Brunswick Residents Newsletter, December 2020


Welcome to our end-of-year newsletter. Read on for our clunky cut-and-paste-from Mailchimp version, or read with nicer formatting here.

 

 

 

 

End-of-year special – COVID hasn’t slowed building applications – planning change allows residents to be bypassed – lots of community consultations – plus art and video links for some Christmas cheer! 

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Brunswick Residents Network News,
December 2020

 

*|MC:TOC|*

 

It’s our last newsletter of the year, and what a year it’s been. 
 
BRN has been busy on Zoom this year, organising a candidates’ meeting for the 2020 South Ward elections, networking with pedestrian activists and lobbying Council staff for zebra crossings, shared zones and new transport options. We surveyed residents in April on the impact of COVID, and put in a number of submissions to Moreland Council and State Government consultations on transparency, the Moreland Design Scorecard, and amendments to the Moreland Planning Scheme.
 
Thanks to the many people who sent in articles, photos, tip-offs and links to our volunteer newsletter team. Special thanks to chief sub-editor Nic Maclellan, to Nancy Atkin for her layout and production throughout the year and to our planning guru Joanna Stanley. We welcome your feedback (especially from people who tell us they like the newsletter). Please send us your ideas about what topics we should cover in 2021. 
 
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we’ll be back in 2021!  

 

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Planning news

Pipeline of major projects in Brunswick

This year has seen the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and a rapid decline in arrivals of overseas students and temporary migrants. If you thought that might have slowed down property development in Brunswick, think again. Developers have made a number of major land purchases across the suburb, setting the scene for a new pipeline of apartment complexes in coming years.
 
A few years ago, Moreland Council began a process to rezone land at a series of old industrial sites in a precinct located from 395 to 429 Albert Street, Brunswick. This area, west of the Upfield railway line near Clifton and Gilpin parks, was reprioritised for high density residential development.
 
Starting in 2016, the proposed Amendment C161 to the Moreland Planning Scheme sought to rezone this Albert Street precinct from Industrial 1 Zone to a Mixed Use Zone (MUZ), allowing commercial and residential developments. Amendment C161 would have required mandatory maximum height controls ranging from four to six storeys, and applied an Environmental Audit Overlay. 
 
However after a Planning Panel report in November 2016, Council abandoned this amendment in August 2017. The Panel had dismissed Council’s proposal for mandatory controls, and recommended 28 metres rather than 19.5 metres height for new projects, with the maximum height expressed as a discretionary, not mandatory, control.
 
But the rezoning was then taken out of Council’s hands by the State government. Instead of Amendment C161, the land was rezoned by under a new Amendment C172, covering the whole precinct in Albert Street. Minister for Planning Richard Wynne used his powers under section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to exempt himself from the normal notice provisions to approve this amendment. However Wynne’s new Amendment C172 abandoned the mandatory height controls of C161, applying a discretionary eight-storey height limit across the site.
 
Then the developers moved in.
 
In December 2019, major Sydney-based property developers Mirvac paid a reported $25 million for a 7,000 square metre parcel of land at 397-401 Albert Street. Mirvac also purchased an adjoining home at 403 Albert Street, adding another 457 square metres. The neighbouring 2,323 sqm block at 395 Albert Street is owned by Milieu Property.
 
As we reported in our August 2020 newsletter, Mirvac are now are partnering with Milieu Property to combine all three landholdings and build a massive new 500 apartment complex, dubbed ‘Albert Fields’. This area is bound by Clifton Park to its east, north and west, facing Gilpin Park across the road (nice views!). Once approved by Council, construction is due to start in mid-2022, and will cost an estimated $172 million to build.
 
In January 2010, the major developers Stockland also outlaid a reported $15 million for a former industrial site at 429-435 Albert Street. This 4,010 square metre site is less than 100 metres from the proposed Mirvac / Milieu multi-tower apartment project.
 
Meanwhile, other developers are continuing with significant multi-storey projects throughout Brunswick.
 
With the completion of phase one of the East Brunswick Village (EBV) project in Nicholson Street, north of Glenlyon Road, the Banco group have begun work on the next phase. EBV is expanding steadily northwards, after Banco bought up neighbouring businesses, including the South Pacific industrial laundry and the Townley Drop Forge.
 
