August 2015 newsletter

This month: Brunswick's apartment boom; safer cycling proposals; transforming industrial land; Planning scheme finalised: problems with VCAT; events . . . 

Read the pretty version here, with pictures and nice formatting: 

http://eepurl.com/bvIKV1

Or keep reading here for the plain-text version:

** Apartment boom in inner north
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Planning consultancy Urbis has reported that 6,000 apartments are being built or pre-sold across Melbourne’s inner north. One-bedroom apartments make up 46 per cent of the current 50 development projects in the inner north, catering especially for the international student market. (The billboard pictured here is unusual in offering 3 bedrooms). 1

Ironically, Urbis notes that “Melbourne has consistently recorded the lowest apartment rental yield of all capital cities over the 10 year period to December 2014.”

Moreland Council confirms that our municipality “is experiencing significant growth of apartment development of five or more storeys. Most of this development is occurring in the Brunswick Activity Centre (which includes the three spines of Sydney Road/Upfield corridor, Lygon Street, Nicolson Street) and the Coburg Activity Centre.”

Over the last twenty years, there has been a fundamental shift in the type of planning permit applications being approved by Moreland Council, from houses to apartments:

1995 – 2001: Detached house 1741; Semi-detached house 1528; Apartments 3+ storeys 204
2001-07: Detached house 2278; Semi-detached house 1772; Apartments 3+ storeys 793
2007-13: Detached house 2053; Semi-detached house 2683; Apartments 3+ storeys 2997.
Source: Moreland Council submission to Better Apartments discussion paper, July 2015.

The Urbis report sparked a number of recent articles (including comments in The Age from BRN and Brunswick resident Shane Maloney).
* Growing pains put Labor minister Jane Garrett under pressure in Brunswick (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/labor-minister-jane-garrett-under-pressure-in-her-seat-as-planning-issues-rise-20150807-gitoap.html) , The Age, 7 August 2015
* Crime author Shane Maloney questions whether Brunswick is getting stiffed (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/crime-author-shane-maloney-questions-whether-brunswick-is-getting-stiffed-20150807-giu9p7.html) , The Age, 7 August 2015
* Melbourne’s inner north continues its reinvention, (http://www.urbis.com.au/think-tank/general/melbournes-inner-north-continues-its-reinvention) Urbis Think Tank, 7 August 2015
* Check the lively debate on our Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/Brunswick.Residents.Network)


** Wilson Avenue launched
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The new public space at Wilson Avenue was officially launched on a sunny but windy day on 2 August. Brunswick Residents Network were pleased to be asked to join the speakers list, welcoming the new space, but noting the scarcity of parks and playgrounds in our suburb, and the need to include open space in new residential developments.

Pictured right: Mayor Meghan Hopper speaking at the launch


** FEATURE ARTICLE:
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** Pushing ahead with bike safety
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Extra budget for bikes and walking

At their budget meeting in June, councillors agreed to re-allocate $350,000 to projects that improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians under the Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy (MITS) and Brunswick Integrated Transport Strategy (BITS). In the Council agenda (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-us/your-council/council-and-committee-meetings/council-meetings/agenda-next-council-meeting/) for the August meeting, you can read about proposed allocations of this funding across a number of projects:

Upfield Shared Path

The Upfield Shared Path Audit has identified 128 items where improvements could be made on the section between Bell Street, Coburg and Park Street, Brunswick. These range from low cost options such as installing signs and line marking to major traffic control devices such as signalised crossing points.
* Council staff are recommending $100,000 be spent on low cost, high priority items listed in the Upfield Shared Path Audit.
* It’s also proposed to allocate $20,000 to undertake a feasibility study into constructing a new shared path on the western side of the Upfield Rail Corridor.

Pedestrian and bike refuges
* Glenlyon Road Refuge Island – installation of pedestrian/cyclist refuge islands on Glenlyon Road at John Street and Mini Street – $50,000.
* Victoria Street Priority Crossing – installation of raised/shared crossing at the entrance to Fleming Park on Victoria Street, Brunswick East – $40,000 + (up to $50,000 from the existing BITS program).
* Coburg Station Shared Path – improve pedestrian/cycle/vehicles interface of the western end of Victoria Street, Coburg, near Coburg Station – $30,000.

