This month: we take an in-depth look at open space policy, and where developers’ “open space levies” are spent (or not). Plus lots of local news and events.
Or scroll down for the plain text version.
Last month, Brunswick Residents Network (BRN) hosted a public meeting on open space and greenery in Brunswick. This month’s newsletter includes a number of articles on open space, looking at the use of developers’ open space contributions in Moreland, and community initiatives to green our neighbourhood. Our next public meeting in August will focus on transport needs for the inner city, looking at public transport and the infrastructure needs of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians (details on our Facebook page soon!). We hope you can join us at these community meetings, to have your say as we move closer to Council elections in October. ** Moreland Industrial Land Strategy ------------------------------------------------------------ At this week’s Council meeting, councillors will vote on adoption of the Moreland Industrial Land Strategy 2015 - 2030 (MILS) and Amendment C158 which proposes to implement the MILS into the Moreland Planning Scheme. MILS is a strategic framework for the future use of Moreland’s industrial land. It identifies which sites should be retained for industry, and which land is suitable to transition to a broader range of employment uses. The strategy also confirms a series of smaller sites for conversion to residential use (in Brunswick, there is significant pressure from developers to rezone industrial sites to residential, regardless of the need for employment sites in our neighbourhood). A Planning Panel considered Amendment C158 and submissions in February and March, and its report was returned to Council in May. Once Council adopts Amendment C158, it will go to State Minister for Planning Richard Wynne for approval, and will lock in Council’s position on the future of industrial land for the next 15 years. The proposed strategy maintains three large concentrations of industrial zoned land in Brunswick, North Coburg and Newlands (though some revisions to the boundaries of the Brunswick core industrial areas have been made). Submissions from companies within the Brunswick Core Industrial Area - such as Basfoods (419-423 Victoria Street) and Oceania Property Development (430-436 Victoria Street) have sought Council’s support for a rezoning, but Council and the Panel have decided to retain Category 1 Core Industry and Employment status for the industrial zone to the west of the Upfield railway line. Friends of Edward Street lobbied to delete the site proposed for a new park in Edward Street Brunswick from the draft MILS. However the Panel ruled that it “preferred to recommend additional notes be included in MILS that explain the cross play of adopted strategies” (such as the Council’s supposed commitment to open space in the Moreland Open Space Strategy). As we discuss later in this newsletter, it is important to ensure that public projects such as new open space should be considered in industrial areas or as part of new transport initiatives, in a suburb with limited green parkland. In their report to Council, Moreland staff have noted: “It is not intended that MILS 2015 - 2030 prohibits or encumbers land from being used as open space”. A copy of the Planning Panel’s report to Counci (http://moreland.vic.gov.au/globalassets/key-docs/meeting/agenda-council-upc/council-agenda-13-july-2016.pdf) l, and recommendations from Council staff can be found in the meeting papers for the July Council meeting. ** Feature: Brunswick Open Space levies go north ------------------------------------------------------------ With the local apartment boom and increasing population in Brunswick, the lack of public open space is a major problem in our neighbourhood. Kids living in apartment blocks need a place to run and jump, ageing residents need to get out of their apartment to stretch their legs, and dog owners need to maintain their social networks (ever noticed how they use their pets as an excuse to chat with the neighbours?) At the recent Brunswick Residents Network (BRN) community meeting on open space and greenery, concerns were raised about whether we’re getting the benefit of developers’ contributions that are levied in Brunswick by Moreland Council. Moreland currently has an open space fund of more than $25 million, yet the bulk of the money contributed by developers in Brunswick is spent in Coburg and Glenroy! In contrast, the combined spending from this levy in Brunswick, Brunswick East, and Brunswick West was just 1 per cent of total Open Space spending in 2013-14! Developers levied for open space Under the Subdivisions Act 1988, local government authorities can seek a cash payment or land contribution (or a combination of both) in a subdivision. Most developers make a cash contribution to Council in lieu of providing actual open space. The levy provides an