Unley Central DPA has finally been put to bed

The Unley Central DPA has finally been put to bed in what has been a lengthy process. A process of continual community consultation stretching between 2 and 3 years. Hopefully.

Council last night sat to decide on the final draft of the Unley Central DPA and in so doing, the Unley Central DPA has finally been put to bed. The final draft that will be submitted to the Minister for his decision.

The Minister may yet come back to us and seek a change or changes. It is my belief that if he does it is unlikely to concern our recommendations on the east side of Unley Road, the Civic Centre and Village Green site.

Looking back at my blog post of 21 February I can say that Council and its community have worked together. The input of two representative groups, FOCUS and SOS Unley Village Green, were invaluable.

They both recognised that we needed to be careful not to put something to the Minister that would prompt him to reject our work and take the DPA over. They have contributed to a result I trust is acceptable to the Minister, John Rau.

Those two groups showed leadership with their revised submissions at last Monday night’s council meeting. It took “guts” to do this. It did displease some of the FOCUS members. That is leadership.

We will be submitting the following to the Minister focusing on maximum building heights in each of the following areas:

  • west of the Soldiers Memorial Gardens – 18.5 metres (5 storeys).
  • north of the Memorial Gardens and south of Arthur Street – 18.5 metres (7 storeys)
  • north of Arthur Street (Target, Bazaar and Haddad sites) – 32.5 metres (9 storeys)
  • east of Unley Road north of Oxford Terrace – 18.5 metres (5 storeys)
  • on the northern side of Oxford Terrace – 11.5 metres (3 storeys)
  • Council Civic Area – also 11.5 metres (3 storeys) with 1 storey to Edmund Avenue, Rugby Street & eastern end of Oxford Terrace – the Committee recommended 5 and 2 storeys respectively

We also determined to keep the Village Green in its current location and to exclude residential development from the Community Area east of Unley Road to the south of Oxford Terrace.

Save Our Village Green

I have been made aware of a public event that has been organised to Save Our Village Green.

The Friends of the City of Unley Society (FOCUS) has organised the event. They are calling it Appreciation Afternoon at the Historic Unley Village Green. It will be held next Sunday 19th February between 4pm and 6pm. If you are passionate about all things Unley you might want to come along and see what is on offer.

On the back of my earlier blog today the event and claims on their website raises concerns for me. Concerns that Council and our residents appear not to be working together.

The focus of their afternoon appears is to protest to Council.

They claim on the Save Our Village Green website we are demolishing the cottages and building a 8 storey building in their place. This is simply not true as is a previous claim made on the same website until this weekend. That claim indicated we are about to build an 8-storey building ON the village green.

As any responsible leadership body should do, Council is examining whether the expected new planning rules provide an opportunity to redevelop the civic centre site. Council made this known publicly late last year. We invited our community to sit down with us and have a discussion. A discussion to find what possibilities for redevelopment may be possible. Rather than take up our request to talk we have what appears to be a protest against a development that does not exist.

They are calling the green historic implying it has been here since settlement days and not just 30 years old. The photo shows the new Civic Centre building. The cottages back yards are still intact.

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Oxford Terrace and the Village Green

On a personal note, if Council and its community were working together, I would like us to have a conversation about the village green in isolation. That conversation would focus on how best could the village green be redeveloped to improve it. Yes. Improve it. Let’s not just Save our Village Green.

Let’s make it more accessible to more people, including those locals who don’t know it exists.

For mine we should consider if it would be better relocated to front Oxford Terrace and take advantage of the potential conversion of Oxford Terrace into a Boulevard.

Why not have this conversation. I ask both Council and the Residents. Do you want to be part of the solution or part of the problem?

If you want to know what our Mayor is thinking check his blog on the same subject here.

Are Unley Council and their residents working together to design the future?

Are Unley Council and their residents working together to design the future or not? I trust and hope that they still are. We will find out during the next month or so.

Council has been working on a series of Development Plan Amendments (DPAs) over the last 10 years or so. These DPAs have systematically been working through changes to our development plan to accommodate the State Governments 30-year plan.

Legislation requires us to develop and adopt development plans that are in accord with the State’s overarching development plan. If we fail to do this the Government, through the Planning Minister, can do it for us.

Throughout the 10 years we have consulted widely with our ratepayers. When the process began we and our community where clearly of one mind. That was to prevent our heritage conservation zones and our streetscape zones from being highjacked in the name of development by the Government. We were also of the same mind in avoiding wholesale 2 for 1 development throughout our suburbs.

My understanding is that our community understood that there was a price to pay for these protections. I was not on Coucnil back then. The price was that there would be high rise development potential made possible in the major corridors and in what we call Unley Central.

