small townhouses, growth in Brunswick mostly involves large apartment complexes in commercial areas. In late 2013, there was a rush of applications for planning permits in Moreland. There were 1,425 applications in 2012 but 1,622 in 2013 (a 14% increase).

With this surge, 2013 wins the record for the largest number of applications in any year (the previous highest number of planning applications received was 1591 in 2010).
There were 81 applications lodged during 2013 where works will cost over $1, with 13 lodged in December, the busiest month.  It seems that many developers like to lodge and exhibit their applications over the summer when no one is paying attention!

The delay in introducing mandatory heights for the Brunswick Activity Centre has allowed developers to ignore height limits set out in the Brunswick Structure Plan, which has still not entered into law as part of the Moreland Planning Scheme. The stretch of Lygon Street near Albert and Victoria Streets now has approval for a series of multi-storey buildings and all of them breach the preferred height levels set out in the structure plan, which only allow heights equivalent to 5 to 7 storeys!

Permits have been issued or construction is underway along Lygon Street for:

  • 8 storeys (VCAT): 240-250 Lygon Street
  • 8 storeys (to go to VCAT?): 260-274 Lygon Street (corner of Albert and Lygon)
  • 6 storeys (under construction): 280-294 Lygon Street (East Brunswick Club site, north of Albert)
  • 11 storeys (VCAT): 304-310 Lygon Street
  • 10 storeys (VCAT; constructed): 326-350 Lygon Street (Elvera)
  • 7 storeys (VCAT; constructed): 356-360 Lygon Street (north of Victoria Street)
  • 7 storeys (VCAT): 368 Lygon Street

VCAT ruling on new development

VCAT overrules Moreland Council decision to allow a seven story building at 26 Breese Street, in an area of the Anstey Neighbourhood Village which is supposed to have a five storey limit:

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

Pushy women on bikes

“I ride my two daughters to Brunswick East Primary daily along Albert Street from Blair St (Abruzzo Park). They are reluctant to ride and want to walk or drive instead due to the risk of heavy two way traffic and the closeness at which cars pass.”

“Concern about my teenage daughter cycling around the area.”

“Riding a bike – particularly a cargo bike with our 2 year old in it – is quite a challenge in some streets, particularly travelling between Nicholson St and Sydney Rd where there are non-safe corridors.”

From comments in our latest Brunswick traffic survey, it’s clear that the biggest barrier to more people using bikes is fear of injury and danger. There is plenty of evidence that investing in infrastructure for cyclists will allow many beginners and young people to take to two wheels and allow pedestrians to enjoy their foot paths in peace! But there is also a distinct gender difference in the way that cyclists choose safe and secure routes to travel across the suburb (not every cyclist is a Lycra boy who travels as fast as they can!).

Preliminary results from the annual Melbourne-wide bicycle survey on 4 March “found women were choosing the city’s safest routes into the CBD, including the segregated lane on La Trobe Street, where there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of female riders.  Bicycle Network Victoria noted that  routes judged ”safer” were more popular with women than men.”

Bicycle Network pushes to close door on Melbourne accidents, The Age, 5 March 2014

Moreland Council could follow the example of other municipalities who are working to encourage more women and girls to cycle, which has multiple benefits for them and the wider community (improving health, reduced costs and pollution, cutting down the number of short car trips to school or the shops etc). We don’t normally plug stuff south of the river, but the City of Port Phillip Council is running a great initiative over the next few months to encourage women and girls to ride bikes.

“She spoke: Southside women on wheels” will run between March and May. It’s three months of bike rides, workshops and special events celebrating women on bikes. There’s everything from mother/daughter rides, support for the National ride2school day on 19 March, basic bike skills for beginners or advanced skills sessions teaching assertive riding for women, fixing a flat or instructions for 2 to 8-year-olds on bike riding.

For the full program of events until May, check out The Squeaky Wheel website

Pushy women in the northern suburbs

For those of us riding bikes north of the river, come along to the Pushy Women North Speaking Event next Sunday 16 March in Thornbury.

Eight of Melbourne’s most prominent writers, comedians, thinkers and performers present their take on being a pushy woman: Kate Langbroek, Bev Killick, Genevieve Morris, Van Badham, Anne Edmonds, Karen Pickering, Lally Katz and Pip Lincoln

WHAT: Pushy Women North Speaking Event
WHEN: Sunday 16 March 2014, 4pm
WHERE: Thornbury Theatre, 859 High St, Thornbury 3071

For more details, check out The Squeaky Wheel website

Yes to Better Public Transport, No to East-West Tunnel

There will be a community rally in Brunswick, followed by a march on Sunday 30 March to call for better investment in public transport, and abandoning the proposed East West tunnel.

Moreland Council and local residents have joined other inner-city councils to say that the $8-15 billion planned for the East West link is money that won’t be spent on public transport and will lock Victoria into a carbon-intensive future.

WHAT: community rally for public transport
WHEN: Sunday 30 March, 1pm
WHERE: Cnr Sydney Rd and Wilson Avenue, Brunswick (Opposite Barkly Square shopping centre)

More information:
Moreland Community Against the Tunnel
Phone Cr Sue Bolton on 0413 377 978 or Cr Lenka Thompson on 0417 353 020

For the record….

In our last newsletter, we advertised the launching of the 2014 traffic survey with Brunswick MP Jane Garrett, and a meeting organised by the Moreland Greens on planning, traffic and densification. In response, we got flak from some ALP councillors and members for promoting the Greens, but also flak for associating with the local ALP MP. It must be an election year!

For the record, the Brunswick Residents Network is not affiliated to any political party and we do not endorse candidates for local, state or federal elections. We are happy to work with all of our elected representatives, regardless of political affiliation. We are also happy to criticise them when they act against community interests, and our representatives know this when they give us practical support! We systematically advertise Moreland Council meetings and consultations, even as we seek to change Council policy on certain issues.

In past years, BRN has organised public meetings before local, state and Federal elections, where we have invited every candidate to speak and present their views before the local community. We plan to do the same thing in the lead up to this year’s state elections in November, and let you judge who will serve the people.

In this newsletter, we have advertised activities by groups from a range of political persuasions, and will continue to do so as long as they are relevant to the local community.

Council transparency

It’s great to see a resolution at this month’s Council meeting proposing that draft minutes be available on the Moreland Council website within a week. This is the practice in neighbouring municipalities like Darebin, Moonee Valley, Yarra and Maribyrnong. In contrast, Moreland Council minutes only appear about six weeks after the meeting, when they’ve been formally endorsed at the following month’s meeting. Congratulations to councillors for taking this small step and for other recent transparency measures (like putting planning applications online).

The report to Council proposes that agendas for Council meetings only be made available five days before the meeting: “While it is good practice to make the agenda publicly available, it is not intended to facilitate debate between Councillors and members of the public at Council meetings. This should have occurred in prior consultation processes.”

The problem is that agendas for the monthly meeting contain hundreds of pages of detailed attachments, with lots of information that affects local residents that hasn’t been revealed during “consultation”. Council doesn’t just need one-off consultation meetings – it needs ongoing engagement with residents and a much better website where people can easily access information!

NEXT MORELAND COUNCIL MEETINGS

Full Council meeting
Wednesday 12 March 2014 – 7 pm
St Ambrose Church Community Hall, 287 Sydney Road, 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: 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.
  • See this website for prior newsletters.
  • 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 your Moreland neighbours who’d like a say in the way their community is changing.

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