Thai property developer Supalai Public Company Ltd and Gersh Investment Partners purchased a 2,943 square metre site for $12.3 million at 8 Ballarat Street, Brunswick (the corner of Ovens and Ballarat Streets, just a block from Sydney Road). The Brunswick Yard site currently has planning approval for a $90 million eight-storey complex comprising around 141 apartments, a retail tenancy and 158 associated car spaces over two levels of basement parking.
 
The Lucent group are already underway with construction of a $62 million project at 269 Stewart Street, near the CERES Community Gardens. The project, greenwashing itself with the name Stewart Collective, will comprise 69 residences on a site Lucent bought for $9 million in 2016.
 
The Cypriot Community have submitted plans proposing a 10-storey building to replace their existing buildings at 495–497 Lygon Street, retaining just the facade of the heritage-listed Liberty Theatre. The application includes three levels of basement carparking, with access from Albion or Stewart Streets via Stanley Street through the back lane. There has been significant community opposition in particular to height, overshadowing and traffic consquences.
 
And as discussed below, Nine Buildings is working on the redevelopment of the Brunswick Market, involving a “new multi-residential development.” Nine Buildings have also submitted plans for a narrow six-story complex in the residential section of Albert Street, just to the east of Sydney Road, behind Juanito’s café and the adjoining art space.
 

Brunswick Market

 
The developers ‘Nine Buildings’ are seeking community ideas for their re-development of the Brunswick Market in Sydney Road.
 
‘Nine Buildings’ links Dennis Paphitis (founder of the Aesop skincare company) and the Canberra-based Molonglo Group, led by directors Nectar and Johnathan Efkarpidis (for those who know the ACT, Molonglo were responsible for the NewActon development, lakeside on Lake Burley Griffin).
 
Earlier this year, the developers paid $17 million for the two-storey Brunswick Market at 661 Sydney Road, at the corner of Florence Street. It’s a large site, bounded by Breese and Florence Streets (see image, above), in an area near Anstey Station that already has many re-development projects (including The Commons and Nightingale).

The market has been operating at the site since the 1950s, providing locals with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. The site also includes a cobbler, hairdresser, two-dollar shop, second-hand store, mobile and computer repair shop and take-away food stores.
 
Proposing instead an “intimate cluster of residential and commercial buildings nestled around a central medina of shops”, the developers have hired a company to conduct community consultations until mid-January, to find out what locals would like at the site. 

The Nine Buildings website stresses that they are not your normal run-of-the-mill cowboy developer, and really want to know your inner-most thoughts: “The commercial offering will be shaped to respond to the emotional, intellectual and sensual needs of the residents …We acknowledge there is resistance to new multi-residential developments in Brunswick as residents have a strong sense of place they want to protect. Taking part in conversations about the site is a way for you to contribute to the creation of a community-centred development that respects the local Brunswick neighbourhood.”
 
The site is zoned for seven storeys with discretionary height controls, so let’s see how they respond if the community wants a community-centred four-storey building, instead of a ten storey tower! 

* The pedants among us are appalled at the Sydney-style pluralisation of “market”.

 

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Feature article:
Panel report on Two Dwellings on a Block

 

A State Government Planning Panel this month found Moreland Council to be “dismissive” of the value of third-party notice and review provisions in planning, but has recommended Council introduce its Amendment C190, a streamlined and fast-tracked system for building of dual occupancy, subject to clearer assessment requirements, tighter entry requirements and a communications exercise. 
 
This change to the Moreland Planning Scheme proposes “to introduce a streamlined VicSmart application pathway for planning scheme-compliant, two dwellings on a lot applications in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) and General Residential Zone (GRZ).”
 
Because these two residential zones cover more than 90 per cent of our municipality’s residential zoning, the proposed use of VicSmart is a major change. 
 
VicSmart is a streamlined assessment process created by the State Government which is supposed to be used for straightforward planning permit applications. Classes of application can be identified in the Moreland Planning Scheme as being VicSmart and have specified requirements for information, assessment processes and decision guidelines. Key features of VicSmart include: a 10 day permit process; applications are not advertised to neighbours; and the Chief Executive Officer of Moreland Council or delegate decides the application, not elected councillors.
 
If adopted, Amendment C190 will mean that proposals to replace a house with two townhouses or units on a block will create a new class of application under VicSmart. Applications that are compliant with the revised Moreland Planning Scheme will be exempt from notice, third party review, and any appeal to VCAT. Each year, about 400 ‘two dwellings on a lot’ applications are submitted in Moreland, and it’s estimated that a quarter of these would now run through the VicSmart assessment stream.
 
