A Short Response
BE Net response to Ballarat Strategy
Prepared by Erin McCuskey
With Focus on Ballarat East
There are some really fabulous elements to the strategy, and the desire for a 10min city; accessible city; green city. We applaud the work being done to support and enhance our natural environments and linkages to the city, and specifically how the Ballarat East area and Canadian State Forest appear to be a crucial core element of this.
- Health and safety are closely linked in the strategy, they are closely linked when we talk about physical health and activity/sport. However mental health and creativity are equally important, however more difficult to measure. We often measure physical health of a community by participation in community events, and sports. Mental and emotional health can be supported through culture and art and this is a gap in the strategy, or perhaps an assumption.
- How do we begin to engage the community who do not respond to current initiatives? The Ballarat East community is as diverse as its built and natural environments. Each suburb requires its own consultation and engagement around the values that matter to them.
- How do we begin to get developers to engage with these concepts? While they create small enclaves that turn away from natural attractions (eg creeks and waterways) which make them unsafe to walk (too secluded). How will these changes to the Ballarat Planning Scheme impact on developers and thus the community?
- How do we ensure the ENHANCEMENT of current and future living corridors. For example Bunny Rail Trail is almost hidden by corridors of housing that has colourbond fencing either side. The Ballarat Open Space Strategy identified great opportunities for linkages, it also identified lack of open space in Ballarat East. Can we work towards enhancement and extension? Our fear is another strategy that has no power with developers, as shown by a range of sessions at VCAT.
- Could the urban forest approach include the Canadian State Forest? Our understanding is that this forest is unknown and therefore unused by the majority of people in Ballarat. We could do so much better.
We have chosen to concentrate on specific policy direction (as numbered page 52.)
3.1 Diversity housing choices:
- Diversity WITHIN developments is crucial. In our experience developers are making proposals that have no diversity within the development and leverage off neighbouring properties, that themselves are under threat.
- Land with no access to private or public open space and seriously needs to be considered.
3.4 Fair and equitable funding:
- It’s important also to ensure that new developments are restricted in their use and access of public services (e.g. rubbish collection). We have seen the rise of developments that cannot access public services and this is detrimental to the community along with the future residents.
3.5 Protect the unique character of Ballarat;
- Landscape character and neighbourhood character have long been issues of non-concern for developers, and are often issues that are difficult for residents to identify until they are taken away.
- What will be the process for local area planning and how soon can it be done here in Ballarat East?
- Despite neighbourhood character being an important element in the state planning scheme, again and again we lose important parcels at VCAT and in council decision making. How can we protect it when it is enshrined in policy but not in practice.
5.1 Manage sustainable growth:
- This should also include some nod to sustainable design. The issues with developments in Ballarat East are that they are allowed despite being outside the minimum distances to local activity centres, or beyond the reach of retail. We talk about enhancing our koala overlay yet time and again these issues are ignored by developers, and then usually allowed through at VCAT. We need the big picture sustainable design in Ballarat East so that those areas identified as infill close to the CBD can be built higher, then an appropriate transition to the areas that are full of humble heritage and community values.
5.3 Manage unique heritage:
- Demolition buy neglect is rife in Ballarat East, at the same time we are being inundated by over-development. We applaud the initiatives to encourage renewal and protect identified community values. Our question is how we identify those values, how we engage the locals and how we ensure that developers and the community come together and decide together the best way forward.
The work to put together the strategy is immense, thank you to all council officers for your professional and thorough report.