In the current atmosphere of unprecedented political, social and environmental instability, there are some fundamental issues that SOS recommends all members should think carefully about before they vote in the current federal election.
This is a time when society is being increasingly challenged by an economy in transition and by the stress of population growth, infrastructure backlog, social fragmentation and lack of affordable housing. Representative democracy has never suffered as much lip-service and window-dressing. The major political parties continue to avoid limiting political donations and are increasingly compromised by funding from developers in particular. Trying to meet the challenge of climate change and reduce our carbon footprint while maintaining high population growth and over-developing our green suburbs makes little sense.
These issues are not just local but global. Brexit is just the latest in a sequence of political and economic events that look set to continue and worsen. Similar predictions were made as far back as 1972 when “The Limits to Growth” was released. This set of computerised global scenarios developed at MIT in the US included a “business as usual” scenario that resulted in a global economic, population and environmental collapse by around 2040. The model indicated that the global economic decline would start to become obvious by 2015/16. This is the track we are still currently following.
Computer models come and go but this is one of the rare ones which has stood the test of time. In 2014, the Melbourne University Sustainability Institute fed recent UN data into the original MIT program and demonstrated that over the last 40 years, the model’s predictions have matched real events very closely – so far. See:
This research was also featured in the Guardian:
So there is an urgent imperative to transition from traditional economic and land use systems to a more sustainable and balanced model. SOS addressed some of the related urban planning issues in a recent wide-ranging submission to the state government’s “Managing Residential Development” Advisory Committee. The submission includes links to explanatory documents. For details of the submission and its 3 appendices, see http://sos.asn.au/sospoliciesandsubmissions/
The submission explains these key points (more references are provided in the submission itself):
* Building approvals for apartments in most Melbourne suburbs have surged ahead of projected requirements and of actual demand, an unsustainable situation
* Population growth greatly increases the requirement for more infrastructure and services: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-huge-hidden-cost-of-population-growth-20160219-gmyddb.html
* There is no actual housing shortage, just too many empty investor properties and under-utilised dwellings
* Housing affordability won’t be improved by building more houses, only by reducing the levers that push up prices and rents – i.e., land banking by development corporations, inequitable investor tax concessions, inadequate controls on foreign investment in Australian property, etc: http://architectureau.com/articles/tackling-housing-unaffordability-a-10-point-national-plan/, http://soac.fbe.unsw.edu.au/2011/papers/SOAC2011_0228_final.pdf
* Most people don’t want apartments but for many it’s all they can afford:
* There is a desperate need for better and more fully integrated public transport, which can be economically feasible metro-wide, even including the outer suburbs: http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/we-can-keep-our-leafy-suburbs-and-still-save-the-planet-20091122-isqz.html
* Road traffic congestion is best addressed by public transport demand-side management and by building rail in parallel with arterial roads, an apparent contradiction known as the Downs-Thomson Paradox – more roads just encourages more traffic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downs%E2%80%93Thomson_paradox
* Many sustainability factors are not considered in our planning system
* The need for mandatory planning controls to counteract mis-management of permit assessments and to provide more certainty and consistency
* The need for deliberative community consultation in planning policy development and council governance
The Fishermans Bend Network are conducting a forum in the Performance Space at the Dockland Library on the 8th of December.
The purpose of the forum is to try and find out what we have learnt from Southbank, Docklands and Yarra’s Edge and how can this assist us to do better. This is more of a social exploration to find out the sorts of communities that have evolved and how well they are functioning. How well has the built form, both the private and public, supported the evolving communities.
Further information contact David Rayson 0418 545 172
Save Our Suburbs held the 2015 AGM on Sunday 15 November at the Library at the Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands. Following the meeting Dr Greg Moore spoke on the importance of Suburban Trees and Urban Sustainability.
Dr Greg Moore was Principal of Burnley College at Melbourne University from 1988 to 2007, Lecturer in Plant Science and Arboriculture from 1979, and Head of the School of Resource Management from 2002 to 2007. Greg has a specific interest in arboriculture, the scientific study of tree cultivation and management. He is a major speaker at Australian and overseas conferences and has contributed to the development of Australian Standards in pruning and amenity tree evaluation. He has been a regular on Melbourne radio, particularly ABC 774 and 3AW.
He has chaired the committee of the National Trust of Victoria’s Register of Significant Trees since 1996. He has been on the Boards of Greening Australia (Vic) since 1989 and of Sustainable Gardening Australia since 2002. For the last 10 years has chaired Treenet, an independent organisation seeking to improve the urban forest.
A ministerial nomination as a Trustee for the Trust for Nature, he has also served on a number of industry and TAFE committees. He is currently pursuing research related to trees and re-vegetation in the urban environment
His papers & articles include:
- “Tree Management for Carbon, Energy and Drought Efficiency”
- “Climate Change, Healthy Gardens and Healthy People”, and
- “Urban Trees – Worth More Than They Cost”.
For articles and papers by Dr Moore and related references on the health and economic value of trees and open space, click here. For copy of Dr Moore’s presentation, click here.
