January 2016 newsletter

Click to go to a prettier version with pictures and formatting: http://eepurl.com/bNsez9 
This month's e-news includes:  VCAT rulings on car spaces, height, and expired permits; state government consultations on apartments and zoning; and a campaign to protect the historic Pentridge jail.

A belated happy New Year from Brunswick Residents Network!

2016 is going to be a busy year: in coming months, the State government will announce its decision on planning controls for Brunswick under Amendment C134 to the Moreland Planning Scheme; by 3 February, the ALP will determine preselection for their candidate to replace outgoing MP Kelvin Thomson, in preparation for this year’s Federal election; and local government elections for Moreland Council will be held in October. Get ready to hide your children, because there’ll be a lot of politicians out and about kissing babies!

Brunswick Residents Network is not affiliated to any political party and does not endorse individual candidates, but we’ll be active this year to highlight the issues facing local residents and businesses. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for details of activities throughout the year, and we will hold candidates meetings so you can assess the policies and values of people seeking your vote.

** Take care during heat waves
There’s limited green, open space in Brunswick, so look after yourself and monitor heat levels at this time of year.

Across Victoria, heat-related deaths greatly outnumber any other natural disaster, including bushfires.

Climate Action Moreland has been lobbying the State Government to review Victoria’s Heat Health Alert System, arguing that the current trigger temperatures for heat health alerts are set a little too high and need to be reviewed to take into account the latest research.

The World Meteorological Organisation has said it is extremely likely that 2015 will be recorded as the hottest year on record globally. Last year was among the top five warmest years in Australian history, according to the annual report of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Temperatures were 0.83 degrees Celsius above the long-term average, the report said.
* Information and advice for staying safe and healthy on hot days from Moreland Council (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-us/emergency-management/heatwaves/)
* Climate change and heatwaves in Melbourne – a Review (http://takver.com/soapbox/climate/20150210-Climate-change-and-heatwaves-in-Melbourne-a-review-JEnglart.pdf) ,  February 2015. (PDF download)
* Climate Action Moreland: Extreme heat events requires climate adaptation and building resilience (http://climateactionmoreland.org/2016/01/16/extreme-heat-events-requires-climate-adaptation-and-building-resilience/)
* Australian Bureau of Meteorology: Annual climate statement 2015 (http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/annual/aus/2015)
* Take the lead from former Mayor Oscar Yildiz (pictured) and cool off at theBrunswick Baths (http://www.activemoreland.com.au/aquatic-and-leisure-centres/brunswick-baths/) : they're currently offering a 7-day free trial pass for their fitness classes, for non-members.

** What future for our factories?
A planning panel will review Moreland Council’s draft
Moreland Industrial Land Strategy (MILS), which governs the long-term strategy to allocate and zone commercial, industrial and residential land across the municipality.

The MILS guides Council decisions about what industrial land to retain and what industrial land can be be rezoned for other uses. The draft strategy was adopted by Council in June 2015, and will mainly be implemented through changes to the Moreland Planning Scheme, as proposed by Amendment C158.

After submissions last year, an independent panel has been appointed and the Panel Hearing is expected to be held in late February 2016. Prior to this, a preliminary Directions Hearing will be held on Friday 29 January 2016.

If you live near commercial or old industrial sites, have a look at the draft MILS maps (http://morelandplanning.com/mils/) to see what’s proposed for your neighbourhood.

WHAT: MILS planning panel Directions Hearing
WHEN:  10 am on Friday 29 January 2016.
WHERE: Hearing Room 1, Planning Panels Victoria, Ground Floor, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne
INFO: http://morelandplanning.com/mils/

** VCAT: decisions shaping Brunswick's future
1. How to win approval for zero car parking

A significant VCAT ruling in December sets out an important summary on whether car-parking will be required in multi-story buildings.  In contrast to the recent decision rejecting zero car parking in the Nightingale project in Florence Street (featured in our November newsletter), the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has approved a permit for a 5-storey building in Lygon Street, with a reduction in car parking requirements to zero.

The project (MPS/2014/909), at 451 Lygon Street (north of Stewart Street) will convert an existing narrow two storey building into a five storey building to accommodate 12 one-bedroom dwellings and an office. The permit, which Moreland Council originally refused, requires increasing the number of bicycle parks by six to 20 and reducing the number of motorcycle parks from seven to five. The site has has tram routes 1 and 8 outside its front door, and is close to east-west bus routes and to several car share pods. - The "battle-axe" shaped site narrows at the rear - see red brick building in picture at right.

