Planning: Tontine site, Brunswick

The matter I raise is for the Minister for Planning, and the action I seek is that the minister attend a meeting with me, local council representatives and the John Street Residents Group regarding the proposed development of what is locally known in Brunswick as the Tontine site.

I was extremely concerned to learn of what can only be described as the clandestine action of the Minister for Planning regarding the Tontine site, which was recently reported in the Moreland Leader. The residents group put many months of work into amending the initial proposed plan for the site through work and negotiation with the Moreland City Council to lessen the impact of the development on the local community.

These amendments included a five-storey height limit, a social housing component, the conversion of a road in the middle of the site to a no through road to ease traffic congestion in nearby streets and a provision that residents be notified when plans are approved.

It is of deep concern that all these provisions have been ignored by the plan signed off by the minister without any discussion or consultation with the local community. That is simply treating the community with contempt and completely disregards the hard work and good faith with which the residents approached the situation. Whilst some in the community may have been unhappy with a development of any size, a middle ground had been reached in this case after countless hours of work. It was arrogant of the minister to take that action and extremely disheartening for residents.

Many members of the community have expressed to me their anger and concern about the minister’s actions. I know that concerns have also been raised directly with the minister, with those residents yet to receive replies from his office. The minister’s actions not only have direct implications for this particular development but for other urban developments in our area if this type of intervention, where it has ridden roughshod over local communities and dismissed good-faith negotiations between residents, is how this government does business.

There are real issues facing our community as a result of developments, including road congestion, pressure on services and dealing with the changing character of neighbourhoods and the amenity of residents. The government and the Minister for Planning need to acknowledge and respond to these concerns. A good start would have been to respect this local negotiated outcome on permit conditions on the Tontine site.

I call on the minister to meet with the John Street Residents Group to personally explain the rationale for his decision regarding the Tontine development and to explore what actions can be taken to mitigate his approach for the benefit of the community.

Hansard, 2011