April 2019 Newsletter

Our April Newsletter includes a special feature on Moreland’s 10-year transport strategy, reflections on developer greenwash, more bad planning decisions, and our usual round-up of community and cultural events.

We recommend you read it online here for better formatting – or scroll down for a clunky cut-and-paste from Mailchimp.

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Meet your Federal election candidates

With the federal election looming on 18 May, Brunswick Residents Network is co-sponsoring a candidates’ forum with Climate Action Moreland on Monday 29 April. Come along to discuss priorities on sustainability, climate and amenity espoused by candidates in the seat of Wills.

As we go to press, confirmed participants include sitting member Peter Khalil (ALP), Adam Pulford (Greens) and Sue Bolton (Victorian Socialists). The Liberals are looking for a new candidate after falling afoul of Section 44 requirements.

  • Another forum on asylum seeker and refugee policy is being organised in Brunswick by ‘Northsiders with Refugees’ on Tuesday 23 April from 6.00 – 7.30 pm. Registration links for both events, below.

WHAT: Wills candidates’ forum on Climate and sustainability

WHEN: Monday 29 April 2019, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

WHERE: Merlynston Progress Hall, 1 Novian Street, Coburg North 3058 (Train to Merlynston Station).

INFO:  John on 0408 536 733.


WHAT: Wills candidates’ forum on asylum seekers and refugees

WHEN: Tuesday 23 April 2019, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

WHERE: Brunswick Uniting Church, 214 Sydney Road, Brunswick





Moreland’s new 10-year transport strategy

Get ready for the brawl on parking

The newly adopted Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy (MITS) proposes major changes to parking policy in the municipality, as a key strategy to promote “mode shift” and encourage increased walking, cycling and use of public transport.

Under current Victorian planning law, minimum parking requirements for new developments apply across the state, but can be reduced in certain activity centres. The Parking Implementation Plan that accompanies MITS proposes “establishing maximum car parking rates instead of minimum parking requirements for new development in Activity Centres, and reduced minimum parking requirements in Neighbourhood Centres.”

The policy is designed so that parking maximums only apply to new developments, which will allow developers more flexibility on how much parking they think the market desires. To address increased parking overflow from new developments, Council will introduce restricted two-hour parking areas in Brunswick, Coburg and Glenroy activity centres, between 8am-11pm from Monday to Friday. Permit parking will be available for eligible residents (those in pre-2011 dwellings)

After the adoption of the MITS in March, Moreland Council will ask the Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne to authorise Council to prepare and exhibit an amendment the Moreland Planning Scheme.

Although MITS was adopted by 10 of 11 councillors, the follow-up has become politicised, with local ALP members actively attacking the parking strategy. Following the election of a Greens MP for the seat of Brunswick, ALP Planning Minister Dick Wynne has already suggested he has doubts about the proposed policy change (especially given his track record of rejecting proposed mandatory height controls, the Moreland Apartment Design Code and a request by Moreland Council to mandate minimum apartment sizes).

Jewel Topsfield: “Planning Minister criticises council plan to axe car parks”, The Age, 3 April 2019

As you can see in the links below, the policy has been welcomed by many planners, but opposed by people who are concerned about the impact on parking availability (especially for households with more than one car). There are also concerns over the cost and availability of residential parking permits. However looking at media reporting, there’s been misunderstanding and misinformation about the implications for residents. For example, the policy permits, but does not mandate, the building of apartments without parking. Surely the vast majority of car-owners would look for accommodation with a carpark (i.e. almost any new-ish apartment built up to now) in areas where they’re not eligible for on-street permits? Brunswick Residents Network Facebook page has begun a lively discussion on the merits of the parking policy.

BRN supports the broad shift proposed in the MITS and parking implementation plan. As we’ve reported in the past, there’s plenty of evidence of the connection between the ready availability of parking and traffic volumes: summarized in this Washington Post article.

We do, however, have concerns about how Moreland Council will roll out the policy, and the priority that may be given to parking rather than other mechanisms for traffic management. We believe that changing parking policy is just one strategy to promote mode shift. There is a danger that a politicised brawl over parking will distract staff time from the priority implementation of other positive strategies outlined in the MITS (30kph trials in residential streets, road closures, improvements to cycling shimmies etc). As discussed in the story below, it’s taken years of lobbying to get Council to adopt plans for road closures in Brunswick East to protect cyclists and stop rat-running in local roads.

