Brunswick Residents Network Newsletter, March 2022

With nicer formatting here:, or read on. Scorecard bites dust; Merri Creek visions; traffic humps for Nicholson “Bends”; culture, history, Council news, and more.


Residents win on scorecard – but Brickworks heritage tumbles. Council, planning, culture, the creek, and why to love 30kph

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Brunswick Residents Network Newsletter,
March 2022




Why 30kph? BRN Zoom forum

Lena Huda is a co-founder of 30Please – a community campaign that’s campaigning for slower speeds in quiet residential streets across Australia.

Lena (pictured right) is involved in 30km/h trials in Liverpool and Wollongong to research what safety improvements come from reducing speeds to 30kph, which is becoming more common in local streets around the globe. 30kph is regarded as a “sweet spot” balancing increased safety with minimal impact on travel times. (Research shows that a fatal injury to a pedestrian is at least twice as likely to occur in a crash at 40km/h than at 30km/h). It’s an effective and low-cost intervention that will encourage walking and bike riding, help calm traffic in our residential streets, and discourage rat-running.

Lena Huda will speak at a lunchtime Zoom seminar hosted by Brunswick Residents Network on 31 March. With just two 30kph trials currently being planned by Moreland Council, this is a chance to understand and discuss the evidence on why 30kph should be supported more widely for our local streets.

The one-hour forum will be hosted by Dan Ziffer and will include question time. Please share the invitation! If you can help distribute flyers, please email us. And we’ll send the link to this list again, the day before.

WHAT: Why 30kph? Zoom forum
WHEN: Thursday 31 March, Midday, 12.00PM–1.00PM
INFO: or call 0421 840 100
ALSO SUPPORTED BY: Walk on Moreland, and Pedestrian Safety for Nicholson Street Coburg.



Moreland Councillor resigns after charges laid

On 16 March, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) will hold a countback of votes for an extraordinary vacancy created by the resignation of Councillor Milad El-Halabi on 10 February.

Councillor El-Halabi stood for election to Moreland City Council in October 2020, as a member of the Australian Labor Party. Since that time, he has served on Council, one of four councillors representing the North-West Ward.

However in early February, Victoria Police laid charges against Mr El-Halabi, his wife Dianna El-Halabi and daughter Tania El-Halabi. They were charged on summons with conspiring to cheat and defraud electors. On 25 February, their case came before the Melbourne Magistrates Court, with the three accused represented by eminent barrister Robert Richter SC, facing allegations they stole multiple ballot papers and lodged them with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). Their barrister has stated they intend to plead not guilty.

Following Councillor El-Halabi’s resignation, the North-West Ward vacancy will be filled through a countback of the formal ballot papers cast at the last Council election. Votes will be redistributed to candidates who were unsuccessful at that general election, and who remain eligible to participate in the countback, to fill the extraordinary vacancy.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is separately considering whether the election in the North-West Ward was compromised badly enough that the results should be thrown out and a new election called.

The VEC countback will take place at 10am on Wednesday 16 March. You can watch the countback online using Cisco Webex from 9.45am on that day, by visiting The result will be published online at following the countback.



Planning news: wins and losses 

Scorecard bites the dust

It’s down for the count, though not dead, buried or cremated. In a close vote at their February meeting, Moreland councillors agreed to abandon plans to permanently integrate the controversial Design Excellence Scorecard into the Moreland Planning Scheme.

Brunswick Residents Network has been a key part of the campaign against Moreland’s scorecard system. BRN’s Joanna Stanley presented a petition of more than 350 signatures to the February Council meeting, calling for the abandonment of plans to incorporate the Scorecard. Joanna told Brunswick Voice that this decision was a massive win for residents: “It’s a total win because it actually gets rid of delegates deciding controversial developments, and they should always be decided by elected councillors.”

Thanks to the many people who contacted councillors to press them not to abandon their role as elected decision-makers, as occurred during the three year trial of this planning tool. During debate, one councillor acknowledged that she had not received one communication in favour of the Scorecard, though many against! The resolution adopted at the February meeting “notes and acknowledges the concern about the Design Excellence Scorecard expressed by community members during the trial period, particularly in regard to robust democratic oversight of the planning process by the community and Councillors.”

