This month's e-news includes: Meet our Councillors on Tuesday; what planning changes mean for Brunswick; and much more
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Brunswick Residents Network News,
March 2017

Tuesday: Meet our Councillors

Brunswick Residents Network invites you to an open community meeting with our three Moreland south ward councillors, Samantha Ratnam, Mark Riley and Lambros Tapinos (pictured here looking cheerful when election results were declared last October).
We'll firstly hear from each of them on their priorities for their work on this new Council (2017-2020). Secondly, we'll be discussing community priorities for the 2017 budget. You'll be invited to join the discussion on planning, traffic/transport, open space and other concerns.

WHAT: Public meeting with local councillors
WHEN: Tuesday 21 March, 6.30-8.30 pm
WHERE: St Ambrose Community Centre, 287 Sydney Road
PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE our Facebook Event
  or 0421 840 100

Here are the contacts for our three local councillors:

Deputy Mayor Samantha Ratnam
Mobile: 0433 275 434

Mark Riley
Mobile: 0499 807044
Lambros Tapinos
Mobile: 0433 419 075

Feature article:
Neighbourhood zones new focus for activity

In a major policy shift, the State Government has made changes to the residential zones established under Plan Melbourne – the state-wide planning framework – which will wind back some protections in existing zones and increase the scale of development across most residential streets in Brunswick.

Under Plan Melbourne, three new residential zones were introduced into Victorian Planning Schemes by the Napthine State Government in July 2014: the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ), General Residential Zone (GRZ) and Residential Growth Zone (RGZ). As the names suggest, each zone allows different levels of housing densification, which can be summarised as “no-go”, “slow-go” or “go-go”!
The developers' lobby has long been opposed to the core concept of concentrating new housing in activity centres and RGZ growth areas. This objective is now being substantially weakened under the proposed changes, according to RMIT academic Stephen Rowley in The Age:
“These changes dramatically weaken the protection of the ‘no-go’ areas and increase pressure upon the 'slow-go’ areas. At the other end of the spectrum, though, the assessment tools for planning in the ‘go-go’ zones remain undeveloped. There have been hints that such a design code is on its way. Yet refining such controls will take time, and redevelopment in ‘go-go’ precincts is happening now. Community engagement regarding the form of such a code needs to begin as soon as possible.”
Stephen Rowley: “Overnight, Melbourne's backyards have become an endangered species “, The Age, 14 March 2017
The previous zones were designed to direct growth to certain areas, and provide some certainty (to residents and developers alike) about which areas would see greater densification of housing.
But the State government was concerned that some Councils had declared most of their suburbs as limited-growth NRZ, restricting the areas that could take more housing. This is definitely not a problem in Moreland, which has already designated a number of RGZ growth corridors, such Nicholson Street in Brunswick East and Melville Road in Brunswick West. (There was widespread controversy when Moreland Council first exhibited maps of the proposed zones, with many people in Brunswick West and northern suburbs unhappy that their area had been designated as a growth zones).
Under the latest changes, the revised NRZ is now very close to the old GRZ in terms of outcomes, while GRZ will be more intense. Hard lobbying from peak bodies in the construction and planning sector has taken the focus away from the distribution of zones (between no, slow and go zones) to the effective destruction of the zoning “toolkit”.
As much as 70 per cent of new housing will be built in existing suburbs - up from the current projection of 65 per cent. To do that, the government will raise height limits and remove caps such a two-dwelling-per-lot limit put in place under the previous Liberal government. It will also ease planning limits to allow more aged care facilities in established suburbs. The removal of the cap on “number of houses on block" opens the way for medium density and middle rise housing everywhere.
The government’s spin won headlines, saying “Backyards saved under city growth plan.” But while there are some requirements for NRZ projects to have minimum size garden spaces, green space elements were already included in the old NRZ. In some suburbs, the new “mandatory minimum garden area requirement” may actually mean a reduction of garden space, as there is no longer a maximum number of dwellings permitted on an NRZ block.
With the latest reforms, there’s been no public exhibition of the final version, and no opportunity for formal community consultation. As Stephen Rowley has argued: “Community have some right to feel concerned about the bait and switch here. The promise of NRZ has been reversed very, very quickly.”