important source of Council revenue for funding new land acquisitions or making capital improvements to open space to meet the needs of new and growing populations. Moreland Council charges developers a levy as a percentage of site value, between 2.5 – 6.8 per cent on all subdivisions. In Brunswick East and North Fitzroy, the levy is currently 5.7 per cent; in Brunswick it is 6.3 per cent; and in Brunswick West 2.5 per cent. Funds collected are held and accounted for in a specific open space fund. According to figures provided to BRN by Moreland Council, the Public Resort and Recreation Fund currently has a balance of $25,780,517 (This amount is likely to decrease after funds spent by Council have been reconciled to complete the 2015-16 financial accounts). Under Moreland Council’s 'Open Space Contribution scheme', funds raised from developers can be set aside for upkeep or upgrade of existing open space (projects such as new lighting for sporting grounds, upgrading park facilities or purchasing equipment such as children’s slides and swings). Information on open space projects that are recently completed or underway (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-us/projects/park-playground-and-creek-projects/) is available on the Council website. Recent projects in Brunswick include open space refurbishment in Fleming Park, improvements at Kirkdale Park (near Merri Creek) and the upgrade of Loreto John York Park, at the corner of Davies Street and Holmes Street, with funding allocated from Council’s 2015-2016 Capital Works program. Open space contributions can also be used to acquire land or strategic property that council can later use for community projects or re-sale. In line with Moreland’s Open Space Strategy, Council can bid for surplus government land (eg VicRoads or VicTrack properties) or land on the open real estate market. In the past, open space contributions collected by Moreland Council have been spent on two large acquisitions in the north of Moreland: purchasing the Glenroy Primary School ($3.5 million), and land from the Northern golf course ($2.8 million). Brunswick is the source of significant sums In Moreland’s South Ward, since the “densification” of Anstey Village began in 1999, residents have seen approval of up to 6000 new apartments. Today, there are cranes towering over the Brunswick Activity Centre – around Lygon Street, Sydney Road, Albert, Victoria and Edward Streets. Developers are rushing to beat the looming collapse of apartment prices, by finishing multi-storied apartment complexes that have received planning permits. With all this re-development of old industrial sites in Brunswick and Brunswick East, developers are contributing significant amounts to Moreland Council. However the actual monies received per suburb are not published publicly. For example, the developers Little Projects constructed a major multi-building project on the site of the old Tip Top factory between Edward and Weston Street, Brunswick East. When local residents later sought their support for the construction of a park in Edward Street, the developers informed them that $786,600 had already been paid to Council as a levy for the Tip Top project. So if developers are not actually incorporating open space in their project, it is vital that local residents can have a say over where the developer contributions end up. However there is no legal requirement for Council to spend the funds in the suburb where they were collected, as long as the funds are spent on open space projects elsewhere in the municipality. This raises the central question – whether Council is using the massive amount of developer contributions from projects in the Brunswick Activity Centre to actually make strategic investments and land purchases in Brunswick, or whether a significant amount of the funds from South Ward are being spent in the north of the municipality? A report to Council in September 2015 (DCS72/15 Open Space reserve expenditure) provides a good summary of recent open space expenditure (including acquiring land): see DCS72/15 (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/globalassets/key-docs/meeting/agenda-council-upc/council-agenda-2015-09-09-september.pdf) The report shows that the spending from this levy on Brunswick, Brunswick East, and Brunswick West combined, was just 1 per cent of the total Open Space spend for the 2013/14 financial year. Meanwhile the data provided by Council shows that two northern suburbs have received the lion’s share of Open Space spending, with Coburg and Glenroy sharing between 45 – 68 per cent. Fixing the problem As part of its 2016-2017 budget, Council resolved to allocate $50,000 for the purpose of conducting a review into additional proactive open space acquisitions and enhancements, This review is currently underway and is expected to be completed by late 2016 for consideration by Council. The report will inform the 2017-2018 budget process and