As reported in our last newsletter, Moreland Council’s proposed Amendment C190 went to a Planning Panel in October – the panel’s report was released on 1 December and can be downloaded here.
 
The use of VicSmart is a fundamental change, which the Panel acknowledges: “the Panel is mindful that Moreland is a culturally diverse community and the Amendment proposes significant change to the planning scheme, including removal of third party notice and review rights” (p26). It states “if it were possible to introduce a VicSmart process while retaining notice and review this would be the preferred response” (p.iii).
 
While recommending to proceed with the Amendment, the Panel clearly recognises that residents in Moreland are the guinea pigs for an expanded use of VicSmart beyond its original purpose. Their report states that “Council is effectively breaking new ground with the Amendment and broader use of the VicSmart stream.” 
 
Rebutting criticisms from BRN that most residents are unaware of the significance of these changes, Moreland Council planning staff argued before the Panel: “The inclusion of information about the Amendment in the Community Update that was circulated to all properties, was key to Council being satisfied that we made the broader community aware of the Amendment.”
 
The Panel members were clearly not persuaded, suggesting (in more diplomatic language than we can muster) that Council has done a lousy job explaining the significance of these changes to the community. The panel report states on p.26:

 

  • “it is likely that many residents and landholders may not have become aware of the Amendment though the channels used by Council”;
  • “the notice of Amendment (particularly the Community Update notice, the content of which is not constrained by planning regulations) could have been drafted to more clearly articulate the proposed changes in plain English, and potentially in other languages”;
  • “The Panel considers that a preferred approach would have been to notify all landowners directly and not just to rely on an article in the Community Update”;
  • “As identified by submitters, there is a risk that lack of community awareness and understanding of the proposed changes will result in confusion and frustration during implementation.”  

They stress that “extensive and culturally appropriate community education will be important in effectively explaining and promoting the proposed changes to the planning scheme post Amendment approval” (p.iv).
 
One of BRN’s major criticisms of Amendment C190 is that it will take away all rights to notification, review and appeal. The Panel members quickly picked up that Moreland Council staff are “dismissive” of residents’ right to have a say on planning decisions that affects them. The Panel report states (p.37): “The Panel considers that Council’s submissions were somewhat dismissive of the value of third party notice and review and agrees with [expert witness] Mr Glossop and Mr Rowley that the statistical analysis of outcomes does not accurately reflect the value to improved development proposals and outcomes.”
 
In submissions to the Panel, Moreland Council staff argued that the new system will save staff time and resources, to be allocated to more complex, larger planning permits. But the Panel cautions against “a view that efforts of community engagement are best focused on more complex or larger developments, where according to Council the potential impacts are greater. Localised impacts of development can be significant, and this is not considered reasonable justification for removal of notice provisions for smaller scale development.”
 
BRN argued that the removal of notification rights, which is supposed to speed up the process, may in fact cause more disputes between neighbours, with Council staff being dragged in to explain what’s happened. For some people, the first time they’ll know that a neighbour’s house will be replaced by two townhouses is when Whelan the Wrecker arrives to demolish the house. 
 
As the Panel report states on p.41: “cancellation applications could occur, particularly in the early introductory phase of applications moving through this pathway. This is likely to be accompanied… with calls from adjoining owners about what is occurring next door to them or querying compliance with permit conditions. Responding to such enquiries can be resource intensive and reinforces the Panel’s recommendations for further communication with the community about the Amendment and VicSmart process …. Council may also need to consider an active enforcement program to ensure developments approved under this stream are compliant to provide a level of community confidence in the process.”
 
On balance, the Panel recommends proceeding with the amendment. However it also notes that “while there will be a net community benefit associated with economic, social and environmental outcomes, there is potential for localised negative social aspects, particularly relating to notice and review… The Panel acknowledges the concern of some submitters that there may be unintended consequences of the Amendment, particularly in directing housing growth away from well serviced areas” (p.21).
 
They recommend “that implementation of the Amendment should be closely monitored to identify and address any unintended consequences specifically relating to social impact (including loss of notice provisions) and distribution of residential growth.”
 
The recommendations of the Panel will be considered by Council in early 2021, where Councillors can decide whether to adopt the amendment as exhibited, adopt the amendment with modifications or in part, or abandon the amendment.
 
