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Welcome to the November 2022 Edition of FitzTalk

In this issue:

  • Yarra CEO Sue Wilkinson discusses future challenges at the FRA’s AGM
  • The FRA discuss areas of concern with State election candidates
  • New members join the FRA Committee
  • Planning amendment C271 aims to clarify development rules in key precincts
  • ACTION: Residents encouraged to have their say on Yarra’s budget
  • View from the top – Royal Exhibition Building Dome Promenade

Yarra CEO Sue Wilkinson In Conversation with Martin Brennan

Yarra Council CEO Sue Wilkinson impressed at FRA’s 53rd Annual General Meeting on 7 November when she acknowledged the importance of community in grasping the complexity of the city as well as leading and embracing different change. Sue was the meeting’s special guest and held a 30-minute conversation with outgoing chair Martin Brennan providing interesting insights into the challenges facing Yarra (and surprises) since taking up the role of CEO earlier this year. A local resident herself (Richmond), she and Martin talked about honouring the heritage across Yarra. She also discussed local governance, the empathy of administration staff and the art of policy and politics.

AGM Farewells Outgoing Chair Martin Brennan

The 2022 Annual General Meeting marked the fifty-third anniversary (to the day) of the FRA! The AGM was the last chaired by Martin Brennan who did an outstanding job for six years.  Forty-two members and special guests attended the AGM. Thanks to councillors Stone and Mohamud as well as two of the candidates for the state seat of Richmond at the forthcoming election: Gabrielle de Vietri and Lauren O’Dwyer for attending. New committee members were elected (more below).

FRA Meets Local Candidates

With Victoria’s state election due on 26 November, FRA and the Yarra Planning Coalition took the opportunity to meet with some candidates for the seat of Richmond (which includes Fitzroy). Concerns raised included state and local planning, open space, climate action, public and affordable housing as well as shopping strip economics. What could be done to bolster key streets in Fitzroy that contribute to the state economy and tourism was also raised as well as how to fund Yarra Council’s heritage program.

Your Views are Needed on the 2022–2023 City of Yarra Budget

Residents are encouraged to contribute their ideas on next year’s City of Yarra budget. You can influence Council’s priorities by having your say on where the money goes!
Please complete the brief survey at:
It is clear to FRA Committee members that Town Planning needs more resources to attempt to catch up with the workload.  Heritage funding has also been inadequate over a number of years to complete Council’s adopted 2019 Heritage Strategy. Streetscape Master Plans are urgently needed for Smith Street and Gertrude Street to integrate with accessible tram-stop developments. Funds are needed to accelerate streetscape improvements within the Brunswick Street Master Plan and there are areas of East Fitzroy/Collingwood where land needs to be bought to provide the fast-growing residential population a decent sized park. Yarra has not had consultants produce Neighbourhood Character Studies which are believed to be needed to inform future Strategic Planning.
You can also speak with officers about the budget at Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library – Monday 21 November, 10am to midday.

New FRA Committee for 2022–2023

New members joined the committee at the AGM. Office bearers were elected at the first committee meeting the following week. The committee for 2022–2023 will be: 
Michael Spencer — Chair
Rachel Axton — Deputy Chair
Mark Hoare — Treasurer
Greg Chenhall — Secretary
Erin Tidswell
Brad Reynolds
Brian McMaster
The committee can include up to eight members and one additional member has subsequently expressed an interest in joining. New Chair Michael Spencer will meet him (and his lovely dog) for the last position shortly. More information on how the committee will function will be provided in the next newsletter.

FRA’s Annual Report 2022

The FRA’s 2021 to 2022 Annual Report is now available on page:

Significant Yarra Planning Amendment C271


Over five-hundred and sixty submissions on Planning Amendment C271 have been received by Yarra City Council’s Strategic Planning unit. Thank you to all who contributed! Timelines and next steps are available at
The FRA also think Council for consulting with the community before proposing new controls be exhibited. The Council is starting to do some things differently and the “pre-consultation” helps parties understand issues before asking the State for permission to formally exhibit the amendment.
C271 is a set of twelve permanent planning controls for areas within Fitzroy and Collingwood. The areas include the internationally recognised Brunswick Street, Smith Street, Gertrude Street and Johnston Street West. The FRA and the Yarra Planning Coalition met with senior staff at Council last week to get a briefing on the next steps and to ask questions. Minimal change is expected in some areas of consistent heritage fabric.
Currently, there are no permanent planning controls for the twelve areas, and it is important to get controls in place. Yarra hope the State Government permit exhibition of the proposed Design and Development Overlays around March/April 2023. Should Council decide to hold an independent public hearing, the whole process may take until early 2024. The Council will ask the State Government to extend the very limited set of interim (C270) controls.
The FRA Committee thinks it would be wonderful for both residents and developers to have appropriate and clear rules leading to fewer VCAT cases. That might save Yarra City Council money too — with less VCAT lawyer time!

City of Yarra Monitor’s Final Report Available

The final report of the Municipal Monitor appointed by the Victorian Government to the City of Yarra is now available. The Report notes improvements in Council’s governance and processes. The Monitor also speaks positively about the new CEO and her understanding of both these issues and the precarious state of the municipality’s finances. Nevertheless, he recommends the Victorian Auditor General’s Office undertake annual performance audits of the municipality (in addition to annual financial audits) to keep the council on track and until the Auditor-General is confident the municipality has achieved financial stability.
A copy of the Monitor’s report is available here and a statement by the Mayor in response to the report is available here.

Fitzroy Learning Network On The Move – Possible Win-Win Outcome


Fitzroy Learning Network (FLN) (neighbourhood house) has to move out of its current premises in Napier Street, opposite the Town Hall. Question is, where to go given its location is central to the education, engagement, community support and drop-in activities it runs. One option being considered is to co-locate with The Cubbies a short distance away in Condell Street south of the Town Hall. The Cubbies has been providing backyard space for children to play freely and creatively since 1974. Both FLN and The Cubbies work closely but differently with families of Atherton Gardens. Co-location would require FLN building on part of the block of public land used by The Cubbies. New FRA Chair Michael Spencer attended a public meeting at FLN to discuss the possibility of relocation to The Cubbies. Co-location could offer a win-win outcome for both community organisations but there will be a lot of work required to build a strong relationship and shared vision and then gain support of Yarra Council and the Victorian Government. Nevertheless, FRA is supportive of closer collaboration and will remain in touch as this project develops.

Royal Exhibition Building Dome Promenade Preview


The FRA Committee thanks Museums Victoria for their very generous preview tour of the new Dome Promenade of the Royal Exhibition Building (before the official opening on Sat 26th October 2022).
The walk through the REB, the new basement interpretation centre and the experience of the Dome Promenade were fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed by all attendees.

FRA Recyclable Glass Cups for Sale

You can buy a Fitzroy Residents Association recyclable cup with lid for your favourite hot or cold beverage! These are now available at The Community Grocer (90 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy each Tuesday 9am to 1pm). The large cups cost $4, $6 or $8 depending on what you want to pay. Please visit The Community Grocer and show your support by buying a cup with some affordable fruit and vegetables.

FitzTalk#21 was compiled by: Michael Spencer and Greg Chenhall
For more in depth information on the work of the FRA go to

Copyright © 2022 Fitzroy Residents Association, All rights reserved.

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