In summary, the changes mean:
  • Neighbourhood Residential Zone -
Mandatory height of 9m, and maximum of 2 storeys
(raised from mandatory 8 metres and no storey limit)
The default limit of two dwellings on a lot has been removed and replaced with a new mandatory minimum garden area requirement
  • General Residential Zone -
Mandatory height of 11m, and maximum of 3 storeys (raised from discretionary 9m and no storey limit) – this could mean a third level and / or rooftop deck
New mandatory minimum garden area requirement
  • Residential Growth Zone -
Discretionary 13.5m height limit retained, with no restriction on the number of stories 
No mandatory minimum garden area requirement
  • Councils can set alternative height limits, but they must be higher than the standard measures (ie taller than 9 metres for NRZ, 11 metres for GRZ and 13.5 metres for RGZ)
The State Government has also released a revised state wide planning framework “Plan Melbourne 2017-2050.” This new strategic planning document is a light “refresh” of the original Plan Melbourne published in May 2014 by the former Napthine government.
Under the revised Plan, groupings of Councils will be required to prepare regional housing plans to enable Melbourne’s forecast housing requirements to be met via local planning schemes.  Presumably the three year timeframe to review existing zone schedules is intended to ensure that an alignment is finally created between metropolitan housing policies and zoning provisions.
  • We’ll have more detailed analysis of the changes in coming BRN newsletters, but you can obtain fact sheets and further information about the new zones on the Department of Planning website.
  • Stephen Rowley's new book on planning is featured below.

Council responds to East Brunswick Village concerns

The meeting called by local Councillors on Tuesday 14 February saw over 80 people turn up at the Brunswick Town Hall, astonishing the organisers who had booked a room for 20 and necessitating a move to the foyer (the picture below shows just a small section of the crowd).

Council staff had recommended approval of the changes to the existing permit for the East Brunswick Village (EBV) presented to Moreland Council's Urban Planning Committee (UPC) in January, telling councillors that the reconfiguration of residential layouts  "is generally of a minor nature and does not reduce internal amenity".

Luckily members of Brunswick Residents Network had spotted the proposals in the UPC agenda, and pointed out to local councillors  that the massive increase in the proportion of one-bedroom apartments was not minor, and that other issues were of concern. The UPC then deferred the matter to allow for public consultation.

Cr Samantha Ratnam in in a report-back to residents summarised resident concerns expressed at the meeting as follows:
  • A resident wished us to note that the meeting expresses opposition to the EBV due to massive impact on amenity
  • Concerns were expressed by some residents about the planning process in Brunswick/Moreland, there was a view expressed that the Planning Department is not expressing the Council view. Questions were asked about how can the department better represent the people and the Councillors?
  • There were questions about the dwelling diversity mix and how we could improve and influence this.
  • Questions were asked about the overall car numbers and impacts?
  • A request for  a proper traffic study to be completed prior to the development
  • A call for greater transparency – with active/up-to-date EBV website and an MCC site with a webpage dedicated to EBV information and updates.
  • Concerns expressed about height issues (roof top decks, elevator shafts) and shadowing impacts
  • Request for a follow up meeting on increasing density and population in Brunswick.
A fuller Brunswick Residents Network summary of the meeting can be found here:
The massive EBV site which runs from John Street to Nicholson Street, has recently been cleared ready for this major shopping, commercial and residential complex. Developers East Brunswick Village Pty Ltd are part of the substantial Banco Group.
The proposed changes included an increase to the height of the two six-storey buildings at the centre of the project, by two and five metres (higher than the limits specified in the Brunswick Structure Plan). EBV  also sought an increase in the total retail floor area from 4,007 to 4,254 square metres, and a shift of the location of the "travellator" (moving walkway) that will funnel customers from an underground car park into the supermarket, and potential removal of bollards that block vehicle access to John Street.

