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Bilby's picture
#177

Dear Minister Wynne - since the above article fails to spell out any sort of well structured answer to its own cheap headline, I'll have a go.

Citizen concerns over the protection of urban heritage are, in themselves, seldom "NIMBYism". To argue this is both unsophisticated and uneducated when it comes to good urban design and planning principles. No one seriously questions the importance of urban heritage to developing livable and productive cities in the 21st century (with some notable exceptions: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/11/18/patrik-schumacher-social-housing-publi...)

New development should indeed by focused on sites like the one referred to in the above article, with due consideration for the interface with existing residents and important heritage fabric on the site. Protecting city skyline views from private properties has nothing to do with heritage, and should be given little weight. There may be more of a case for protecting sight lines from major public open spaces like the Edinburgh Gardens, of course, since this is a key viewing location for the New Year's Eve fireworks, but again, this is not a heritage argument as such.

If we want to protect the remaining heritage of the inner city, it seems to me that some obvious planning scheme concessions need to be made, whilst at the same time acknowledging the enormous value and benefits from retaining historic built fabric wherever possible.

One way to move forward then, is to introduce something along the lines of what the new Yarra Council is proposing across the munipality - 10m setbacks on historic shopping strips gets a tick from me, as do height controls for low-rise heritage sites. Where I think council can be more progressive, however, is to offset these controls by reconfiguring the planning scheme to focus development on non-heritage sensitive sites - including sites within existing Heritage Overlays that don't in themselves contain sensitive built fabric.

An audit of inner city land reveals that by introducing the controls proposed by council, in combination with relaxing height controls on infill sites that don't contain heritage structures, we can both retain the crucial historic built fabric that remains in the inner north, and accomodate huge numbers of new units and mixed use development at the same time. This would also make heritage sites more attractive for the uses to which they can best be put (adaptive reuse and fine grain development), while allowing greater flexibility of design for architects and developers on non-sensitive infill sites across the city.

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theboynoodle's picture
#178

Protecting city skyline views from private properties has nothing to do with heritage, and should be given little weight.

Well said (overall, not just that quote).

Having thought about this, and wondered around Edinburgh Gardens whilst doing so, I've decided I'm not persuaded by the argument that those city views require protection either (but I agree that they warrant consideration).

It's hardly a spectacular view (nobody would say to a tourist that they really *must* go and see the view from Edinburgh Gardens. It's a lovely space and I reckon people go there to enjoy it in it's own right, not to stare at a different place. If I were going to argue for planning restrictions to preserve Edinburgh Gardens then I'd be focussed on protecting the low-rise ring around the park itself.

If the people of Fitzroy can't get behind an architecturally interesting mid-rise, on a large and under-utilised site surrounded by roads then, to be honest, they can get stuffed. I'm very disappointed to see the Greens siding with the forces of exclusion on this.

I think that proposal ticks the heritage box with a fairly respectful (not tokenistic) incorporation of existing facades. So the only thing that concerns me about is that the floor plans suggest a very cramped development, and crappy little apartmentments in a pretty building in Fitzroy are no better than crappy little apartments in an ugly building in Southbank. The developers really are maxing the yield from this site. Maybe that's the trade-off we get for the design. But if I were a planner pushing for amendments I'd be asking them to reduce the number of units by increasing their sizes, not by chopping anything off the top.

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3000's picture
#179

"But if I were a planner pushing for amendments I'd be asking them to reduce the number of units by increasing their sizes, not by chopping anything off the top."

Bingo.

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pdoff's picture
#180

"I'm very disappointed to see the Greens siding with the forces of exclusion on this."

Ditto. The Greens will be hugely disappointing in their overall effect in restricting smart development of the inner suburbs if this is the position they're going to continue to take, also in Wynne's seat of Richmond. It conflicts with their mantra of restricting urban sprawl. I came across an excellent article on this very point:

http://thediplomat.com/2016/07/urbanization-and-the-greens-of-melbourne/

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Bilby's picture
#181

A clear policy direction that protects heritage in a clear, predictable and ordered way, while making the case for easing restrictions on non-heritage sensitive infill sites would go a long way towards winning back the Green vote in these seats.

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pdoff's picture
#182

Why should heritage protection fall to the Greens? I mean, I agree with much of what you're saying in your recent posts Bilby, but I don't see why it's relevant to the policies of an environmental protection party? The Greens should be influencing policy towards lower carbon emission urban design and leaving the heritage battle to others. If they're purely anti-development or anti-population growth because that's bad for the environment, well that would be a reason, albeit a short-sighted one that just pushes development to the more destructive fringe.

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture
#183

The Greens stopped being a purely rainforest environmental party decades ago PDOFF

I disagree that skyline views can never be a heritage issue, but in this case the argument that they are is a little absurd, and as others have said opposing development on a site like this makes little sense .

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theboynoodle's picture
#184

Aye. The Greens are basically an old-school Socialist party, with a trendy modern 'progressive' edge. I'd hate to live in a country or state under their control, but I like having them at the table looking after some of the interests that the two main parties aren't interested in (such as the interests of people under the age of 45).