BRN hopes that newly elected councillors will take the time to read the Panel report and talk with us before Amendment C190 comes back again before Council. BRN considers that there will be broader state-wide implications from the introduction of the Amendment, as all other councils have eyes on this initiative. We understand the State government will monitor the review of this streamlined process in Moreland, to justify when and how to introduce its flagged VicSmart-Plus system.  We ask councillors to make their own decisions on what the Moreland Council planning staff recommend.

 

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Bunnings avoids Councillors, goes straight to VCAT

At their Planning and Related Matters Meeting on 16 December, Moreland City councillors unanimously rejected a proposal from Wesfarmers corporation to establish a Bunnings Warehouse at 145 Glenlyon Road, near the intersection with Lygon Street.

Councillors heard compelling arguments from some extremely articulate local residents: it’s worth taking a look at the video, on the Council Facebook page, to see the presentations:
https://fb.watch/2yi5SB3oWg/

Council staff reported that “the proposed use and development will have an unreasonable impact on the traffic within the surrounding area and cannot be supported. The development also fails to respect the character of the area and does not provide setbacks from the adjoining residential land to ensure that the site provides an appropriate transition to the lower-rise residential land to the west of the site.”
 
However their decision doesn’t end the saga – the company had rushed to VCAT as soon as the rules permitted, to request a permit (VCAT case P1683/2020). VCAT proceedings start in February 2021 to determine if the project should go ahead. Moreland Council will now formally join residents in opposing the proposal before VCAT, with locals concerned about a range of grounds relating to built form, traffic, noise, amenity, overshadowing, air pollution and impact on cyclists and public transport.
 
In previous newsletters, BRN has highlighted the scandalous failings of the traffic impact assessment report by TTM consulting, submitted as part of the Bunnings submission. You don’t need a degree in traffic engineering to see the weaknesses of the report (e.g. No traffic data was obtained at the nearby intersection of Glenlyon Road and Lygon Street; there was a lack of crucial data needed to assess sweep paths for long trucks at entry and access points; and the TTM report used data on traffic movements from the Fairfield Bunnings store, even though this store is half the size of the proposed Brunswick warehouse!). 
 
Moreland Council has now obtained a peer review of the traffic assessment study, which comes to the same conclusion as local residents: “The traffic modelling presented by the applicant is deficient and unsatisfactory in a number of critical aspects, to the extent that Council should take little confidence in the conclusions reached in the TTM report.”
 
Last July, Bunnings’ consultants Metropol admitted the obvious: “The proposal has the potential to result in amenity impacts on adjoining residential properties due to noise, visual bulk, overshadowing and loss of access to daylight.”
 
It’s time for Bunnings to give it away, and start looking for a suitable location in Brunswick for the much-loved sausage sizzle.
 
Stop Bunnings Glenlyon

 

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Council workings

Community Engagement

 
After months of work, Moreland has adopted a revised Community Engagement Policy, as required before next March by the State Government under the Local Government Act 2020.
 
At the December meeting, councillors adopted the new policy together with a Community Engagement Implementation Plan 2020-2024, designed to roll out the scheme. Council had already appointed a Public Participation Team, and it was agreed that these staff should be retained for at least three more years to establish systems and implement the Implementation Plan! 
 
We look forward to greater success in community engagement in coming months, given high levels of dissatisfaction shown by Council’s own Customer Satisfaction Surveys (for two years in a row in 2019 and 2020, residents rated Moreland Council a bare pass, 53/100, for community engagement. The 2020 Survey shows that residents rated Council a low 56/100 for decisions “made in the interests of our community”).
 
As one example of this initiative, December’s meeting agreed that Council would run an “independent, robust and broad community engagement process” in early 2021 on a refresh of the Hosken Reserve Master Plan. There was widespread anger this year over Council plans to introduce synthetic turf on part of the reserve, given the original 2009 resident survey did not canvass views about synthetic turf on the northern oval. Many current local residents were not living near the reserve when the original 2009 Master Plan was developed and could not be expected to be aware of the plan (which is not even available on the Council website).
 
In March 2020, Council put in a grant application for State Government funding for the Hosken Reserve project and was granted the funds in September 2020. However, the stuff-up over community engagement led to the withdrawal of the State Government funding in November, following a review which found consultation and local support was insufficient.
 