We won those protections. The State Government is therefore placing their trust in us to deliver as promised. To date our commitment has been partly met. The development plan now caters for higher development in the two main corridors. That is namely Unley Road and Greenhill Road.

Unley Central

The next step is to deliver on Unley Central. Are Unley Council and their residents working together on Unley Central?

I implore our community to remember if the Government is not satisfied with our recommendation they can amend the plan. They will do that in a manner of their choosing. We won’t get a say in it.

That could be to not change the unlimited heights possible now and simply facilitate development by allowing mixed use. Mixed use I suggest is the element that has probably prevented any redevelopment in this area to date.

No-one other than the Government (oh and developers) would want this option to win the day.

During March, Council will have three meetings at which the Unley Central DPA will be discussed. All three will be open to the public to attend and watch us go through our deliberations. Watch as we power our way through the results of a recent public consultation to determine what recommendations we put to the minister and his government.

Without pre-empting the result, I am sure that Council have listened. Adjustments are bound to be made to the draft plan. Heights will surely be reduced in some areas.

Whatever changes are or are not made I trust our community will respect what we do.

A Dream or a Nightmare?

Is Council’s dream of a Civic Centre Redevelopment turning into a nightmare long before it can even get started. Is it a dream or a nightmare?

oxford-terrace_montageThat is the question I and I think everyone else is asking after it has been mixed up with and confused the Unley Central DPA.

I wrote in my blog post on 31 October that Council had a vision of revitalising the Unley Central Precinct.

What we did not have (and still don’t) was a dream for what a redevelopment could provide our fair city. We had no dream of what the redevelopment might look like. Just a heap of thoughts of what might be but no solid dream.

We were looking to you to help us develop this dream. We set aside 12 months starting in March of next year to achieve this.

Amid claims in your feedback to the Unley DPA that we lack transparency it appears you are not interested in the slightest at seeing what we might be able to do. This is a pity and a concern.

A pity because what I see you telling us is you don’t want anything to change. This implies they are perfect now. Notwithstanding this however I constantly hear that things are not perfect.

A concern because we have instead of building a dream by ourselves and keeping you out of the loop we wanted to start the dream building process, with a blank sheet, with you. The ultimate I would have thought in transparency but with you believing otherwise the conversation has been all about what you don’t want.

We must take the blame for this failure in communication. Realistically we should have held back with the announcement until well after the DPA process had completed so to avoid confusing you. Maybe then we would have had a chance to start a conversation without the angst that clearly exists at present.

A dream or a  nightmare? Can we, will we, have a conversation later or will either:

1   you refuse to engage with us about what can be or,

2  Council have cold feet and think it is too hard.

In either case the old saying applies here. If the Dream is Big Enough the Facts Don’t Count. What dream? I believe neither of us know what the dream is and that is why we are were we are.

 

 

 

Council face a DPA balancing act.

Last Tuesday night’s Unley Central DPA public forum has presented Council face a DPA balancing act. A juggle between Community and the Government.

mom-cat-balancing-act

 

Yes, after your recent input we face a DPA balancing act. We must recognise genuine concern from rate payers. At the same time, we must put a submission to the Minister for Planning, the honourable John Rau, that he will respect and not throw back in our faces.

As I noted in my last blog post we will be looking at all submissions and we will identify what we can realistically use and what we will need to carefully consider before altering.

On the one hand, we run the risk of members of our community rejecting our next draft. On the other hand, we run the risk that the Minister will reject our submission to him.

We run the risk that he will see us as abrogating our responsibility. If this happens he will rule what happens and ignore us. The result for our community will be worse than what some believe is now the case with what we are proposing.

Minister Rau could quite easily rule that the DPA will see only one change to the zone.

John-Rau-3883-850x455

 

That change would be to permit residential development. Residential development is currently the only restriction in this zone. There is no height limit, other than that imposed by the Airport.

Forget 11 storeys. Expect 25 storeys and more. Forget 3 storeys on the east side of Unley Road. The heights that apply now north of Unley Central along Unley Road is 5 storeys.

So, the challenge for Council is to put heights to the Minister that he will see as having a rationale acceptable to him. As I said above if we come back with a negative submission you, the community of Unley, will regret that Council did not work for the best possible outcome for them.

I am sure we will come back to you before any changes are put to the Minister. I ask you to show the maturity and the understanding I know the Unley community has, to work with us to ensure we can reasonably face a balancing act and have some control over the end result.

Unley Community responds to the Unley Central DPA

What a night it was last Tuesday. Council hosted the community around the Unley Central Precinct. A night of emotion. A night to remember.

