The following summary was in many respects the ‘highlight’ of the evening. It involved the developer’s representative (Amanda Ring) who did not ‘speak’ but rather read out a prepared statement.
AMANDA RING: introduced herself as a planner with SJB Planning and that she was ‘speaking on behalf of the developer of the land’. Said that the ‘MRC is not the developer of this land’ and that they have ‘effectively sold the land’ to Beck and Probuild so ‘the community is no longer dealing with the MRC’. Went on to say that as the ‘new owners of the land’ Beck and Probuild were looking ‘froward to being part of the community for the next 10 to 15 years’. The aim is ‘to integrate’ a site that is currently ‘grossly underused’ and to develop this land ‘consistent with government policy’. Said that she ‘gathered’ that people don’t support ‘intensification’ of housing in the neighbourhood but the ‘reality’ is that the ‘decision has been made with the approval of amendment C60′. Whilst Beck and Probuild weren’t involved at that stage they now share the hope that the controls set by the Amendment and the incorporated plan will be ‘implemented’ appropriately. Said that they and council would now be ‘working together’ to ensure that the outcomes are of ‘high standard’. Admitted that the neighbourhood would change and that it would become a ‘thriving mixed use centre’. Said that the ‘consortium is committed to keep you up to date with its development activities’. Introduced ‘George’ as the place manager and who would be dealing with all public liaison issues. Went through the basics of what the Development Plan proposes. Then said ‘I’ve noted your point that there has been a change to dwelling numbers’ but that this has been ‘offset’ by reduction in commercial ‘floor space’ because they couldn’t be ‘confident in putting that into a future plan’. Admitted that there ‘has been change to dwelling numbers’ but that the traffic engineering ‘outcome is absolutely minor‘ and as ‘Rocky pointed out‘ if there are other changes then there will have to be another submission plan to council. Went on to say that the consortium ‘to the best of its ability’ is trying to ‘predict’ how the land can ‘feasibly’ be developed.
Said that these plans have taken about 9 months to ‘pull together’ since the C60 ‘sets high standards for building design’ and ‘as of right height and setback controls’. These controls (plus landscaping, etc)of the C60 set the standards so that large projects like this can be undertaken properly. Whilst council hasn’t yet decided anything Camera’s ‘job is to ensure that’ the development plan is ‘generally in accordance’ with the C60 demands. Said that incorporated plans give the ‘parameters’ of the project but ‘not to the extent that every t is crossed and every i is dotted’ – that’s the job of the development plan. They are ‘confident’ that all the issues have been addressed in the documentation and they concede that ‘not everyone is going to be happy with the plan generally’ or even with some aspects of it. Accepted that some people will continue to be ‘unhappy’ especially about the MRC and the ‘land at the north of the course’ but the developers are not the MRC now and both are ‘highly regarded’ for their ‘residential work’. They’re looking forward to council ‘considering’ the plans and work starting ‘later this year’.
Pilling then asked for questions but Ring said she wasn’t ‘planning to take questions this evening’ and was ‘fearful’ that it would end up in a ‘debate which is not going to end anytime soon’. Pilling said he would be happy to facilitate and that people ask questions and not make statements.
Questions then came about about childcare and what they would do with their children, tradesmen and how they would manoeuvre in and out without parking on carriageways.
MAGEE: ‘as soon as my heart stops beating…..from what I’ve just heard’. Asked Ring to ‘explain to us when the Melbourne Racing Club sold the property?’
RING: said she ‘can’t answer but probably about 12 months ago’.
MAGEE: ‘was council aware of that?’ and ‘how much did the MRC get for the land?’ No real response so Magee said ‘so it’s a secret’. Pilling then intervened and basically wanted Magee to stop, saying ‘these are the applicants’. Magee responded by saying that he’s ‘too angry’ to continue with ‘the debate’. Pilling said it wasn’t a debate but about asking ‘courteous questions’ . Magee claimed that he thought it was a fair question and apologised if he offended.
Another member of the audience then asked if it’s already been ‘established’ that the development plan is in ‘accordance’ with the Incorporated pLan.Pilling replied that it’s still to be ‘determined’. They will consider everything and the officer’s report will be available on the Friday before council decides (April 4th)
Another member quoted from the Town Planning Assessment document that wrote about street frontages being ‘articulated by strong vertical elements to reflect the rhythm of neighbouring residential landscape’. Resident asked how this reflects neighbouring residential landscapes that are basically single storey. Said he objects to this development that doesn’t ‘make any attempt to blend’ in with the residential landscape.
RING: said she would ‘like to answer that’. Acknowledged that many people were ‘expressing’ concerns about height and intensity and she ‘understands that’ but people need to be ‘mindful’ of the fact that ‘strategic decisions how this land will be developed’ (ie height and intensity) ‘were made a long time ago’.'The decision has been made’. Even though people might think they got ‘short shrift’, ‘the reality is the Minister has approved a planning control’ that will mean major change and high rise buildings. Resident interjected and said that she isn’t answering the question. Ring responded by saying ‘I believe I have’. ‘As a result of strategic decisions to develop this land’, the end result will be ‘typological variation from single dwellings’. The resident again insisted that his question hasn’t been answered. Pilling intervened saying that ‘Amanda has’. Resident went on to say that he doesn’t ‘care about strategic planning’ but wants an answer to how a ’6 storey building blends into a landscape of one and two storey’ buildings. ‘It’s language, it’s rubbish’. Another resident said that if these planners have ‘written those words they should be able to explain them’.
Another resident asked for the number of on street car parking spaces are available within the site. 164 are ‘being removed’ but there are no figures for numbers of on street car parking. A mumbled answer from planners that they haven’t got the figures. Another resident asked ‘you haven’t got them now, or you haven’t got them full stop?’
Cheryl Forge then said as a former Trustee the land sale had never been discussed up until 2012 and she wanted to ask the current trustees if and when they knew about the land sale.
HYAMS: said that the ‘land in question’ isn’t under the Trust so it didn’t come up and he’s only been a trustee since April 2013 so wouldn’t know what happened before. Said that everyone knew that there had been a partnership between Beck & Probuild and the MRC but that he wasn’t aware of the ‘exact details’. Questions then arose from audience as to whether this was sold or a ‘partnership’. Answers were that this was ‘commercial in confidence’. Hyams then said that the Trust governs crown land and this was ‘land owned by the MRC’ and ‘none of the land comes under the jurisdiction of the Trust’.
FORGE: noted that 8 members of the Trust are also members of the MRC.
HYAMS: repeated that ‘it doesn’t come under land governed by the trust’.
There were several more questions about car parking and renting of car parking. One resident wanted to know if Council was going to do something about the MRC using the centre for car parking more than 5 times a year and whether council was going to charge them for this since it was ‘land that belongs to us’. More questions started coming up and Pilling then wanted to close the meeting, claiming that ‘we’ve all had a good say’. People disagreed and wanted to continue but Pilling closed the meeting.