People will only shift from cars to bikes and other active transport when they feel safe to do so, and parents will only stop driving their kids to school when it’s safe and easy for the children to walk or ride. There is a crucial need – from state and local government – for investment in safe cycling infrastructure, better pedestrian crossings and traffic calming measures.

A central failure of our so-called “planning” scheme is that increased density in housing is not accompanied by the social and transport infrastructure to support the increased size of the community – everything from green open space to public transport, bike paths, child care and other services. Given Brunswick is scheduled to grow by tens of thousands of people in coming decades, this ongoing lag in infrastructure funding and service provision will continue to cause problems and damage the amenity of our neighbourhoods for years to come.

In a rate-capped environment, Moreland doesn’t allocate enough funds needed to address the pressures of a growing population in Brunswick and Coburg. This month, BRN met with Council staff to discuss its ten-year program of capital works for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. But in both MITS and the capital works program, there’s a lack of focus on proactive, precinct-wide planning for areas that are under increasing pressure from traffic. (The new capital works program will come before the May or June council meeting for approval).

A crucial challenge will be for Council to provide the funding to implement the vision set out in the MITS, based on priorities agreed with the local community. As always, it’s one thing to develop a pretty strategy – the real challenge is to implement it, through ongoing, systematic community engagement that addresses the changing needs and priorities of people who work, live and play in the area.

 Is car parking a waste of space? Public forum

Bicycle Victoria is hosting a forum on car parking, with a panel including Alexander Sheko of Moreland City Council (co-ordinator of the MITS process); Cr Nicolas Frances Gilley (City of Melbourne); Dr. Liz Taylor (Monash University); Rebecca Clements (University of Melbourne) and Emily McLean (RACV).

The panel, on Wednesday 17 April, will talk about why car parking has been given such a good run and what are the alternatives.

WHAT: Public forum – Is car parking a waste of space?

WHEN: Wednesday 17 April 6:00pm – 8:00pm

WHERE: Bicycle Network, level 4, 246 Bourke Street, Melbourne

COST: The forum is free for Bicycle Network members. Entry for non-members is $10.99

REGISTRATION: https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/rides-and-events/car-parking/

Moreland Council community meeting: capital works program for pedestrians and bikes

The March meeting of Council voted for a community meeting to discuss its 10-year capital works program for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Council officers took this to mean a drop-in chat with individual staff members. Although this was informative, it was not a public meeting with views exchanged and questions shared by community members, so we are pleased to be notified that a community meeting will now be held on 1 May (well, it looks like it may be a real community meeting). The date for submissions on the capital works program has been extended to 10 May.

WHAT: Moreland Council Community Meeting on Capital Works Program for pedestrians and cyclists

WHEN: Wednesday 1 May, 6pm – 8pm. Although the notice says “presentation will begin at 7pm”.

WHERE:  Coburg Town Hall, 90 Bell Street, Coburg (Concert Hall Meeting Room, enter from Urquhart Street)

MORE INFORMATION: including links to interactive map, and spreadsheet, showing proposals, at https://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/active-travel

Road closures approved for Brunswick

In a significant shift of policy and practice, Moreland Council’s recently adopted Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy (MITS) has recognised that strategic road closures on local residential streets are a valuable traffic management tool. MITS Headline Action 3 promotes “use of road closures to support mode shift” from cars to other means of transport.

This welcome policy change, adopted in March, has been followed by decisions at the April Council meeting to begin the process of closing three streets in Brunswick East (Council has also agreed to consider other proposals for closures in coming years, so BRN welcomes suggestions about other possible closures, from residents and local businesses – email: albertstreet2020@gmail.com)

Peers and Sumner Streets: As reported in last month’s BRN newsletter, residents living east of Nicholson Street have been campaigning for the closure of Peers and Sumner Streets, to stop rat running by hundreds of cars leaving the East Brunswick Village (EBV) project.