will detail recommendations on the purchase of land in Moreland in the future, including the South Ward. At Wednesday night’s council meeting, councillors will discuss a motion on open space levies, which calls for a report on the Open Space Fund. The resolution also proposes that any airspace rights above carparks in Brunswick be reserved for Open Space. The resolution calls on Council to invest in open space in Brunswick to mitigate against urban heat island effect and create parks that can be enjoyed by the community. As we move towards Council elections in October, it is important for Brunswick residents to demand greater transparency over the use of open space contributions, and to call for a greater proportion to be actually spent in the ward that is generating the most revenue! ** Brunswick Communities for Nature ------------------------------------------------------------ At our recent community meeting on open space and greenery in Brunswick, Lisa de Kleyn of “Brunswick Communities for Nature” talked about local resident efforts to green our neighbourhood. Brunswick Communities for Nature has the goal “to make Brunswick greener, healthier and more inspiring through practical activities that get more native plants into public spaces”. Starting with an ambitious project to create a biodiversity corridor from Merri Creek to Moonee Ponds Creek, with support from Adopt-A-Tree and Moreland Energy Foundation, BCN planted 38,000 seedlings over 12 planting days. This first initiative involved 337 residents, 1,000 school kids and members of 22 community groups. Since 2014, the group has been involved in urban greening projects, upgrading nature strips and other open space, though weeding bees, planting of trees and bushes and other grassroots efforts. Mel Yuan from Brunswick Communities for Nature also sent this contribution: Can you imagine wallabies hopping down Sydney Road? No, neither can we - but biodiversity is no joke. In the last few decades, local groups across the municipality, with support from Moreland Council, have increased the available habitat for parrots, butcher birds, bellbirds, wattle birds and other birds that rely on our beautiful indigenous trees. Brunswick’s key position – adjacent to Royal Park and between the Merri and Moonee Ponds Creeks - can provide crucial in-fill habitat. Together we can demonstrate a highly urbanised environment that utilises and celebrates our indigenous plants. Trees, mid-storey and under-storey plants can all provide food and shelter for the indigenous species chased away by land clearing, development, exotic plants and weeds. Some of the most invasive and allergenic weeds in our environment are found in an everyday nature strip. You can turn yours into a low allergy, butterfly and bird-attracting, low maintenance indigenous garden. If you don’t have a nature strip then consider whether there is a traffic island, rail line, street tree or other public space that could benefit from plantings of grasses, ground covers or flowers. Anyone can participate in urban greening. Whether you have a garden, nature strip, balcony or a pot plant – indigenous plants can be used in all landscape types. Contact Brunswick Communities for Nature (email email@example.com) (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can assist with: - advice on how to prepare, plant and maintain your green space - supply of a recommended biodegradable weed mat at wholesale price - seasonal supply of indigenous plants at as little as $0.50 a tube - plant and weed identification and landscaping advice - organising community events to prepare and maintain green space Become part of the movement to re-introduce our indigenous plants that have been made extinct in our area. For further information, contact Brunswick Communities for Nature through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BrunswickC4N/) or our website (https://brunswickc4n.wordpress.com/) . ** Council's urban heat strategy endorsed ------------------------------------------------------------ Council at its June meeting endorsed this strategy (http:// http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/globalassets/key-docs/meeting/agenda-council-upc/council-agenda-8-june-2016---copy.pdf) . At page 253, it has the Council report which includes all of the community feedback and why it was either incorporated or not in the final Action Plan. A number of the projects will be getting underway in 16/17 including the stormwater harvesting at Hosken reserve, WSUD integration in some road upgrades and the Dawson Streetscape upgrade. Council were also successful in state government funding to implement a “Cooling our community” project which will involve working with low income households to address the urban heat. ** Community Green Space in Lygon Street? ------------------------------------------------------------ Positive Charge and Moreland City Council are working together to create a new Community