With plans to hold a full community discussion in coming months and to present a report to councillors in May 2021, “Council officers have acknowledged that the community engagement for the Hosken Reserve synthetic turf project over many years was not adequate. All stakeholders should be included in Council’s engagement practices and in this case, nearby residents were not adequately consulted. The gaps in engagement were not intentional but they caused understandable frustration and stress to local residents.”

Underlying the controversy are environmental concerns (synthetic turf is made from plastic, and gets very hot in summer). And with increasing population density and residences without back yards, public open spaces are in high demand, and the days of facilities being earmarked for a single sport are probably over.  

Community grants for Brunswick

 
Community organisations can apply to Moreland Council to obtain a range of grants to support their work at local level, including Recreation Facility Design Grants (up to $10,000 per application); Organisational Support Grants (up to $10,000 per annum for 2 years); Capital Works Partnership Grants (up to $40,000 per application, with a minimum 25 per cent contribution from the applicant towards the project).
 
It’s great to see some grants for 2021 provided to local groups, including $8750 to Brunswick Bowling Club to improve toilet and storage facilities; $10,000 to the Brunswick Cricket Club $10,000 to extend their practice wickets and $10,000 to Brunswick Cycling Club for a pump track at the velodrome

[We looked up “pump track” and found: ‘A pump track is a continuous loop of round bumps and banked turns that you ride not by pedaling, but by “pumping.”’ (A bit like making a swing move.)]
 
Both the Brunswick East Bocce Association and Brunswick Tool Library received $10,000 Organisational Support Grants for two years in 2021 and 2022.

Have your say on Frith Street Park
 
Moreland Council is looking for your ideas about a new park in Frith Street, Brunswick
 
In April 2019, Council purchased number 14 Frith Street, Brunswick, a 2,700 square metre industrial property that had previously served as a Fletcher Jones clothing factory, an electrical substation and a forge and foundry. The disused site still has a number of heritage features, including a stylised brick entrance for the Fletcher Jones plant, and a large building, approximately 10 per cent of the site area, on the north west corner of the future park.
 
The site was purchased under the 2017 Council policy dubbed ‘A Park Close to Home’, which allows for the purchase of sites for parks to ensure that everyone living in the City of Moreland is within 500 metres walking distance of a park or open space, and within 300 metres for those living in the city’s busiest, high-density areas.
 
Some funding for the Frith Street park re-development will come from Moreland’s Open Space Reserve Fund as well as the State Government Local Park program. However, there is not enough funding for the costs for the building and associated land area and Council proposes to work with a private commercial operator to identify the preferred use of the building in the future, and extent of funding required. 

Conversations Moreland has a series of pictures and a brief survey or you can leave your comments about the draft design for the Park. Several comments that say that we need more green space, grass and large trees. The sketches (see above) show much too much concrete, with small trees in pots on the southern side rather than proper trees planted in the ground. Do we really want land bought with parks funding to include yet another coffee shop?

For further information on the site, you can contact Andrew Blight on 9240 1111 or email ablight@moreland.vic.gov.au

Blyth Street park upgrade

There’s also a review happening of Anderson Park – you may not know its name, it’s the not-so-beautiful park on the corner of Blyth and Lygon Streets. There are some good suggestions already posted online, so jump in and add to the discussion

 

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Transport and traffic

 

Getting to school safely

 
This month, Brunswick MP Tim Read released the results of his Brunswick School Safety Survey, which aimed to learn how many children walk, ride and skate to school, and to understand the safety concerns of parents. The survey of 424 Brunswick households shows 86 per cent of those responding to the survey currently use active transport to get to school (49 per cent walking, 30 per cent cycling, 13 per cent car and 8 per cent public transport or other means). 

We’ve done some further number-crunching which confirms that distance travelled also affects choices. For children living less than 1km from school, only 3 per cent go by car, with almost three quarters of this group walking. Car use jumps to 38 per cent for children over 1.5km from the school. For the “inbetween” group, with 1–1.5km to travel, almost half arrive by bike or scooter, but 17 per cent come by car. 
 
95 per cent of parents said their child wants to walk or ride to school but despite this, 53 per cent of parents feel unsafe about their child walking or riding.
 
This survey will be used to advocate the state government and Council to improve road safety around schools and promote health, clean air and active transport (walking or riding etc) in Brunswick.

Parking policy roll-back

 
In a major reversal of policy, the incoming councillors have ditched key elements of the Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy (MITS), which was adopted in March 2019. MITS was designed to “facilitate a demonstrable mode shift to more sustainable modes of transport that also targets a long-term reduction in car use.”
 
