Category Archives: Public

SOS Editorial – Federal Election 2016.

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:
http://espas.eu/orbis/sites/default/files/generated/document/en/MSSI-ResearchPaper-4_Turner_2014.pdf
This research was also featured in the Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows-were-nearing-collapse

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
https://www.prosper.org.au/2015/12/09/almost-20pc-of-melbournes-investor-owned-homes-empty/
* 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:
http://tapri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Sydney-Melbourne-Housing-Report-No-2-No-End-in-Sight-6-Mar-2016-std.pdf
* 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

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Open Forum on Fishermans Bend

FBN-OpenConversation081215 (1)

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

 

VCAT Dangers – request to cancel or amend a permit (s89 appeal)

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

SOS support for council legal challenge to EWL planning approval

In mid-July, SOS sent this urgent letter to Moonee Valley and Yarra City Councillors:

Save our Suburbs Inc. strongly opposes the East West Link proposal because of its potential damage to the fabric of inner city life, and because building more freeways attracts more traffic and soon creates more congestion than before. This is confirmed by Melbourne’s own experience with the Monash Freeway, the Westgate Bridge, etc. 

 But building rail links in parallel with freeways attracts commuters back to rail, lowers rail costs/head and frees up arterial roads for those who need to use them – trucks, commercial vehicles and multi-destination vehicles.  This is explained scientifically by the long-established Downs-Thompson Paradox: Continue reading

SOS Planning Update – Community Planning Groups, August 2014

There are several important events coming up that address the democratic planning and liveability of Melbourne. Please let your members and friends know about these coming events:

* “Power to the People  – reclaiming control of electricity in Victoria” – Wednesday, Sept 3, 6.30-9pm Brunswick Town Hall    (see flyer ) Power to the People Flyer-2014-09-03

Energy bills out of control.Power companies standing in the way of renewable energy.

State and Federal Governments doing nothing to lead the climate change or energy debate. 

It’s time for communities to demand reform of the energy sector and governments to take action…… Continue reading

Key performance indicators omitted from Plan Melbourne

The pro-development focus and lack of transparency & accountability of the final version of Plan Melbourne (May 2014) shouldn’t be under-estimated.

 Under Direction 7.5: “Monitor Progress and Outcomes”, a number of important performance indicators previously included in the draft version have been left out of the final document. These were all vital parameters in measuring how well Plan Melbourne might achieve its goals. These missing Performance Measures include: Continue reading

Implementation of the new Residential Zones – some observations

 On July 1, those councils still waiting for their choice of zone allocation to be approved were subjected to a “neutral conversion” – the General Residential Zone was imposed across all of their existing residential zone areas. This involved two dozen councils, including some which had applied as early as late last year for their new zoning amendments to be approved. SOS has heard that some of these 24 councils have since been experiencing a sudden surge in development applications in residential areas that may later come under the more restrictive Neighbourhood RZ once zoning amendments have been approved by the Minister. Strange that draft amendments lodged early by some councils for consideration by the Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee still hadn’t been approved by July….. As to the content of the new zones, giving councils a bit more power to vary local controls for better neighborhood protection was appropriate but for these controls to be effective, councils should have been required to specify not only mandatory heights but minimum lot size and the maximum number of dwellings per lot. Specifying both is necessary to maintain reasonable local dwelling density and protect green open space. Some councils have specified subdivisions into multiple lots with a minimum lot size of 250-400 sqm, so an existing 1000 sqm suburban block could be subdivided into 3 or 4 lots. * For background, see: www.actpla.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/13704/Tony_Hall_-_Death_of_the_Australian_Backyard_paper.pdf Since Rescode is a state planning provision which even VCAT agrees should not be treated as a “one size fits all” code, Rescode variations to suit different areas are appropriate and councils should have also been required to include extra locally-appropriate variations in the new zone schedules. These should also have been mandatory – instead, most councils have failed to include any extra variations but even where they have, as discretionary guidelines these just amount to more scope for argument at VCAT and provide only an illusion of protection. * For help in arguing on Rescode and neighbourhood character in your VCAT submission, see: http://www.sos.asn.au/category/help-arguing-rescode-amenity-standards-vcat * For an detailed expose of the implications of the New Zones, see: http://www.sterow.com/?p=4099

SOS Update – July 2014 Election Lead-Up

In the lead-up to the state election, there are several important events coming up addressing issues vital to the democratic planning and liveability of Melbourne. Our Full Article can be found here

  • Accommodating population growth.
  • Upgrading infrastructure assets and services.
  • Living standards.
  • VCAT fees have risen astronomically.
  • The new Plan Melbourne strategy is unashamedly designed to facilitate development, not regulate it.

At the very least, we need a wide public debate on future planning for Victoria.

* The next Victoria First meeting is this Sat. 2 Aug. at 2 pm, at the Frankston Life Saving Club. Featuring Ian Hundley (PTUA) speaking on “The transport crisis in the Frankston area Continue reading

Backtrack, Dec.2013 – Critique of Plan Melbourne

First Posted By SOS – Posted on 04 December 2013 – keep this in mind when we publish the latest review over the coming weeks.

Plan Melbourne, VicSmart and New Residential Zones

The focus of Plan Melbourne is to drive delivery and facilitate development in general (Direction 7.1, p.163).  Virtually every aspect of the planning regime is to be modified to facilitate the economic vision of Plan Melbourne and make it “more relevant”.  This includes the entirety of each planning scheme – the new zones, changes to existing Overlays and Particular Provisions and the state and local planning policy frameworks (SPPF and LPPF) which will soon be rolled into one PPF.

Read more…...                                                            MAKE A SUBMISSION HERE

A more detailed version of this SOS analysis of Plan Melbourne can be found here