Council Meeting Tuesday 22 August

‘The blog’ will be slightly late to the MVCC meeting tonight at 6:30pm, but will catch up via the audio recordings. The Council will consider the submission to the Flemington Housing redevelopment – as well some planning and organisational matters.

Sorry – I couldn’t get here until 6:45 and by that time the meeting had already progressed to item 9.1 – so I will have to update via the audio.

Update: It is now Friday 12pm and I have been waiting for the audio to go online to update this entry, but there appears to have been a delay this week. Technology is our friend ūüôā But the minutes HAVE gone up today and I have made some notes below….

It seems there are a few Councillors away – only Crs Lawrenece, Byrne, Nation, Marshall, Sharpe and Sipek are present. Cusack, Surace, Gauci Maurici away.

Update from Minutes: The Mayor sought leave from 21 – 24 August. A tribute was paid to staff member Hugh McCarry who sadly died suddenly; and a minute’s silence was held for the victims of the Barcelona attack.

  1. Opening: Welcome, including the acknowledgement of the Traditional Custodians of this land and the recital of the Councillor Creed.
  2. Apologies: Cr Cusack, Cr Gauci Maurici
  3. Confirmation of Minutes: Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 8 August 2017. Carried
  4. Declarations of Conflict of Interest: None
  5. Presentations: None
  6. Petitions and Joint Letters: Two petitions presented re Woodlands Park; and Scotia and Melrose Sts.
  7. Public Question Time: See below
  8. Reports by Mayor and Councillors: Written and verbal reports presented to the Council by the Mayor and Councillors: Carried
  9. Reports

I’m just going to make a note here of the questions that were asked at the meeting. Three questions were asked about Strathaird Reserve in Strathmore – that has been listed for sale by VicRoads who own the land. The Council has twice voted not to purchase the land under the government land sales process, and instead to lobby the state government to gift the land, or continue to lease the land, to Council

The first question was whether there have been any responses to Council’s advocacy and requests to the government. ¬†The answer was no.

The second question followed on from discussion at last week’s forum about whether it was possible for Council to consider again the question of purchasing the land. Last week, Crs expressed uncertainty about whether the previous decision could be revoked, or amended.¬†

The answer to this question is that the previous Council decision cannot be rescinded or revoked as it has been acted on, but that there is nothing stopping Council from making a new decision with respect to this matter. The question of wether the decision can be amended is not answered, but effectively the advice is that Council could consider a new motion to reconsider the matter and, for example, resolve to purchase the land.

The third question follows on from comments last week and previously about not wanting to tell residents about other parcels of land that VicRoads have told Council they are looking at selling.

The answer, interestingly, is to list the other pockets of land that VicRoads is considering selling.

Now, because this is an ongoing issue of importance to many across MV, I will list the land parcels here with some comments from a little research I have done this morning (Friday).

421 Mascoma St, Strathmore Heights – this land is Collier Park – a local park

Lots 82-86 Collier Crescent, Strathmore – now I couldn’t find this land. There is a Collier Crescent in Brunswick, and a Collier Court and Collier Place in Strathmore. 38 Collier Court is already fenced off. 26 Collier Crt appears to have been recently built on. Number 6 Collier Crt is already fenced off.

424 Mascoma St, Strathmore – this is a very small parcel of land and is not a designated park in the Open Space Strategy.

445 Pascoe Vale Rd, Strathmore – is not a designated park in the open space strategy, and appears to have a utility building on site.

5-7 and 10-16 Elm Grove, and 91-93 Kerford St, Essendon North Рthese pieces of land constitute Elm Grove and Kerford St Reserves and are listed in the Open Space Strategy as local parks needing attention.  They are also listed as being owned by VicRoads in the Open Space Strategy (unlike other land that is not identified as VicRoads land).

11 Grace St, Essendon North Р is a small parcel of land that appears to be a bike path

20 Treadwell Rd, Essendon North – is the adjacent parcel that is a well landscaped bike path

41A and 41B Canning St, Avondale Heights – appear to already be fenced off (according to Google Maps – not an onsite visit).

So there are a mixture of land types in this bag of VicRoads sell-offs. The land at Mascoma St, Elm Grove and Kerford St are the only parcels of designated open space. 

The sale of the bike path land seems ridiculous. And the other parcels are not designated open space or already fenced off.

Again – completely editorial comment here, but perhaps Council could agree to buy Strathaird Reserve, Collier Park, Kerford Reserve and Elm Grove Reserve in exchange for VicRoads agreeing that any land with bike paths cannot possibly be considered surplus land and the the Pascoe Vale Rd land also appears to have some utility use. The other parcels of land already appear to be fenced off.