Unley Central PrecinctIt is back to the drawing board as the Unley Community responds to the Unley Central DPA.

Last Tuesday night Council’s City Strategy and Development committee hosted a public forum. The forum allowed rate payers to further clarify their written submissions to Council’s Unley Central DPA.

Approximately 200 people provided written submissions and around 40 backed up these submissions on the night. Most but not all were against the draft proposals.

We received some valuable input from many. Input as to how we might change the draft before putting it to the Minister for approval.

I am sure the Committee and indeed Council will take these on board.

We must be careful though not to allow ourselves to get sucked into accepting misplaced submissions. There were several these. I have thoughts on this that will be the subject of another Blog post.

Many rate payers have forgotten that we (Council and rate payers alike) all agreed back in 2006 to put a proposition to the Minister. The proposition was to protect our historic conservation zones and our streetscape zones. We offered the Minister increased density in the main street corridors and in Unley Central.

What we have found as we have rolled out the various localised DPA’s is that many in our community have forgotten this. We have also found that the keep forgetting that this is not Council driven but Government driven. Our ongoing communication, written and verbal,  is probably responsible for this.

I remind our community that if we don’t conduct these DPAs the Minsiter will do it on our behalf. If this were to happen we lose all control and the result will NOT be to anyone’s liking.

We have also found that our rate payers inevitably believe that we should be focusing on other areas to rezone. In other words, they are in opposition to rezoning their area in favour of rezoning other areas. What these people do not understand is that all areas of council apart from the zones including the Le Cornu site which was raised several times in the submissions received.

Council’s Vision for the Unley Central Precinct

Inspired by what we learnt through the Development Plan Amendment for the Unley Central Precinct, Council has developed a vision for the Civic Centre site. We have determined to lead the way in revitalising the precinct with a potential redevelopment of the Civic Centre.

Council’s Vision for the Unley Central Precinct has been for a long time now to revitalise the heart of Unley. We expect this by generating new activity in the precinct and providing more opportunity for residential living. Redevelopment of this site is an ideal catalyst to achieve this.

oxford-terrace_montagecentral-square

We have taken notice of feedback received during the DPA process. Rather than just facilitate it we realise we can play a crucial and lead role in shaping the Unley Central Precinct and in rejuvenating Unley Road. This should spark interest by others in seeing the potential of developing other sites in the Unley Central Precinct.

Our Mayor, Lachlan Clyne, has said in his public announcement of the project “I back a redevelopment of this site 100 per cent and I am excited about hearing our community’s ideas as they engage in the process.

I fully back our Mayor. This is an exciting project which has so much potential for our community.

We have no set view on what any redevelopment might include other than:

  • it will fit within the guidelines (particularly height) of the Development Plan and not stretch beyond,
  • it will be a mixed-use facility in the true sense of the development plan, providing new civic and (importantly) community facilities,
  • it will include extensive residential use in the upper floors,
  • the heritage buildings now housing the Library & the Museum will be retained,
  • the Village Green will also be retained, possibly enhanced.

Council will investigate over the next 12 months how the redevelopment of the Civic Complex on Unley Road might look. With the help of our community we also determine what services it might provide the community of Unley.

By selling the air rights above the Civic Centre we can fund the project without impacting on rates. This means we can provide improved or enhanced current facilities and/or provide new facilities our community is asking for, whatever they may be at no cost to the community. We would remain as manager of what would be a community title for development.

Watch this space as Council’s Vision for the Unley Central Precinct evolve with your help.

 

Unley Central DPA public consultation running out.

You have just over one month to go to contribute to the final Unley Central DPA submission to the Minister. If you have a say in writing you can attend a public meeting to enhance your observations before council.

 

This blog post is an update on my post of 24 September which can be read here.

Two information sessions have been held. I attended both to gauge public reaction to the final draft. As the deadline for submissions gets closer I encourage you all to have a say. Don’t wait for a development near you to be proposed to express your concerns. It will be too late.

I am encouraged by the mature approach that those who attended the information sessions showed. They recognise that Unley’s approach has been to work with the Government rather than fight them. We were congratulated for limiting the impact on our community, even though concern still exists over what is proposed.

Some confusion exists still however as to why we are undertaking this process. Examples follow.

One attendee at the information sessions was critical of us because we did not get a mandate at the last Council election to carry out this DPA. He mistakenly believes therefore what we are doing is illegal. The Council actually has a legal obligation to pursue this DPA.  If we fail to do it the Minister can do it on our behalf under the Local Government Act 1999.