Sydney Road solutions

Recent studies have shown that the majority of trips on Sydney Road are local trips, suggesting the road may not be as a significant a north/south vehicle corridor as thought – opening the way to find solutions for cyclist safety and passage of cars and trams.

Sydney Road is under the direct control of VicRoads, and Council’s authority extends only to the control of the footpath and parking restrictions outside peak (clearway) times.
The  Moreland Bicycle User Group and Safer Cycling Sydney Road have been lobbying for a separated cycleway solution for the length of Sydney Road between Park Street and Bell Street, (pictured right) with a well-argued and detailed proposal here:
* http://www.sydneyroad.org

Many Sydney Road Traders however are reluctant to lose car parking. At this week’s meeting, Moreland Council will discuss a new plan to be submitted to Vicroads. This would retain the existing bike lane on the left during clearway hours, but add a new green bike lane near the tram lines when cars are parked, at all other times (see the illustration from The Age, below).
* New bike lane plan to prevent Sydney Road “doorings” (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/new-bike-lane-plan-to-prevent-sydney-road-doorings-20150810-givydt.html ) , The Age, 10 August 2015.


VicRoads is also proposing to trial new painted symbols on Sydney Road to raise awareness about car-dooring, at 83 locations between Park Street and Bell Street.

Sydney Road hazards

In recent years, traffic surveys conducted by the Brunswick Residents Network have highlighted the hazards to cyclists and pedestrians for increased rat-running in residential streets, and the competition for space in Lygon Street and Sydney Road between trams, cars and cyclists.

In the five years from January 2010 to December 2014, there were at least 316 reported crashes in Sydney Road between Park Street and Bell Street. This resulted in two pedestrian fatalities (followed by a further cycling fatality in 2015), as well as 79 serious injuries and 235 other injuries. Out of these 316 crashes, 66 involved cyclists and 131 involved pedestrians, and approximately a third occurred during the peak period.

Help report all Moreland crashes

In Victoria, the official crash recording system is Crashstats, an accident statistics and mapping program used by Victoria Police and VicRoads to record personal injury and property damage from crashes. However there are many more accidents and injuries that are not reported to police, not registered on Crashstats and therefore not used by Council or VicRoads for traffic planning.

After BRN lobbying, Moreland Council set up a crash recording process (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/parking-roads/road-safety/vehicle-crashes/) for vehicle damage and other traffic incidents, including perceived traffic dangers as reported by residents. Through this system, residents are able to report property damage crashes, which are minor crashes not recorded by Victoria Police (Please note, if any personal injury occurred as part of the crash, by law Victoria Police must be notified).


** Planning amendment goes to Minister
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At their July meeting, Moreland Council adopted revisions to Amendment c134, which will introduce changes to the Moreland Planning Scheme for the major activity centres in Brunswick.

In a positive step, councillors amended the resolution proposed by Moreland Council staff. Adopting the amendment, they have retained provisions for mandatory building heights (consistent with Council’s adopted position in September 2014), as well as discretionary street wall heights (other than for buildings fronting onto Sydney Road)

Council also agreed to retain third party notice and review rights and to “retain affordable housing provisions within the Brunswick Activity Centre, ensure at least 20% of dwellings within developments of 10 or more dwellings are allocated as affordable, to be owned and managed by a registered Housing Association, Housing Provider or similar not-for-profit organisation.”

Amendment C134 with these changes will now go to the State Minister for Planning for approval. As the state’s Planning Department is unenthusiastic about any mandatory controls on height and affordable housing, residents should contact the Planning Minister Richard Wynne richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au (mailto:richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au) ) and Brunswick MP Jane Garrett (jane.garrett@parliament.vic.gov.au (mailto:jane.garrett@parliament.vic.gov.au) ), urging them to support the current amendment submitted by Council.


** Transforming industrial sites
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If you live near an old factory site, it’s important to have a say on Moreland Council’s draft Moreland Industrial Land Strategy 2015-2030 (MILS). The MILS review will decide what industrial land in Brunswick to retain and what industrial land to rezone for other uses. All industrial land is subject to the MILS recommendations, along with some land in Brunswick in the Commercial 1 Zone that was previously zoned industrial.

