Tuesday, May 02, 2006

2030, developers, councils and government

Back when our present Victorian state government was first elected, I had high hopes for planning in our wonderful city. That rogue Kennett and and all his developer mates had behaved appallingly with planning. It was very clear that they were on the side of developers and paid scant attention to what local people wanted in their area.

Our new government had a plan called 2030. I have never read it, but the essence of it seems to be to consolidate population growth in areas that are well serviced by public and private facilities and not to just keep sprawling the growth out into the country side.

Two matters have stimulated this post. One was a post by Urban Creature, and the other when driving through Camberwell Junction last Sunday. Urban Creature says that the State Tory opposition are releasing a new plan. I won't expect much from them. Camberwell Junction was an area specified under 2030 as a growth area. There was a plan to build over Camberwell Station and build a considerable number of apartments there, along with of course more retail. Now I don't like Camberwell Junction and generally I don't like the sort of people who live around there, but it is an area that is very well serviced with shops, department stores, government departments and a movie theatre, and it has some of the worst shopping centre traffic congestion in Melbourne, in spite of having quite good public transport. It was congested at 9.30 on Sunday morning for goodness sake. Is this really a place to increase the population?

Residents elect councils and the councils write planning rules for their municipalities. The residents have some power through their council and many councils have been booted out by residents who were against their pro developers stance.

A developer lodges a plan that breaches the rules and when the council rejects the plan the developer then takes the matter to VCAT where it may or may not get approval. It can breach the rules and still get approval. This is just plainly wrong although I expect sometimes the councils are pleased. They have acted for the residents as they are obliged, but really think the development is a good thing for their area.

Developers are constantly pushing the boundaries and always argue that a development needs to be of a certain size to be profitable. Well, I ask them, who has driven these prices?

As for containing the suburban sprawl, in the last few months I have driven towards Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Pakenham, Ferntree Gully and Frankston and I don't see any suburban sprawl being contained. It just grows and grows. No wonder big business, including developers, is always arguing for a higher immigration level.

People have had enough and Save Our Suburbs has become active again along with other groups.

Is it wrong that the people who live in a suburb decide what is built there through their elected council? There could be an argument for a very few exceptions, but no breaching of the basic council set rules. The existing must be respected.


  1. Councils obviously have a vested interest in development (ie more rates, more commerce, more popularity), so it's a bit difficult for them in this present "economic is religion" mindset to say no to things on other than financial grounds. Paralysed at the hip pocket is perhaps one way of putting it. 2030 wasn't nearly as concrete as it should have been.

    As for Camberwell - the place is a dry suburb. What do you expect on a Sunday morning! I dislike it owing to the same reasons and when I moved to this side, I was mighty glad there was a JB-HIFI in Brighton!

  2. About a year ago the council passed the subdivision of the property behind us and the developers built a double storey house with two large windows which could see into our family area. The issue was they didn't actually consult us first.

    My olds went to VCAT and the developers (at great expense) had to replace the windows with small, frosted ones.

    Goes to show that the system sometimes does work.

  3. Yes Rob, got cheated by JB HiFi Brighton once.

    Bobby, so your folks were out of pocket to assert their rights? Not good. What happened to building inpectors? Ah, they were contracted out. I have heard of this frosted window thing before.

  4. (just to add, I was nosing around the Classical section in Brighton recently and was actually helped by a staff member! Usually they don't give a shit unless you're gazing at plasma or something expensive, but she was very polite and helpful, going out of her way to find the disc. And yes, she was easy on the eye, too! Mind you, after years and thousands of dollars worth of dedicated custom, I should be expecting this more frequently!)

  5. JB has a classical section? I am surprised. I am a bit again them as they drove HMV out of Chapel Street. Such is the life of business.

  6. You must be on VCAT or something because the new windows are frosted.

    Who needs JB when you have Borders?