A Community Information Session was held on 7 March, attended by over 70 residents. It was a strong community response – more than 80% of the 62 written response forms submitted at the workshop called for road closures in both Sumner Street and Peers Street. The overwhelming verbal feed-back to Council officers supported both road closures. In addition, a petition with signatures representing 85% of all dwellings in Sumner Street, Peers Street, Rupert Street and Noel Street supported both road closures, complemented by letters of support from the local kindergarten and church.

At their April meeting, Council agreed to begin the formal process with the aim “to erect temporary barriers in Sumner Street from Noel Street to a point 8 metres further west, and in Peers Street from Nicholson Street to a point 11 metres further east to block the passage of vehicles other than bicycles, for the purpose of a genuine traffic diversion experiment.”

Submissions will soon be called, to go to a committee of four councillors (the three South Ward reps and the Mayor). The date of the submissions committee hearing will likely be set for May. If approved, the barriers could be installed in July or August 2019. Get ready to have your say.

John Street & the East Brunswick Shimmy:

Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and VicRoads have rejected Council’s bid for  protected bike lanes in Nicholson Street, as they build new tram super stops for the Route 96 tram – more details in a separate article below. (Design illustrated above, from PTV’s brochure). 

This makes the East Brunswick Shimmy all the more important as a north-south bike route (especially as the Upfield Shared Bike path will soon be disrupted by the construction of four level crossings in the north of the municipality).

So congratulations to Moreland Council for finally agreeing to protect the northern John Street section of the East Brunswick shimmy, which will soon have hundreds of extra vehicle movements a day exiting from the East Brunswick Village (EBV) project.

This section of the cycling shimmy runs along John Street, one block west of Nicholson Street, alongside the EBV site.

A community consultation on options for cyclists and pedestrians in John Street was held at 2pm on Friday 8 June 2018. It was attended by John Street residents, members of BRN and the Moreland Bicycle Users Group. Reporting to councillors this month, Council staff said: “There was a lower than expected attendance at the meeting. Council officers were contacted by people stating they were not able to attend the meeting, due to when it was being held.” (Advice to Council: holding a public consultation at 2pm on a Friday afternoon, the day before a three day long weekend, is guaranteed to result in a low turn-out from people with jobs or families!)

Nine months on, Council has now proposed a street closure on the corner of John Street and Albert Street, as the bike shimmy exits from Fleming Park, giving priority to the East Brunswick Shimmy. Councillors also agreed to proposals to upgrade the refuge island at the intersection of Glenlyon Road and John Street. A preliminary layout has been completed that widens the refuge island and includes Disability Discrimination Act compliant pram crossings. There is also scope in the design to add a pedestrian crossing in the future, if traffic levels mount on Glenlyon Road in coming years.

The closure at Albert Street will remove the existing rat-running by cars on John Street, while allowing access for cyclists and pedestrians (It’s proposed that a retractable bollard be installed at the closure to maintain access for rubbish trucks). To enhance crossing from Fleming Parking to John Street across Albert Street, Council officers are proposing to give right of way to cyclists and pedestrians on the East Brunswick Shimmy. This treatment would require car and truck traffic on Albert Street to give way, and would need the removal of on-street parking (the Fleming Park Master Plan supports the removal of parking at these entrances to Fleming Park).

As with the proposed closures on Peers and Sumner Streets, these proposed changes will be advertised, and submissions can be made to a panel of four councillors, at a date to be advertised.

After many years of lobbying, BRN thanks Council for taking action on John Street and the East Brunswick cycling shimmy, and we look forward to further discussions about a precinct-wide traffic plan for this area.



Safe travel updates


Cars too close to bikes

Interesting and worrying research from Monash University, released last week, suggests that a single stripe of white paint on the road is worse than no markings, for protecting people who ride bikes

The research found that marked on-road bicycle lanes, particularly alongside parked cars, are not good at protecting people who ride bikes. Specifically, “passing events” that occurred on a road with both a bicycle lane and a parked car had an average passing distance that was 40cm less than a road with neither a bicycle lane or parked cars. (The passing distance was reduced by 27cm, on roads with bicycle lanes but no parked cars.)

In the largest study of its kind in the world, data was collected on 60 cyclists in Melbourne. They rode their bicycles with a custom device (the ‘MetreBox’) installed to measure the distance that motor vehicle drivers provide when passing cyclists. More than 18,000 vehicle passing events from 422 trips were recorded. Overall, there were approximately 1.7 passing events of less than 100 cm (one metre) for every 10km travelled.