Cr Ratnam reported, that Council's Urban Planning Committee in March:
  • Rejected the increase of one bedroom apartments at the expense of two bedroom apartments and instead  have required EBV to provide 50% of each dwelling type in lot 1 and 2.
  • Rejected the request to move the escalator to a enclosed space within the Coles supermarket entrance and instead asked for it to be placed closer to the main shopping precinct (so that people were not being required to enter Coles  every time they go up and down the escalator to the carpark)
  • Requested retractable bollards on Main Street (instead of removing them) to ensure that they prevent vehicle traffic on Main Street and encourages active transport.
  • Changed the times when deliveries to the supermarket are allowed, to make it later each morning and in line with delivery times for all the other retail stores.
Cr Ratnam wrote that further decisions were not made as Councillors were advised that they could only decide on the parts of the planning permit that the applicant wanted to amend, rather than the entire permit they have already received.

In addition, Council's 8 March meeting passed a resolution (our summary), to:
  • Notify all future planning applications for the East Brunswick Village . . .  with the aim of ensuring the community is given at least 14 days notice of future planning permit applications for the EBV.
  • Publish a webpage within the Moreland City Council website dedicated to providing up to date information about EBV, including all planning applications and permits and any other relevant updates.
  • Receive a status update via a Council report by April, on resolutions approved by Council in 2015 requesting recommendations regarding bicycle and other traffic planning given the projected massive population increase in East Brunswick
  • Develop a East Brunswick transport action plan
Our note: Notifying residents is not a legal requirement for this site, so Council will have to pay for notification. The Council Officers' report to March Council (page 490 of the Agenda) implies it is an extravagance, saying that "While the work involved [sic] informal notice and further consultation o planning applications can be accommodated, it will have some impact on service delivery for other applications".

CERES opposes giant next door

CERES Board has decided to oppose a major development proposed for the north-eastern boundary of the community green space, after discussions with developers failed to produce major changes. (If you don't know it, CERES is an urban farm, nursery and sustainability centre, on the banks of the Merri Creek in Brunswick).
A planning application for 269 Stewart Street, next to the CERES main entrance, was advertised in January.  This proposes a new building with 109 apartments over 6 storeys, two basement levels for 142 cars, a small shop and a rooftop terrace.  The site shares a common boundary of more than 70 metres with CERES and is its largest private neighbour. There's currently a two-storey building there with wedding car hire and other small businesses.

CERES' statement says: 
'Unfortunately, what’s being proposed is starkly out of proportion to its context.  It is more than twice the height of other buildings in the area, including the surrounding medium-density housing built since 2000.  It would remove much of the heavily landscaped space along the front of the site, eroding the amenity and safety of Stewart Street, which Council has recognised as an important pedestrian route.'
'CERES was approached by the developer and their architects during the design phase of the project last year. The Board appointed representatives, who met with the developers and offered suggestions that reflected the principles of environmentally responsive design, performance and innovation advocated by CERES.  Discussions also included reducing adverse impacts on CERES, such as shadowing, traffic and parking.'

'Some minor changes were achieved through these discussions, including an offer to relocate CERES’s solar vehicle recharge station, which would be over-shadowed by the proposed building.  The advertised plans include some solar panels, a roof top garden and clothes lines.  However, CERES’ efforts to achieve substantial improvements to the proposal were not fruitful, with the large scale of the development limiting opportunities for a more sensitive approach.'

'This has led the CERES Board to resolve at its January 31st meeting to formally object to the application [ . . .] This site offers an ideal opportunity for a development that applies the sustainability principles and innovative technology that CERES has helped pioneer. '[ . . .]