You can make a submission about the draft strategy during the exhibition period from 6 August to 18 September 2015. An information display on the draft MILS will be held on Thursday 20 August at the Brunswick Business Incubator in Victoria Street.

You can also search for a property address and find out the MILS recommendations for that property, through the Draft Moreland Industrial Land Strategy (MILS) website: http://morelandplanning.com/mils/

WHAT: Information display on Moreland’s Industrial Land Strategy
WHEN: Thursday 20 August, 9 am - 5 pm
WHERE: Brunswick Business Incubator, 420 Victoria Street, Brunswick


** VCAT ruling highlights need for mandatory controls
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Plan Melbourne’s proposed “urban renewal” of the Upfield corridor is underway, with the approval of a series of eight storey buildings between Sydney Road and the Upfield railway line.

The area bounded by Sydney Road to the east, Hope Street to the south, the Upfield railway line to the west and Albion Street to the north already contains more than 15 developments built, approved or under consideration, comprising buildings of between 5 and 9 storeys. Of these, all but four are buildings of 6 or more storeys. (Pictured right: one of developer Neometro's proposed 8-storey Jewell Station buildings)

Proposed limits on height, setbacks and interfaces are being ignored, as Council and VCAT continue to approve buildings in breach of the limits set out in the Brunswick Structure Plan.

In July, VCAT varied a Moreland Council planning permit from March 2015, to approve the retention of two extra floors in two eight storey buildings in Duckett Street (The site is included in an area identified for development with a height of up to 17 metres, but the two proposed buildings are 27 metres at Site A and 27.51 metres at Site B). As VCAT noted: “the eight storey buildings will represent a significant departure from the existing built form on these sites adjacent the railway line and Upfield Shared Path.”

J. Bennett, ruling for VCAT acknowledged: “The progressive approval of taller buildings could result in ever higher buildings being proposed as the prevailing heights increased. In the present circumstances, it would suggest that approval of two eight storey buildings on the review site would justify buildings of eight or more storeys on other sites in the precinct. That without the deletion of two floors it would set a precedent for ever higher buildings.”

The ruling, in a telling comment, notes: “It is also unclear to me why Council is seeking to impose a mandatory height control of 17 metres (one metre less than the existing discretionary limit) when it has been supporting proposals which already exceed that height.”

Moreland Council has often argued that approving an individual project in breach of the provisions of the Brunswick Structure Plan does not set any precedent for later proposals. Tell that to VCAT!

Michael v Moreland CC [2015] VCAT 1110 (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/1110.html#fn2) (24 July 2015)


** VCAT fees increase
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The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has introduced a new schedule of fees, which took effect on 1 July 2015.

The increased charges are a disincentive to launching a challenge against bad decision making, for people who want to use VCAT to review a decision on a planning permit. They discriminate against people trying to intervene in the planning system, especially at a time suburbs like Brunswick, Brunswick East and Coburg are facing significant numbers of disputes over planning.
* To mount a claim under sections of the Planning and Environment Act where the estimated cost of the development is $1 million or more (and the proceeding is not entered in the Major Cases List within the Planning and Environment List) will set you back $2086.20.
*  Claims under sections 77, 79, 80 and 87A where the proceeding is entered in the Major Cases List within the Planning and Environment List is $3536.00.
* For proceedings in the Major Cases List, there’s also a “hearing fee” of $3502.00 for each day or part of a day

In Melbourne’s richer suburbs, people may not be disadvantaged by these fee rises. But in less wealthy areas, increased fees will discriminate against low-income households, the unemployed and people living on pensions. According to the last census in 2011, “the majority of residents in Moreland fall into the bottom half of individual income groups, with almost 55% of the population being in the medium lowest ($10,673 to $24,976) to lowest income quartiles ($0 to $10,636).”

These fee increases mean that VCAT fees are levied in a similar way to the civil courts, with the objective of increasing cost recovery. However tribunals like VCAT are supposed to be different to the courts. In most cases, tribunals have been established to create greater access to and equity in the justice system. They are intended to be cheaper, quicker, less formal and more efficient than the courts. This is clearly stated in VCAT’s mandate: “VCAT’s purpose is to provide Victorians with a low cost, accessible, efficient and independent tribunal delivering high quality dispute resolution.”

