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Welcome to the September 2022 edition of FitzTalk

The FRA Committee warmly welcomes Ms Sue Wilkinson in her new role as CEO of Yarra City Council. The City of Yarra faces major financial challenges, and the FRA hopes to begin a dialogue with the new CEO during 2022.
 
Martin Brennan has been our chair for 6 years and done an extraordinary job. There have been dozens of challenges and opportunities for the FRA to address. Martin has moved suburb and thus has stepped down as Chair. 
 
Martin will however remain on the committee until the November AGM at which time there will be opportunities for members to be elected to the new committee. It will then appoint office holders for the Association. We cannot thank Martin Brennan enough for his outstanding leadership and active support for the FRA. We wish him well. 
 
The FRA has been a significant resident voice for Fitzroy for over 50 years and our work continues to address the needs of residents. 
 
Committee is looking to add two or three people who have some time to be actively engaged in the FRA’s purpose. Please consider being on the FRA Committee! Martin Brennan and Greg Chenhall would love to meet with you to discuss this volunteering opportunity. Please email us at info@fitzroyresidents.org.au to arrange a conversation over a cuppa on how you can help.
 
Many of our members are concerned about inappropriate development. If that is you, please take the two suggested actions in the first article below on the newly proposed Yarra Planning Amendment C271 as soon as practical.
 
Bradley Reynolds, Deputy Chair

Important Planning Controls for Fitzroy: Act Now on C271



The City of Yarra is preparing a very important set of permanent planning controls for private development areas of Fitzroy. The controls are named Planning Amendment C271. The areas include the internationally recognised Brunswick Street (as well as many other places — including the humbly cool Gertrude Street!). The FRA has thanked the Yarra Strategic Planning team for their great work on the informative consultation launched this week. The consultation closes at 9am on Monday 3rd October 2022.
 
Currently, there are no permanent planning controls for the nominated areas.
 
You can read more about this great opportunity and the timelines to shape how development controls are prepared for Fitzroy at https://yoursayyarra.com.au/fitzroycollingwood. The map on this website is interactive — if you click on the dot on the light blue Brunswick Street (for example) you’ll see key information on the controls currently proposed by Council.
 
Residents saved the Queens Parade shopping strip from 6 storey development in 2019. The planning controls won include heights and setback that mean that the shopping strip is protected from inappropriate development and the blue sky above the shops will be seen for generations to come.  
 
Brunswick Street’s eclectic character, history, sense of place and identity must be protected by ensuring the low-rise streetscape is preserved.  Do you think six storeys for Brunswick Street is too high? Perhaps four storeys might be appropriate? You can protect current low-rise neighbourhoods by having a say!
 
It is important to act if you are concerned about inappropriate development in Fitzroy and Collingwood. We ask you to take two actions please:

  1. Comment on YourSay (https://yoursayyarra.com.au/fitzroycollingwood on the maximum building heights you think are appropriate for some or all of the areas.
  2. Email the FRA via info@fitzroyresidents.org.au what you think as well so we can consider responses for a written FRA submission to Council.

The FRA understands that once permanent planning controls are approved by the new Minister for Planning (hopefully by mid-2024) there may be more developments activated in Fitzroy for a time (given the rules are clear).

While there will be a period of greater construction and disruption, we hope it won’t involve residents having to argue for appropriate heights and setback etc at VCAT for every single development. 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 also save Yarra City Council money too — less VCAT lawyer time!

The Community Grocer on Tuesdays 9am to 1pm



Fitzroy has an excellent fruit and vegetable low-cost grocer that is open to everyone but is not widely known. Their produce is high quality, not donated, and they even take requests to order in fruit and vegetables you might not find elsewhere.
 
The Community Grocer is located at 90 Brunswick Street in the Atherton Gardens Estate and is open each Tuesday between 9am and 1pm. The team are friendly and efficient, and the space is shared with the High-Rise Bakery run by Cultivating Community, selling excellent breads, bagels and focaccia. Get in early for the greatest variety as they do aim to sell out.
 
The FRA’s Secretary heard about the not-for-profit grocer while listening to Yarra Council budget bids and has shopped there every week since. To learn more about The Community Grocer please visit https://www.thecommunitygrocer.com.au and plan a trip if you can.