'The size of this project threatens to overwhelm parts of the CERES site, and diminish its value as a place of retreat and inspiration for sustainable design and living.  So we are now hoping the planning process can achieve a better outcome, by either substantially improving on this application or enabling someone else to bring a fresh approach.'

Meanwhile . . . back at the ranch . . . .
CERES Harvest Festival offers a range of entertainment with live music, performances, free workshops, animal displays, cake baking competition, a community feast and kids activities.  Bring your whole family along to the Harvest Festival celebrations. A little bit of country right here in the city.
WHAT: CERES Harvest Festival
WHEN: Saturday 25 March 2017, 10 am - 3 pm
WHERE: CERES, Cnr Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East
INFO: Ceres 

Cyclists and the law

“Every cyclist is to be presumed, in all legal proceedings, to be a reckless idiot and on the wrong side of the road, unless he can bring conclusive evidence to the contrary.” (“New Rules for Cyclists’, Punch, 2 May 1896, p210.)
It’s a common complaint that cyclists are lawless road users. But an interesting study in the UNSW Law Journal argues the opposite: “Few sports or recreational activities are regulated as directly and heavily by the law as cycling. Runners and swimmers go about their physical pursuits with relative legal freedom. It is the dual character of cycling as both a recreational activity and a form of transport undertaken, at least in part, on the road, that results in its greater legal regulation.”
This article provides a valuable overview of the legal regulation of Australian cyclists and other road users, the roads and those responsible for maintaining the roads, and bicycles and other bicycle-related goods. “The Australian Road Rules largely provide a uniform legal framework across the states and territories. Many of the Rules apply in the same way to cyclists as they do to drivers of motor vehicles; however, there are some additional protections granted to, and further requirements placed on, cyclists.”
  Moreland's annual bike count took place 7–9 am on Tuesday 6 March. Informal observations shared at the post-count breakfast included an overwhelming absence of lycra; the law-abiding nature of cyclists, even the speedy ones; and increased caution with cyclists taking extra time to make hook turns at busy intersections). We await the official findings!

Illustration from an 1896 book on cycling etiquette. It notes: It is not strictly correct for a young lady to ride unaccompanied.

RACV supports Sydney Road transport changes

The RACV has come out in support of proposals to revitalise Sydney Road, calling for on-street car parking to be permanently removed from Sydney Road and replaced with platform tram stops, wider footpaths and separated bike lanes.
The latest edition of the RACV’s RoyalAuto magazine includes an important policy shift for the organisation.
RACV’s manager, roads and traffic Dave Jones  writes:  “A different Sydney Road would have wider footpaths for pedestrians, footpath trading for cafes and restaurants, street art and shady trees. Cyclists would have a separated lane on the road to reduce conflict with vehicles and pedestrians. Platform stops would enable the tram to be accessible, as required by the Disability Discrimination Act, and with less congestion they could be faster and more reliable.
“We think the state government and Moreland City Council needs to engage with traders and residents, and undertake a traffic and parking study to review Sydney Road, with a view to removing on-street parking and changing how road and footpath space is used. We believe a trial section should be constructed before the 2018 state election, incorporating the proposed changes and an accessible platform tram stop.”
The Bicycle Network has launched a petition to the Roads and Road Safety Minister Luke Donnellan to support changes that will benefit users of all transport modes  – if you haven’t already, make sure you sign it and share with your friends and family.
  A local public meeting will talk about the next steps in the campaign for action on Sydney Road, including an on-street survey of people visiting Sydney Road to get new information about what kind of transport people used to get there.

WHEN: 6pm - 7pm on Wednesday March 22nd 
WHERE: St. Ambrose Church Hall, 287 Sydney Road, Brunswick
DETAILS:  Bicycle Network

Understanding planning in Victoria

RMIT academic and planning consultant Stephen Rowley has just published “The Victorian Planning System: Practice, Problems and Prospects”, a valuable new resource to provide an accessible introduction to the Victorian planning system.
The structure and design of planning schemes are explained in simple terms, along with a discussion of how planning decisions are made. Common planning processes – such as planning permit applications, appeals and planning scheme amendments – are covered in detail.
The book is structured around exploration of a variety of urban policy challenges, including housing supply, activity centre planning, heritage and environmental issues.
Stephen has given talks to BRN and provides valuable information to understand the complexities of planning law. We don’t agree with everything he recommends for inner-city densification, but it’s a great resource to get your head around a complex area.

