Report on February 15 council meeting

Pentridge heritage & high rise in Pentridge

[By Sue Bolton] A lot of residents attended the council meeting to call on it to take a stronger stance on helping preserve heritage on the site and helping the community campaign to stop plans for a 19-storey tower for the site. If the minister approves the tower on the corner of Pentridge Boulevarde and Stockade Avenue, it will set a precedent for the rest of Moreland, especially as the minister stripped away mandatory height limits from the central Coburg area.

Residents argued that the council should have put in an objection to Heritage Victoria which opposed the 19-storey tower on heritage grounds.

Residents were also angry with council’s plans to cut down a Spotted Gum Tree which is in the heritage overlay to allow for a bigger road through the prison wall.

I also attempted to get a some amendments through, calling for a moratorium on planning applications until the Pentridge Masterplan has been reviewed. The Pentridge Masterplan allows for a lot of high rise towers to be crammed onto the Pentridge site. Unfortunately the Pentridge Heritage report was deferred.

Planning consultations

In around 30% of development applications, the council planners organise meetings between residents and developers as “mediation”. In one of these meetings last year, only one objector was invited for a development which involved a car stacker despite 10 people objecting. Often residents are intimidated by having to face a meeting with the council, the developer and the developer’s consultants. I put a motion up to invite ALL objectors to these meetings. ALP Right councillor Lambros Tapinos watered down my motion to allow some meetings where only the immediate neighbours are invited to meetings with developers. I am prepared to bring my original motion back to council if there are too many meetings in which objectors are selectively invited.

Sale of laneway adjoining 91 South St, Hadfield

Council voted not to sell a laneway adjoining this street. I was strongly opposed to this sale because the owners of 91 South St Hadfield had put fence across the laneway many years ago so that it looked like their backyard. Now they are claiming that the council has to sell it to them under adverse possession laws. I am opposed to rewarding businesses for taking over public land and claiming it for private use.

Draft Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan

Council voted to put the draft Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan out for public consultation. This issue is really important but I think it is totally inadequate and is just a statement about what is already occurring.

Coburg public toilets

There is a petition circulating in Coburg for more public toilets in the Coburg shopping centre. I have been raising this issue since getting elected to council but so far the council officers and the other councillors haven’t recognised that there is an issue. Currently,the council budgets only allow for one new and one refurbished public toilet each year.

Ballerrt Mooroop site

I reported to council that the state government has put the sale of the Ballerrt Mooroop site on hold indefinitely. This is a tremendous victory for the strong community campaign and the support from the traditional owners, the Wurundjeri, who have applied to have the site recognised as part of their native title claim. This gives a chance for the work to be done on a feasibility study for a First Nations community hub.

Asylum seekers

A motion was passed calling on the federal government not to send the 267 asylum seekers including 30+ babies not to be sent back to Nauru. The council also voted for my amendment to end the whole system of offshore processing, close the detention centres and bring the asylum seekers and refugees to Australia.