FRA AGM and Next PubTalk Dates


Unfortunately, the next PubTalk on the topic of Planning 101 (which was scheduled for 11 September) has had to be postponed. A first draft Strategic Planning 101 information sheet has been prepared though, as is mentioned further on in this edition of FitzTalk.
 
The FRA’s Annual General Meeting is currently scheduled for the evening of Monday 7 November 2022 and members will be provided full details (including papers) by direct email well in advance.

Brotherhood of St Laurence – Fitzroy Precinct Project – Kate Kennedy, Director, Projects, BSL

“The May edition of FitzTalk included an update on the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) and our Fitzroy Project.  

“We appreciate the feedback we have been receiving as we have canvassed possibilities and informed members of the community about this process. 

“It is important to stress BSL has not made any decision about the development of our Fitzroy site. This includes height and design.  

“We are now reviewing our organisational strategy and formulating a new set of strategic priorities. These will be finalised during 2023. The BSL Board has resolved to consider the future of the Fitzroy site once our new strategic priorities are finalised next year.  

Please visit the BSL webpage for more information.”

Brotherhood of St Laurence and the FRA – Greg Chenhall (Secretary) 

The FRA supports the BSL’s need for a new Fitzroy office building as well as new buildings for existing site partners on their Fitzroy site. We are delighted the BSL is committed to its large Fitzroy site and managing the site’s varied heritage elements.
 
A clearer message from the community is starting to form around Brunswick Street building heights, particularly in the context of Yarra’s proposed planning amendment C271.

Last week, the FRA Secretary was at the table alongside other Yarra residents to meet the BSL’s new CEO, Travers McLeod. The excellent meeting was generously facilitated by our local member Richard Wynne MP.

The FRA Committee hopes to continue the open dialogue established with the BSL. The BSL owns a significant site which could add much more to iconic Brunswick Street and Fitzroy.

28 Johnston Street Fitzroy  

The FRA submitted an objection to proposed eight storey development at PLN02/0028. It is an eight-storey plan on the south side of Johnston Street. Our objection can be found via https://fitzroyresidents.org.au/pages/planning/
 
It is understood that Council has received over thirty-four objections to the thin but deep development proposal. Yarra City Council has not made a decision at the time this article was written. The development falls within the proposed (but not State Government approved) interim Design Development Overlay 34 of Amendment C270. The proposal includes 9 studio apartments. Objectors await a Planning and Development Committee meeting. The FRA is keen to see what Yarra’s Strategic Planning advice is via the papers expected for a Council Planning and Development Committee meeting. Given a decision has not been made yet, you can still object online via https://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/services/planning-and-development

City of Yarra 2022-23 Budget Adopted

In June Council adopted the 2022 to 2023 annual budget. While there isn’t much for Fitzroy beside some re-asphalting in our streets, more information can be found at https://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/news/2022/06/24/yarra-adopts-its-2022-to-23-budget
 
Due to COVID-19 and the unfortunate state of Yarra’s finances, Yarra’s Heritage Strategy cannot meet the timelines described within it. The positions required to implement Yarra’s Heritage Strategy cannot be appointed at this time.

Yarra Council Governance Rules Changed

At the Council Meeting of 23 August 2022, Yarra Council voted on significant changes to Yarra's Governance Rules — changes which require clear majority support. The most controversial item entailed changes to the Governance Rules that have the effect — by anyone's measure and by admission of its proponents on the night — of materially reducing residents’ ability to be heard at council meetings, both in terms of asking questions and in making oral submissions to council. Those changes included a requirement to pre-register in writing (via computers) twenty-four hours in advance, and a reduction of speaking time from five minutes to three. The number of questions permitted is reduced from two to one (with only a clarification follow-up now allowed limited to 1 minute). 

It's notable that on the night the returning councillors — Cllrs Jolly, O'Brien and Stone — opposed some of those measures but were defeated 5 votes to 3.  Much was made on the night by those supporting that there are (purportedly compensatory) changes being worked on to Yarra's community engagement processes, which were not ready to be spoken of in detail on the night. 

Those in the gallery upset with what they perceived as an erosion of access and democracy were left with a proposition whereby they were asked to accept an admitted loss on one side in exchange for a promise of something better an unspecified amount of time in the future. On that basis, Council has put a lot of pressure and scrutiny on themselves in how and when that promise is delivered.

