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This month’s e-news includes: Tuesday meeting on traffic and transport; Minister stuffs around Brunswick; looking after trees; lots of events.
** North, South, East, West:
transport and traffic across Brunswick
Community meeting this Tuesday, 9 August.
With a growing population, we need to improve public and active transport in Brunswick. How can we increase services on the Upfield rail line, end rat-running and improve transport infrastructure in Brunswick’s narrow streets?
Join us this Tuesday to hear Dr John Stone (University of Melbourne) and Ian Woodcock (RMIT) and join the discussion with local residents.
Our speakers will present an overview of current challenges for transport affecting Brunswick, and talk in more detail about improving services on the Upfield rail line. There will be plenty of time for discussion on investment in public transport, how to improve cycling infrastructure, potential Council action to stop rat-running and more.
The meeting will be at Siteworks (Workroom One, 33 Saxon Street Brunswick) (not at our usual venue on Sydney Road).
Siteworks is the new Council-owned community centre, not far from Brunswick Town Hall – you enter Saxon Street from Dawson Street opposite the library.
We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday night. Please forward this email to anyone else who may be interested, and share the event that’s on our Facebook page.
WHAT: Community meeting on transport and traffic
DATE: Tuesday 9 August at 6:30–8:30
VENUE: Siteworks, 33 Saxon Street Brunswick
FINDING SAXON STREET: Our meeting’s in Workroom One. Tram 19 to Brunswick Town Hall, and enter Saxon Street from Dawson Street opposite the library. NB there’s no parking in Saxon Street.
Minister stuffs around Brunswick
Planning Minister refuses to act on Moreland standards
The State Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, has refused to make a decision on Moreland Council’s proposal for a planning code that would set design standards for apartments.
For more than five years, Council has been developing built form standards for apartments, in a code that introduces minimum sizes for dwellings and balconies, and minimum standards for natural light and ventilation. This work came in response to resident concerns about the poor quality, small size and lack of energy sustainability of many apartments being built across the municipality. If introduced into the planning scheme, these standards could help improve liveability of future tower blocks to be constructed in the Brunswick Activity Centre.
There are debates between architects and designers about legislating for large apartments and some positive examples of well-designed micro apartments that might suit a single person. But there are even more examples where developers are just trying to improve their bottom line by filling buildings with as many small, shoddy one and two-bedroom apartments as they can jam in, regardless of the need for ventilation, natural light and sufficient space to swing a cat.
To introduce these standards into law, Council developed the Moreland Apartment Design Code (MADC) as Amendment C142 to the Moreland Planning Scheme. Moreland’s proposed code, however, only becomes law when it is approved and gazetted by the state government. Even though the Apartment Design Code has passed through extensive consultation processes and was approved by Council and submitted to the State government last year, the Minister has refused to act on the amendment, even with a sunset clause.
Minister Wynne has now written to Moreland Council stating: “At this stage, I consider it would be premature to approve Amendment C142, given the outcomes of the State-led Better Apartments project are not yet known. I want to ensure that making a decision regarding Amendment C142 does not result in duplication of the Better Apartments work or create investment uncertainty.”
Better Apartments is a discussion paper issued last year, to start the process for creating a state-wide apartment design code. Councils and citizens were offered the opportunity to make submissions to the Better Apartments consultation (http://delwp.vic.gov.au/planning/policy-and-strategy/better-apartments?remap=delwp.vic.gov.au/better-apartments) .
Moreland Council has offered to accept a sunset clause on amendment C142 if there are contradictions with the potential state-wide code. But the timeline for the introduction of a Better Apartments code has already slipped and it is likely that the design standards will be weaker than what Moreland has proposed. In the meantime, the developers’ lobby and building industry have been working hard to scuttle strong standards for apartment construction.
Moreland Council has called on the State Government to immediately approve planning amendments that are set to greatly improve development standards in Moreland, after the planning minister exempted himself from making a decision within the timeframe prescribed in legislation.
Read a detailed report (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/government-dismisses-moreland-councils-proposed-ban-on-dog-box-apartments-20160803-gqk3a9.html) by Clay Lucas, in The Age
As described in the next section, the same problem exists for Amendment C134 which would introduce the Brunswick Structure Plan into the Moreland Planning Scheme.
State government delays on Brunswick amendment
For more than a decade, local residents have been trying to place some limits on the scale and quality of development projects in the Brunswick Activity Centre, which covers Nicholson Street, Lygon Street, Sydney Road and many adjoining streets.
In 2010, Moreland Council adopted the Brunswick Structure Plan (BSP) – later amended – which sets out guidelines on issues such as built form, setbacks, height and other issues. Since that time, however, the BSP has not been brought into law through the formal amendment of the Moreland Planning Scheme.
