Nov 17

We want planning

What follows is a presentation made to the City Council Meeting on Wednesday 14th November, by Erin McCuskey (BE Net spokesperson) in response to the council making a determination on revised plans for Rodier St…

“Congratulations on your re-elections and elections, we wish you the best and also want to let you know that the community is here to support you, help you, work with you all for the betterment of our city, our people and our environment.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you tonight. My Name is Erin McCuskey and I am a spokesperson for Ballarat East Network, or BE Net. I speak to reinforce the position of the council officers in the case of Rodier St to NOT support the revised plans of the developer.

BE Net is an information sharing group started by Ballarat East residents over two years ago. We were brought together by a sense of being under siege from over-development. Our major concern is the erosion of our neighbourhood character; the lack of private open space in many new developments and the extreme lack of access to council services and parking.

Our city is unique. It’s unique because it is surrounded by diversity – currently. Ballarat North is different to Sebastopol, is different to Redan, is different from Wendouree, is different to Ballarat East.

We residents wonder how long we can maintain our diversity, embrace it and celebrate it. Rodier St specifically and Ballarat East generally is characterized by rolling hills and slopes, greenery and vegetation, roads that curve and climb, homes that are set back with wide front yards and even bigger backyards with sheds and barbies and vege patches and tyre swings

The developer in Rodier St specially and other developers generally in Ballarat East want to carve and slice to build over our natural environment and waterways to pack in as many small monopoly homes as they can possibly fit. They also want those homes to look exactly the same, be built of the same materials, the same rooflines, the same design with back fences that almost touch the backdoor. Homes that need numbers for residents to know which one they live in.

Where will the children play is a common question from the elders I speak to. Those same elders feel like no-one is listening, they are asking for help to save the health of their grand children and their community.

The plan for Rodier is so packed the residents cant put out their rubbish, with one road in they are stuck in any type of emergency, and are inward looking, not connected with other residents, separated, isolated.

We residents were happy when the Activity Centre Strategy for Ballarat indicated there were no activity centers planned for Ballarat East, gee we don’t even have footpaths or lights in many streets; again we are happy with that. However we cannot accept a situation where high-density development is happening in Ballarat East without those services. We deplore planning by default, by developers who want to jump in and make a quick buck. Ask yourselves who would be happy living here in these developments.

We implore the council to consider more strategic planning for Ballarat East before its too late and the special place that exists now is gone forever. Our website shared over 15 problematic developments in the last 12 months, no wonder we feel under siege. Sadly some of these developments have built footpaths to nowhere because they connect no-where.

We need to demand more of our developers, we demand a more sensitive response to our environment, we demand more site-specific design responses. The state architect said good design is on that you cant imagine anywhere else. Well by these plans these houses are going up all over Ballarat and we look to our council to protect us for these cookie cutter type developments where children can’t play, where visitors can’t park, where people can’t connect with their community, where the very environment that is used to promoted the sale of these places are built and concreted over…

We implore the Council to back the efforts and expertise of your council officers, to protect our area using the overlays in place throughout our area that are meant to protect our built heritage, our significant vegetation, our environmental heritage, our koalas. And please vote to put this proposal down for a second time.”

The council did indeed vote down the development, for the second time now. Off to VCAT we go…

However our major message is that this area needs proactive governance and good planning to ensure we can protect this area for the future of our city and our community.

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  1. Colleen says:

    Fabulous speech Erin.

  2. stephany panhuysen says:

    Brilliant Erin, thank you for putting it so well. There ought to be no further development anywhere without the appropriate services and infrastructures to support them, e.g.
    parks, playgrounds, libraries, clinics, childcare centres, community centres, firestations, etc. etc. as for approval of developments in flood plains, what a no-brainer that is. the so-called assurances of the past that a flood would only occur once in a hundred years cannot be made in these days of unpredictability where climate is concerned.

  3. Alice Christie says:

    Congratulations and thank you Erin for putting the position that we feel strongly about. Thank you to this new Council; hopefully this bodes well for future decisions re planning and proposed subdivisions. VCAT!! uggh.

  4. Diane says:

    If I were a victim of a flood in my new home and I found out that the Council knowingly approved high density housing in a waterway, I think the Council might be the subject of a class action! The VCAT files will be available for future reference on these matters so it is important that development is done right with a long term view.

    Only a couple of years ago, Cranbourne (Casey??) Council came under fire for allowing development too close to an old rubbish tip, residents were evacuated. This caused heartache for the new homeowners. A house mortgage is a huge financial commitment for a family and Ballarat residents need to be confident that their investments are sound and planning applications meet stringent conditions. Thank you to the current councillors for their sensible decision on Rodier Street.

  5. Judyann says:

    Well said Erin, and congratulations to our chosen councillors for voting against this. But our representatives can have their votes over-ridden by faceless people elsewhere who have no knowledge or interest in our locality.

    I don’t want to live near such a development, but where can one go so it just doesn’t happen again and again.

    “Overpopulate and Perish!”

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