Sustainable urban development, in a human sense rather than/as well as an environmental sense, really should be one of those things.

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johnproctor's picture
#185

Agree with all of the above Bilby. It's a shame Yarra have been so deficient in completing any form of strategic planning to implement the sort of things your talking about.

Where are the incorporated documents for activity centre structure plans? The heritage reviews? The update to yarras strategic development sites which were identified 10+ years ago.

Yarra probably spend more ratepayer money on vcat cases doomed before they start than on strategic planning.

One thing I don't necessarily agree on is mandatory anything including height limits and set backs in activity centres. There are lots of average post war buildings in activity centres That are ripe for redevelopment and there are a lot of taller heritage buildings particularly in Collingwood/Fitzroy that would likely not comply with the locals 10m height limits or whatever they might propose. obviously clever drafting ca pen get around those issues or the implementation of a structure plan.

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theboynoodle's picture
#186

One thing I don't necessarily agree on is mandatory anything including height limits and set backs in activity centres. There are lots of average post war buildings in activity centres That are ripe for redevelopment and there are a lot of taller heritage buildings particularly in Collingwood/Fitzroy that would likely not comply with the locals 10m height limits or whatever they might propose.

Sure - though if a poor post-war building was put up then we would like any replacement to be better.. so if setbacks and/or height limits are the ideal then they are what we should aspire to.

Of course this does then present a problem.. because people only tend to want to replace buildings with larger ones (reasonably enough, that's where the economic case comes from) so if height limits AND setbacks are enforced then those poor buildings will never go anywhere.

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Bilby's picture
#187

Is that really true, though? If I owned a 2 storey, 500m2 tilt slab showroom on a commercial strip in Yarra, and could either keep it as is, or redevelop as a 4 storey apartment or townhouse development, I might still decide to opt for the latter, based on profitability. Yes, it would be less profitable than 10 storeys, but if everyone was under the same restrictions, such a development would indeed be viable - it's still double the floor area, even with setbacks, after all.

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theboynoodle's picture
#188

Well it's always going to depend on what you have and what you can replace it with and whether the uplift in value justifies the cost and risk.

Going from 2 to 4 levels might be a tough ask. If we’re on a shopping strip you won’t get much uplift on your ground floor value (even before taking into account the lost rental income during the construction) so you’re really going to be asking for the extra flats you put on levels 3 and 4 to fund the whole project. Maybe the numbers will work out, but funding and development interest is likely to look elsewhere first… why bother with developing along the strip when there’s easier money around the back? Good for the heritage buildings on the strip, but not if you’re wanting to see the bad ones upgraded.

As much as I’d like to see some shockers around my end of town meet Mr Wrecking-Ball, personally I’ll happily see them survive if that means that the rest of the strip is left alone. These places are wonderful and entirely unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the world.

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Bilby's picture
#189

Totally agree, Theboynoodle - if you travel anywhere, you realise pretty quickly that Melbourne's strip shopping precincts are unique. Are there any like them in London? Nope. New York? Not at all. Tokyo? Boston? No and No. We have the most remarkable heritage here and most Australians have literally no idea what is on their doorstep, and seem happy enough to see it all bulldozed of facaded all in the name of becoming a "real" city like those mentioned. It is idiocy of the highest order - so yes, if it means keeping a few old '70s banks and some tired '80s tilt slabs in order to retain the gold we have right here in Melbourne, lets opt for that, because at the moment, we are destroying our greatest urban assets for frankly little return in the longer game of urban planning.

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3000's picture
#190

I agree with everything you said Bilby except for the Tokyo part. Although they are not identical to ours they do indeed to have some fantastic shopping strips. Given the sspave confines they are smaller and much less prevalent but they are totally there. They also do have their American mall style shopping but they are unique in the sense that theu are more of a vertical experience than ours.
Sydney on the other hand, awful. Closest thing they have to Fitzroy is Newtown and that is nothing special.

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Bilby's picture
#191

Yes, as an example, Yanaka-Ginza street in Yanaka is pretty interesting, although not exactly what most people would think of when they think urban strip shopping. But Tokyo has very few strips left that one could consider "heritage" in the sense of having pre-war building stock. It is a lively place, though, you're right about that. In terms of our strips, I think Theboynoodle's point was that you can travel the world and not see anything like them.

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture
#192

In terms of radial high street style shopping strips like Smith, Chapel or Glenferrie or even Clayton/ Springvale Road etc.. along tram lines and along railway station in our inner and middle suburbs, Melbourne and to an extent Sydney are actually quite unique worldwide, it's surprising but you really dont see that kind of 19th/20th century development in many places in North America or Europe or anywhere really, even inner city examples like Melrose Avenue or Brookline in Boston aren't nearly as vibrant or intensive

And especially compared to post-war suburbia elsewhere, Melbourne's radial shopping streets really stand out compared to the heavily car based strip malls of North America, where equivalants can only really be found in small towns, but even then less based on public transport.