One in every 17 passing events (n=1085) came within one metre of the travelling cyclist and, alarmingly, 124 passing events came within less than 60cm. In higher speed zones, greater than 60 km/h, roughly one in every three (n=293) passing events was a ‘close’ pass (<150cm). 4WD vehicles came 15cm closer to the cyclist than sedans, on average.

Sydney Road hazards

It’s not just cyclists who face hazards riding in Sydney Road. Last month, Channel 9 broadcast footage of a motorist fleeing the scene after hitting a motorcyclist with her car on the corner of Sydney Road and Cozens Street in Brunswick. Although the driver briefly stopped, she then fled the scene, leaving the injured motorcyclist in the hands of passers-by. You can watch the footage here:

Moreland BUG and Neighbourly bike rides 

You can however learn to ride in safety! Brunswick bike riders of all ages and capacities can join in regular, free bike rides run by community organisations and social enterprises.

Moreland Bicycle Users Group (Moreland BUG) runs highly enjoyable all-day social rides every 2nd Wednesday, almost entirely on off-road paths. Rides start at the Moreland Railway station at 10:00am for a 10:10 departure, usually ending by 4:27pm. Bring bike, sunscreen, wet weather gear, water, MYKI, snacks, lunch (and/or money). The pace is leisurely depending on requirements of the group.

Neighbourly Rides: For inexperienced riders, there’s a new program organised by Bunchrides, targeted at new bike riders of all ages. You can book for a free, safe ride of about 40 minutes around your neighbourhood. Ideal for new bike riders and children building up confidence on a bike.

Nicholson Street super stops

Construction will begin next month on three new accessible super stops for the Route 96 tram on Nicholson Street, Brunswick East (numbers 23, 24 and 25 between Albert Street and Brunswick Road), as illustrated in our transport feature above.

Plans for a fourth stop (no.22) were also presented to Council at their April meeting, for a major rebuild of the stop at the intersection of Nicholson Street and the Capital City bike trail. This new stop will be a 67-metre long island platform, providing access to trams heading both north and south (similar to the stop in Elgin Street near Melbourne University, for routes 1 and 6).

The new stops will be a significant improvement, providing rain shelters and disability access to new low floor trams on Route 96.

In March, Public Transport Victoria (PTV) organised community meetings to show off the plans for the tram stops. BRN attended the public display, but it was soon clear that PTV were not particularly interested in any comment on the final designs! The state agency has an exemption from the need for a planning permit under Condition 4.2.1 of the Tramway Infrastructure Upgrade Incorporated Document (May 2017), which does not provide for a public notification process. There are also no third-party rights of review to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.



They call it planning, we call it anarchy . . .


Legal manoeuvres open way for apartments near CERES 

Since 2017, CERES Community Environmental Park and local residents have been locked in a protracted battle with the developers Lucent, who have sought permits for a six storey high rise on the western border of CERES, at 269 Stewart Street, Brunswick.

This project highlights the problem of conflicting state and local strategic objectives, the danger of inappropriate development and a new tradition of “greenwashing” by developers (discussed below). Moreover, delays in approval of Amendment C167 to the Moreland Planning Scheme, adopted by Moreland Council and submitted to the Planning Minister Dick Wynne in April last year, may result in the over-sized building being approved on land abutting CERES.

The project has been through two hearings at VCAT, in 2017 and 2018. Earlier this month, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) made an interim ruling on the long-running dispute. The Tribunal’s latest decision includes a careful explanation of why four storeys is the maximum height suitable for this site and setting. But the ruling then indicates that VCAT is prepared to approve six storeys, apparently locked into a precedent by comments in their earlier decision in 2017. Beyond this, the final approval of rules for this site (reversing what was put to the 2017 VCAT hearing) has seemingly been stalled by a clever legal tactic from the developer.

The developer appealed against Council’s refusal of a permit in 2018, following earlier refusals of this project by Council and VCAT in 2017. VCAT recently made an interim decision on the proposed six storey apartment block, which is immediately beside CERES Community Environment Park.  VCAT has now required further refinements to the plans to reduce adverse visual impacts of the proposal, which should be submitted to VCAT by late May 2019. This could see a six-storey apartment complex dominating the CERES Park and other parts of the Merri Creek valley, in an area mainly with single storey dwellings.