Read the decision:
Vincent Corporation Pty Ltd v Moreland CC (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/2049.html) (Includes Summary) (Red Dot) [2015] VCAT 2049 (15 December 2015)

Read The Age's analysis:
“Five storeys, zero car parks: VCAT gives green light to contentious building (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/five-storeys-zero-car-parks-vcat-gives-green-light-to-contentious-building-20160117-gm7kx6.html) ”, The Age, 18 January 2016

2. Permit extension can be allowed under previous zoning rules

In this important ruling, VCAT ruled that Moreland Council should grant a renewal of a planning permit first issued in 2011 for a developer who had not commenced construction before the due date, even though the development site is in an area now rezoned from General Residential to Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ sets a mandatory limit of four dwellings on the lot.)

According to VCAT: “That the approved use/development is now prohibited does not mandate a decision refusing to extend the time to commence a development. However, it is something that would usually be expected to be one factor weighing against an extension of time.”

Read the decision:
AMV Homes Pty Ltd v Moreland CC (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/1699.html) (Includes Summary) (Red Dot) [2015] VCAT 1699 (30 October 2015)

See a similar decison at: Teimoori v Moreland CC (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/1969.html) [2015] VCAT 1969 (17 December 2015).

3. Seven storeys for Breese Street

VCAT overrules Moreland Council’s refusal of a permit for a 7-storey building on the south-east corner of Breese and Albion Streets. The Council argued that the overall height, the street wall and upper level setbacks did not match the overall strategy for that area as set out in the Brunswick Structure Plan (still awaiting ministerial approval).

Wagway Development Group Pty Ltd v Moreland CC (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/1996.html) [2015] VCAT 1996 (23 December 2015)


** Looming threat to Pentridge heritage
Local residents have mobilised to oppose an application by the developers Shayher Group to build a 19-story apartment tower within the Pentridge prison precinct.

Over many years, the former prison in Coburg has been transformed into a residential complex, but the latest proposal will destroy much of the remaining heritage value in one of Victoria’s important historic sites. The precinct is heritage-listed both under the Victorian Heritage Register and also by the National Trust of Australia (Vic.). The National Trust and other heritage experts have called for building heights within the Pentridge precinct not to rise above the height of existing heritage-listed buildings or the bluestone walls of the former prison.

On 16 January, over 100 people gathered outside the watchtower on Pentridge Boulevard, to challenge the proposal for a 19-storey tower – one of a series of projects in the pipeline from the same developers. The Federal MP for Wills Kelvin Thomson, Moreland councillor Sue Bolton, and representatives of the National Trust and of local residents spoke at the rally, calling on the State government to reject the application. (Pictured)

They were angered that the latest application was lodged just before Christmas, with any comment to be made before 30 December. This tactic means that local residents on summer holidays are less likely to see and respond to the proposal, and relevant protection offices like the National Trust are closed. The Heritage Act only requires Heritage Victoria to advertise on its website and in daily newspapers, with no requirement to notify local residents.

Because of successful protests however, the opportunity to lodge objections with Heritage Victoria has now been extended to 31 January (see details below).

One of the failings of successive State governments has been a lack of enforcement of heritage protection for Pentridge and the surrounding parkland. (The Coburg Lake reserve was created by convict labour, who quarried the bluestone used to construct the prison.)

The social history of the Pentridge prison complex has been largely ignored during the current redevelopment. In 2000, then ALP State Minister for Planning Justin Madden pledged that “a museum will be built on the site.” To this day, there is no museum.

A massive amount of Pentridge heritage has already been destroyed. In 2014, the 19th century H-Division bluestone exercise yards were demolished. Nine large holes are being punched through the prison walls for access roads through the precinct. There are a number of significant murals inside, which aren’t being properly protected or restored (including a mural by the imprisoned Indigenous artist, Ronald Bull, whose mural in F-Division is mentioned in Pentridge’s Heritage Register Statement of Significance). Pentridge served as the main women’s prison in Victoria until 1955, yet the developers have chosen to paint over all of the women’s writing on the prisons walls, wiping out this history.

The ongoing redevelopment of the precinct is destroying key social history that explains the history and role of Pentridge, not only for punishing criminals but also for jailing Indigenous people, political dissenters, unionists and war resisters.

One of Australia’s leading Prime Ministers, John Curtin, was jailed in Pentridge in 1916 for refusing to be conscripted in the First World War. One of the youngest of the famous suffragette family, Adela Pankhurst, was also jailed for speaking out during the anti-conscription battles of 1916-17. 50 years later, Vietnam-era draft resisters were held within the bluestone walls.

