Council has published the Terms of Reference for its Community Advisory Group for the East Village project. Ostensibly, the creation of this advisory committee is a positive step, if somewhat belated in that the first draft of the resulting structure plan has already been set.

What concerns us even more than the question of timing,  is how  transparently this committee will operate, how it will report,  and how much notice will be taken of community rep views. The terms of reference (see below) do not fill us with confidence that this will be anything except another public relations exercise designed to provide the illusion of working with the community.

Please note the following:

  • No mention is made of councillors. Are they excluded entirely from any involvement in this committee – from selecting residents to actually partaking in the meetings?
  • Why is all responsibility granted to officers in terms of selection, etc?
  • Why is there no formal council resolution that endorses these terms of reference?
  • Why is there no mention of reporting requirements to the wider community?
  • Why is there the possibility that the Victorian Planning Authority and others may attend, when it was specifically stated by the Mayor that this is a committee expressly set up to work exclusively with council?
  • Given that the next iteration of the structure planning work is supposed to be in July (ie urban design/building guidelines) then how many times will this committee actually meet?