Feb 11

Decision for Eureka

Decision for Eureka

After a number of pauses in the journey to getting a decision about the telecommunications tower in Eureka St, the proposal was refused at the last council meeting in a 4:1 vote. Before the vote 4 Councillors asked to be excused from discussion and voting on the tower due to conflict of interest. As Cr Vicki Coltman rightly pointed out that if she had enough shares in Telstra it was unlikely she would be a Councillor…

What was really terrific was that we could proceed to the vote with a quorum. And it was also terrific to see the 3 South Ward Councillors (including Ballarat East) vote together Des Hudson, Peter Innes and newcomer Jim Rinaldi. Thanks also to Greens Councillor for voting in favour of the East. Special thanks to Councillors Des Hudson and Peter Innes who both received a 10 year award on that night. We have respectful, learned and experienced Councillors looking after our interests.

A number of residents spoke on the night and we are have requests in for their speeches to be published here at BE Net in the new future. All speakers asked for more creative responses to the issues as well as requests that the developer abide by the clear guidelines regarding visual impact, heritage sites and proximity to housing.

Here is the speech given by Erin McCuskey on the night.

Erin McCuskey for BE Net to request respectfully that Council please refuse this application.

I am here to ask a simple question.

Can we do better?

Three points:

  1. Better consultation with the community.
  2. Better design is needed.
  3. Better research from developers.

ONE: Better consultation with the community. Better. Longer. More Thorough.

Time is needed to consult with the community. We ask continuously for time to consult before an application is made. Mediation is not the answer, by that time the die is already cast. We end up with scraps from the developer’s table. In this case there were no scraps.

According to the officers report a VCAT decision indicated that lack of community consultation is not considered part of the planning process in terms of having a valid reason for refusal. Does our council approve minimum standards for our city and the people it serves? Consult because it’s the right thing to do, not because the rules state you didn’t have to.

In the case of Pennyweight Park the community doesn’t even get mediation. We don’t get to explore better options; like the sharing the space instead of the community losing access to it.

TWO: Better design is needed. The community definitely needs tele-communications services, but should we just accept what is purely functional? Can’t we demand beautiful form as well? Can’t we have a unique design that suits our community? Why not? We end up paying for it.

We have seen them hidden in church spires, flagpoles, fake trees and art objects. Not all classical beautiful sure, but fabulously controversial. How about a beautiful clock tower, with viewing deck to look over the incredible terrain of Ballarat East. In the US one company allow for 20% of all installations to be ‘special’ or unique. The heritage officer suggests the shape is chimney-ish – why not go the natural next step – an actual chimney.

THREE: Better research regarding site identification and assessment. Is there a long term plan? How does it fit with the Ballarat Strategy?

This December just gone marks the fourth year of Ballarat East Network. Four years we have been asking for specific planning for the area., four years we have been asking for protection from over-development, four years we have asked our representatives to value our humble heritage, our beautiful crooked streets, our night skies, our urban forest.

All these also belong to Ballarat, we ask so that we might share it with the world. Each suburb in Ballarat requires a unique approach, new ones like Lucas get a lot of attention, deservedly so. Older suburbs however also need your attention, as do the original sites of Eureka.

We need our council to be brave, and have vision, like Ballarat councils of old, the ones that decided to move the police station because it was a better spot for an art gallery. A more recent example is the stand made by the City of Ballarat against McDonald’s on Bakery Hill, forcing McDonald’s for the first time anywhere in the world (as far as I know) to fit in with existing architectural concerns.

We applaud the work of our council officers; the Ballarat Strategy is a good start, but it may not have allowed the art gallery! It discusses health and entertainment but doesn’t talk about culture and art. Culture is crucial to mental health and self-improvement.

So here we are still demanding respectful and real participation in the planning process, and respectful and real participation in sustainable respectful design for Ballarat East.

Thank you

 TTower Eureka St looking East


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