The Good

The significant tree register issue is on the move. Item 9.6 of the current agenda proposes to:

  • Implement a tree register for both public and private land
  • Residents will have the opportunity to nominate trees
  • Review or objection rights will be included
  • Specific criteria based on the National Trust’s ‘standards’ will be applied

And the ‘drawbacks’?

  • Potential fines are miniscule
  • Not part of the planning scheme but only constituted as a Local Law
  • No indication as to the potential number of trees making it onto the register?
  • No indication of appeal rights for those who nominated a tree and then refused by council
  • No indication as to whether an application to remove a tree on the register will be decided by a full council hearing or left in the hands of officers? (Note that Bayside, Stonnington, etc. require such applications to go to council)
  • No time lines for completion

Overall, this is something that residents have been advocating for since at least 2003. It does represent a positive move by council.

The Bad

Selwyn Street Closure

We now have another  version of the proposed Selwyn Street closure. Please note that Gordon street does not change.

Below is the latest tinkering. Clearly the overwhelming opposition to the previous drafts have caused council to rethink the issue.

Here are the officer’s recommendations.

Please note the following:

  • Part 1(a) of the motion recommends that councilors approve the closure as ‘generally in accordance’ with the new design
  • Part 1(b) presents the option of not “exercise(ing) the power”, meaning do nothing and a refusal of the design.
  • Part 2 of the motion is the most fascinating. Another more ‘detailed’ report is to be made some time in the future but prior to closure of the street. If councilors vote for Part 1(a) does this mean that ‘detailed’ analysis will be conducted post closure of Selwyn Street?

The argument for acting now and doing the research later is lamentable in our view.  We’re told that closing Selwyn Street first is

essential to be undertaken prior to a full and detailed design process commencing, and before significant time and resources are spent on developing a design of the cultural precinct. It is crucial that the process to effect traffic changes precedes any further design work to ensure that the precinct design is being developed to an operational and functional framework that is able to be implemented, where the key parameters are known and have been decided by Council 

This is nothing but hogwash. Surely it is incumbent on council to ensure that whatever it does is in the best interests of the community and that this be based on sound technical and detailed analysis. Instead council’s approach to everything it seems has been to produce half baked ideas based on substandard plans that lack empirical justification and achieve nothing except to alienate most in the community. We have seen this time and time again with the Inkerman Road bike paths, playground upgrades, and street closures for so called ‘open space’.

Perhaps residents should start querying the capability of our designers, planners, traffic management people and ask how much each design and accompanying reiterations have cost in terms of production, staff time, consultants, etc? We have no doubt that any changes council produces is NOT the result of their technical know how, but simply the outcry from residents. It is a sad state of affairs when rates pay so much for so called ‘expertise’ and all we continue to get is second rate planning with no thought to curbing expenditure.

And talking of expenditure, we urge all readers to have a look at the budget and the Strategic Resource Plan. Page 5 of this document tells us that council is looking to spend $90 million on Bentleigh, Carnegie & Elsternwick over the next 10 years. Not a word about neighbourhood centres or structure plans for these areas!

We will comment on the budget and the SRP in our next post.