The resolution adopted by a divided council continues the use of the Scorecard as a guideline for developers, but removed wording for the planning scheme that “exempts the Moreland Design Excellence Scorecard compliant applications from being reported to the Planning and Related Matters (PARM) meeting or a Council meeting.”

The resolution effectively removes the specific changes to officer delegation guidelines that allowed the design excellence scorecard applications to be decided by Council officers: “Applications that meet the Design Excellence Scorecard will now be treated the same as all other applications including being reported to a Planning and Related Matters Council meeting when the number of objections or building heights require that a decision be made by the Council, rather than by Council officers.”

The Scorecard will now be maintained for developers to use as a guideline only, and Councillors have asked staff to prepare “a report in the second half of 2022 outlining further ways in which better quality developments can be encouraged and bad quality developments can be discouraged in Moreland, including information on what initiatives other Councils have undertaken to improve the quality of development.”

The voting was four in favour (Greens councillors Pulford, Conlan, Panapoulos and Riley) and four against (Bolton, Yildiz, Tapinos and Pavlidis), and was only carried on the casting vote of Mayor Mark Riley. Another pending motion, moved by Councillor Sue Bolton, to completely remove the Scorecard for the planning scheme, did not come to a vote.

In a letter to BRN after the decision, Moreland’s Director Place and Environment Joseph Tabacco said that “the Design Excellence Scorecard does not include a commitment to a fast track process”, and that Council “remains committed to meaningful community consultation on planning matters.”  We look forward to meaningful community engagement in the future.

Heritage demolished at Brickworks

In yet another tragic decision to destroy the industrial heritage of Brunswick, Heritage Victoria has issued a permit to allow developers Sungrove Corporation Pty Ltd to commence demolition of the former Steam Engine House at the Hoffman Brickworks, following dismantling of the adjacent Brick Press Shed.

The Brickworks are of national significance as an industrial heritage site. Both historic buildings date to the 1880s, when the brickworks was the industrial heart of the new suburb of Brunswick. The Dawson Street compound was first recognised as an important heritage site in the 1982 Brunswick Conservation Study. The National Trust classified the site in 1987; it was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 1989 and to the heritage overlay of the Moreland Planning Scheme.

However a developer bought the historic factory, committing to preserve and restore its historic features in return for the right to build and sell housing over the remainder of the site.

Despite the developers’ early pledges to protect these historic buildings, the Steam Engine House and adjacent Brick Press Shed had been left neglected for years. In mid-2020, the roof of the former engine house collapsed and Moreland City Council issued an emergency order to stabilise the remaining brick walls.

Without using the term ‘demolition by neglect’, Heritage Victoria now acknowledges that “the former engine house was not adequately maintained or protected over an extended time, and this resulted in the catastrophic collapse of the roof in 2020.”

Last month, Sungrove applied for further demolition orders, a move opposed by both the community group ‘Save the Brickworks’ and Moreland Council. Unfortunately, on 25 January, Heritage Victoria granted a permit for the demolition of Steam Engine House building that faces Dawson Street, in order to remove contaminated soil at the location, as ordered by the EPA in 2020.

The Heritage Victoria statement acknowledges “that the demolition of the former engine house will have a substantial and negative impact on the place, resulting from the loss of that building and also from the cumulative loss of heritage buildings on that site since the closure of the Brickworks. Further, demolition of a heritage building is a poor heritage outcome which is only approved by Heritage Victoria in rare circumstances. In this case, Heritage Victoria accepts that demolition of the former engine house is the only viable option for providing access to the ground below the building to enable the investigations and remediation required to remove contamination from the site.”

Demolition is now under way, illustrating the weakness of our heritage legislation, which clearly lacks teeth: neither enforcing forced re-construction nor effective penalties.  (Picture above by Jim on Brunswick Fairly Good Karma FB group).

Planning applications up again

Despite the pandemic, planning permit applications are on the rise again, with a 13 per cent overall increase in 2021 compared to 2020.

For the quarter ending in December 2021, there were 367 planning applications (a 12% increase compared with 329 for the same quarter in 2020). There was an 18% increase in the number of planning decisions: 364 planning applications in the December quarter compared to 308 for the same quarter in 2020. Nearly a third of applications were for multi-dwelling projects, and another 20 per cent for subdivision of land.