Once again, the planning system in Victoria discriminates against working people who are affected by the transformation of their suburbs.
* Download the full schedule of VCAT fees (https://www.vcat.vic.gov.au/system/files/vcat_fees_effective_1_july_2015_2.pdf)


** Failure of governance at Moreland Council
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With Council elections looming in 2016, we’re entering a period of warfare between the ALP, Greens and “independents”. This newsletter generally avoids commenting on the factional wars on Council. Life’s too short to keep track of the claims and counter-claims between councillors aligned to the ALP’s Socialist Left, ShortCon, SDA and NUW factions; disputes between the ALP and Greens; personal sniping between members of Council etc.

However, Moreland Council’s failure to resolve the long-running saga over Councillor Michael Teti is a serious failure of governance.

Councillor Teti has been expelled from the Australian Labor Party for bringing the party into disrepute. This follows reports in The Age newspaper and the ABC about Cr. Teti’s alleged involvement with organised crime figures, conflicts of interest and branch stacking (For the record, Cr. Teti has defended his relationship with Francesco “Frank” Madafferi - who was convicted over a major ecstasy importation - as “purely professional”).

The Age has reported that in 2013, Cr Teti contacted Moreland Council CEO and staff in an effort to secure a planning application for a businessman, without revealing he was being paid to act as a lawyer for the businessman. These claims are under investigation by the Local Government Inspectorate.

Last December, Teti pleaded guilty to charges of possessing a prohibited weapon without an exemption, carrying a loaded firearm in public and failing to ensure his ammunition was secure.

At its July meeting, Moreland Council passed a motion of dissent in a ruling by Mayor Meghan Hopper, over her decision not to sanction Cr. Teti over previous discriminatory comments made against another member of Council. A majority Councillors voted to publicly release a report on Cr. Teti’s use of Council resources and other matters.

It would be encouraging if Moreland Council could resolve Cr. Teti’s status quickly, to work in the interest of ratepayers and residents!

Beyond this, the State Government should urgently review the Local Government Act, to strengthen provisions over corruption, transparency and conflicts of interest for Councillors.

Labor expels figure linked with Mafia intimidation (http://www.theage.com.au/national/investigations/labor-expels-figure-linked-with-mafia-intimidation-20150703-gi4i6h) , The Age, 6 July 2015

Leaked emails reveal Mafia-linked ALP councillor Teti's improper conduct (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/leaked-emails-reveal-mafialinked-alp-councillor-tetis-improper-conduct-20150719-gifnza.html) , The Age, 20 July 2015

ALP councillor Michael Teti linked to Mafia boss used senator's office for branch stacking, documents show, (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-13/alp-councillor-linked-to-mafia-boss-accused-of-branch-stacking/6616186) ABC news

Moreland councillor Michael Teti dismisses Calabrian mafia link (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/moreland-councillor-michael-teti-dismisses-calabrian-mafia-link/story-fni0fiyv-1227429472051) , Herald Sun, 5 July 2015

Moreland Mayor under attack for leniency shown toward controversial councillor Michael Teti (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north-west/moreland-mayor-under-attack-for-leniency-shown-toward-controversial-councillor-michael-teti/story-fnrvvn43-1227437046994) , Moreland Leader, 10 July 2015


** Coming up in Brunswick
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Pictured right: street artist in action at the launch of the Wilson Avenue open space

Moreland Community for Action on Transport will meet this Thursday, to continue MCAT’s program on sustainable transport in Moreland.

WHAT: Moreland Community for Action on Transport meeting
WHEN: Thursday 13 August, 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm
WHERE: Temple Park clubrooms, Brunswick South
INFO: Amina Flinn at a.b.flinn@optusnet.com.au (mailto:a.b.flinn@optusnet.com.au)

Counihan Gallery's Winter night screen program, where short films are shown in the Brunswick Town Hall window, starts this week.