While VCAT has indicated that, in its current form, the proposal is unacceptable, it is likely that the developer will comply with the required changes. These amendments must be circulated to other parties to the case for comment ahead of VCAT making a final decision.

The VCAT decision gives careful consideration of the appropriate scale for development on this land, concluding “that a four storey height on this site could be an acceptable scale subject to the building form being appropriate to the context.” It notes that “a building that reaches five or six storeys in height … is challenging” for several reasons. One reason is that “there are no planning policies specifically encouraging this scale of development in this area” [paragraphs 43 to 47 of the 2018 VCAT decision].

However it appears that VCAT’s reservations about the scale of this proposal may have been outweighed by its 2017 decision to refuse the permit, which “found six storeys may be possible with changes to the design” [par. 14 of 2017 decision].

As a ‘repeat application’ case, VCAT considerations are guided by several principles that might allow variation from a previous decision. A key principle applicable to this case was whether there had been a ‘change in policy’ since the earlier hearing. In fact, there was a dramatic reversal in Council’s position between the 2017 and 2018 VCAT hearings. However, ahead of last November’s hearing, the same developer lodged a procedural challenge to aspects of amendment C167, causing the Planning Minister to defer finalising approval of the amendment until this latest challenge was considered (after completion of the permit appeal hearing).

As a result of the delay, this important (corrected) policy document has not yet been formalised into the Planning Scheme, and VCAT “decided to give Amendment C167 limited weight” as the relevant Scheme content had not been changed since the 2017 hearing. Some parties to this matter believe this procedural challenge was a tactic to stall clarification of Council’s policies ahead of the hearing, sustaining uncertainty and confusion about strategic intentions.

The content of Amendment C167 also affects a couple of hundred other properties across Brunswick, so it’s urgent for the state government to make a decision to remove this confusion. Between October 2016 and April 2018, an erroneous policy compilation adopted by Council suggested that hundreds of properties were located within the Brunswick Activity Centre, and were thus designated for intensive redevelopment. However this designation was not consistent with the Planning Scheme or the history of Council’s statutory decisions guiding urban change in Brunswick.

Due to persistence by CERES staff and neighbours, supported at times by Council, the current proposal for the Stewart Street site has been moderated significantly since the initial application. The number of proposed apartments has reduced from 106 to 71 (possibly less with the changes sought by VCAT). There are also substantially reduced setbacks, enabling greater landscaping and improved presentation to Stewart Street, retaining existing large gum trees. However the building remains twice the height of any other surrounding structures in the area, which is unlikely to see significant future change.

VCAT echoed objector fears for pedestrian and cyclist safety due to increased traffic generated by the proposal, which would push traffic volumes beyond the ‘environmental capacity’ threshold – straining functionality and amenity.  VCAT also noted Council policies since 2010 that encourage traffic calming works and pedestrian priority on this section of Stewart Street.

The Stewart Street project: a striking example of developer ‘greenwash.’

Sharp-eyed residents have drawn our attention to deceptive marketing employed by the developers Lucent, seeking to build community support for their Stewart Street project. Hoping to ingratiate themselves with the local community, Lucent are hosting environmental and cultural events that mask and promote their commercial interests.

In February 2019 Lucent staged “The Stewart Street Collective Fete.” The promotion for the fete featured a craft market, creative works, live music food stalls and the Sustainable Living Festival.

CERES staff have informed BRN the marketing approach of Lucent was to “re-engage with the community” and “build trust” in the neighbourhood. The ‘fete’ was arranged by marketing firm Savi (which boasts about “breaking rules” in its approach). Masquerading as a community neighbourhood event, it cynically implied association with CERES by featuring images of the park in their promotion of the event – even as CERES was campaigning against Lucent’s project!

Lucent also claimed the event was part of the Sustainable Living Festival, which disassociated itself from this commercial promotion.

Some paid presenters included a group directly associated with CERES, who were initially unaware of the developer connection. They were later unable to withdraw because of contractual commitments.

  • We’ll investigate an offshoot of ‘greenwashing’ in next month’s BRN newsletter: ‘culturewashing’! as the Banco group – developers of the East Brunswick Village –  start ‘conversations’ with their neighbours.