At the AGM, SOS confirmed the minutes of the last AGM; received a Committee report on SOS transactions during the last financial year; considered the statement submitted by the Association under s94 of the new Act and elected officers of the Association and ordinary members of the Committee. The following members were elected:
President & Treasurer – Ian Wood
Vice-President – Rosetta Manaszewicz
Secretary – Ann Birrell
Committee members – Cheryl Forge, Mike Taafe, David Rayson. The following committee members are continuing: Don Dunstan, Les Clark, Peter Anscombe.
Planning Minister Wynne claims the Bill is going to improve decision-making and planning outcomes, and increase the confidence of residents in the planning system.
Will it make a difference? Very little….. See our edited submission to the Parliamentary Environment & Planning Committee (submissions closed on July 6).
THIS is how the relevant bits of the Act would read if the Bill in its current form is passed
This issue is politically important because this Bill is the result of an ALP election promise to ‘give the community a voice‘. The Minister claims the Bill will improve decision-making and planning outcomes, and increase community confidence in the planning system. But if it’s going to be able to do that, it needs to be toughened up a bit first – and the Upper House of Parliament is the best place to start!
So please lobby your local MPs and cross-bench Upper House MPs, even if you just reiterate some of our key points and your own comments.
Sixteen submissions have been lodged with the Upper House Parliamentary Environment & Planning Committee, which consists of 3 Coalition MPs, 3 ALP MPs, Greens planning spokesperson Samantha Dunn MP and Daniel Brown MP of the Shooters and Fishers Party – quite a varied bunch, and the cross-benchers have more power in the new Parliament.
At a half-day hearing on July 10, five organisations also addressed the Committee – the transcripts of their comments can be read HERE (including only one community group presentation).
The Bill won’t come up again in the Parliament until after the winter recess (ie, in August), so this is an ideal time to talk to your local MP.
STOP PRESS! Do you have concerns about over-development such as apartments or multi-storey buildings in Glen Eira and Port Phillip, or questions about planning laws?
Join the Shadow Minister for Planning and Local Government the Hon David Davis MLC and local Caulfield Liberal MP David Southwick on Monday 27 July in Caulfield to contribute and express your concerns.
This is your chance to let the Opposition know what you think of the way the new residential zones have been implemented in Glen Eira, unleashing nearly 90 years worth of extra housing! Yet the community was never consulted by Council on the form and location of the new zones.
Monday, 27 July 2015, 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Caulfield Park Pavilion Hall, Balaclava Rd, Caulfield North RSVP essential by 5pm Monday 27 July via phone 9527 3866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This sort of appeal is very different to an ordinary s82 objectors’ VCAT appeal against a council decision to approve a planning application. Once a planning permit has been issued, an objector who wasn’t notified of the granting of the permit for some reason can only appeal against the permit under s89 of the Planning and Environment Act. Continue reading
1 – SOS candidates’ survey
2 – How to vote for better representation
3 – Summary – planning policies of the 3 main parties
Results from our Candidate Survey are now rushing in. The survey is live and candidates can respond until election day.
The survey provides a snapshot of planning and infrastructure issues across Victoria. Candidates across the state and across the political spectrum share our concern that we have a crisis in planning in Victoria.
The most important areas of reform nominated are:
- “Improved public transport network”
- “Governance to protect integrity and transparency”
- “Diverse and affordable housing”
Trend results showed:
- Over 90% support political donations reform
- Over 90% think that the Planning Minister should publish advice relied on and reasons for decisions
- Over 95% say we need to improve transparency, accountability and integrity
Community groups across Victoria have joined together to survey candidates on the conduct and direction of Planning in Victoria.
The Survey was drafted by SOS with input and support from a wide range of groups. These include some of our smallest newest residents groups and also long standing state wide groups like Green Wedges, Protectors of Public Lands, Planning Backlash and the Public Transport Users Association.
The Survey asks about local issues and key issues of concern including:
- The need for VCAT reform and better protection of local amenity
- Whether we have a failure of independent, long term infrastructure planning
- Failure to secure the Urban Growth Boundary and Green Wedges
- Whether the increasing deregulation and privatisation of planning is in Victoria’s interest
- Whether Victoria has ‘an inappropriate culture of undue influence and political opportunism’
- Whether candidates support reform of political donations laws
SOS will hold its AGM on Sunday 16 November at 2:30pm, Ground floor meeting room, Ross House, 247-251 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
SOS Notice of AGM 2014 SOS Nomination Form 2014
Guest Speaker, Professor Brendan Gleeson, Professor of Urban Policy Studies and Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at Melbourne University will speak at 3.00pm.
Professor Gleeson has researched and written extensively on the wellbeing of our cities and suburbs and the political, social, economic and environmental trends shaping Australia. Modern capitalist society has provided our present high standard of living but now also brings challenges and threats, especially climate change, resource depletion, social division and economic insecurity.
So how can we plan for a more resilient city designed to meet these challenges and maintain our residential amenity within sustainable limits? Economic and population growth cannot continue indefinitely – what sort of political, social and economic system might we need to move towards, and what should urban planning policy look like?
Here’s the link to Professor Gleeson’s presentation and the questions and answers that followed. A transcript will be available shortly.