The gallery was packed at the Moreland Council meeting on November 13. About 100 residents crowded into the Glenroy Senior Citizens Centre determined to make their concerns felt over several contentious planning issues.
First was Amendment C123, which, if passed, will turn parts of Coburg into a mini-CBD with 10-storey buildings permitted, irreparably changing the character of the area, sharply reducing people’s quality of life and removing residents’ right to appeal against proposed developments.
In an important victory for residents, the council voted to defer a decision on the Coburg plan to its December meeting.
Save Coburg has spearheaded opposition to the plan and their agitation has informed and mobilised residents about the plan, putting the pro-development council majority under some pressure on the issue. It was reported that council had received 253 submissions on Amendment C123.
Council also voted to defer consideration of Amendment C134, the Brunswick structure plan, to its December meeting. In addition, a request from SP Ausnet, the operator of the Brunswick Terminal Station, for an exemption from planning requirements to cover works already done, was rejected by council.
Also present were Pascoe Vale residents opposed to council’s plan to build the new expanded Sussex Neighbourhood House on Rogers Memorial Reserve, greatly reducing the area’s green space. Activists are calling on council to use the nearby Yooralla site instead.
Question time was extended to two hours to enable residents to voice their concerns. One constant refrain throughout the evening was that council had not responded to residents’ letters and emails and had not kept people informed about what was happening despite promising to do so.
Residents said a council meeting dealing with the future of Coburg should have been held in the area concerned.
Residents in Melbourne’s suburbs are under attack as powerful commercial interests push forward with their profit-making agenda. The state government, whether under Coalition or Labor administration, is their servant.
Local councils are also under ceaseless pressure from the “development” lobby. Only by getting active, organised and vocal can residents hope to stem this assault.
The impressive turnout at the council meeting shows that this idea is spreading.