The NWMA’s submission sent on the 15 January 2010 to the Hon Richard Wynne, Minister for Housing on the proposed redevelopment of La Trobe Close. For readers information
Re 210-232 Chetwynd Street, 21-43 Courtney Street and 181-197 Howard Street, North Melbourne.
We wish to make the following submission to the Minister for Housing, Richard Wynne MP, on the Government’s proposal for the Latrobe Close redevelopment on the corner of Howard, Chetwynd and Courtney Streets, North Melbourne.
The North and West Melbourne Association (NWMA), through its predecessor the North Melbourne Association, was established in 1967 and has operated continuously since that date. Its substantial membership consists of residents and workers from North and West Melbourne. The Association and its members were involved in the initial consultation with the government authorities and its consultants regarding the purchase of this site and its proposed redevelopment. Undertakings were given at that time to the community regarding a number of issues in relation to this site, particularly child care and open space.
The Association became involved in this latest proposal for this site when it became public knowledge and was well advanced in government and Council processes in late November/early December, 2009. By this time, the Local Member for Melbourne, Bronwyn Pike, had been briefed by the Department of Housing in late October 2009. The City of Melbourne Planning officers had also had a number of meetings with Government representatives and their consultants on this redevelopment.
The NWMA is very concerned about the quality of the consultation, the planning process surrounding this development and the situation we now find ourselves in. The Association believes this proposal fails every principle of good governance and proper and orderly planning of this area, apart from the provision of increased social housing in the area.
The concerns of the NWMA are as follows:
Height and Built Form
The height and built form is grossly excessive and should be no greater than 9 metres and should be consistent with the built form of the Residential 1 parts of North Melbourne. The proposal as it stands creates an alarming precedent, should it ever be approved and constructed. It would essentially open up most of the inner Melbourne Residential 1 zone to inappropriate high rise development.
The Association also believes that the building proposed has little relationship with the surrounding streetscapes and, in fact, detracts from their value and amenity.
The proposal has little or no regard for the heritage built form in the area, where it is proposed to demolish or significantly modify important heritage buildings on the site. It is of concern to the Association that our Council did not vigorously pursue this matter with the Department. Other submissions will deal with this issue in more detail. The Association requests that an independent heritage advisor be consulted to assess all structures on the site and to advise on the appropriate form of any new development.
• Due to the inadequate public consultation and lack of publicly available documentation on this development, it has not been possible for the NWMA to make an informed response to the issues around sustainability. The NWMA is of the view that this development should not be designed using minimum standards but should be state of the art in its environmental performance standards. We also believe that the height and density and orientation of the current proposal does not promote good environmental practice.
Traffic and Parking
The Association believes that development as proposed by the Government does not provide sufficient resident and visitor car-parking on site. We have been advised that this development will not have access to the resident parking scheme administered by the Council. Given that all kerbside and centre of road parking in the area is time limited, we believe that this mix is a recipe for disaster. Where will the residents and visitors park? This reinforces our conclusion that the proposal represents an over development, and is inappropriate for the site. The Association is of the strong opinion that Government should be leading by example and make an informed assessment of the actual needs for parking and traffic and not rely on the minimum provisions prescribed under the planning scheme.
The Association is totally opposed to any modification to centre of road medians and nature strips in the surrounding streets.
Current Public Housing Stock on site
The Association is totally opposed to the sale of the area identified as Stage 2 in the development onto the private market. We believe that this important family and other accommodation is of a reasonable standard to be upgraded, and retained in public ownership.
Child Care and Open Space
When the site was purchased, amongst many other things, agreement was given for the construction of an employment and community based child care facility incorporating a shared open space component on the site of the proposed stage 1 of the development (the warehouse at 210 Chetwynd Street and the adjoining vacant land to the North).
Several attempts were made by both the Community and the Council to have the proposed childcare facility and open space developed – without success. The Association now believes that the need for quality early childhood education and care in inner Melbourne has reached a critical level and the obligation on the landowners to provide such a facility should not be allowed to lapse, as it was part of the original agreement with the community.
The NWMA recommends that:
1. The staged development proposed for the entire site in its current form be abandoned.
2. In consultation with the Association and the community, a strategy be drawn up for the future use and development of the site, including
a. More appropriate built form and scale
b. Recognition of heritage issues
c. Appropriate tenancy and occupancy mix in public ownership
d. Satisfactory resolution of traffic and parking issues
3. The Government approach the Church of England Property Trust with a view to acquiring the land immediately to the South of the site fronting Queensberry and Chetwynd Streets. This will allow for an expanded site that will accommodate an appropriate social housing development with a much-needed early childhood education facility included. We believe the process for the sale of this land within the Church is well advanced.
4. Any planning to be undertaken on this site for the provision of an early childhood education centre be subject to consultation with the Melbourne City Council in the preparation of its ‘Municipal Early Years Plan’ for families and children aged 0-12 years for the 2009-2013 period.
5. The planning and implementation of this development should incorporate the highest available standards of environmental performances and be an exemplar for buildings of this residential type in the same way as Council House 2 has been for commercial administrative buildings.
6. Consideration be given to the future of the eastern carriageway of Chetwynd Street between Courtney and Queensberry Streets for public open space.
7. The existing housing stock on the site be retained for public housing and that it be upgraded.
Kevin Chamberlin and Bill Cook
On behalf of the North and West Melbourne Association Inc.