WHAT: "Still moving" - three short films
WHEN: Wednesday 12 August to 26 August, 5.30 pm to 10.00 pm
WHERE: Brunswick Town Hall

West Brunswick Community Garden is celebrating three successful years with a mid-winter community dance and fundraiser. Come along and warm up with amazing music from Moreland bands Klezmeritis and Bohemian Nights

WHAT: Fundraising dance and concert for West Brunswick Community Garden
WHEN: Saturday 15 August, 7.30pm
WHERE:  Our Lady Help of Christians Church Hall, 49 Nicholson Street, East Brunswick.
Cost: The entrance charge is $25, concession $15, children $10, families $50.
INFO: www.morelandfoodgardensnetwork.org/search/label/event

Over the next two weekends, the Brunswick Women’s Choir will be performing “Through any open door”, a concert acknowledging women as composers, arrangers, and performers. There will be performances at 2.30pm on Sunday 16 August and Sunday 23 August.

WHAT: Concert by Brunswick Women’s Choir
WHEN: Sunday 16 August, 2.30pm (Repeat on Sunday 23 August at 2.30pm)
WHERE:  The Brunswick Mess Hall, 400 Sydney Road.
Cost: The entrance charge is Adults $20, concession $15 and $5 for kids over 5.
INFO:   http://brunswickwomenschoir.org.au/ (http:// http://brunswickwomenschoir.org.au/)

The Brunswick Group of Amnesty International meets each month at various locations in Brunswick.

WHAT: Brunswick Group of Amnesty International
WHEN: Saturday 22 August at 10.30 am
WHERE:  Maxxii Moo Café, 201 Albert St. Brunswick

At their next meeting, the Brunswick Community History Group will discuss “Empowering the homeless” in Melbourne with a presentation by Tony Keenan (CEO of Hanover Welfare Services)

WHAT: Talk on homelessness by Tony Keenan
WHEN: 5 September, 1.30pm
WHERE: Bridie O’Reilly Hotel, corner Sydney and Brunswick Roads
INFO: Francesca on 93871194

Brunswick Music Festival is calling for applications for their next festival and street party. Apply now to entertain us in March 2016! (http://www.brunswickmusicfestival.com.au/)


** Next Moreland Council meetings
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All Council meetings - held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month- and Urban Planning Committee meetings - held on the 4th Wednesday of each month - are now held at: Council Chamber, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg. Council meetings are on:
* Wednesday 12 August 2015 at 7 pm
* Wednesday 9 September 2015 at 7 pm
* Monday 21 September 2015 at 6 pm (to consider draft Annual Report)
* Wednesday 7 October 2015 at 7 pm

The next Urban Planning Committee meetings are on Wednesday 26 August 2015 and Wednesday 23 September at 6.30 pm.

This week's Council meeting will include a minute's silence in memory of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, introduced by Moreland resident Tomohiro Matsuoka.

Check for all meeting details at the Council website (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-council/council-and-committee-meetings.html) . Council meetings can now be watched online, either live, or later - you can find details here (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-council/council-and-committee-meetings/council-meetings/agenda-next-council-meeting.html) along with the agenda for this week's Council meeting.
* Hint: If you go to an evening meeting at 90 Bell Street and find the doors locked, you can probably get in through the back door via Urquhart Street.

4 comments

  1. Veronica Sinclair · · Reply

    Hi

    I am the only one who he distressed by contractors ignoring the supposed rules about when the noise can begin and the councils apparent inability to do anything about it? Like trucks turning up at 6am. Or the radios on full blast all day? I am in the unfortunate position of having had one development that lasted for 12 months on one side of my block of flats and now there is another on the other side.. Moreland Council seems not to want to enforce any of their own laws

    .

    1. Hi Veronica, that must be awful. Have you called the EPA? Also suggest you contact office of Jane Garrett (Member for Brunswick), and your local Brunswick councillors Samantha Ratnam, Meghan Hopper and Lambros Tapinos. (Their details are on Council website) And also to the Leader newspaper. I (Nancy, responsing) am not clear what bits are Council responsibility and what is State Government.

  2. Thanks for the update from VCAT ruling on Michael v Moreland CC [2015] VCAT 1110 (24 July 2015)

    I was one of many nearby residents who objected to the original permit application. I notice in the AusLII transcript that the other conditions were resolved by compulsory conference, these included set back from the bike path and landscaping design costs for the area of roads they will be building over. Would you know how I can find out what the outcome of the compulsory conference was?

    1. Thanks Anna for your feedback. You could ask Council for their notes.

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