Of course the Government did take this to the last state election, and the previous.

20161011_102241Someone else is mistakenly letter boxing a claim that council is going to build an 8 storey complex on the village green. If you are confused a DPA is NOT a proposal to develop property. It merely sets the guidelines with which future proposed developments are assessed.

Please be assured also the DPA does not propose 8 storey development on the Village Green. The Village Green is retained under the draft DPA. It could indeed be reconfigured and even increased in size.

Unley Central draft DPA considered by DSP committee

The Unley Central Draft DPA was considered last night by the Committee I chair. We considered a very in depth report from our administration and URPS, the consultants.

Unley Central DPA draftAccompanying the report was the Unley Central draft DPA. Both documents required significant reading. In my case I devoted the weekend to so doing. It is my belief the report has captured well the concerns and opinions of the public involvement to date whilst addressing the Minister’s requirements.

The report and the draft DPA can be found as attachments to the meeting agenda. This can be found here on our web site.

With strong input from independent and elected members alike the committee was quite supportive of the work that has been done. They did make a number of minor observations.

They highlighted appreciation in particular for the work done to ensure a gradual transition from existing neighbouring residential zones. The detailed work done to arrive at appropriate set backs and envelopes was appreciated.

Concerns were almost unanimously expressed regarding infrastructure needs and traffic flow. Infrastructure improvements is of course a council responsibility. A study is under way as we speak investigating this. It does not impact directly on the Unley Central draft DPA however as the DPA is purely planning.

Traffic flow was also considered in the report. It included an analysis by another consultant, Infraplan. They have made a number of observations. Once again this will be the province of council and have no direct bearing on the Unley Central draft DPA. Our independent members were supportive of the analysis by Infraplan. Elected members had concerns over such things as no right turns along Unley Road.

Council still has much work to do in these areas. The committee was keen to recommend Council pursue this. They did this by including an amendment inspired by myself to the motion (item 4 below) which was passed unanimously. The motion is below:

1.             The report be received.
 
2.            The URPS Unley Central Precinct DPA Summary of Design Lab stakeholder consultation documentation be noted.
 
3.            The draft Unley Central DPA (and the summary of proposed minor amendments) be noted.
 
4.            It be noted the traffic investigations supporting the current DPA proposals indicate there are no significant implications in the short-term. The issues identified for the longer-term should be considered via  Council’s broader strategic planning processes.
 
5.            A finalised draft Unley Central DPA (addressing the minor amendments) be prepared and presented for endorsement as suitable for public consultation to Council at its meeting on the 22 August 2016.

Now — Over to Council to endorse the Unley Central draft DPA with changes to come back to council in August. We are one step closer to public notification. I suggest this is looking like October/November. Over to council also to separately continue to pursue answers to infrastructure needs and traffic flow challenges.

Unley Central to progress to Design Lab

My Development Strategy & Policy Committee and subsequently Council have been briefed on the results of the recent public consultation. Council has accepted the encouragement of the Committee to move to the next stage of the DPA process.

After some confusion over the public conversation in December the Committee the considered whether or not it was pertinent to continue general consultation before engaging with stakeholders. They felt that we received worthwhile feedback from the public and of sufficient quality to proceed to the next step. Council concurred.

Unley-Central-Concept-Image-for-YSUThe next step is to conduct what we are calling a “Design Lab”.

Staff are busy preparing now for the Design Lab. They are taking on board the information solicited from both the public and the committee. Again we received a rich contribution from the independent members of the committee.

Public feedback was quiet constructive. People recognised the need for may I suggest “controlled” high rise redevelopment. What we did hear among other things was an eagerness for us to take into consideration such things as traffic flow, shared roads with safer bicycle and pedestrian access, parking, and a soft interface with surrounding residential zones.

The Design Hub which is likely to occur mid April will take the form of a long workshop. Participants will be encouraged to provide some input into detail. We can then progress the Development Plan Amendment to a point where it can be presented to the public for final comment. This I expect will be somewhere between June and November. It can then proceed to the minister.

Participation will be by invitation only. They will be drafted from what you might call key stakeholders. This would include as I see it:

selected major property owners,

potential developers,

community,

heritage and environmental groups such as FOCUS,

bike user groups,

representatives of The Unley Business and Economic Development and Infrastructure and Sustainability Committees,

the Unley Road Traders Association,

Council staff and Elected Members

and relevant State Government departments.

 

The ‘Design Lab’ will be structured to test a number of potential design and land use options for the precinct.

The intent of the Design Lab is to identify a preferred option that best meets stakeholder and community aspirations within the Governments objectives.

That is our challenge. Wish us luck.