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We need to talk about Planning – Survey of election candidates

Community groups across Victoria have joined together to survey candidates on the conduct and direction of Planning in Victoria.

The Survey was drafted by SOS and a wide range of groups have joined the survey. These include some of our smallest newest residents groups and also long standing state wide groups like Green Wedges, Protectors of Public Lands, Planning Backlash and the Public Transport Users Association.

The Survey asks about local issues and key issues of concern including:

  • The need for VCAT reform and better protection of local amenity
  • Whether we have a failure of independent, long term infrastructure planning
  • Failure to secure the Urban Growth Boundary and Green Wedges
  • Whether the increasing deregulation and privatisation of planning is in Victoria’s interest
  • Whether Victoria has ‘an inappropriate culture of undue influence and political opportunism’
  • Whether candidates support reform of political donations laws

The survey results will published early November and will be used to inform voters, particularly in marginal seats.

Further Inquiry – See survey and media release attached
Ian Wood   (President, Save Our Suburbs) 0424 104 274
Ann Birrell  (Vice-President, Save Our Suburbs)  0419 550 538

Candidate Survey on Planning issues 10 October 2014

Media Candidate Survey 10 October 2014

Victorian Environment and Planning Community Groups, including:
Green Wedges Coalition
Protectors of Public Lands
Planning Backlash
Public Transport Users Association
Ratepayers Victoria Inc
Save Albert Park
Yarra River keepers Association
Docklands Community Association
Residents Against Inappropriate Development in Doncaster
Fitzroy Residents Association
West of Elgar Residents Association
East Enders
Western Region Environment Centre
Appropriate Development for Boronia Group

Please contact SOS at if you wish to be included as a a supporting organisation info@sos.asn.au.

Petition for political donations reform

SOS supports political donations reform.

Victoria has some of the weakest electoral donation integrity laws in Australia. 

SOS would like to see all donations over $1000 disclosed. The Federal Liberal Government recently increased donation disclosure levels to over $12,000. We also need timely reporting of donations, within 14 days as in certain UK and USA elections, not up to 18 months as in Victoria. We would also like to see a ban on certain classes of donation eg developer donations, as in NSW.

Rob Oakshott has started a petition calling for reform. See details and the link below:

To: The Governor-General of Australia http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_GovernorGeneral_of_Australia_approve_a_Royal_Commission_into_Australian_political_donation_reform/?krEOxib

Help for residents to argue on Rescode guidelines at VCAT


“VCAT debunks Chak Lai Li decision” - Ian Wood, President SOS & Member PIA

Rescode specifies objectives, standards and decision guidelines for development application assessments. Objectives describe the desired outcomes that must be achieved, standards specify the requirements to meet those objectives, and the guidelines cite the issues Council must consider in deciding if an application meets the objectives.

But is an objective automatically met just because the corresponding standard is met?

VCAT’s interpretation in Chak Lai Li v Whitehorse CC (Red Dot) [2005] VCAT 1274 (30 June 2005) was that because standards contain requirements to meet the objective, meeting a standard must mean that the corresponding objective has been met.

However, the 2004 Department of Infrastructure practice note “Understanding the Residential Development Standards” argues the opposite – if the particular features of a site or neighbourhood mean that applying a standard wouldn’t meet the corresponding objective, an alternative design solution to meet the objective is required.

That DOI interpretation was upheld by VCAT in Lamaro v Hume CC & Anor [2013] VCAT 957: “Chak Lai Li ….. contains no discussion or interpretation about where the decision guidelines fit in or the use of the words “should” and “must” at the beginning of clause 55 under the headings ‘operation’ and ‘requirements’.”

Under “Requirements”, Rescode says development MUST meet all objectives. The decision guidelines must also be considered, and they apply to both the quantitative and qualitative parts of an objective.

The purposes of Clauses 54 & 55 include encouraging residential development which is responsive to the site and the neighbourhood and provides reasonable standards of amenity for existing and new residents.

As the Tribunal in Lamaro concluded, mere application of quantitative standards doesn’t necessarily achieve the purpose of clause 55, because a qualitative judgment must be made in each neighbourhood and site context.

Consequently, objectors can now use this decision to argue their case better at VCAT (and with councils) against inappropriate designs that fail to adequately consider local character and site context

NOTE: Perforated Metal Screening with its regular pattern of closely-spaced round holes is one example where a standard can be technically met but where the objective isn’t. PMS is occasionally used in residential developments to reduce overlooking. Most types technically meet the Rescode overlooking standard of 25% or less openings, but are effectively transparent when viewed from more than a few metres away because of the diffraction effect created by the rows of regularly-spaced spherical holes.

Thus occupants have an unimpeded view during the day through a window or balcony fitted with perforated metal screening, while the reverse is true at night. Maximum transparency occurs when viewing from a dark area to a more brightly lit one.

Consequently, perforated metal screening is used mostly for the screening of large facilities like multi-storey car parks, where light and air can enter while the interior is screened from view.

For more detail on the diffraction effect of perforated metal screening, see:  www.sos.asn.au/files/APP.2-PMS.pdf






The Great Population Debate – two very different perspectives on our future

Last Monday, on 13 October, at the Deakin Edge, the Lord Mayor and ALP Kelvin Thompson presented two very different views of Melbourne and the impact of population growth.

