Friday, November 7, 2008

Why we need more transparent planning

I was out letterboxing last night, when I passed the old Warner's factory at 18-20 High Street Northcote, opposite the church. There were two signs alerting me to a proposal to develop the site (though not what would be there). Unfortunately, as you can see in the picture, they're very much obscured, and you would need to live in the immediate neighbourhood to know what was going on.

I knocked on the door of a local resident and found out that 12 dwellings and offices to a height of five storeys were approved for the site, and while the resident was happy that a development would replace the derelict factory, he wasn't happy with quite a few aspects of the design - including over-development, overlooking, and impact on parking and traffic.

This is exactly the kind of issue Darebin's online planning service might address, if it provided adequate information and hadn't been delayed for more than a year. The resident told me the proposal was going to VCAT, which it turns out it did yesterday (the sign said a decision by the responsible authority would not be made before today). We won't know for quite some time - at least from official sources - what the outcome was.

Ringing the Council, I was initially told the file was 'with the consultant', but when I persisted, challenging the admittedly amiable planning officer, the basic details of the proposal were forthcoming - including that there had been a concession granted regarding car-parking. I also did some digging on Darebin's website, and found the initial application was approved back on 14 April this year. Unfortunately, an online link to the plans yields plans for a totally different site.

The problem is clear: the scope for objection and community action on developments is being systematically restricted by a lack of disclosure and buried information. Residents beyond those in the very immediate vacinity of any given development have little idea what's going on in their neighbourhoods.

Of course, that suits our pro-development Council and State Government just fine. The fewer the numbers organising for moderate community-sanctioned development, the easier the path for developers to come in and cut a swathe through our neighbourhood amenity. As in the case of the resident I spoke to, people aren't inherently opposed to development as such - they just want a say. You can vote for your say at November's elections.

Back to my campaign website

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.