Facing a wall 

Caveat Emptor: The longstanding principle of “Let the buyer beware”!

With the amount of construction underway in the Brunswick activity centre, it was only a matter of time before the view from a multi-storey apartment tower was blocked by a neighbouring building.

A spectacular example of this was highlighted in a recent broadcast of A Current Affair. Apartment owners in Gamble Street, Brunswick have been built-out by a neighbouring building within the East Brunswick Village (EBV) complex. The TV program vividly shows how the view from balconies has been blocked by a solid concrete wall, located within metres of their Gamble Street apartments.

It’s been suggested that EBV could have acted in a more neighbourly fashion and modified their plans (The EBV developers have already used VCAT to oppose Moreland Council policies on affordable housing and traffic management!) However caveat emptor! According to Moreland Council’s online planning information, the Gamble Street apartment plans were approved in 2015, AFTER the EBV site was approved.

Apartment purchasers may need to do more due diligence to discover if there’s a monolith about to be built next door. Moreland Council told Channel 9: “Prospective property purchasers and tenants are encouraged to contact Council and utilise its service that can provide information on what approvals have been given on neighbouring sites.”

However a major question remains: how did Council staff come to approve plans for the Gamble Street development with north-facing balconies, when the EBV plans presumably showed that there would be a wall built in close proximity, directly to the north? The decision was made by staff under delegation, so why weren’t the plans noted as controversial, and referred to elected Councillors for review?

Back in 2011, this newsletter reported on a Local Government Ombudsman review of an appalling Council decision made by staff, for 288 Albert Street (formerly ‘Brunswick Heart’). Council has since amended their guidelines that set out which planning applications can be made by staff. Applications that must be referred to councillors include when:

  • “The application is considered to be sensitive or warrant determination by councillors following consideration comprising the Mayor, Portfolio Councillor City Development, the Chief Executive Officer, the Director City Development and the relevant Ward Councillors”.


There goes the neighbourhood: VCAT approves 10-storey Barkly Street tower

VCAT approval of a “visually jarring” 10-storey apartment tower in Barkly Street, Brunswick, opens the way for further over-development of this corner of the suburb.

Last month, VCAT overrode Council objections for planning permit application MPS/2018/879, and directed that a permit be issued for land at 270-272 Barkly Street.

The site is located approximately 60 metres east of Sydney Road in an area zoned Commercial 1, opposite the Barkly Square shopping centre in the Brunswick Activity Centre (BAC). The planned 10-storey building comprises two levels of office space on the ground floor and Level 1, as well as 70 apartments commencing at Level 1. Basement car parking over two levels is also provided at the rear via McDougall Street (though VCAT approved reduction of the standard car parking requirement).

VCAT noted: “In some locations, the rear boundary setbacks of the proposal do not comply with the performance standards. This is a particularly contentious element of the proposal.”

However once again, in their presentation to VCAT, Moreland Council refused to follow their own guidelines for height and setbacks in this part of Brunswick. The VCAT ruling noted: “the Council is not opposed to the building’s overall height of 33m which exceeds the preferred 25m height specified in the DDO18 for this part of the BAC.”

(This makes it harder to argue against future projects that breach Council policy on heights and setbacks – if Council staff and hired consultants won’t support existing policy, which should Tribunal members?).

The approval of 10-storeys will impact on future projects in this area, such as the Gelwick site, directly to the south at 241-245 Brunswick Road. The Gelwick site contains a warehouse used for industrial purposes with vehicle access from both McDougall Street and Brunswick Road.

Last year, another division of VCAT refused a permit a proposal for a 10-storey mixed use development requested by Gelwick Management Pty Ltd

Gelwick Management Pty Ltd v Moreland CC VCAT [2018] 768

A key issue was whether there were adequate building setbacks to ensure equitable development to adjoining properties and to ensure adequate daylight to future occupants of the proposed development.

This owner of the Gelwick site was no doubt grumpy that their 10-storey project was rejected, and registered objections when ID Barkly Apartments sought to build a 10-storey tower immediately to the north. However Gelwick withdrew from the latest proceeding at the commencement of the VCAT hearing, “having reached a private agreement with the applicant”, according to the Tribunal. Look out for another 10-storey application soon! With VCAT soon to reveal its ruling on the massive 13-storey project at nearby 699 Park Street, it’s clear that this area is now open slather.