This leaves an opening for developers to appeal to VCAT and use old guidelines to override contemporary plans for our suburb. Right now, there are no height restrictions in place in the Brunswick Activity Centre. This means the rapidly-changing areas around Sydney Road, Lygon Street and Nicholson Street have been left open to over-development.
After years of consultation and debate, Moreland Council passed amendment C134 to the Moreland Planning Scheme in July 2015. This amendment, if approved by the state government, would have some effect of bringing the standards outlined in the BSP into the planning scheme.
A year later, the State government Planning Minister Richard Wynne has still not signed off on the proposed amendment, even though it was lodged with the Planning Ministry last year. The minister’s recent refusal to make a decision on Moreland’s Apartment Design Code (see previous section) sets a worrying precedent, at a time developers are seeking to lodge more permit applications before the apartment market collapses.
The absence of mandatory height controls in the Brunswick Activity Centre opens the way for developers to lodge applications that breach the guidelines proposed in the BSP, particularly for the height of buildings. The cranes you can see along Lygon Street are the symbol of this delay, with developers seeking to profit by adding more and more floors to their buildings (extra one and two bedroom apartments, rather than commercial space or larger family dwellings, make more money!).
Past rulings by VCAT, such as a 2004 decision which approved two towers of 14 storeys and eight storeys in Mitcham, have set important VCAT precedents. The Golden Ridge v Whitehorse CC ruling, which VCAT classes as a “significant decision”, stated that: “The existence of a structure plan may encourage appropriate development and more certain outcomes in circumstances where a plan exists but the absence of such a plan is not of itself a sufficient reason to refuse a permit.”
* Golden Ridge v Whitehorse CC (Mitcham Towers)  VCAT 1706 (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2004/1706.html)
(7 September 2004)
In Brunswick, we are currently living with buildings projects that use planning permits issued some years ago, under previous State government policies like Melbourne 2030 (which has now been replaced by Plan Melbourne). A 2011 critique of Melbourne 2030 (http://soac.fbe.unsw.edu.au/2011/papers/SOAC2011_0080_final.pdf) by RMIT academics Robin Goodman and Susie Moloney argued:
“The activity centre policy within Melbourne 2030 sprang from aspirations to achieve a more sustainable urban form but unfortunately failed to deliver on its objectives. The policy suffered from a lack of clarity for decision makers, was poorly co-ordinated and had a limited capacity to deliver outcomes…..While there was little doubt what role planning was assigned under the Kennett government, the subsequent Labor governments have done little beyond rhetoric to restore confidence in state-led planning.”
We see the same process now occurring under Plan Melbourne. Local residents should call on Planning Minister Richard Wynne to make a decision accepting amendment C134, or explain why the ALP government is refusing to protect amenity and improve building standards in an area that has long been Labor Party heartland.
Minister for Planning
Level 20, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ministerial Phone: (03) 839 26175
Ministerial Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com)
Or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com)
Council elections will be held on 22 October, and the Brunswick Residents Network will hold a candidates forum in early October for people campaigning in the South ward. This will give residents a chance to quiz candidates for Moreland Council about what actions they will take to improve the liveability of our suburb.
** Record number of planning permit applications
Record numbers of planning permit applications were received and determined in 2015-2016, highlighting the ongoing re-development of Moreland, especially in Brunswick and Coburg.
Over the past 5 years planning permit application numbers have increased by 31 per cent. In 2010-2011, Moreland received 1,503 planning permit applications. Last financial year, a new record was set, with 1,976 planning applications received. The vast majority of these applications (1,935) were determined by Council staff under delegated authority, rather than decided by elected councillors at Urban Planning Committee of full Council meetings.
In 2010-2011, 85 planning applications were lodged where the value of the works exceeds $1 million. By 2014-15, this had increased to 128 applications, with a further 108 applications in 2015-16.
Last year’s reduction in applications for projects exceeding $1 million was driven in part by developers deliberately underestimating the cost of works to avoid payment of the new Metropolitan Planning Levy (which amounts to $1300 for every million dollars of the development cost paid directly to the State Government).
Outdated planning fee sees councils paying to process development applications, Moreland leader, 11 July 2016 (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/news/outdated-planning-fee-sees-councils-paying-to-process-development-applications/news-story/5ff0c07aaf4c0f0c597038b8f1e20a02)
** Open space and greenery
BRN’s last public meeting focused on open space and greenery and highlighted the potential for local residents and renters to improve parkland, nature strips and green spaces. Last month’s newsletter highlighted the work of Brunswick Communities for Nature – here are three more ways you can contribute:
Tree planting in Brunswick streets
There are many levels of resident participation to improve the tree canopy, shade and greenery in Brunswick – from self-initiated planting, lobbying Council with your concerns or just caring about what grows outside your front gate.
