The future of Unley’s Village Green is in good hands, those of our community.

The future of Unley’s Village Green is in good hands. Council has accepted a report on the findings of our Civic Precinct Working Group into how our village green may look into the future.

 

We are blessed to have a community that cherishes the environment in which they live. Accordingly, members of our Civic Precinct Working Group, have provided us with a blueprint for the future of our Village Green. With such as this, the future of the Village Green is in good hands.

Unley Village GreenThey have, without elected member influence, willingly provided Council an insight into how the village green may look going forward. As a result, I have confidence in saying the Village Green is in good hands.

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I repeat my thank you (at our recent council meeting) to the Civic Precinct Working Group. They gave their time to prepare the vision we have accepted on behalf of our community. As I indicated to the gallery at our last Council meeting, the people on this committee have experienced what it is like to be on Council, to consider what is good for our community.

They must feel good about their contribution. Well done, each of you.

 

The committee has provided your elected members a raft of opportunities for further consideration.

They have provided Council with a blueprint that focuses on the following:

1. The Unley Civic Precinct should attract more of the local
community to access and enjoy the precinct, providing greater
flexibility of use during the day and early evenings;

2. The Unley Civic Precinct is defined by the quality of its safer
local streetscapes, built and natural heritage, flexible public
spaces and diversity of community services;

3. The Unley Civic Precinct provides greater co-ordination
between the different stakeholders to provide for the needs of
the local community; and

4. The Unley Civic Precinct is a central community destination,
supported by a program of services, events and activities, in a
range of greener civic settings.

A number of options has been provided to us to achieve these aims. As a result, it is possible that the village green itself could grow in size along with a number of other improvements. Something many may remember I have long promoted as a potential for the future. I particularly was encouraged with a number of considerations were considered that would tidy up the architecture of the rear of the cottages along Edmund Avenue.

They even considered a need to refocus the Civic Centre to integrate better with the green and with Oxford Street. In other words, to have the Civic Centre open up to the surrounding facility rather than  focus inward.

For further detail of their report go to page 29 of the agenda for the July 23 Council meeting.

Is Unley’s Civic Centre suitable for future use?

Is Unley’s Civic Centre suitable for future use. This is the question recently considered by Council’s Strategic Property Committee.  An exercise Council has looked into even before the Village Green Precinct Working Group identified the need.

The Strategic Property Committee has a view that mirrors that the community group.

Our Civic Centre does have an inward focus.  Given this, and given it was built 40 years ago, it does not accommodate the needs of a 2020 and beyond Council. It is therefore, in my opinion, a less than efficient building.

While several options were put in front of the Strategic Property Committee our focus was on whether the next Council should explore a redevelopment or not. We recognise, as did the Precinct Working Group that the Civic centre should open up to Oxford Terrace and better link with the Village Green.

 

The options we viewed as evidence of how redevelopment is possible with minimal investment. Simply, detrmine what would be suitable for future use. As a result, we passed the following motion:

 

  1. The report be received.
  2. In lieu of the acquisition of property for civic purposes, the matter of redevelopment of the Civic Centre warrants consideration by Council to ensure the facility is appropriately developed for future operational and community needs, with a report to be prepared for Council investigating requirements and costs for:

          – Provision of a main entrance to the Civic Centre off of Oxford Terrace;

          – Addition of one floor over the existing Civic area;

          – Underground car parking within the civic precinct; and

          – Filling in the space between the Civic Centre and Library/Town Hall.

  1. That any funding for investigation of redevelopment of the Civic Centre will need to be considered as part of a future budget review process.

There is no budget for any redevelopment in our long term financial plan. As a result, this is simply recognising that we need to be looking at utilizing the existing facilities we have to accommodate our future occupancy needs without purchasing new property. In other words, recognizing that we perhaps should consider including such a project in our long term financial plan. A timely opportunity to recognise that we need always to plan for the future.

If council backs our recommendation it means our admin can do some research into our future needs. Because we are so close to the elections, and the caretaker period, any report will likley be presented to the next Council . Subsequently, any decisions to proceed or not, and with what, will be for the next or a future council.

The motion was carried unanimously. It is now for Council to consider. Let’s do the work know so we can establish what would be suitable for future use.

There is no end in sight to DPA’s as the Minister makes announcement

There is no end in sight to DPA’s as the Minister announced today that he has been listening to us. Demonstrating this he has announced two DPA’s pertinent to the City of Unley.

I attended on behalf of the City of Unley.

Minister Rau explained that he has been listening. He accepts he and indeed the City of Prospect have failed to provide quality developments along Churchill Road.

I heard him to say that good design is not all about getting the maximum financial result from a development. Good development must relate to its neighbourhood.

This has been the core of what we have tried to achieve here at Unley. We can all take great heart that we have led the way toward better design outcomes.

What has been learnt has been incorporated into a new “Inner & Middle Metropolitan Corridor (Design) Development Plan Amendment”.In so doing he is recognising the work that the City of Unley put into it’s corridor plan and more recently into the Unley Central DPA.

Much of the DPA focuses on the interface with surrounding suburban residential zones  and the street interface. It addresses too, environmental issues.

It would appear on the face of it that this is being incorporated in to the other DPA relevant to Unley. That is the “Inner & Middle Metropolitan Corridor (Sites) Development Plan Amendment”, which is the subject of another blog.

Both DPA’s are open for public consultation as of tomorrow. Submissions are required by 25 July. A public information session has been set for City of Unley participants on 22 June between 4.00 pm and 6.30 pm. It will be held at the Latvian Hall, 4 Clark Street Wayville.

I encourage all who have shown an interest in the recent series of DPA’s to take the opportunity to look at this one, and take part in the consultation.

Sorrybut there is no end in sight to DPA’s.

 

Unley’s Village Green. Where to from here

The Unley Village Green has been saved from redevelopment. This was one of the many results of the final Unley Central DPA decision made recently .

The Village Green was the centre or focus of much debate during the recent Unley Central DPA public consultation. Many a resident living near the Village Green were aghast at the prospect that the Village Green could be built on sometime in the future. Whilst this was not being considered by Council as owner of the property I can understand where the concern emanated.

Our DPA documentation was poor. Without question it gave rise to those concerns. It was an example of a communication faux paus. This is something that Council has been guilty of a number of times. Something for which I have been pursuing a change for some time now. That is not the point of this blog however.

Although the Village Green has been protected from any interference as a result of the decision made it has brought into focus the very existence of the Village Green. The question now is Unley’s Village Green. Where to from here.

The SOS Village Green group is asking just that. They are keen to put the same question to Council.

It is great to see them being so proactive. When the citizens of a community are proactive you can bet the community is a strong community.

Consequently SOS Village Green have created a survey monkey for all with an interest to contribute their thoughts. It can be accessed at the following link.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/unleyvillagegreen

The survey prompts a number of thoughts for the cottages and the current green area itself. These prompts are not unlike some that I promoted during the Unley Central DPA debate.

If you have a similar passion to the members of SOS fill out the survey. The question they are asking is Unley’s Village Green. Where to from here. Hence the question I put to you is do you want to contribute to that conversation.

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.