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Welcome to the sixteenth edition of FitzTalk and our fifth edition for 2021. 
This has been a challenging yet productive year for the FRA. We have been challenged by COVID19 and the resultant lockdowns but productive across a range of issues and opportunities that reflect our mandate to protect and support the liveability and sustainability of our suburb and the City.
The FRA continues to seek development that respects our streetscapes and heritage and ensures buildings are sustainable. We support residents in seeking changes where they are needed to proposed developments through the Planning Decisions Committee of Council and VCAT. We are not opposed to development but seek input where it is needed to ensure an outcome that contributes to residential amenity and liveability.
Recently we have been a party to several VCAT hearings that require significant input from those familiar with planning law and procedures and can provide expert responses to heritage, architectural integrity and Environmental Sustainable Design. 
To end the year on a positive note we are pleased to invite you to the FRA 2021
Annual General Meeting to be held at the Aegean Restaurant, 19 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy on Tuesday, 14 December, 2021 from 6.30 to 9.00pm.  

This is an opportunity for members and friends to hear a report on last year’s activities, participate in the election of a new Committee and a Q&A session with PK, representing People of Gertrude Street.

Photograph of PK

Take care, 
Martin Brennan
Chair on behalf of the FRA Committee

About People of Gertrude Street

Elevating Gertrude Street as a destination for locals and the wider Melbourne, interstate visitor community. People of Gertrude Street was born to bring people and businesses together. As representatives of a culturally innovative community, People of Gertrude Street is open and inclusive to people who live, work, run a business, own property or visit our Street. 
We’re a renaissance of community involvement focussed on creating a better connected, resilient community with stronger relationships. We lead with a positive movement of citizen-led action centered around supporting the evolution, preservation of character and beautification of a climate resilient Gertrude Street.

FRA AGM — What have we been up to?

Thursday 14 December 2021 6.30 for a 7.00pm start at The Aegean Greek Restaurant at 19 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
Booking is essential via Eventbrite at

We will commence with drinks and light food at 6.30 for a 7.00pm AGM start and will close the meeting at 8.30pm for 9.00pm finish for those able to stay on for an informal chat.
FRA members will be given priority bookings. We look forward to the opportunity to present key reports as well as elect the FRA 2021/22 Committee.
Following the formal AGM there will be a conversation between Martin Brennan and PK representing People of Gertrude Street and a Q&A session.
Note: Committee Nomination and Voting Proxy forms are available online at and will also be emailed to members.

We need YOU!

Have you considered becoming a member of a Committee that responds to local needs and interests? A Committee that meets monthly and discusses a range of opportunities for the FRA to engage with the broader community? A Committee that makes use of its members’ passions and interests? The FRA would like to speak to you! You can contact us at

Heritage and Yarra Budget Priorities

Yarra City Council is asking Yarra residents what their top priority (or priorities) are for the coming financial year. You can write a submission or answer the quick survey at before December 10th.
If you care about Heritage there is a priority box to select in the survey called “Town Planning and Heritage”.
During the previous budget, and the one before that, the FRA and other Yarra groups lobbied for more heritage resources but were unsuccessful. We will be seeking additional funding for key heritage positions in the 2022/23 year. Your input is needed too!

Yarra's Heritage Advisory Committee

The next meeting of Yarra’s Heritage Committee is December 6th. Please contact Greg Chenhall via asap if you have an issue to raise.

Amendment C269 Update

The FRA has participated in a community planning process under the banner Yarra Planning Coalition comprising resident groups and individuals from across Yara. 
The 400 community submissions informed us on what locals wanted for their neighbourhoods.
Residents wanted to: 

  • Maintain Yarra’s quirky shop characters and not turn into big box chain stores, and retain our creative industries, diverse housing and population groups. 
  • Ensure each nominated Activity Centre (e.g. Gertrude Street, Rathdowne Street, Smith St, Bridge Road etc) retain its distinctive look and feel. 
  • New activity centres (e.g. Heidelberg Road, St Georges Road North) to create their own character and feel and not become towering road corridors. 
  • Our historical and heritage landmarks are crucial to all major and smaller local activity centres. 
  • Preserve our own versions of East Village and SOHO/SOJO. Let’s build on these from Richmond, Abbotsford, Fitzroy, Collingwood, Clifton Hill and beyond.

