The Walmer Street Action Group has been formed to oppose the inappropriate developments that are proposed for either side of Walmer Street in Abbotsford — right on a very narrow stretch of the Yarra, and either side of the exit from the very popular Walmer Street pedestrian/bike bridge. The Yarra Riverkeepers objected to the development at 647 Victoria Street (downstream side of Walmer Street) at council and we spoke at VCAT last week as an objector. The development on the other side of Walmer Street, at 607 Victoria Street, is in a Priority Development Zone, and only requires the minister’s approval. The petition ‘Defend the Yarra’ opposing these developments is online. Over 1000 people have signed already. The Walmer Street Action Group has written the attached letter to the Planning Minister.
It has been a busy December as developers have submitted planning applications or planning applications have moved to the next stage.
- Salta has submitted a planning application to the City of Yarra for a 10 storey building between the Skipping Girl building (and famous sign) and Walmer Street in Abbotsford, at 647 Victoria Street
- The City of Yarra was notified about another development by Salta of almost 640 apartments in two towers in Abbotsford on the other side of Walmer Street. This is zoned as Priority Development so the planning minister decides not the council.
- The development at 106 St Georges Road of 7 storeys and 10 apartments will now go to VCAT in May as it was rejected by council.
There has been quite a bit of coverage for the first two developments in the Age and the Leader and on Channel 9 and Channel 7.
The Yarra Riverkeeper Association and Environmental Justice Australia is pleased to be publishing this Review.
In this review, over 40 years of reports on the Yarra corridor have been analyzed and, while many good reports have been written and many good recommendations made, many of those recommendations have not been implemented, to the river’s and Melbourne’s detriment. Three key issues facing the river have surfaced in this review: fragmentation of responsibility, inconsistencies in planning and a lack of continuity in implementing recommendations.
John Masanauskas reported in the Herald-Sun last Sunday that Planning Minister Wynne met several mayors in a roundtable to discuss stronger planning along the Yarra River. Mr Wynne was quoted saying that the Yarra was under intense pressure as rapid population growth drove high density development and that the River was threatened by a death of ‘a thousand cuts’. “We will strengthen the state planning policy to ensure we send a clear message that overdevelopment of the banks of the Yarra is unacceptable,” he went on to say.
Opposition planning spokesman David Davis was quoted as saying Coalition supported an authority to oversee
stronger controls for the Yarra.
Will the Act go far enough? Will the Trust be robust enough?
The Victorian Government set aside $1 million in this year’s budget for the creation of the Yarra River Protection Act. We, along with EJA, have lobbied for the framework to be drawn up in a co-design process and we are looking forward to hearing what is being planned.
MEDIA STATEMENT 21 November 2014
Promising Act to Protect Precious River
“Labor’s plan, announced today, to introduce a Yarra River Protection Act” is welcomed news” says the Yarra Riverkeeper Association.
Association spokesperson, Ian Penrose says “today’s announcement acknowledges the importance of the river and its corridor, and the need for its protection. The Yarra River corridor is Metropolitan Melbourne’s prime wildlife habitat and is the key outdoor space for recreational and nature-based activities, which are vital to the city’s liveability.”
Today’s announcement says “Labor will preserve rivers and open spaces, for the health of our future generations…Labor will introduce a Yarra River Protection Act to guard the river corridor from inappropriate development. A new Trust will develop standardised planning controls for the Yarra, and work with agencies to promote the river’s amenity and significance”.
Mr Penrose say, “that whilst there are no details yet about what might be in the proposed Act, we hope that it will address the stresses that Melbourne’s burgeoning growth is putting on the river from pollution, water extraction, and encroaching urban development.”
“In the planning arena, we hope it will
- Regulate that any new building in the corridor is no taller, bigger or closer to the river than what’s already on the site, in order to stop further degradation.
- Ensure that all planning decisions in the corridor are overseen by a single authority which has a whole-of-river remit, beyond local council boundaries.
- Promote a long-term vision for the Yarra corridor as a continuous corridor of public green space and unbroken wildlife habitat along the length of the river.”
Mr Penrose concluded that “this is a welcomed announcement from the Labor party, particularly in a state election that has, to date, paid inadequate attention to protecting or enhancing our precious national environment.”
THOUGH this is now the third time he has retired from a career, the outgoing Yarra riverkeeper Ian Penrose insists this time it’s for good.
For the past nine years Mr Penrose has been the face of Melbourne’s iconic river.
His time in the role has been spent lobbying politicians, hosting countless river tours and being the waterway’s best friend, fighting for both its short and long-term survival.
“I’m 65 now and it’s time I give someone else a go,” Mr Penrose said.
Mr Penrose is being replaced by Kew’s Andrew Kelly
On visiting Melbourne in 1893, James Goudie wrote that, even after all he had seen in Europe, this was “one of the finest cities”. The Scottish traveller was much taken by the beauty and sophistication of the Botanic Gardens, by the fine civic buildings and ornate mansions of Melbourne, but he held grave reservations about the river that ran through it. The Yarra, he said, was “the filthiest piece of water I ever had the misfortune to be afloat on”.