In 2021, two applications in Brunswick were called in by the State Government or Minister Dick Wynne was responsible for making the decision:
• 10 Dawson Street, Brunswick- Demolition of existing buildings and development of a mixed use building, use of the land for dwellings and a reduction of the standard car parking requirement
• 215-219 Albion Street, Brunswick – Construction of a nine storey building (including roof top terrace) comprising retail and office tenancies and dwellings, use of the land for dwellings and a reduction of the standard car parking requirement



Moreland revives community reference groups

After a lengthy review process, Moreland Council has revived and revamped a number of advisory committees and reference groups, to draw on the diverse knowledge and experience of community members across the municipality.

There are five revamped advisory committees that allow 10-15 locals to contribute to policy making and budget priorities, “to provide strategic advice and be consulted for input on Council policy, strategy or major operational proposals.”

  • Arts Advisory Committee
  • Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee
  • First Nations Advisory Committee
  • Human Rights and Inclusion Advisory Committee
  • Sustainable Transport Advisory Committee

There are another five reference groups, headed by a councillor to contribute to “the planning and development of a project or initiative” in the following areas:

  • Affordable Housing Reference Group (Cr Bolton)
  • Age-Friendly (Older People) Reference Group (Cr Pavlidis / Cr Tapinos)
  • Disability Reference Group (Cr Bolton)
  • Gender Equality Reference Group (Cr Panopoulos)
  • LGBTIQA+ Reference Group (Cr Pulford)

Brunswick Residents Network was active on the old Moreland Transport Advisory Committee, and BRN’s Nic Maclellan has now been appointed to the new Sustainable Transport Advisory Committee. There are many BRN friends and supporters involved in this work, so if you’d like to contribute ideas on any of these topics, please get in touch and we can connect you to local residents involved in the new groups especially around planning and transport issues.



Traffic and transport

Humps for Nicholson Street

After extensive campaigning by local residents, speed humps and other traffic control measures will be installed in the notorious stretch of road near Brunswick East Primary School. The new works follow years of campaigning by local residents and ‘BE safe streets’, in a bid to reduce regular car accidents in the area. This main road is managed by the Department of Transport (DoT), with Council only in charge of the footpaths.

To give you an idea of the problem of speeding in this area, check out this very short video from 15 January: watch for the blue ute.

The DoT will now introduce speed humps near Lyndhurst Crescent and Glenmorgan Street, Brunswick East, together with improved signage and pavement markings. Despite this welcome response, residents will continue pushing for further major and permanent changes to the dangerous Nicholson-Albion bend, even after the new traffic control measures are put in place next month.

Resident Caterina Cinnani notes the DoT turn-around in the face of community pressure: “A few years ago, the VicRoads engineer was blue in the face insisting that there would never be speed humps on an arterial road. I think the campaign has proven that when people come together and campaign for pedestrian and cyclist safety, that anything is possible. VicRoads have also said they can’t redesign the road, but this latest announcement gives hope that if we keep campaigning and make the case on safety issues, that community pressure can change policy.”

As BEsafestreets explains, “this campaign started with a little petition by a very special school crossing officer who saw near misses every day and was worried about the safety of our kids getting to and from school. Everything this campaign has achieved so far is because of our amazing neighbours and community who gave up their time for doorknocking, leafleting, petitions, letters and surveys and always turning out to local meetings.”

Ideas on better transport for Brunswick

In the lead up to the State election, the Melbourne on Transit blog has prepared suggestions for public transport service upgrades that are relatively economical, meet real needs and would benefit many voters.

Here are their four suggestions of potential transport improvements for the seat of Brunswick:

* Upgrade Upfield line train frequency from every 40 to 20 minutes on Sunday mornings. Would halve maximum waits (from 40 to 20 minutes) in a densifying corridor.

* Boost Upfield line trains from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes at night. Would reduce evening waits and provide generally better connectivity with trams and buses.

* Improve evening tram 19 frequency from 20 to 15 minutes, with greatest priority for early evenings. Service drops to every 20 minutes too early for a well-used route. Keep daytime frequency running longer.