The Coalition was represented at the recent Panel Hearing by expert witnesses, and some 26 individual/community groups provided thoughtful and detailed submissions. 
The Planning Panel will now advise Council of its response to the submissions before being referred by the Council to the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, for approval.  
This exhaustive consultative process that will, we hope, inform the future of Yarra’s planning, heritage, landmarks, noise and acoustics and residential and commercial development in a positive way.
The expert witnesses cost an estimated $20,000 and those in the Coalition are seeking from their respective members a financial contribution to cover the time, expertise and support they provided: 
Liz Vines – sustainability, heritage, city planning
Jim Holdsworth – architecture, urban design
Nigel Lewis – heritage
Donations can be sent by EFT to:
Acc: Protect Clifton Hill
BSB: 633-000
Account Number: 178589131
Description: C269yarra Planning Panel Donation 
or via Chuffed at:

Amendment C270

The request for built form interim Design Development Overlays (DDOs) for 9 Collingwood / Fitzroy precincts was sent to the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, in January 2020. The Council was of the view that due to increasing development pressure interim controls were needed while the council carried out strategic work and prepared an amendment to introduce permanent planning controls. 
The precincts cover some of Yarra's significant activity centres (or shopping strips) in Fitzroy (including Brunswick Street, Gertrude Street, Smith Street and Johnston Street). 
In August 2021 the Minister approved only 4 of the 9 DDOs, and excluded 5 DDOs that relate to Fitzroy. 
In October Martin Brennan, FRA Chair, met via zoom with representatives of the Minister for Planning and DEWLP to discuss  the reason for not including all 9 DDOs in the interim order. The delay in approval of the request for interim DDOs was due to additional information sought from Council about the timing of its strategic work and the proposed community consultation to introduce permanent controls. 
DEWLP was also unable to proceed expeditiously given the number of controls being sought via Amendment C270. The decision to only approve 4 interim development controls was based on a view that the remaining precincts were not experiencing similar development pressure and the imposition of controls without a timeframe to test the controls through a public exhibition and approvals process was not warranted or justifiable. 
The Minister has however established a Yarra Activity Centres Standing Advisory Committee to expedite a more efficient process which will allow the community to be consulted in relation to Amendment C270. 
The Council has indicated that it will establish such a formal exhibition process early in 2022. In the meantime we will continue to argue the case before VCAT for all 9 DDOs to be considered as they are the clear intention of the Council and should inform future planning decisions and protect our streetscapes and heritage as well as environment.

131–143 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Original Proposal

A four-hour VCAT Compulsory Conference resolved the outstanding issues for Council and the FRA following a pre Compulsory Conference meeting with the applicant. 
The revised development proposal responds to concerns relating to height, massing and architectural design. They include responsiveness to the heritage streetscape and sustainability. Environmental Sustainable Design improvements include certification as a zero net carbon building.

84–104 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

The FRA will be reviewing the planning application for a revised apartment building at 84-104 Johnston Street, Fitzroy (opposite Coles). As readers will recall the Yarra City Council and the FRA were successful in their submissions and presentations to VCAT in October 2020 and Godzilla 1.0 was refused on the grounds of excessive height, massing, and failure to address the heritage values of nearby buildings and streetscape. 
The proposal has been reduced in height from 11 to 9 storeys and the architectural design has been altered to reduce its impact on the streetscape. But how much is good enough is what the FRA will be considering over the coming weeks. The response of residents is always welcome. The application number is PLN21/0625 at

Parklets to Stay

The Council has waived parklet fees until June 2022 thus enabling access to State Government funding in support of outdoor dining. The Council has unanimously supported the provision of parklets for restaurants and cafes and hotels. 
The Council will require fees be levied in a post-lockdown environment for the use of the public space recognising the certainty it provides to businesses and the contribution it will make to Council’s revenue and the provision of Council services.

Australian Catholic University Re-development - Cnr Brunswick Street and Victoria Parade, Fitzroy

Look over there.....

The Yarra City Council together with local residents and supported by the FRA objected to the development as being unresponsive in its scale, height, architectural quality and site context. The development failed to comply with State Planning Policy Framework ‘to ensure the conservation of places of heritage significance’, Yarra’s Heritage Overlay and Design Development Overlay, and would have a negative impact on the iconic Brunswick Street gateway. 
In what can only be described as a most unfortunate and inexplicable decision VCAT
determined that the building proposed by the ACU on the corner of Brunswick Street and Victoria Parade expressed ‘qualities’ in its architectural design, its ‘removal’ from the heritage character of Brunswick Street and an ‘unconventional podium’.