For many years, planning on the site has been controlled by the State government, until the planning controls were returned to Moreland Council late last year – except for the area where the 19-storey building is proposed. The decision on the apartment tower will be finally decided by the State planning minister, following a review by Heritage Victoria.

The developers, the Shayher group, are using a loophole in the Heritage Act which requires Heritage Victoria to consider whether refusal to grant a permit would “cause undue financial hardship to the owner.” If a developer wants to destroy heritage areas, the onus for proving adverse impact on economic returns should rest with the developer, but little if any evidence has been provided in this permit application.

Brunswick Residents Network normally reports on major projects in the south ward of Moreland municipality. This Coburg project however strikes at the heart of planning for our suburbs, bringing together issues of heritage, appropriate housing density and lack of community consultation. If a 19-storey tower gets approved, it would be the tallest building in Moreland and will set a precedent for further buildings to loom not only over existing heritage structures in Pentridge, but for other areas around Bell Street and central Coburg.

In 2009, the former developer Valad Property Group proposed an 18-story apartment block on the same site, but the application was rejected. The latest developer’s bid follows the State government’s recent approval of amendment c123 to the Moreland Planning Scheme. State Planning Minister Richard Wynne refused calls for mandatory controls on building heights in Coburg, and a majority of Moreland councillors voted against the need for notification, appeal and review rights for buildings that breach height levels in existing structure plans.

The minister’s decision to refuse mandatory controls in Coburg sets a worrying precedent for his current consideration of amendment c134 for Brunswick, Brunswick East and Brunswick West. (Following years of discussion about the Brunswick Structure Plan and a lengthy planning process, the minister’s decision on amendment C134 should be announced in the next few months).

For this reason we urge you to support action to protect Moreland heritage, and call on the State government and Moreland Council to develop a comprehensive heritage preservation strategy at Pentridge.

Please send a submission to Heritage Victoria before 31 January expressing your concern about the proposal at Pentridge. The relevant permit application numbers are: permit application VHR 1551 and permit application PE 224644 to construct a residential apartment complex with a 19-storey and 9-storey building plus associated works. Full details of the proposed towers can be found at www.trustadvocate.org.au

You can download fro our website the submission to Heritage Victoria (https://brunswickresidents.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/submissionpentridge19storytowervs2.docx) by Coburg resident Michael Hamel-Green, which sets out many of the issues related to the Pentridge redevelopment and may be useful in preparing your own submission. For further information on the project and heritage values contact Felicity Watson of the National Trust on (03) 9656 9818 or email felicity.watson@nattrust.com.au (mailto:felicity.watson@nattrust.com.au)

You can find guidelines for submissions to Heritage Victoria at: www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/heritage

Submissions can be sent before 31 January to heritage.permits@delwp.vic.gov.au (mailto:heritage.permits@delwp.vic.gov.au) or PO Box 500, Melbourne, Victoria 8002.

“Save Coburg” will soon hold a public meeting to raise support for local residents living near Pentridge, with details in our next newsletter. To support the campaign to protect Pentridge, email michael.hamel-green@vu.edu.au (mailto:michael.hamel-green@vu.edu.au) or phone 0408 594 569.

** State government consults on apartments, and zones

After complaints about the quality and environmental sustainability of many new apartment towers, the State Government began a process to determine standards for new apartments. In community submissions last year, people were asked to rank the key issues affecting apartment amenity by most to least important: the five top-rated issues were daylight, space, natural ventilation, noise, and energy and resources.

You can read the report on these initial consultations, and find out how to have further input, on the Better Apartments (http://delwp.vic.gov.au/planning/policy-and-strategy/better-apartments?remap=delwp.vic.gov.au/better-apartments) webpage.

State Planning minister Dick Wynne has also appointed an Advisory Committee to report on the new zones for residential development in metropolitan Melbourne, that were introduced in July last year.

The Advisory Committee is chaired by Kathy Mitchell (the Chief Panel Member of Planning Panels Victoria) and comprises Michael Kirsch (Deputy Chair), Debra Butcher, Sarah Carlisle, Peter Gaschk, Sarah McDonald, Rachael O'Neill and John Riley (all of them planners!). The committee will be supported by a taskforce of staff from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), who are currently preparing Residential State of Play Reports for each metropolitan subregion.

The report on Moreland will be available online on 29 January, then comments on the implementation of the new residential zones in 2015 can be made until 5.00pm on Monday 29 February 2016. Further information about the Advisory Committee, how to make a submission and Frequently Asked Questions are available at: www.delwp.vic.gov.au/managing_residential_development.

