In late January, I was approached by a resident from Lobb Street, Coburg to ask what I thought about the council’s plans for 10-storey buildings at the end of her street. I had read the plans over the Christmas break and wondered if residents knew about the plans for a very built-up central Coburg and whether residents wanted that.
I was particularly concerned about the proposal that residents would lose their right to object if the C123 planning amendment was passed. The plan includes 10-storey buildings along both sides of Bell St.
Other concerns include lack of sufficient open space, additional strain on already overcrowded public transport in the area, and loss of the right to appeal against development decisions in the area covered by the plan.
I helped organise a residents’ meeting at quite short notice on January 24 because of the deadline for public submissions. Sixty people turned up and none of them knew about the proposals until they received a leaflet in their letterbox.
We formed the Save Coburg residents network and letterboxed around 3000 households to notify residents of the proposals and the deadline for submissions. Only around eight submissions had been received before the letterboxing — but about 120 afterwards.
Lobbying by Save Coburg pressured the council to extend public discussion time by one month and organise an information day on the plan.
Then we organised a gathering of around 80 people outside Coburg Town Hall before the Moreland Council meeting on February 13. Most people attended the meeting to raise their concerns during question time.
I moved a motion at the council meeting for a further extension of discussion time by one month and for the council to organise three town-hall-style public meetings to enable residents to get together and discuss the plan. These motions were voted down. The councillors who supported my motions were Lita Gillies, Samantha Ratnam and Lenka Thompson.
Save Coburg members participated in the council’s information day but also organised its own information stand in the mall on February 23. Around 200 people signed a petition opposing the C123 planning amendment.
Save Coburg will most likely organise its own public meeting before councillors vote on the planning amendment.
Find more information on the Save Coburg website: http://www.savecoburg.org.