This winter Moreland Council has been planting trees, with the goal of making more strategic choices around appropriate tree selection and maintainable numbers. Alex English, an Open Space Planner at Moreland Council, points to multiple tree plantings in Barkly, Barrow, Dawson and Victoria Streets, and the intention to plant 23 trees at the completion of the development at 21-27 Brunswick Road.
Planning for more green space on Lygon Street has begun, with resident consultation regarding a shady garden outside the Maternal and Child Health Care Centre (see next section).
Residents in Victoria Street have been campaigning for five years for a whole-street planting program to provide shade and calm traffic. In 2013, Council responded with a major roll out of 50 Little Spotty gums. Three years later, only 20 have survived. Many of these beautiful vigorous trees were repeatedly vandalised (they were enticingly tall and inadequately staked) and others died due to an ineffective and ad hoc watering schedule.
In the latest round of never-ending tree replacements, contractors Sevron Landscaping still continue to use the clearly ineffectual staking, instead of protective cages. The surviving trees, and self-initiated plantings by residents, have increased the neighbourhood tree canopy overall, but the constant waste of public resources and the ground-hog day lack of professionalism is bewildering.
Improving the survival rate of trees in Brunswick requires a major change in the ‘plant them and hope they live’ mindset. It seems likely that when trees are well maintained and flourish, residents are encouraged to care for them and will work with Council when concerned about their welfare.
Community Green Space in Lygon Street?
Positive Charge and Moreland City Council are working 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 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 second opportunity to share your ideas for the space on Saturday 27 August. If you’re in Lygon Street, stop off briefly to learn more about the project and share your ideas for improving this open space.
WHAT: Information and ideas stall for new Community Green space
WHEN: Saturday 27 August, from 10.30am
WHERE: Maternal and Child Health Care Centre, 320 Lygon Street
Planting around Brunswick train station
Friends of Upfield Linear Park (FULP) are working to tidy and beautify open areas along the Upfield railway line. The next planting day organised by FULP will be held on Sunday 14 August near the Brunswick train station (on the Upfield shared path near Albert Street, Brunswick).
The day will be full of planting, clearing, watering and general maintenance to help establish gardens in a linear park. FULP’s aim is to beautify the whole railway line with the help of local residents. Tools are provided but BYO food, water and gardening gloves any time after 10 AM.
WHAT: Planting day at Brunswick Station
WHEN: Sunday 14 August, from 10.00am – 2.00pm
WHERE: Brunswick Station (on Upfield shared path near Albert Street)
INFO: Gerard Morel on 0488 658 516
** Save our parkland: Hopetoun Avenue Reserve
At a time when we need to preserve green and open space, Melbourne Water is proposing to rezone and sell a section of the Hopetoun Avenue Reserve in Brunswick West (just north of Albion Street).
The proposed changes were only discovered when local residents spotted surveyors on the site. They subsequently learned that Melbourne Water is apparently seeking Ministerial ‘fast track’ approval to rezone Lot 1B from “Public Park & Recreation” to Residential. Moreland Council is also preparing the sub-division plans despite the outcome of the rezoning application not having been determined.
Despite this, the planned rezoning and sale goes against Moreland Council’s Open Space Strategy 2012-22, and council’s key objective to ensure that any surplus public utility land is re-designated as public open space. Melbourne Water’s proposals also go against State government policies to ensure long-term protection of public open space and to increase the quantity and quality of open space as our city grows.
The diagram of the Reserve (visible in this version: http://eepurl.com/caKOnn) shows the proposed rezoning an d sale lots marked in red.
Currently, the Moonee Ponds Creek corridor is supposed to be expanded as part of a major regional park with significant recreational and conservation value. Over the years, the Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek has undertaken plantings in the Reserve, to improve it as a community asset.
We encourage you to take action:
* Contact Melbourne Water objecting to the proposed rezoning and sale and the loss of open space in Hopetoun Avenue Reserve (www.melbournewater.com.au/aboutus/contactus/)
* Please also send a message to Moreland Council (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/about-us/your-council/contact-us/send-message)
* And sign the online petition (https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-the-park-at-hopetoun-ave.html#.V5_n7XiVIBU.facebook)
For more information, go to the Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek website (http://www.mooneepondscreek.org.au) or contact them on: firstname.lastname@example.org
** Have your say on play
Council is currently reviewing its Playground Strategy on the upgrade, construction and management of play spaces throughout the municipality.
If you’re into swings and roundabouts, you’ll soon have a chance to have your say. This week, councillors will consider a Draft Moreland Play Strategy 2016-2020. If approved at Wednesday’s council meeting, there will be a public consultation between 11 August 2016 and 1 September 2016 to obtain feedback before presentation of the final strategy to Council in September 2016.
