A vocal local called Max has written a submission to the council concerning a planning matter.
In the matter of this particular development, 6 Florence St, we are seeing objections raised against an individual project by parties without any obvious standing, specifically a rival developer or Max himself who is not as far as we know affected in a personal capacity.
We are talking about a project which appears to be the type that we should be happy about. It is directed at sustainability and seems to have had a good reception as a progressive piece of architecture. It is a good thing that there is a market for this; perhaps we might slowly get somewhere in addressing the inescapable environmental issues, and issues of urban life, of the 21st century. There ARE issues to be dealt with, but loud voices in the local branches seem to say that things should stay the same as they always were.
When Max regaled the branch about this particular greedy developer he did not let on that the developer appears to be a progressive small firm coming up with imaginative designs. Please see the links and decide for yourselves. I will mention that I had already heard of the Nightingale project as being a noteworthy progressive experiment before Max mentioned it at our meeting.
Max has actually lodged an objection to the council (along the lines of requiring the parking spots to be provided to a certain standard; see his letter for details. This is the email reproduced in the minutes.) Max does not argue that he is a neighbour who will be affected by alleged problems caused by this structure. Suppose we tacitly approve of this tactic. It is an attempt to hinder third parties, builders, buyers etc for the sake of some tendentious political opinions. It is a small project, not something by Grollo. This is going beyond arguing about what is a good policy and what isn't since it stands to affect individuals who we don't know and who have no quarrel with us. The branch should think carefully where it stands on such a move.
I have copped some flak from the likes of Max by suggesting that it might be ok if someone decides that they don't want to have a car, therefore they don't want to have a parking spot and they would like to save $60,000 on the cost of their apartment. The rejoinder is that the council has the discretion to waive car parking requirements in particular cases. So much for this argument. When the council does let someone off putting in a parking spot, look what happens! Max himself is in there saying make them put in parking.
This time it was the council that said ok to the plans but it was VCAT that rejected the application. That suggests that there was community acceptance of the project, consistent with the publicity that we read. Max commends VCAT's decision but everything about it is weird. VCAT accepted an objection from another developer. The developer's argument was something like "You would not have given me a waiver if I had asked for it!'. How does this other developer have standing? How is this an admissable argument? Surely the other developer's option was to make a request for a waiver if that is what he wanted, then appeal to VCAT if it was refused.
Evidently this is all history because VCAT has commanded car parks and the architects have revised the plans. Max says the proposed car spots will not be usable, but there is no corroboration for this so I can't comment. Again see Max's letter and stand by hopefully for more information.
Remember that the council's proposed changes to car parking rules are consistent with the principle that apartments are not required to have car parking spots and overflow onto street parking will not be possible. It seems a sensible plan, though people can oppose it. Opposition within the branch seems to be as much as winning council seats than any conviction about how Brunswick meets the future. Are we going to the length that we try to impede individual people's projects for the sake of our own?
Last year I brought to the branch's attention a case where people were living in apartments with north facing balconies only to have a high wall, reaching above the level of their apartments, built on the next block within touching distance. The branch paid no attention to this injustice seemingly of developer versus ordinary person. This is a case where some actual person was disadvantaged but we the branch did not care. In this case no-one is disadvantaged. The complaints are from a rival developer or else politically motivated. We should be careful about what we agree to as a branch. I intend for my part to tell the council that I think they got it right in the first place.