* Increase weekend frequency on bus routes 504 [Brunswick Road] and 510 [Blyth Street] and potentially extend latter to Heidelberg. Popular direct bus routes but weekend frequency drops off. Upgrades would make a lot of cross-suburban trips easier. A 510 Heidelberg extension would improve access to the hospitals.

What do you think? Maybe add: running buses on route 508 (Glenlyon Road) on Saturday evenings and Sundays. What else should we be asking of contenders for the Legislative Assembly when BRN hosts its annual candidates’ meeting later this year? Send us your ideas at

Fleming Park shared zones trial: final Council survey

The “shared zones” in Albert Street have now been in place for around a year in Albert and Victoria streets. Our mini-survey of readers last year found that most walkers and bike riders found crossing to the park safer, but made a number of suggestions for improvements which we passed on to Council staff. Council has now put a survey online to seek further, presumably final, feedback. A massive increase in resident numbers is occurring due to new apartment construction in that part of East Brunswick, so safe access to this major park is important for the health and well-being of residents – young, old and canine. Please support the shared zones and fill in the survey for your side of the park, or both. (There are separate survey links for Victoria and Albert street zones).

And – for people in this area, and especially if you have kids or grandkids at Brunswick Secondary – please take a moment to support the separated bike lanes in Dawson Street.



Loving the creek

Merri Creek “visions”

On Thursday 24 March, Moreland Council will hold an online forum to discuss the unique values of the Merri Creek catchment, and opportunities to protect and enhance this green corridor as it flows through our suburbs.

Improvements suggested for discussion for this popular green space include: improving safe spaces for women (after a terrible attack in 2019); highlighting the indigenous connections to the area; adding art, sculpture and community seating along the Merri Creek Trail; more urban food cultivation; re-wilding.

Find out more and register for the Zoom discussion on 24 March at Merri Creek & Surrounds Visioning

WHAT: Merri Creek and Surrounds Visioning – Online Conversation
WHEN: Thursday 24 March 2022, 10am – 11:30am
HOW: 1.5 hour long online Zoom event
INFO: Bernadette Hetherington at

Take a seat by the creek!

Brunswick Residents Network has added its name to a “seating installation blitz” proposal put to Moreland Council by six community groups from all along the creek. Initiated by Walk on Moreland, the proposal is for seats to be installed by the path, at least every 400 metres,from Brunswick to Fawkner. This would in particular allow people to enjoy the creek, who due to health or ability issues can’t walk far without resting. (Council has called forprojects suggested by the community, with a total budget line of $250K.)

HOW TO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT PROPOSAL: Council will list all the proposals received, and we get to vote. The list is due for publication today, but hasn’t yet appeared; go to this page and click “follow” to receive notifications: 



Culture corner

Brunswick Music Festival is back

Brunswick Music Festival will return this weekend for its 34th year running.  The 10-day event will be held between 4–14 March including the outdoor venue at Gilpin Park.

With a line-up that includes Adalita, Birdz, Body Type, Didirri, Flyying Colours, Gordi, Gregor, HTRK, Irish Mythen, Kaiit, MOD CON, RAT!hammock, Ziggy Ramo there’s music for everyone.

History and a bike ride for International Women’s Day
Moreland Bicycle Users Group are  are running a ride next Sunday 6 March, to celebrate International Women’s Day – with a historical bent this year –  focusing on significant women in Moreland. They have some great guest speakers lined up and promise a fun afternoon

And more:
The “Best of Brunswick” weekly digest from Brunswick Voice includes more arts and culture suggestions, as well as extra news.



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.

Future dates are:

  • 9 March
  • 13 April
  • 11 May
  • 8 June
  • 13 July
  • 10 August
  • 14 September
  • 12 October
  • 9 November
  • 29 November – Mayoral Election (Tuesday)
  • 7 December.

Meeting details are available on 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.



Email us!

Please note our email address: 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.

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Contacts for our local councillors

Mark Riley (Deputy Mayor)
Mobile: 0499 807044

Lambros Tapinos
Mobile: 0433 419 075

James Conlan
Mobile: 0409 279 335




Welcome to new readers! To contact organisers of the Brunswick Residents’ Network, or to offer help with future activities, please email (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

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Election commentary authorised by N. Maclellan, c/- 135 Albert Street, Brunswick, Victoria 3056




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