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theboynoodle's picture
#193

UK cities have suburban strips that once resembled Melbournes in terms of function and possibly pre-war architecture - but in most places they have declined greatly in both senses. Nowadays they are usually just lines of identikit chain-stores, with little in the way of leisure - albeit that (admittedly terrible) coffee shops are on the rise now. But most trade has been drawn either to city and town centres, or malls. So what may once have been vibrant strips, are now stale low-rent retail centres by day, and wastelands by night.

Contrast with Brunswick St, Smith St, Chapel, Lygon, Northcote, Swan St (etc etc) it's a whole different world. And, believe me, UK councils have been trying for DECADES to enliven some of these strips and would kill to get anything even close to the strips that Melbourne has a multitude of.

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Mark Baljak's picture
#194

Tim Gurner’s threat to exit Melbourne city market

Rich-listed property developer Tim Gurner has threatened to pull out of Melbourne’s inner-city development market after a stoush with the City of Yarra and has now made moves to invest elsewhere in Victoria and interstate.

Mr Gurner has faced stiff resistance from the City of Yarra’s Greens-dominated council and North Fitzroy residents over his planned 16-storey apartment development on Queens Parade, just off the Brunswick Street shopping district.

The council asked Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne to intervene and force Mr Gurner to cap his development at four storeys, and it ­appeared the council had backed residents’ calls to have a four-level limit for all new buildings in the City of Yarra.

Mr Gurner said he would stop investing in the inner-city areas if the interim planning rules were enforced. “We have a large number of sites within the City of Yarra currently and if these mandatory height controls are enacted not one of those sites would be or could be feasible to develop,” he said.

Mr Gurner said the costs to decontaminate some development sites were so large that higher density development was required to cover costs.

“If these changes are to be mandated, the site values will become absolutely worthless overnight,” he said.

The City of Yarra council said in a statement last month that it had requested the minister introduce mandatory height controls and greater protection for heritage shopping strips.

Other Melbourne developers have joined Mr Gurner in calling for the council’s “anti-development” measures to be scrapped.

Salta Properties managing director Sam Tarascio said other municipalities could follow the City of Yarra in trying to set up more restrictive development rules.

“If that occurs there will be nowhere in Melbourne’s inner-city growth suburbs that will be willing to accept their share of the population growth,” Mr Tarascio said.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/property/tim-gurners-threat-to-...

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture
#195

nice bit of capitalist blackmail there

(4 storeys blanket over all of Yarra is a bit naft though, but I dont think Yarra have actually asked for that, only in important shopping strips and heritage residential areas)

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Grampians's picture
#196

i have supported a lot of general ideological and economic/environmental notions that the greens have promoted over the years, but they are a bunch of nutters with this sort of thing...and hypocrites re: sprawl solutions and caving in to entitled smug baby boomer nimbys (who are doing allright thank you very much/why do i need to adapt/evolve?). I am with the developer on this one.

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theboynoodle's picture
#197

"“If these changes are to be mandated, the site values will become absolutely worthless overnight,” he said."

If these changes are mandated then I will happily offer Mr Gurner $1 for each and every one of his worthless sites. He'd, evidently, be mad to refuse.

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pdoff's picture
#198

"i have supported a lot of general ideological and economic/environmental notions that the greens have promoted over the years, but they are a bunch of nutters with this sort of thing...and hypocrites re: sprawl solutions and caving in to entitled smug baby boomer nimbys (who are doing allright thank you very much/why do i need to adapt/evolve?). I am with the developer on this one."

This. Whatever they represent now, this isn't, or shouldn't be, their fight.

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Nicholas Harrison's picture
#199

Nearly all the residential zones in Yarra have a 9-11.5m height limit already.

City of Yarra want mandatory 11.5m height controls and a 10m setback requirents over all activity centres and commercial zones and a 13m height control and 10m setback requriment over the mixed use zones and the remaining residential zones.

They also want developments of more than 10 dwellings provide a minimum of 10 per cent of dwellings defined as affordable community housing, developed in association with an accredited housing association, on a sliding scale to 20 per cent for developments above 100 dwellings.

Theses controls will severely restrict any signficnat development in the City of Yarra and the provision of additional dwellings.

It will lead to the development of smaller boutique developments of less than 10 large, very expensive apartments which will make the exisiting residents who are protesting very happy.

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Bilby's picture
#200

Grampians, I'm not sure you can assume that"smug baby boomers" are behind the concerns in Yarra ... the demographic is more in the 20-40 year age bracket. Which might also help explain the high Greens vote.

http://profile.id.com.au/yarra/five-year-age-groups?BMID=50

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Nicholas Harrison's picture
#201

No need to assume that "smug baby boomers" are largely behind the concerns in Yarra:

FITZROY + FITZROY NORTH | 3065 + 3068 | Projects

Most of the residents between 20 and 40 in Yarra are renting.

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