Experts advising the State Government on planning have dismissed calls by Boroondara residents for their council to rezone their areas in fear of medium density destroying their quality of life.
Jenelle Wren, Camberwell resident, says, “People come for greenery, space and mental escape but they’re going to be packed in like sardines.
“Eventually becoming unhappy and ruining the very thing they came for.”
James Mant, Principal policy advisor for Plan Melbourne Refresh and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, says, “Living in a denser city is often seen in a negative way.
“It doesn’t mean the quality of life is less, it can actually be better.”
Simon Micmacher, Manager of forward policy and research at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, says, “If you say that a low dense city is a healthy environment.
“There’s a million examples around the world that show low dense cities are unhappy places.”
Boroondara’s city website estimates that the population growth is predicted to rise to 210,870 by 2041.
Also according to their website the number of residential dwellings will also increase by an average of 727 dwellings per annum which makes a total estimate of 87,386 by 2041.
Jack Roach, President of Boroondara Residents’ Action Group, BRAG, says, “Changing the character of the residential areas in Boroondara is concerning existing residents.”
Residents of precient 74 in Balwyn wanted to be placed in the top residential zone for full protection against medium density.
At the Boroondara City council meeting held on the 21st of March. The Urban Special Planning Committee refused their application to re zone their area.
Amanda Seymour said at the meeting, “Precient 74 does have a mixed character.
“59% are single dwellings, 18% are dual occupancies and 21% are units. Those characteristics is why it is in the general residential zone, not the neighborhood zone.”
Micmacher says, “If residents are in their backyard hanging washing and they can see into an apartment building, it’s a new urban experience.
“That’s why planning has set backs and all sorts of regulations to try and manage it.”
On the BRAG website, Roach says, “The neighbourhood character of Boroondara’s streetscapes is fast changing and many residents are not happy at the changes.
“Unfortunately, our council has little or no power to change this situation.”
Wren says, “It’s becoming a mish mash of new and old history, and we are destroying the old history, house by house.”
Mant says, “There are legitimate places where there’s significant heritage protection, or there might be a heritage present. We are saying this is really important.
“The area and character of streets, significantly heritage listed will see less change, they won’t see no change. They will see less change.”
According to the Boroondara website 45,031 people living in the City of Boroondara in 2011 were born overseas, and 26% arrived in Australia within 5 years prior to 2011.
Roach told Swinburne University students, “All those people need somewhere to live, why not cut back on immigration? People just say to us that we’re being selfish.”
Wren says, “I don’t mind as long as they get organized, you can’t bring people in if you can’t house the people you’ve already got.
“It’s lovely to say come, but it’s like inviting someone over to your place for dinner and then saying, sorry we have no food. Consequently people get angry,” she says.
Mant says that there’s more to it, “People are being housed but the question for us as planners is where they’re being housed and the type of place they’re living.”