Here at CARA Central we need to revise our blogging skills and next Tuesday’s forum provides a perfect opportunity for that!
Please join us for an informal and friendly round of speeches (short) and question time to get to know the candidates standing in the Langridge ward of Yarra Council.
Go here for general information about the Council Election to be held on 27 October and a range of FAQs about postal voting/ pre-polling, etc.
Whilst you’re here at the CARA Residents blog, you might like to check out a few of the new links that have been added to our list of Related websites.
A few of us took up the invite to get a guided tour of the Dights Falls weir reconstruction project this Saturday, 14 April 2012. The Chief Engineer and the Communications Manager at Melbourne Water gave us the lowdown. Photos show footings of the weir itself and the fish ladder, both of which we’re assured will be operational for at least the next 100 years, once the project is finished. In the meantime they’ll move the giant rocks around till they get it right, as it’s apparently a bit hit and miss to get the right mix of froth and bubble in the correct location for both the fish and the canoeists (amongst other stakeholders).
For more detailed and technically accurate information go to the Melbourne Water website
where you can follow the time lapse video of the Construction project too.
Letter writing time again! We didn’t expect to have to revisit this campaign.
Follow the links at the end of the article to the newspaper stories and consider voicing your opinion to this Government too.
We can’t keep up with the community here at CARA Central and have only just signed the online Gopetition ourselves. Here it is:
SAVE PUBLIC LAND AT ABBOTSFORD CONVENT Petition | GoPetition
This petition is not to be confused with the other one conducted earlier this year – that was in response to the first Steiner school planning application. So please sign this one too if you are concerned about the implications of the current application for the heritage and precious open spaces at the Convent.
For details of the second Steiner school application, which was approved by Heritage Victoria, and which now awaits a decision by the Planning Minister, Mr Matthew Guy, check our previous post: Threat to our public open space intensifies at Abbotsford Convent.
So you thought that Heritage Victoria rejected the application to build on the remaining open spaces at the Convent? Well, that was the first application – the one that located a five classroom school building directly on St Mary’s Paddock, used by the Collingwood Childrens Farm (CCF) for grazing pasture for the last 30 years of its operation.
Then the Sophia Mundi Steiner school shifted the building over to just within the perimeter of its current space (their playground) claiming also the yet-to-be restored swimming pool enclosure outside the educational area as its replacement playground and adding a few covered walkways, and possibly a (raised?) walkway on St Mary’s Paddock to the Mercator Annex (their BER-funded Science wing). They then liaised with Heritage Victoria to ensure that this second application would be granted a heritage permit. Go here to read the Heritage Victoria decision, 7 September 2011.
Now the planning application is on the desk of Planning Minister Matthew Guy for approval. You wonder why it is with the Minister and not the relevant planning authority, the City of Yarra? That’s because BER-funded proposals get to by-pass the local planning authority and go straight to the Planning Minister. He has referred it to City of Yarra (for advice only): go here to read about Council’s position as decided on 27 September 2011.
But the acquisition of the pool enclosure by the school is outside the Master plan (AND not covered by BER funding) which protects the Convent’s mix of uses. Is the Master plan worth the paper it’s written on? We think not.
In the words of the School spokeswoman, Leslie Arnott, …. “We are seeking to amend the building envelope within the masterplan, following the recent endorsement from Heritage Victoria. We are also seeking the minister’s approval for this amendment, along with his building approval.“
Now is the time to let Mr Guy know how strongly you feel about the appropriation of public open space for a single Convent tenant to the detriment of the rest of the community.
Please send a letter or an email ASAP (this week) to Minister Guy at: email@example.com
Here is a sample letter:
Hon Minister for Planning and Community Development
Level 7, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne 3000
Dear Mr Guy,
I understand that you are considering a Planning application by the Sophia Mundi Steiner school at the Abbotsford Convent for an infill school building and associated covered walkways, and raised walkway and to expand the existing footprint of the school to include a replacement playground.
I urge you to refuse this application because:
- it requires the acquisition of additional public open space of almost 1000 square metres for the school’s sole use for the next 20 years – thereby precluding it from any future restoration or adaptive reuse for the wider community;
- it involves the construction of a four classroom building and accompanying covered walkways at either end of it which effectively close off all views from, and to, the Convent in particular to the St Mary’s building from the popular and much-used Children’s Farm and Capital City bike trail;
- it unreasonably expands the educational activities at the Convent beyond the footprint prescribed in the Master plan (June 2006) representing a significant deviation from the Convent’s charter to provide a mix of arts, culture, education, tourism and parkland uses;
- it compromises the potential National Heritage listing of the Abbotsford Convent; and
- it adversely impacts the use of St Mary’s Paddock (both in the construction phase and in the long-term) as a key grazing paddock for stock of the Collingwood Children’s farm.
The proposal is contrary to the spirit of the ‘gift’ of the whole site to the people of Victoria which came about as the result of a long campaign to preserve the Convent’s built form and its open spaces from inappropriate and disrespectful development. So I ask you to reject the planning application.
(Name and Contact details)
It feels like ages since we, at CARA Central, have had the opportunity to sit down and actually post a blog. This is going to be short as we’ve been run off our feet with planning issues, amongst them this ghastly Tower proposed to blight the skyline of Abbotsford. If you thought that big ugly box toward the Yarra river was boxy, or the other box near North Richmond station was, well, boxy – check out the latest 3 D projections from Urbis for Johnston Street.
We can’t imagine that VCAT would consider it appropriate for the site context. But all the smart money is on the developer, Urbis, getting their way on this one. And a planning permit for 16 or 17 storeys is all they need to put it on the market and make a tidy profit from the land speculation.
It’s become apparent at this late stage that the proponent, Urbis, has all the lawyers, guns and money to put into winning this case. And we lack the experience to prepare something to withstand this assault.
Poor old Abbotsford! But it will set a precedent for any area within 800 metres of any train station (regardless of whether the trains actually stop there!) or 400 metres of a tram, and, being in a humble Neighbourhood activity centre, spells disaster for many little shopping strips, let alone for the neighouring residential housing.
Do you know of anyone who has the skills and experience, and who might be willing to share some insights with us on a pro bono basis (a small group of directly affected residents and the wider suburb loosely represented by CARA) between now and the 5th September to structure our case?