FRA Recyclable Glass Cups for Sale

You can still 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 your fruit and vegetables.

Graffiti Update in Yarra and Melbourne 

The City of Yarra continues to provide residents with two free cleans per year upon request. Recent experiences of members calling (9205 5555) or emailing (info@yarracity.vic.gov.au) have been very positive with call centre staff having detailed knowledge of the current policy and procedures. Recent cases lodged by FRA members have resulted in prompt action.
 
The City of Melbourne is doing a tagging removal blitz and has removed 80,000 square metres of illegal graffiti/tagging since March 2022. 22,000 site cleans have been completed. The City of Melbourne is also working closely with Victoria Police to identify and deter offenders. The City of Melbourne wants Melbourne to be a city that we can all be proud of, but the City of Melbourne also has more money to manage graffiti differently.

Melbourne Pride confirmed for Gertrude and Smith for 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026!

The next Melbourne Pride is set for Sunday 12th February 2023!
 As Mayor Sophie Wade posted on Facebook:
 
“A big win for folks in the City of Yarra and the queer community of Naarm: the state gov has announced that Melbourne Pride is set to return to Gertrude and Smith Streets next year, and that funding is locked in for another three years after that!
 
"Yarra Council has been advocating for this alongside members of our community, so we were bloody thrilled to see this level of support!”
 
The FRA congratulates all the advocates who lobbied for this as well as the State Government (for its generous support and funding).

Yarra Statutory Planning Permit Website Improved

The FRA commends Yarra City Council for the vastly improved Statutory Planning website process to lodge support or objections to development proposals. Well done City of Yarra!
 
The Yarra City Council Planning and Development website is https://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/services/planning-and-development

Strategic Planning 101 Information Sheet: Now Available

People have been emailing the FRA to ask what the town planning terms “DDO” and “DPO” are.
 
New to the FRA's website under Planning (i.e. https://fitzroyresidents.org.au/pages/planning/) is a new draft information sheet on Strategic Planning terms and links for the benefit of our members and the community. We attempt to cover things such as a Planning Scheme, Design Development Overlays (DDOs) and much less common Development Plan Overlays (DPOs).
 
Enjoy the read and please continue to ask questions via info@fitzroyresidents.org.au so we can enhance and update the new information sheet over time.

Heritage Advisory Committee Term

Membership of the City of Yarra’s Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC) was approved at the Council Meeting of 23 August 2022. The advisory committee terms are four years. There are many notable appointments including a highly respected member of the National Trust of Australia.  Greg Chenhall, current Secretary of the FRA, was re-appointed.

Strategic Town Planning and Sunlight in London Parks

Over in London, the Garden Museum has been campaigning to have better formal recognition of new qualitative (not numerical) standards for sunlight in public green spaces, as defined by what is good for people, plants and pollinators.
 
Over 10,000 people have signed the Garden Museum’s petition to the Greater London Authority and a new policy has been adopted to say that the public realm should not be ‘unduly overshadowed’ by new blocks of high-rise flats. If you are interested, you can watch the Garden Museum’s Director Christopher Woodward speak at the London Assembly Planning and Regeneration Committee in July 2022 here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L-fzFWQMAs&t=3844s

REBCG World Heritage Site Planning Updates

Surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens is a buffer zone named in Victoria as the World Heritage Environs Area (WHEA). This overlay covers part of Fitzroy.
 
A revised buffer zone was gazetted on 26 July 2022. It was approved by the new Minister for Planning, the Honourable Lizzie Blandthorn MP. The spaces covered in Yarra have been extended (ever so slightly) to include the Fitzroy Street road, curb and channel.
 
Also, the final Carlton Gardens Master Plan, Exhibition Reserve Master Plan and Traditional Owner and First Peoples Cultural Values Report have been finalised and published as part of the long overdue REBCG World Heritage Management plan review process. The Heritage Management Plan and World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan are still in draft form. All of the review documents are available here https://engage.vic.gov.au/rebcgreview

Find us on the web

For more in depth information on the work of the FRA go to https://fitzroyresidents.org.au

Contributors: 
Greg Chenhall, Glen McCallum and Brad Reynolds with special guest Kate Kennedy (BSL)

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