With only three weeks to have your say on play, you should check the Council website later this week. (When we spot it, we’ll put it on our Facebook page as well).
** Movement on our streets
Traffic in Breese Street
With significant construction underway around Breese Street and Hope Street, Brunswick, there are also significant changes to traffic safety. Average weekday volumes on Breese Street have increased from 1,080 to 1,963 vehicle movements since 2010 (an 81 percent increase).
This week’s Council meeting will discuss a resolution to:
1. Add Breese Street, Brunswick to the yearly traffic count list.
2. Undertake a review of parking restrictions in three years once the level of development has stabilised.
3. Prioritise Breese Street, Brunswick for 40km/h speed limit implementation.
If you want more extensive action, contact your councillors before Wednesday nights meeting!
Upgrading Dawson Street
Moreland Council is moving ahead with the redevelopment of the streetscape in Dawson Street Brunswick, from Sydney Road to the Upfield railway line. This area runs from the intersection with the Mechanics Institute cultural complex, Brunswick Town Hall past the Brunswick Library and Brunswick Baths.
After tender process, Council is proposing to allocate the $1,650,000 contract to Evergreen Civil Pty Ltd (with $700,000 budgeted for 2016-2017 and a further $950,000 the next financial year).
The project aims to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to key public buildings on Dawson Street, including Brunswick Baths and the library, as well as pedestrian and bicycle connections between Sydney Road and educational institutions to the west of the Upfield Rail Line (including Brunswick Secondary College and RMIT)
** Celebrating Brunswick’s history and culture
Greek cafes and milk bars of Australia
In many suburbs and every country town, there was a Greek café or milk bar, open all hours, 7 days a week. Join a talk by historian Leonard Janiszewski and photographer Effy Alexakis, who will explain how these family-based, food-catering enterprises set the agenda and broadly affected and influenced Australian popular culture. Hear some of the personal stories of those involved – proprietors, waiting staff and customers.
WHAT: Talk on the history and culture of Greek cafes
WHEN: Thursday 11 August 2016, 7.30 pm
WHERE: Brunswick Library, Corner Sydney Road and Dawson Street (enter from Dawson Street)
INFO: Check details (http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/libraries/library-events-and-activities/readmore-project/talks-on-moreland-bill-kelly232/) and register online or phone 9389 8600.
Speed date a Muslim
Ever wondered why women wear a hijab? Worried about jihad? Come along to “Speed Date a Muslim”!
Every month, the Moroccan Deli-cacy at 313 Lygon Street, Brunswick organises a social gathering to create a space for dialogue and understanding, through candid and respectful conversation with Muslim women. For all you atheists, Hindus and Christians out there, it’s your opportunity to chat with Muslim women and ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted to ask.
The next meeting will be held on Sunday 14 August from 3 PM. Bookings are essential! RSVP to email@example.com
WHAT: Speed date a Muslim
WHEN: Sunday 14 August, from 3-4pm
WHERE: Moroccan Deli-cacy, 313 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
BOOKINGS REQUIRED: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who was Anstey?
Anstey Station’s named after him, but did you know that this Brunswick resident was a leader of the successful campaign against conscription during World War 1, and a firm opponent of the war? Anstey was also a Labor MP in both State and Federal parliaments, tramways union President, and a member of the Brunswick Football Club.
Join Frank Anstey’s biographer Dr Peter Love (President, Labour History Society) to hear more about our neighbourhood’s colourful history and one of its most significant characters.
The meeting is part of a series of activities organised by the Brunswick Coburg Anti Conscription Commemoration Campaign, to mark the centenary of the 1916-17 anti-conscription referendums. All welcome!
WHAT: Public lecture on Frank Anstey by Dr. Peter Love
WHEN: Tuesday 22 August, from 3-4pm
WHERE: St Ambrose Community Centre, 287 Sydney Road Brunswick
INFO: Facebook event (https://www.facebook.com/events/267243796990458/) or download flyer (https://brunswickcoburganticonscription.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/2016-08-22_anstey-meeting-flyer-double.pdf)
** Meet your local councillor
Cr Lambros Tapinos is one of three councillors in the South Ward, which covers most of Brunswick, Brunswick East and Brunswick West). (The others are Cr Meghan Hopper and Mayor Samantha Ratnam).
Cr Tapinos will be holding a ward meeting this Thursday 11 August. 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 11 August 2016, 6.00 pm
WHERE: Meeting Room E, Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick
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 prior to the 22 October elections are on:
* Wednesday 10 August 2016 at 7 pm
* Wednesday 14 September 2016 at 7 pm
* Monday 26 September 2016 at 6 pm (Consider Draft Annual Report)
* Wednesday 5 October 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
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