** Step forward on Merri Creek shared bridgeBridge campaign
In our November newsletter, we reported on the campaign by the Merri Creek Bridge Group for a shared bridge across the Merri Creek for cyclists and pedestrians, which would connect the Northcote and East Brunswick communities. Residents lodged a petition with 1,350 signatures calling for joint funding of the project with Darebin Council.

At their December meeting, Moreland Council voted to “call for a report on the scope and actions required to commence a jointly funded feasibility study with Darebin City Council into the provision of a footbridge across the Merri Creek in the vicinity of Kingfisher Gardens/CERES, East Brunswick, the potential to jointly fund this feasibility study with Darebin Council and the budget required so it may be potentially considered in future budget processes.”

. . . but park for Edward Street delayed
In November 2014, Council resolved to undertake a study to examine the feasibility of transforming the Edward Street carpark (off Sydney Road) into a public park. The Council’s report, discussed at last month’s meeting, outlines the feasibility for two public park redevelopment scenarios: the first being redevelopment for a 1,000sqm public park, and the second being for entire site redevelopment including multi-storey building and a park.

In light of impending Council rate-capping “it is considered that a project to develop a park at Edward Street car park is not feasible at this point in time.” Council agreed “to include the Edward Street carpark as a candidate project for prioritisation following evaluation of Council’s air space project at 276 Barkly Street, Brunswick.”

Pia Herbert of Friends of Edward Street notes: “We won't get a park anytime soon but Councillors have got the message loud and clear that the local community is expecting any development of the site to include significant open space.”

Check out  Friends of Edward Street - Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/friendsofedwardstreet/?fref=photo)

Meanwhile the Fleming Park redevelopment – with consultation scheduled for November as reported in our last edition – appears to be behind schedule. Or as the Council website puts it" Stakeholder consultation has progressed in the period leading up to December 2015, with a draft landscape plan to be prepared on the basis of stakeholder input in February 2016, which will be made available for community consultation that is now due to start in March 2016."

** Art and about in Brunswick
Brunswick Book Group

The Brunswick Book Group, organised by Moreland Library, meets on the last Wednesday of the month at 7 pm. Bookings not required. Book group members can suggest books to be discussed and the library will provide these books whenever possible.

WHEN: 27 January, 7pm
WHERE: Brunswick Library, Dawson Street, Brunswick
INFO:  Phone: 9389 8600, Email: brunswicklibrary@moreland.vic.gov.au (mailto:brunswicklibrary@moreland.vic.gov.au)

Brunswick Beethoven Festival

The Brunswick Beethoven Festival brings together internationally acclaimed performers from Italy, France and Australia for a festival of classical chamber music in Brunswick - Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Mozart, Handel, Piazolla, Elgar, Ligeti, Prokofiev and more.

The festival, now in its ninth year under the musical directorship of Sergio de Pieri, features internationally recognised Italian artists such as harpsichordist Michele Benuzzi, oboist Gianfranco Bartolato, one of the world's great flautists of today - Roberto Fabbriciani, Paris-based Australian pianist David Selig and Australia's great organist and pianist, internationally recognised for his playing of Bach and Beethoven, Anthony Halliday.

All tickets must be purchased at the door, no reserved seating. Ticket Prices: $30, $25 concession.

WHEN: Performance are on 2-6 February and 16-20 February 2016 at 7.30pm.
WHERE:  Brunswick Uniting Church, 212 Sydney Road, Brunswick
INFO:  Mark Higginbotham, 0438 384 574
WEBSITE:  www.brunswickbeethovenfestival.org.au/

Brunswick Music Festival

Since 1988, the Brunswick Music Festival has been an annual event. The program this March features a diverse mix of multicultural folk artists from around the corner and across the globe, as well as the Sydney Road Street Party.

WHEN: Street Party on Sunday 6 March and music festival from 15 - 20 March 2016.
WHERE: Sydney Road and local venues
WEBSITE: www.brunswickmusicfestival.com.au/

** Moreland Council 2016 meetings
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 for the first half of 2016 are on:
* Wednesday 10 February at 7 pm
* Wednesday 9 March at 7 pm
* Monday 21 March at 6 pm (Adopt Election Period Policy)
* Wednesday 13 April at 7 pm
* Monday 2 May at 6 pm (Consider Proposed Budget)
* Wednesday 11 May at 7 pm
* Monday 6 June (Consider Budget Submissions)
* Wednesday 8 June at 7 pm
* Monday 20 June at 6 pm (Budget Adoption)

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.

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