Green space in the front garden of the Maternal and Child Health Care Centre (320 Lygon Street, located next to the concrete monolith Elvera). Positive charge want to create a space for everyone to enjoy – to sit and chill, with more trees to keep us cool during summer. They’d love to hear your ideas for the space – maybe it could house some community artwork or a sensory garden or something else. They will be hosting a community workshop on Saturday 6 August (details TBC) to explain more about the project and find out your ideas. We’ll advertise further details on the BRN Facebook page closer to the day, but if you’re interested to be involved please email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) WHAT: Planning workshop for new Community Green space WHEN: Saturday 6 August (details TBC) INFO: www.positivecharge.com.au/ (We found the old picture and some historic details of the building, on this"Great architecture" (http://www.adonline.id.au/buildings/baby-health-centre/) site.) ** Merri bridge survey result ------------------------------------------------------------ If you were one of the 588 people who filled in the survey regarding possible use of a new pedestrian and bike bridge roughly behind CERES, here are some of the key results which are being sent to the consultants. The survey provided strong evidence that a bridge would be well used. * 72.5% of survey respondents (425 respondents) are travelling actively (walking, cycling) over the Arthurton Road bridge between 1 and 16 times each week. * Safety is a problem: 88.4% of respondents said they have safety concerns for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the Arthurton Road bridge. * 77.9% (457 respondents) are driving or travelling as a passenger in a car between 1 and 16 times per week. That’s at least 2,367 car trips per week across the Arthurton Road bridge. * A new, safer bridge would mean car use would decrease and active travel (walking, cycling) would increase: 60.3% of respondents said they would use the car less often if a new bridge was built between Beavers Road, Northcote and Kingfisher Gardens, East Brunswick. * 92.5% of respondents (541 people) would use a new bridge at Beavers Road to walk, cycle or scoot more often. If you'd like to contact the Merri Bridge Group, check out their Merri Creek Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MerriCreekPedestrianOverpass/) . * Ask to be put on their e-list by emailing email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) ** Sydney Road rates high on unsafe bike spot list ------------------------------------------------------------ We reported in our last newsletter that there were 223 bike crashes on Sydney Road reported to VicRoads from 2006 to 2015, dozens more than any other street in Melbourne. The Age today (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbournes-scariest-cycling-paths-perception-and-reality-collide-20160711-gq38hh.html) reports that Sydney Road ranks No 6 in the list of spots identified as 'unsafe' in the recent BikeSpot survey. On the 'safe' side, Canning Street receives the most "safe" ratings, and the Moonee Ponds path also rates highly. Interestingly, the Haymarket roundabout rates highly as 'unsafe' although police statistics show few reported crashes. You can read the summary results (https://medium.com/crowdspot-blog/bikespot-perceptions-of-risk-vs-real-risk-549fde708c6f#.m5nggho6i) (which also contain links to the full map) - there's lots of good information for Council bike planners: the City of Moreland supported this project. Moreland Bicycle User Group The next Moreland Bicycle User Group meeting is on Thursday 23 July in the upstairs room at My Handlebar (581 Sydney Road, Brunswick). The meeting will discuss the possibility of Projector Bike operating in Moreland - a custom-designed, three wheeled cargo bike complete with a high-powered projector and stereo system that enables images and films to be shown in public places to large audiences. BUG will also discuss how we can progress safety on Sydney Road and along the Upfield rail corridor. Everyone is welcome to attend and food and drinks can be purchased before, during and after the meeting. WHAT: Moreland Bicycle User Group meeting WHEN: Thursday 23 July, 7pm WHERE: My Handlebar (Upstairs at 581 Sydney Road, Brunswick) INFO: Ross on 0407 321 803 or www.morelandbug.org ** Benefit for Timor Leste ------------------------------------------------------------ Over many years, community members in Moreland have supported the people of Timor-Leste through Friends of Aileu. Moreland and Hume councils are supporters of development initiatives in Aileu, a district in the north-western part of Timor-Leste, and one of only two landlocked districts in the country. As a fundraiser for community development projects, Friends of Aileu will be hosting Fabulous Friday in July – a night with some of Melbourne's finest comedians and top bands – At Brunswick