Robert Doyle started the debate enthusiastically defending population growth, saying increased population made for a more interesting city and ‘generates prosperity’. He boasted about how well Melbourne City had grown, how proud he was of the number of coffee shops and rate of CBD development and population growth. He defended multiculturalism, suggesting opponents of population growth must be anti multiculturalism. He said we could have clever growth. He drew parallels with the way we reduced water consumption in the late 2000s. He said Melbournians needed to adapt. He said we could put 2.3m people along existing infrastructure hubs, using only 6% of Melbourne’s land. In any event, he said he didn’t know how it could be stopped. He said ‘population growth was inevitable … because this is what we are’.

Kelvin Thomson had a very different view of Melbourne, a ‘high rise boom dominated by high rise buildings – not only poor design but in the wrong places’ and the CBD as ‘Cold Big and Dysfunctional’. He spoke about more intrusive government, increased inequality and crime, economic impacts and infrastructure failure with higher population. He referred to impending environmental crises – ‘treating the Earth as a state in liquidation … with many species on a short, fast road to extinction’. He said our kids did not have the opportunities we had and faced an ‘axis of … housing shortage, unemployment, education debt and increased depression’. Thomson also had very different ideas of social justice and economic imperatives and referred to success of low growth Scandinavian countries with low currencies, low unemployment, free education and budget surplus. He concluded saying that we faced a ‘world broken by rapid population growth – global warming, poverty and terrorism, made by those who own the world [corporate interests, those promoting growth]’.

After lengthy question time, almost entirely supporting less growth, Mary Drost from Planning Backlash thanked both speakers. She then asked whether they supported a referendum on the population growth policy. Thompson supported the referendum, Doyle reluctantly conceded but seemed to suggest there wasn’t much point to a referendum!

Video of the debate can be found at: http://candobetter.net/node/4118
Video of questions can be found at: http://candobetter.net/node/4121

SOS Newsletter 31: Residents Voice 30 September 2014

SOS Newsletter #31:  Members will have recently received a copy by post & now the online version is here : SOS Newsletter Residents Voice 30 September 2014

In this issue:

  • President’s Address: Key Performance
  • Indicators cut from Plan Melbourne
  • STOP PRESS – VCAT fee hike cuts appeals
  • SOS supports challenge to EW Link
  • Implementation of New Residential Zones
  • Help with Rescode for Residents at VCAT
  • Beware s89 appeals!
  • Avoid Dual Occupancy by Stealth
  • Coming Events

SOS Newsletter Residents Voice 30 September 2014


SOS eUpdate, 2014 Oct 4

SOS Members Planning Update – 4 October 2014

Read on for these hot topics

(1)The latest from Save Our Suburbs: SOS Candidates’ Survey for Election 2014

(2)Reminder – RACV Board Election - Last-minute call for RACV members to vote before this Tuesday Oct, 7th

(3)Reminder - The Great Population Debate, 5.30 – 7pm, October 13, Deakin Edge, Fed.Square 

(4)Rally – The Future of Public Transport in Victoria, Thurs 16 Oct. 12:45/1 pm start, Parliament steps

(5)East-West Link Updates: From campaigner Andrew Herington

(6)High-rise apartment design standards “coming”:

Continue reading

Spread the word – Transport Forum Your Regional meetings

To SOS members and all members of the public. The First meeting had some very strong  messages from the academics and those in the know…
These regional meetings offer unique opportunities to Q and A your local candidates.
Rarely do we have this opportunity.
Victoria is experiencing unprecedented mass migration with no end in sight!
Planning of infrastructure, housing, and the quality of life as we have known it in the past is on a fast downhill decline. Transport and traffic mayhem is worsening day by day.
Ask  your candidates ‘ Can you demonstrate to us how you would curtail this downhill fate that we are already on?’

Continue reading

SOS support for council legal challenge to EWL planning approval

In mid-July, SOS sent this urgent letter to Moonee Valley and Yarra City Councillors:

Save our Suburbs Inc. strongly opposes the East West Link proposal because of its potential damage to the fabric of inner city life, and because building more freeways attracts more traffic and soon creates more congestion than before. This is confirmed by Melbourne’s own experience with the Monash Freeway, the Westgate Bridge, etc. 

 But building rail links in parallel with freeways attracts commuters back to rail, lowers rail costs/head and frees up arterial roads for those who need to use them – trucks, commercial vehicles and multi-destination vehicles.  This is explained scientifically by the long-established Downs-Thompson Paradox: Continue reading

SOS Planning Update – Community Planning Groups, August 2014

There are several important events coming up that address the democratic planning and liveability of Melbourne. Please let your members and friends know about these coming events:

* “Power to the People  – reclaiming control of electricity in Victoria” - Wednesday, Sept 3, 6.30-9pm Brunswick Town Hall    (see flyer ) Power to the People Flyer-2014-09-03

Energy bills out of control.Power companies standing in the way of renewable energy.

State and Federal Governments doing nothing to lead the climate change or energy debate. 

It’s time for communities to demand reform of the energy sector and governments to take action…… Continue reading