Back to the meeting…

9.1   14 Thomas Street Airport West (Lot 239 on PS042270) РConstruction   of   a   dwelling   and   additions   to   the   existing commercial building including a reduction to the car parking requirement

Carried unanimously.

9.2 83 Matthews Avenue, Airport West (Lot   1 PS724413M) РConstruction of a multi-storey building, use of the land for accommodation (dwellings and serviced apartments) and a variation of loading bay requirements

Cr Byrne has moved an amended motion – including deletion of 2 floors, 36 car parks on the podium and some other elements. These amendments bring the proposed 12 storeys to 10 – which Cr Byrne says is “more than enough for this area”.

She mentions that there is a requirement for Aviation Victoria (? not sure I heard correctly) to approve of the development.

Cr Marshall says this is a Mixed Use proposal on a corner site. She agrees that Matthews Ave needs a level of revitilisation. ¬†She says there are positives to the application – and that it is quite appealing. Cr Marshall says she thinks “what are the rules that apply to this plan?” She says the existing Structure Plan suggested 3 storeys – albeit a long time ago (2008). ¬†There is a draft Structure Plan – which is a long way from becoming part of the scheme – which would have an 8 storey preference for building heights on this site.

She says she has a level of discomfort around the 12 storeys. She acknowledges that Cr Byrne is being pragmatic. She asks what the community vision has been, and will be, and that there is “too much of a significant gap” [between the proposal and the existing Structure Plan] to support the 10 storeys.

Cr Lawrence rises to address the Deputy Mayor as “Madame Mayor” to much mirth. He moves on, saying that Airport West is a sleeping giant that needs to be “grabbed to where is really needs to go”. He says he has run a business there for 20 odd years and knows the area well. He commends the recommendation of 10 floors and there “we don’t want to give the signal that we want sky scrapers all over Airport West”. ¬†He wishes the developer well.

Cr Byrne closes: “If we refuse this, it will go to VCAT and be approved at 12 storeys.” … “We do want this area rejuvenated.” “There are so many positives with this application.”

Carried

For: Crs Lawrence, Bryne, Nation, Sharpe, Sipek

Agst: Cr Marshall

9.3 Flemington & Ascot Vale Estates Renewal Projects Update

Cr Marshall moves some amendments to the officer’s recommendation including:

  • the preferred location of the Flemington Community Centre be adjacent to Debneys Park
  • typographical changes be fixed
  • Council to remain the Responsible Authority for the whole precinct until the Development Plan is approved
  • and the submission be made available on Council’s website.

Cr Marshall speaks to the Wingate Ave issue first – a grant was given by Council which is now no longer relevant. The request is to spend the grant on engagement, which Cr Marshall says is sensible.

Cr Marshall thanks the officers for their work on the issue over many months – including writing the report. Cr Marshall also thanks community members for their involvement in the issue.

She says the walk-ups in Flemington are in desperate need of redevelopment and that, as part of the proposal, new apartments will be built – as well as 825 private dwellings.

On balance, she says Council is supportive, but with some caveats – including the Responsible Authority status which has been considered twice by Council. At the time of the second decision, there was an expectation that the proposal would be further advanced. So Council’s position is now that, until the Development Plan is approved, it is appropriate for Council to remain the RA for the entire Debneys Precinct. Of course, she says, the Minister may see otherwise.

“We would like to see there being more public housing in the mix. But they need to make sure they get the model right – there are examples where it works well and we want this to be an example that works well,” she says.

“We want there to be a real commitment to affordable housing. We have had recent advice that 1% of housing in MV is affordable housing” – which means that the only people who can live in MV are on high incomes. “We would like to see that some of the private housing is dedicated to key workers like teachers” – it’s prime opportunity for the government to do something tangible about the affordable housing¬†issue.

It’s also an opportunity for housing to be accessible and adaptable for larger size dwellings. We need to have this designed in a way that enables this flexibility – Cr Marshall says.

With respect to height – the existing high rise are staying. “We have made the point in the submission that the buildings need to be mindful of the low rise on Flemington Hill – as well as the development in the Macaulay Precinct. “But heights shouldn’t impact on open space and shouldn’t impact on existing residential amenity.”

Cr Marshall says she was appalled by the differential parking rate – “we’ve made the point the proposal could be discriminatory … In relation to the existing car parking – it is a blight on the landscape. It could be done so much better. … Cars are parked for 6 months – [with people saying] we don’t know who is belongs to.”

Re Design – Cr Marshall says it is essential this development is done in a way that minimises loss of open space. We have some lovely pockets, but need to think about the way the open space can be repurposed for all ages. This is the backyard for the people who live on the estate so it needs to be enhanced.

“We’ve talked about safety and security and the design should address that to make sure those issues are dealt with,” Cr Marshall says

In terms of vehicle movements and pedestrian and cyclist movements, we have been challenged to think about how the East/West movements can occur in a safe manner for cyclists and walkers, she says.