Town Hall. Performers include Josh Earl, Damien Lawlor, Geraldine Hickey and SFZ (Sforzando) an 8-piece pirate orchestra who blend ferocious punk, Western European folk melodies and classic sea shanties – and yet more acts to be announced. Come along to a great night out where you can help Friends of Aileu support local development activities initiated by the community of Aileu, through which they are supporting their children, young people, women and families on the journey to a healthier, happier and more sustainable future. WHAT: Fundraising comedy night for Timor-Leste WHEN: Friday 29 July 2016, 7 – 11 pm WHERE: Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road Brunswick. INFO: Friends of Aileu COST: $30 (or $20 Concession), BYO supper or snack and drinks. ** 'Spark' conference ------------------------------------------------------------ The Moreland Energy Foundation (MEFL) is excited to announce its inaugural conference, to inspire collaborative action on climate change. Topics include: the new energy economy; heat health and urban development; mobilising community action; energy storage technologies and community solar. MEFL is also supporting “Climate for Change”, which now has three Brunswick based facilitators. You too can be part of this growing social movement to spread the word on climate change by hosting a gathering at your home for your friends and family to explore how you can make a difference. WHEN: 18-19 August 2016. INFO: Email email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) for details, or see www.climateforchange.org.au/host Moreland Energy Foundation Level 1, 200 Sydney Road Brunswick, VIC 3056 Phone: (03) 9385 8585 ** Brunswick Book Group ------------------------------------------------------------ Moreland Council's library service has several book groups for adults. Book group members can suggest books to be discussed and the library will provide these books whenever possible. The library supplies a limited number of copies of the book for discussion each month, on the last Wednesday of the month at 7 pm. WHAT: Brunswick Book Group WHEN: Wednesday 27 July 2016, 7pm WHERE: Brunswick Library, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick INFO: Brunswick Library, Phone: 9389 8600, Email: email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) ** Democracy updates ------------------------------------------------------------ New member for Wills We say farewell to our outgoing Member of Parliament for the federal seat of Wiills, Kelvin Thomson, who has resigend his position and welcome his newly-elected successor Peter Khalil, a member of the Australian Labour Party. Cr Samantha Ratnam also stood for Wills as a Greens Candidate and has now returned to her position as Mayor of Moreland Council. The next Council elections are on 22 October when all positions will be contested. Brunswick is in Moreland's South Ward, with three Councillors: Cr Ratnam, Cr Hopper and Cr Tapinos. We understand that all three will stand again. Meet with one of our South Ward Councillors Cr Lambros Tapinos, one of three councillors in the South Ward (which covers Brunswick, Brunswick East and Brunswick West) will be holding a ward meeting this Thursday 12 May. It’s an opportunity to meet with one of our local representatives to discuss your ideas, concerns or issues. WHAT: Ward meeting with South Ward Councillor Lambros Tapinos, WHEN: Thursday 21 July 2016, 6.30 pm WHERE: Fleming Park Hall, 104 Victoria Street, Brunswick East INFO : Mobile: 0433 419 075, Email: email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) ** Next Moreland Council 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 are on: * Wednesday 13 July 2016 at 7 pm * Wednesday 10 August 2016 at 7 pm * Wednesday 14 September 2016 at 7 pm 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. However the special meetings (*asterisked) won't be videoed. * 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. ** MAILING LIST AND FURTHER INFORMATION ------------------------------------------------------------ Welcome to new readers! To contact organisers of the Brunswick Residents’ Network, or to offer help with future activities, please email email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) . (This gmail is our preferred address – but we have changed our "from" address on Mailchimp's advice to avoid your email bouncing). Please forward this e-letter to other Moreland neighbours who’d like a say in the way their community is changing. It's easy to sign on, or edit your details to include your interests - just go to http://eepurl.com/VX4a9. For meeting details, survey and newsletter archives, go to: https://brunswickresidents.wordpress.com Check out our Facebook page for a range of lively discussions: Brunswick Residents Network (https://www.facebook.com/Brunswick.Residents.Network) . Help us reach more people by liking our page, commenting, forwarding this newsletter, and tweeting it