Moreland Council in 2017: What Are Some of the Issues?

[By Sue Bolton] The new council has had its third council meeting since the November 2016 election. All councillors are now on the Urban Planning Committee to vote on development applications. The most important way to prevent bad decisions being made by council is for residents to get organised to protect your rights and your suburbs.

Pedestrian & Traffic issues

Nicholson St Coburg – Residents from around Nicholson St Coburg and surrounding streets organised a campaign after a much loved local resident was killed by a car outside the IGA supermarket on Nicholson St (near Moreland Rd). This was the third person killed in the vicinity of the Moreland Rd/Nicholson St/Holmes St intersection. Residents collected over a thousand signatures on a petition calling for a 40 km/h speed limit on Nicholson St and Holmes St between Bell St and Albion St. They were assisted by the sons of someone from the mosque doing a school project, who counted the number of people crossing the road at the IGA. I moved a motion at council to lobby Vic Roads for a reduction in the speed limit to 40 km per hour and to look at a pedestrian solution near the IGA supermarket, the mosque and the intersection of Moore St and Nicholson St. The residents’ action has been successful in getting Vic Roads to agree to investigate a 40km/h speed limit. See newspaper report here.

Gaffney St/Sussex St roundabout, Coburg North – It can be a terrifying experience for pedestrians crossing the road at this roundabout, and even confident cyclists try to avoid it. Residents who live near the roundabout report weekly crashes and yet, until last week, the council had been saying that the intersection just needed monitoring. I successfully moved a motion through the last council meeting for council to call on VicRoads to undertake an urgent Road Safety Audit of the approaches to the roundabout and to consider immediate measures to improve safety, as well as a long-term solution.

O’Hea St traffic working group – It has been months since council voted to set up a working group to look at making O’Hea St safer for residents. The first meeting of the working group will be on Wednesday 22 February. The working group is made up of residents representing different blocks.

Disability parking/pedestrian safety @ Bonwick St shops, Fawkner – I successfully moved a motion for a pedestrian crossing and disability parking outside the post office in Bonwick St Fawkner.

Cycling safety

Gaffney St  – Some of the safety issues for cyclists occur when travelling on streets to access bike paths. One street that is very unsafe for cyclists is Gaffney St near the Pascoe Vale station, and between the Upfield line and Sussex St. I’ve called for this street to be made safer for cyclists.

Development  issues

Pentridge The applications keep coming through for heritage and planning permits for high-rise towers in Pentridge. Once again, Heritage Victoria has given the tick of approval for the destruction of Pentridge heritage with approval for a 19-storey tower on the corner of Pentridge Boulevard and Stockade Avenue. The developers are waiting to see if the state planning minister approves the development. Meanwhile another application has come through from the developers for an 18-storey hotel on the corner of Pentridge Boulevard and Champ St, just behind the front entrance of the prison, and to smash out another three holes in the wall. I keep having to put up motions which recognise that these massively tall buildings destroy heritage values and calling for these high rise towers to be radically scaled down. If all of these buildings get approved, Coburg will start to look like the CBD.

Car stackers – More and more developers are applying to have car stackers as part of their developments. Currently, there are no state regulation of car stackers, which makes it difficult for residents trying to oppose or improve them. Car stackers can be very noisy, and difficult to manoeuvre into, so they need regulation. The council is lobbying the state government for regulation of car stackers.

Neighbourhood activity centres (Planning Amendment C159) – the state planning panel came back to council with a recommendation to make building heights in the Neighbourhood Activity Centres discretionary instead of mandatory. The panel also recommended that some large and strategic sites should allow heights above 4 stories. Council has deferred consideration of the recommendations to the next council meeting.

Notification of development applications – There have been several development applications recently where only five properties have been notified. I’ve asked for this to be reviewed with a view to expanding the number of people notified of development applications.

Level crossing removals

Glenroy will be the first level crossing to be removed in Moreland under the state government’s level crossing removal plan. The Camp Rd level crossing in Campbellfield is also to be removed, in the current state government term. The style of level crossing removal here will probably set a precedent for the other crossings in the north. We will have to watch that the method used to remove the Camp Rd crossing doesn’t destroy the possibility of finishing the missing link in the Upfield bike path up to the Western Ring Road. The Bell St and Moreland Rd level crossings are likely to be removed after the 2018 state election.

CCTV cameras

Council has voted that an assessment be carried out on CCTV cameras before any further money is spent on them. The previous state government put massive pressure on councils, particularly Moreland Council, to invest in CCTV cameras. This is an example of cost shifting onto local councils. The overwhelming majority of violent crime in Moreland is family violence. Tackling this requires investment in prevention programs rather than CCTVs.

Homelessness

I successfully moved a motion that Moreland council oppose the City of Melbourne’s plan to ban rough sleeping. This ban would criminalise homelessness and push people to sleep in more unsafe areas. Moreover such bans do not deal with the issue of skyrocketing rents and house prices, and the large reduction in the amount of public housing.

Urban agriculture

Council is currently developing a food system plan which would encompass urban agriculture, community gardens and developing food security, especially for people in Moreland who regularly go without food.  Keep in touch to find out more.

Keep in touch

Find me on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/SueBoltonForMoreland/