At their December meeting, the Council agreed to abandon the planning scheme amendment proposed in the MITS, which would have allowed the removal of minimum car parking rates in developments and the setting of maximum car parking requirements in activity centres.
 
The December resolution, moved by former Mayor Lambros Tapinos, also halts planned future parking restrictions arising from the MITS. These restrictions were to be applied in all Major Activity Centres (Coburg, Brunswick and Glenroy) and all Neighbourhood Activity Centres, but will be ditched in favour of an approach to parking restrictions based on local need and usage. 
 
The resolution creates an element of chaos for staff over the summer, given the MITS parking restrictions have already been implemented in two Activity Centres. The officer report to Councillors also notes that “modifications to MITS will have consequential flow on impacts to those policies and programs and the goals and targets in the Zero Carbon Moreland – Climate Emergency Framework and 2020/21 – 2024/25 Action Plan will also need to be reviewed.”
 
Staff now have to go back to the drawing board, to prepare a report by next April’s Council meeting on a revised Parking Management Policy and existing parking permits. Despite the extensive discussions over the MITS, there will probably be another round of community consultation in 2021, trying to identify the different needs across the municipality (with the level of car use and access to public transport in the South Ward different to much of the two northern wards).
 

Walking and cycling trials in 2021

 
Councillors who championed the abandonment of the MITS parking changes and planning amendment need to ensure that the resources required to implement their rollback of MITS parking policy do not damage other positive initiatives contained in the strategy.
 
With the abandonment of the MITS parking strategy, councillors have called on staff to prepare a new strategy by April. It’s a worrying sign that Council staff have already raised concern about the time this would take away from implementing existing pledges in MITS, such as the trials of shared zones and bike lanes that have been proposed for the South Ward. In their report to the December Council meeting, staff noted: “Resources required to action this motion could affect delivery of some transport projects in 2020/21 such as the COVID-19 pedestrian and bicycle projects or other MITS deliverables.”
 
After lobbying from a range of community groups last year and discussions with Council officers, Moreland Council has proposed a number of pedestrian and cycling improvements using State Government COVID-19 funding, including new zebra crossings, pedestrian thresholds, bicycle lanes, shared zones, reduced speeds on residential streets, and turn bans at key intersections on tram corridors. 
 
Some of these projects are being delivered as trials, using materials that can be modified or removed depending on the outcomes of the trials, which are expected to run up to two years. In our part of the municipality, these trials include:
 
Dawson Street – introducing separated bicycle lanes on Dawson Street, Brunswick between the two existing cycling routes, the Upfield Shared Path and the West Brunswick Shimmy.
 
Albion Street – bicycle lane improvements in Albion Street, Brunswick will connect cyclists diverting from the temporary closure of the Upfield shared path north of Tinning Street
 
Albert/Victoria Street shared zones – a “pop-up” trial of shared zones – where pedestrians, bikes and slow-driving vehicles share the road –  Albert Street and Victoria Street, Brunswick East near where the shared path runs through Fleming Park. BRN has advocated for years for shared zones next to the park. However 
 
It’s worth taking a moment to support these positive changes. For details of the timing and location of these trials, and to give your feedback, go to:

 

Health impacts of traffic pollution

A coroner’s report in the UK has listed air pollution as a cause of the death of a child living near busy roads in London, overturning a previous finding that had described the death as respiratory failure. The report focuses attention on the effects of toxic air pollution. 

 

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Exploring the city

 

RenuWall

Artists get ready! Three sites have been identified across Moreland as ideal sites for large scale murals for the council-funded RenuWall project. The chosen walls have great public exposure and high foot traffic:

  • Brunswick Park Exeloo, Victoria Street, Brunswick (Area 20 sqm) – $4,000
  • Brunswick Baths, Phoenix Street Entrance (Area 70 sqm) – $13,000
  • CitiPower Substation, Fallon Street, Brunswick (Area 56 sqm) – $12,500

Community artists can put in submissions for street art. They will be required to respond to the specific themes and backgrounds as well as more universal themes of sustainability, community and/or history. Artists are not required to respond to themes literally or figuratively – abstract expressions are also welcomed. The designs are not expected to be fully finished works but they should clearly indicate the proposed idea. 
 