VCAT is honest enough to admit they’ve opened the floodgates, with the ruling acknowledging: “Being the first building of this kind in this part of the BAC [Brunswick Activity Centre], there is no question that this development will be prominent and even visually jarring when viewed from the public realm in the context of lower scale one and two storey built form in the immediate surrounds. However, we expect this to be a relatively short term outcome. If the planning scheme aspirations for the MAC [Moreland Activity Centre] are to be genuinely realised, it is inevitable that this surrounding lower scale built form context will similarly undergo substantial change over time.”

So it’s OK to breach existing height and setback policies, and this building will set a precedent for future VCAT rulings allowing even more 10-storey buildings in the surrounding area!

Brunswick site sells for $4.3m

Don’t believe the notion that the property market is off the boil. Domain reports: “a mixed-use development site at 2-10 O’Connor Street, located just off Lygon Street, has sold for $4.3 million, defying residential market concerns.” Pictured at left

The site, just behind Kumo Japanese restaurant, unites three properties with old single storey houses. The real estate agents noted that the property attracted a substantial field of local and off-shore buyers: “Development sites are still very much on the shopping list.”


Data confirms Moreland attracts more, bigger developments

State government data shows Moreland is still receiving planning permit applications above the average for municipalities across Victoria. For example, in February, Moreland received 71 new permit applications (more than the monthly state-wide average of 65), This amounts to 750 applications for Moreland between July 2018 and February 2019. In this seven month period, the total cost of proposed projects was heading towards three quarters of a billion dollars ($716,309,463). Many projects in Moreland are larger than the average – the total estimated cost of works for permits issued in Moreland in February 2019 was $136,415,147, more than double the average for Metropolitan Melbourne of $57,558,056.

Source: Planning permit activity in Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning





Green things

New Council environmental policies

At their April meeting, Moreland councillors adopted a series of policies on environmental issues, promoting action on emissions, plastics and rubbish around the municipality.

Council adopted policies on:

Zero Carbon:  A new implementation plan for the ‘Zero Carbon Moreland – 2040 Framework’, which was adopted last September to help guide the municipality to zero carbon by 2040. Council will now follow through with an implementation plan from 2020-2025, likely to go out to community consultation from May

Single use plastics: After debate on the impact on local sporting clubs, Council adopted a “plastics wise’ policy banning disposable plastic items at Council festivals and events. Sporting facilities, clubs and Council pools and leisure centres will still be permitted to sell bottled drinks, but staff will work to encourage the adoption of other ways to reduce plastic waste (expanding number of water bubblers etc).

Food waste collection: For those that don’t compost already, Council will roll out a Food Organics Green Organics (FOGO) collection program in the second half of the year, After a successful trial in Pascoe Vale, residents without a green bin will be able to get one free after 1 July, with food and garden organics being collected from the kerbside and processed in a plant run by Veolia Environmental Services.

Hard rubbish: Council received a report on the success of a new policy introduced in 2018, which saw two rather than one hard rubbish collections each year. In 2016 and 2017, an average of 2,957 tonnes of hard rubbish was collected, but last year, the first collection gathered 2,770 tonnes and the second 2,103 tonnes.

Full details of all these policies are available in the Council agenda for the April 2019 meeting.

Two small parks for Brunswick 

As part of ‘A Park Close to Home’ – Moreland Council’s 2018 policy to create new open space – Council has purchased sites to create two new parks for the community in Brunswick.

The first will be located in Tinning Street, which runs between Sydney Road west to Shamrock Street, north of Albion. The Tinning Street park development includes 55-61 Tinning Street. The other small park will be in West Street, Brunswick, near to Anstey Station and the Commons. This park, on land in part purchased from local developers tied to the Nightingale initiative, is located a block north of Duckett Street, where new Nightingale apartments are being built.

The parks will improve the amenity of the area, where local residents are also campaigning for better traffic management (this month, Tinning Street residents presented a petition containing 39 signatures requesting Council to install speed humps at the corner of Colebrook and Tinning Street).

