I supported the motion to grant a Permit for Use and Development of Land for a Place of Assembly (theatre, library learning centre, exhibition space, meeting space and hall) and food and drink premises, partial demolition of existing building and brick retaining wall, demolition of fences, waiver of parking, liquor licence, signage and alteration of access to a road in a Road Zone 1 at 45-60 and 54-56 High Street, 65 Short Street and 80 Wattle Street Bendigo.
It is 2017, and I firmly believe that the challenges and opportunities with parking and traffic management in our CBD precincts should not be used as a guise to stopping or stalling developments that will add to our City’s culture, heritage and landscape.
Last month a colleague shared a quote which asked “does your city have a “no, because” culture, or a “yes, if” culture?
This question has played on my mind while I considered the application in front of us . There is no doubt this site has a magnificent location and significance to those entering Bendigo as they are greeted with the majestic spires of the Cathedral soaring into the sky. However, the empty and desolate land and buildings building fronting the grounds onto High St create an unfortunate sense of incompleteness.
I spent time considering the main concern that objectors have raised about this proposal, that being the waiver of parking, however it would be a travesty if the reason this development opportunity would not be supported be on the grounds of NOT creating MORE carparks.
I agreed that the Aspire precinct proposal presents an appropriate urban design for the site and will enable the effective reuse of existing buildings within central Bendigo, without adversely impacting on the Sacred Heart Cathedral, which is of State level heritage significance. The use will support the local hospitality tourism and education sectors and provide employment opportunities and I believe that the partial reduction in the number of car spaces required for the use is appropriate, in addition to a financial contribution in lieu of 14 cars.
This is because as a modern city, this culture of requiring an immediate car park in front of every location we visit, on demand, is misguided. Nor is it sustainable or in our best interests to become so reliant on cars and sedentary in such a compact and easily walkable area that is the Bendigo CBD.
this culture of requiring an immediate car park in front of every location we visit, on demand, is misguided.
I acknowledge that CBD workers can occupy many on street spaces during business hours, but this requires a change of culture and the potential future introduction of timed parking spaces to move CBD workers to locations such as the multilevel car park in Edward St or even better, more workers commuting via public transport into the CBD.
Our city has obviously changed over the years and I find it puzzling that some believe it shouldn’t have. We know house prices have increased and that hasn’t been for the fact that parking is guaranteed in front of a house (why this isn’t even guaranteed in the suburbs, nor expected). CBD living has changed and it is still highly sought after, why? Because people enjoy being in the centre of the action, amenity or precincts. Because is quick to walk or ride, and doesn’t require a packed lunch to get to where you work, shop or play.
Let's talk about tourism. It is naïve to assert that tourists or visitors expect car parking in the immediate vicinity of world class attractions. One would not expect a car space immediately in front of the Vatican for example. The claim of most tourists will be elderly is another strange claim and certainly paints a broad brush insinuating older visitors are unable to walk reasonable distances (which is what I consider the vicinity of Bendigo’s small CBD area).
A couple of weeks ago I attended a concert in Melbourne to which many attendees were my senior. Thousands of concert goers walked a minimum of 2.5 km’s without any other expectation as this is an accepted and convenient mode of transport when moving about a growing and vibrant CBD (I should point out this much further than our humble distance of approx. 1.2 kms from Bendigo Station to Cathedral precinct).
We should ensure our future development of significant sites, attractions or spaces in our beautiful are not predicated on miles of extra concrete or asphalt spaces for cars. To me that sort of approach reflects a “no, because” culture and if we are serious about becoming the world’s most liveable city, my head certainly doesn’t fill with images of extra mass car parks in some of the most iconic areas.
I also supported the following supplementary motion that the Greater Bendigo City Council resolve to:
Application for a development plan and planning permit at 11 & 21 Taylors Lane, Strathfieldsaye.
I moved that the Greater Bendigo City Council resolve to refuse the development plan and planning permit application for subdivision, removal of native vegetation and removal of drainage easements at 11 and 21 Taylors Lane, Strathfieldsaye on the following grounds:
There were seven formal objections, a consultation meeting was held at COGB offices and did not result in any objections being withdrawn nor any changes being made to the proposal as a result of the meeting.
A summary of objections included: Safety of access to Taylor’s Lane, impact of subdivision of 48A Bassett Drive, drainage issues, loss of wildlife, removal of trees, block sizes too small, not in keeping with rural feel of Strathfieldsaye, increased pressure on roads due to high density, non-compliance with township plan and other planning scheme provisions, poor linkages with town centre, no open space provision and feeling access should be from Uxbridge Street.
Though the site is in an area generally viewed as good, in terms of providing new housing and accessibility to employment opportunities, leisure and shopping facilities, I couldn't support approval of the permit and move to refuse on the grounds previously stated being impacts or neighbourhood character, vegetation and the absence of adequate drainage infrastructure.
