Eddington’s East West Freeway Again Menaces Melbourne

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.

Posted in Campaigns, Transport planning | 1 Comment

Save Public Land at the Convent: online Gopetition goes viral…

We can’t keep up with the community here at CARA Central and have only just signed the online Gopetition ourselves. Here it is:

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.

Posted in Abbotsford Convent, Campaigns, Collingwood Childrens Farm, Heritage Victoria, Public open space | Leave a comment

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: matthew.guy@parliament.vic.gov.au

Here is a sample letter:

Matthew Guy
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.

Yours sincerely,

(Name and Contact details)

Posted in Campaigns, Collingwood Childrens Farm, Heritage Victoria, Public open space | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What a shocker! Coming to a shopping strip near you….

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?

Posted in Campaigns, Johnston Street Tower, VCAT | 7 Comments

Proposed Steiner school building at Convent: a ‘win/ win’ for whom?

Posted in Abbotsford Convent, Campaigns, Collingwood Childrens Farm, Heritage Victoria, Public open space | 4 Comments

CARA submission to Heritage Victoria re the proposed Steiner ‘swimming pool’ solution

Posted in Abbotsford Convent, Campaigns, Collingwood Childrens Farm, Heritage Victoria, Public open space | 2 Comments

Johnston Street – imagining the future?

There was something in the air last Thursday night when 10 or 11 of us met to contemplate the 17 storey Tower proposed for little Crispin House on Johnston Street.

To anyone who sees the image provided by the proponent, there is dismay and dread at the lack of imagination and the ruthless grab for maximum financial gain that this proposal represents.

Nevertheless, the residents most directly affected by it are now preparing to defend their amenity and their neighbourhood: the fine grain built form of houses and refurbished industrial spaces that constitute the local neighbourhood character.

They were quite stimulated by the timely opportunity to display the alternative proposal, developed locally to contrast to the tower, at the ‘Johnston Street Studio’ Exhibition: Johnston Street – imagining the future starting Tuesday, 9th August and going until 13th August at the Chapman and Bailey Gallery, 350 Johnston Street, Abbotsford.

We look forward to the Public Forum and students’ presentation on Saturday afternoon, 13th August at 2pm. Our community-developed alternative to the Johnston Street Tower will be featured along with the other designs.

If you wish to keep up-to-date with our community-developed Alternative design, you can register your support at: alternative4johnstonst@gmail.com

In the spirit of community empowerment, we thank those people who sprang into action quickly and effectively to produce and distribute the leaflet (seen below) to local residents.

Posted in Campaigns, Johnston Street Tower, VCAT | Tagged , | 2 Comments