Due to the differing scale and logistical requirements, each site has a different fee attached, ranging from $4000 to $13000. 

Smart Art

A  new council initiative allows you to find out about about local murals as you walk around, through a phone app. Check details – or ask get your artwork added.
 

A Moreland Christmas

If you are after a little Christmas cheer, you can watch a new short film – a Very Moreland Christmas – starring the Moreland City Band, and performances including singer-songwriter Kutcha Edwards. 
 

Unknown Melbourne

Julian O’Shea is a nerd, and produces videos about Unknown Melbourne.  For those willing to explore south of Park Street, his short videos present some snapshots of the city…. 

Secrets of Our Cities

For those into urban Australia, HG Nelson (Greig Pickhaver) has produced a couple of slick docos, seeking to discover the secrets of some of Australia’s most iconic cities. A typical Sydney-sider, he misses Brunswick to explore Fitzroy instead, but also travels to Footscray, Fremantle, and Bondi to uncover hidden history and unsung residents. 

 

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Interesting idea of the month

Even with new social housing initiatives by the State Government, there is still a long queue of homeless and low-income people desperate for cheap rental accommodation or long term housing. In a city with lots of empty apartments, maybe Victoria should consider the taxation of owners of long-term empty apartments, as occurs in Spain and Canada, as a way of generating revenue and encouraging owners to put their property on the rental market.
 
The City of Vancouver has the highest rental costs of any Canadian city, so the local government has instituted an empty homes tax, with net revenues from the tax reinvested into affordable housing initiatives. Properties deemed empty are subject to a tax of 1.25 per cent of the property’s assessed taxable value – this amount will rise to 3 per cent in 2021. The City of Vancouver says since its inception, the tax has helped reduce the number of empty homes in the city by 25 per cent.
 
Vancouver implemented the tax in 2017, with the intent of cracking down on property speculation and foreign property ownership that left many homes in the city empty amid a housing crisis. Most homes are not subject to the tax, as it does not apply to principal residences or homes rented for at least six months of the year. There are a number of other sensible exemptions, such as if your property is undergoing major renovations. However if property owners are found cheating in their declaration on the status of the property, they can be fined up to $10,000.
 
Since the inception of the Empty Homes Tax, C$61.3 million has been allocated to support a variety of affordable housing initiatives to increase the supply and affordability of social housing and to support renters. 

In Barcelona, the city’s housing department has a more drastic approach. They wrote to 14 companies that collectively own 194 empty apartments, warning that if they haven’t found a tenant within the next month, the city could take possession of these properties, with compensation at half their market value. 
 
These units would then be rented out by the city as public housing to lower-income tenants, while the companies in question could also face possible fines of between €90,000 and €900,000. For the properties to be eligible for forced purchase, they must have no tenant contract for two years and no record of recent power or utilities use.
 
Barcelona’s Latest Affordable Housing Tool: Seize Empty Apartments, Bloomberg

 

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Moreland Council stuff

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

The next scheduled meeting date is Wednesday 10 February 2021 at 7pm. Dates for the rest of 2021 have not yet been posted.

Meeting details are normally posted 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 when it’s posted on the Friday before the monthly meeting. You can register there to receive an alert when the agenda is posted. Recent meetings have also been live-streamed on the Council Facebook page.

There has been no public question time because of COVID-19 rules, but if this is not restored in the new year, you can submit a written question through a link on the website page above. 

 

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Email us!

Please note our email address:  brunswickresidentsnetwork@gmail.com. And write to tell us what you think of the newsletter. We love feedback. 

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.

[Wondering why this email comes to you from nfip@optusnet.com.au? Our Mailchimp email service doesn’t like a gmail sender’s address, so we use a member’s address. Add this address your contacts so our emails don’t get filed as spam, but don’t write to it)

 

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Contacts for our local councillors

Mark Riley (Deputy Mayor)
Mobile: 0499 807044
Email: mriley@moreland.vic.gov.au

Lambros Tapinos
Mobile: 0433 419 075
Email: ltapinos@moreland.vic.gov.au

James Conlan 
Mobile: 0409 279 335
Email: JConlan@moreland.vic.gov.au

 

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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 brunswickresidentsnetwork@gmail.com. (This gmail is our preferred address, rather than replying to this email). Thanks to those who have contributed to this edition.

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.

Election comment in this issue authorised by N. Maclellan, c/- 135 Albert Street, Brunswick 3056.

 

 

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