Approximately 2/3 of the site features a coverage of native vegetation. The application sought a development plan and a planning permit for a 32 lot staged subdivision and removal of this native vegetation. That is the removal of 1.344ha of medication conservation significance native vegetation.
The applicant provided an ecological assessment, which in terms of flora found no rare species and determined the vegetation as degraded with medium conservation value, and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have reviewed the proposal to remove the native vegetation and consented to the removal subject to offset conditions. However in the local policy perspective, biodiversity and bushland interfaces in Strathfieldsaye, the Township Plan acknowledges the difficulties in retaining vegetation in suburban development, combined with high expectations from the community that important vegetation will be protected. The Township Plan does go on to say that other areas of vegetation will be retained because they make a significant contribution to the landscape and amenity of residential neighbourhoods.
The proposal highlighted that like many there are competing interests that must be balanced. On one hand Strathfieldsaye is an identified growth area where the planning scheme seeks densification and diversification of housing. On the other hand there is a character policy and Township Plan which seeks to retain the semi-rural feel of the area and an important part of this is spacious development and retention of mature vegetation.
In this case I believe the proposal has a detrimental impact on neighbourhood character.
It was also proposed to remove an existing drainage easement on the land. This is of concern as there is inadequate drainage infrastructure in this part of Strathfieldsaye which means that the site does not currently have the capacity to drain all 32 lots.
The City’s drainage engineers will shortly be commencing the process of implementing a Special Charge Scheme to fund construction of a storm water drainage disposal system in accordance with the Local Government Act 1989.
Until such a time as the Special Charge Scheme or another mechanism for providing a permanent drainage system is implemented, the City’s engineers would have to agree to an interim drainage solution. The solution is that only Stages 1 and 2 could be acted upon and an area in Stage 3 must be utilised as drainage reserve until there is a permanent drainage solution for the land. This requires a legal agreement to be entered into with the applicant that requires the current landowner to pay for the entire drainage infrastructure for the site. Without this it places a cost burden on the City as well has future owners of the approved lots in Stage 1 and 2.
I believe this creates uncertainty and as per point 2 of the motion (being the absence of adequate drainage infrastructure) the site is not capable of disposing of the stormwater generated by the subdivision contrary to clauses 19.03-2 and 56.07-4 of the City of Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme, and therefore gave me enough reason to not support approval of the development plan.
I was delighted to support the adoption of the Youth Strategy and background reports which was an excellent summary of community feedback received during the period of public exhibition concerning the draft youth strategy and now it seeks our adoption as a Council of the final strategy known as Explore, Engage, Empower: Young people in Greater Bendigo.
Developed by a project reference group that included an enthusiastic group of young people, the Youth Strategy aims to be a genuine commitment and partnership between the City and young people.
Young People in Greater Bendigo are heard, valued, connected and inspired so that they make the most of life’s opportunities.
The Youth Strategy contains a four year action plan which responds to the seven goals via 22 actions that bring together existing City strategies and programs with new initiatives. The Strategy responded to the feedback from internal and external forums and I like that it was agreed that the Youth Strategy should be written for young people and not directed at them. The language needing to be changed to “we” statements to be more inclusive of young people, and I am pleased that both pointed to the need to use more plain English, remove buzzwords and be a short easy to the read well designed document.
New Look Quarterly Report - Greater Bendigo Community Plan
I was very happy to see the new format Community Plan Quarterly Summary Report.
A visual and exciting new format that can be easily shared with our community. It is an engaging and fresh approach that is vital to ensure our community can easily interpret the progress towards becoming the World’s Most Liveable Community.
All six Strategic Goals and objectives can be viewed at a glance with performance highlights featured each quarter. For those who love detail the progress report is still available for perusal.
I thought I would mention a few highlights in the first quarter under each Goal.
Goal 1: The finalisation of the organisational restructure and induction program.
Goal 2: The adoption of the 2017-2021 Municipal Health & Wellbeing Plan.
Goal 3: The preparation of a city centre plan is underway.
Goal 4: The Barrack Reserve community pavilion construction in Heathcote has been completed.
Goal 5: Community consultation for the Ironbark Gully Trail and Linear Reserve has been completed.
Goal 6: A new tourism website is currently being developed.
This new style report for our communities, ensures that not only is Council accountable, but proud of their work in contributing to making Greater Bendigo the World’s Most Liveable Community.
Out and about this month:
The next Council meeting is on Wednesday January 24, 2018 at 6pm at the Bendigo Town Hall, perhaps I might see you there? Or you can tune in via the live broadcast on Phoenix FM 106.7.
Yvonne Wrigglesworth is a Councillor in the Eppalock Ward, City of Greater Bendigo Council.