Music & culture (includes footy)

Last Days: The Brunswick Music Festival wraps up on Sunday – still time to catch a show or two, including a free concert in Shore Reserve (near Melville Rd Tram). Check their last-weekend e-news.

Leather Poisoning
It’s that time of year again, when football tragics start bringing out the jumpers. The Counihan Gallery (at Brunswick Town Hall) has a new exhibition called “Leather Poisoning: Football Possessions”, looking at footie fandom and culture
To mark Women’s History Month and the launch of the national women’s football league, a series of special public programs, talks and events will also be presented at the gallery.

Next Wednesday 22 March, four women will hold the “From the Outer: Inner Sanctum” panel discussion, to talk participation, inclusion, fandom and more. Featuring novelist and podcaster Nicole Hayes (moderator), author and academic Adjunct Professor Sophie Cunningham, television presenter Leila Gurruwiwi and writer and journalist Alice Pung.
WHAT: From the Outer: Inner Sanctum panel discussion
WHEN: Wednesday 22 March 2017, 6.30 - 8 pm
WHERE: The Counihan Gallery In Brunswick, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Pictured: Above: fabulous new mural being painted in Lygon St (near Blyth: now completed)
Below: From 'Leather poisoning' – Jim Pavlidis, Nicky Winmar’s famous shirt-lift as seen by Botticelli, 2013

Brunswick history

Moreland Council has initiated or supported a number of activities to commemorate anti-war and anti-conscription activities during World War 1, where Brunswick was a centre for many activities, and leading campaigners such as John Curtin (later Prime Minister) and suffragette Adela Panhkurst, were locked up in Pentridge gaol. Local residents, through the Brunswick Coburg Anti-Conscription Campaign, have also initiated some extremely well-attended events.

Moreland Council in March voted to continue support the group's work, in particular two coming events:
  • A major one-day conference, Saturday 20 May, at Siteworks in Brunswick "Democratic Opposition to War: the 1916-17 Anti-Conscription Campaigns, impacts, and legacies – with Barry Jones as the opening speaker and a host of well-known speakers.
  • The "Serenading" of Adela Pankhurst over the Pentridge walls, will be re-enacted by an ad hoc choir of 300 local citizens, in January 1918. A Street Opera, Serenading Adela, has been assisted with major Victorian Government funding as well as Moreland Council support and enthusiasm. Rehearsals of a choir, and a brass  band, should start in September: sign up now!
Details: check
or email

Meet Brunswick Connect

Brunswick Conncect is a new community group that aims to help asylum seekers connect with other community members, and for people who may not have the right to work to engage in useful activities. find out more by checking their website - brunswick - or email them on

Next Moreland Council meetings

All Council meetings – held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month – and Urban Planning Committee meetings – held on the 4th Wednesday of each month – are now held at: Council Chamber, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg. Council meetings are on:
  • Wednesday 12 April 2017 at 7pm
  • Wednesday 10 May 2017 at 7pm
  • Monday 5 June 2017  (Consider Budget Submissions and Adopt the Strategic Resource Plan and Council Plan) at 6 pm
  • Wednesday 14 June 2017
  • Monday 26 June 2017 (Adoption of Budget) – 6 pm
Check for all meeting details at the Council website. Council meetings can now be watched online, either live, or later - you can find details here along with the agenda for this week's Council meeting.
  • Hint: If you go to an evening meeting at 90 Bell Street and find the doors locked, you can probably get in through the back door via Urquhart Street.


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