St Vincent’s Hospital Re-development - Cnr Nicholson Street and Victoria Parade, Fitzroy

Nothing to see here.....

The FRA was to be a party to the VCAT Hearing on the proposed St Vincent’s Hospital redevelopment. We were informed in June, however, that the Compulsory Conference and subsequent VCAT Hearing would not take place. 
The Compulsory Conference would have been an opportunity to address the issues with Hospital Management and their architectural team and perhaps assisted in providing a better outcome for the site, the World Heritage Environs Area, the Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Building and the environment. 
The Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, instead established a Priority Projects Standing Advisory Committee to determine the future of the proposed redevelopment. 
The FRA was of the view that what was proposed would reflect badly on St Vincent’s Hospital if the Minister were to approve the development without substantial improvements given its prominence and the role it should play in contributing to a sustainable future. The FRA argued that a state of the art medical research facility should occupy a state of the art sustainable building.
The Priority Projects Standing Advisory Committee has released its report and approved the building assuring us that there is nothing to see here….

88 Kerr Street, 71 – 75 Argyle Street, 380 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy

Not best but we hope better!

The FRA was a party to a recent VCAT Hearing to determine the future of a proposed apartment development at 88 Kerr Street, 380 Fitzroy Street and 71-75 Argyle Street. 
The Tribunal has issued an interim approval that has provided the applicant with the opportunity to address the issues raised during the Hearing by preparing amended plans. The opportunity has been accepted and will be referred to  the Planning Decisions Committee of Council. 
The following is a summary of the changes the Tribunal has required to be undertaken if the development is to proceed: 
• The setting back of the uppermost floor of the “Kerr Street wing” so as to reduce its visibility from Brunswick street (or removal of this level).
• The reduction of one floor across the remainder of the development, including the west wing (the “Fitzroy Street wing”) and the ‘link’ building.
• Increased setbacks from Kerr Street at the upper levels and modified materiality in accordance with recommendations.
• Further refinement of the Kerr Street façade, including the recommendation of tying the ground floor to the upper two floors. 
• Changes to limit overlooking of the open spaces to the Kerr Street dwellings. 
• The adoption of a range of noise mitigating devices be included in the plans, including balcony screening, façade and glazing treatments.

235 Napier Street, Fitzroy

Up and up....

What’s driving up height and the massing of proposed developments in Fitzroy? Fitzroy is on the market for less sustainable and affordable apartments as property prices soar and planning schemes are slow to catch up and provide mandatory heights and setbacks, heritage protection, sustainability plans that meet zero carbon targets and inclusionary zoning. 
A case in point is 235 Napier Street, Fitzroy where the sale of the site exceeded market expectations by $660,000. At $4.56m the sky is hardly going to be the limit.  The FRA has submitted an objection to the Yarra City Council seeking a reduction in height and massing, responsiveness to its site and heritage overlay and improvements in its Environment Sustainable Design.

Thank you, VJ

Yarra City Council CEO Vijaya Vaidyanath has announced her resignation from Council after almost a decade working for the City and the community. While there are many outstanding Council achievements during her time as CEO her overriding contribution has been her commitment, honesty, enthusiasm and recognition of the need for change. VJ leaves a legacy for another to build on. She will take up a new role as the inaugural CEO of Homes Melbourne at the City of Melbourne, delivering on that City’s commitment to improve city-wide housing accessibility and affordability.


The election of Yarra’s mayor remains in a 4 / 4 deadlock despite two Ceremonial Council meetings and a third pending on 23 November. The Greens councillors and the Socialist/ Independent councillors are in a stand-off that threatens the future of the Council. 
The stand-off will be resolved between mayoral candidates Cr de Vietri or Cr O’Brien (Cr Jolly withdrew his nomination after a 4 / 4 vote and nominated Cr O’Brien). 
To be mayor requires an absolute majority of 5 votes! Voting will continue until the deadlock is broken and could, if extended into 2022, could result in the imposition of State Government appointed commissioners.

In the meantime we in the community will need to continue to focus on the considerable challenges that our communities confront and await our elected councillors to resolve their differences and recognise that the coming year will require a renewal of confidence in the governance of the City.

Find us on the web

For more in-depth analysis on the work of the FRA go to
Compiled by:
Martin Brennan & Greg Chenhall
for additional information on any of the items in FitzTalk please email

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