Energy planning for those who need help

The Brotherhood of St Laurence will hold a workshop in Brunswick to help you find the most affordable energy deal to suit your needs. Anyone who is on a concession card, receives a Home Support Package or has low English, digital or numerical skills is eligible to participate. Pass the word to neighbours who may be eligible, so they can join the information session and find out how to switch.

WHAT: find the most affordable energy deal

WHEN: Wednesday 17 April 2019, 1:00 pm

WHERE: Brunswick Library, 233 Sydney Road, Cnr Dawson St

Registrations essential at: Eventbrite





Community and culture

Celebrate Italian folk music in Australia.

Sonu – Italian songs from the National Archive 

Sonu is a performance that celebrates Italian folk music in Australia, presented by Salvatore Rossano and local Italian band Santa Taranta,.Beautiful songs, stories and voices from the National Library of Australia’s collection come alive. Free event but registrations essential.

WHAT: Sonu performance if Italian songs

WHEN: Wednesday 24 April 2019, 7.30 pm

WHERE: Brunswick Library, Cnr Sydney Road and Dawson Street (enter from Dawson Street),

INFO: 8311 4100 or readmore@moreland.vic.gov.au

Brunswick Book Group 

Moreland Council’s library service has several book groups for adults. The library supplies a limited number of copies of the book for discussion each month. The Brunswick Book Group meets the last Wednesday of the month at 7 pm, at the Brunswick Library, corner Sydney Road and Dawson Street.

Bookings not required. For further information, contact Moreland City Libraries, phone 9389 8600 or email: brunswicklibrary@moreland.vic.gov.au

Short story writing workshop

Join a small workshop to discover what makes a story compulsive reading, with Robert Skinner, founding editor of The Canary Press. His own writing features regularly in The Monthly. Robert will help take your writing to the next level and discover what makes a story compulsive reading. Registrations essential.

WHAT: Short story writing workshop

WHEN: Wednesday 15 May 2019, 7.45 pm

WHERE: Brunswick Library, Cnr Sydney Road and Dawson Street (enter from Dawson Street),

REGISTRATIONS: Contact Moreland City Libraries, phone: 8311 4100 or email: readmore@moreland.vic.gov.au





BRN Working Group meeting

Thanks to those who came to our  BRN Working Group in March where we discussed coming activities and strategies.

If you are able to offer some time to volunteer to help organise our campaigns, and support our work, please get in contact. Our work includes organising meetings, leafleting and letter boxing, graphic design and publicity, and research; on planning, greening Brunswick and traffic management.





Next Moreland Council meetings

All Council meetings – held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month –  are normally held at: Council Chamber, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street*, Coburg.

Council meetings for the remainder of 2019 are scheduled for:

  • Monday 23 April 2019 – 6 pm – Propose the 2019/2020 Budget
  • Wednesday 8 May 2019
  • Wednesday 12 June 2019
  • Monday 24 June 2019 – 6 pm – Adopt the 2019/2020 Budget
  • Wednesday 10 July 2019
  • Wednesday 14 August 2019
  • Wednesday 11 September 2019
  • Monday 23 September 2019 – 6 pm – Consider the Draft Annual Report
  • Wednesday 9 October 2019
  • Monday 28 October 2019 – Ceremonial Council Meeting
  • Wednesday 13 November 2019
  • Wednesday 11 December 2019

The next Council planning meetings are:

  • Wednesday 27 March 2019
  • Wednesday 24 April 2019
  • Wednesday 22 May 2019
  • Wednesday 26 June 2019

Dates sometimes change, so check for all meeting details at the Council website. Council meetings can be watched online, either live, or later – you can find details here along with the agenda for the next 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.





Contacts for our local councillors

Mark Riley (Deputy Mayor)

Mobile: 0499 807044

Email: mriley@moreland.org.au

Lambros Tapinos

Mobile: 0433 419 075

Email: ltapinos@moreland.org.au

Jess Dorney

Mobile: 0419 560 055

Email: jdorney@moreland.org.au






Welcome to new readers! To contact organisers of the Brunswick Residents’ Network, or to offer help with future activities, please email albertstreet2020@gmail.com. (This gmail is our preferred address, rather than replying to this email).

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. Help us reach more people by liking our page, commenting, forwarding this newsletter, and tweeting it using the links below.











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