“We’ve also raised an important point regarding access to Flemington Bridge with direct access to the station. … as well as other network upgrades.”

Cr Marshall is concerned about the decoupling of Stages 1 and 2 and the commitment to community infrastructure. “The worst case scenario would be that we end up with significant housing development and are left without the important community infrastructure. The community centre needs much more functional space.”

She says the pavilion “needs quite a bit of work” and could possibly being shifted to a much more useful space. “Is it the right place for [the community centre] to be?”

“To have a state of the art … facility is really exciting… you see some of the things that can be done… this area deserves…” something better.

“We’ve talked about the importance of preserving trees and open space …”

“It’s a real opportunity and we need to get it right.”

Cr Sipek jokes that everything has been said.

Cr Sharpe says she will be abstaining as she doesn’t feel she has enough information before her.

Cr Byrne comments on the car parking – and she says she doesn’t support the differential parking rate. She says we need to keep advocating for equality.

Cr Nation commends the officers and Cr Marshall on the work done. Cr Nation says that equality is really important. He comments on the Rathdowne St development in Carlton and that some of the new private areas have been made inaccessible for public housing residents. He says this should not happen in Flemington. He says the permeability and accessibility of the site is important. He also says that location of the Community Centre is important – and that it should be located in a place for all to use. He also mentions the importance of improving access to Flemington Bridge Station.

“Finally, I think the steps put in there with respect to the Responsible Authority are important… the Minister may not agree with them…” but we have a chance to get the best possible outcome for the estate residents and broader Flemington community.

Cr Marshall says it is a chance to improve housing – but “we have to get the other parts right”. Thousands of people will be affected, she says. She also talks about the importance of good representation at the Advisory Committee.

Carried: Crs Lawrence, Byrne, Nation, Marshall, Sipek

Abstaining: Cr Sharpe

9.4 Community Facility Management

Cr Marshall moves the officer’s recommendation with an additional note requesting report back to Council in 6 months.

Two Councillors have left the room – and so suddenly we don’t have quorum.

Cr Sipek returns and so we have quorum again.

Cr Marshall talks about the need for simple advice regarding fees and discounts.

Cr Lawrence returns. Cr Sipek goes. But we still have quorum.

Cr Marshall continues – she wants to ensure Council doesn’t disadvantage any community groups in their functioning.

Cr Byrne asks for a point of clarification – regarding when the clock starts on the six months. It starts now.

Cr Byrne says a centralised booking system will be beneficial – but asks community members to let Councillors know if the system is not working.

Carried unanimously.

9.5 Cross Keys Reserve Screening Options

Cr Lawrence moves the officer’s report (he means recommendation). Cr Sharpe seconds.

He says the report covers the details – the Essendon Royales are relocating and the issue relates to balls going onto the road, and so there is a need for a screen to prevent accidents. Three options were put forward – with the second option being most suitable.

No one else speaks.

Cr Lawrence closes by saying that Option 2 is a “low amenity impact” and that is will cost about half the $400K put aside in the budget. The netting would need to be replaced after 12 years (approx.)

Carried unanimously.

9.6 Procurement Policy and Instrument of Delegation Update

No one moves.

“We’re here to make decisions”, says the Deputy Mayor.

Cr Lawrence eventually moves. Cr Byrne seconds.

No one speaks.

Carried

For: Crs Lawrence, Byrne, Nation, Sipek

Agst: Cr Marshall

Cr Sharpe is absent.

9.7 Quarterly Report on Councillor Expenses

Cr Marshall moves. Cr Lawrence seconds.

Cr Marshall says this is part of the effort to improve the transparency of MV.

Cr Lawrence doesn’t speak.

(I wish I could speak to say that I noticed that all of the male Councillors have thousands of dollars of travel costs, but none of the female Councillors, apart from the Mayor, have been on trips. I wonder if they are all parents!)

Carried unanimously.

10. Notices of Motion: NIL

11. Urgent Business 

12. Confidential Reports

We are all asked to leave.

12.1 343-349 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds (Lot 2 PS449864J and Land in CP157101) РBuildings and works to construct a multi-storey   building,   a   reduction   in   car   parking   requirements, a variation of loading bay requirements and alteration of access to a road in a Road Zone, Category 1

12.2 484-486 Mt Alexander Road, Ascot Vale (Lots 1, 2 & 3 LP4866) РConstruct a multi-storey building in a Design and Development Overlay (DDO3), use of the land for dwellings, reduce car parking requirements,   waive   loading   bay   requirements and erect a verandah over part of a footpath in a Road Zone, Category 1

12.3 Insource Council’s Internal Audit Function – Strategic Direction

Close of Meeting

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