Residents told to make room

Photo by Woodennature
Older Boroondara residents who refuse to make way for development are "better off moving to the countryside". Elana Frost reports on a call to move aside.


Older Boroondara residents who refuse to make way for development should move to the country, according to Balwyn-based body corporate managers.

Sean and Stefanie Madangure say that “there are a lot of selfish interests involved” in residents wanting to keep their large properties and gardens at the expense of development opportunities.

Mr and Ms Madangure manage Ace Body Corporate Management’s Balwyn branch, located in Boroondara where single-dwellings and large gardens are abundant.

“[Boroondara properties] are particularly nice … they’re very quaint and leafy and quiet and there’s not much traffic [because] there’s very few houses on the one street,” says Mr Madangure.

“[But] Melbourne’s growing, and I think if you want peace and quiet you’re better off moving to the countryside … there has to be some sort of compromise.”

Residential areas in Victoria are allocated to one of three residential zones, each with different guidelines about the types of development allowed.

About 80 per cent of Boroondara is included in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ), which enforces a restriction of two dwellings per lot to preserve existing neighbourhood character.

The NRZ comprises about 52 per cent of the neighbouring City of Whitehorse.

On March 21, the Boroondara City Council held an Urban Planning Special Committee in which the zoning of Precinct 74 was discussed.

The council decided to keep Precinct 74, one of the few non-NRZ areas in Boroondara, in the less-restricted General Residential Zone (GRZ), despite opposition from some residents.

Jack Roach, president of the 600-member Boroondara Residents Action Group, represents some of the 110 Precinct 74 households that requested the change.

“Our residents don’t want to be compacted. We don’t want to move over and make room for someone else. We like our gardens, we like our backyards,” says Mr Roach.

“People say to us, ‘But you’re just being selfish.’ Are we? You might say we should move over and make room. It ain’t gonna happen.”

According to Mr Roach, Boroondara residents are not worried about high-rise or multi-dwelling developments decreasing their properties’ values. They just “don’t want [them] in their streets.

“They’re not worried about their [property] values, because they keep going up. Everything has gone up [in value]. Properties in our area sell like that. So, no problem.”

Neil Packham, a resident of Precinct 74, attended the Urban Planning Special Committee to oppose the council’s decision.

He says that development underway in Balwyn, part of Precinct 74, is already impacting the character of the neighbourhood.

“[They’re] demolishing what would have been 60s and 70s houses and putting up these monstrous houses and they all look the same, they’re all cookie cutter houses.

“[They’re] a bit pretentious, not very well built, and … there’s no gardens such as we would have had. [They] don’t seem to have the same character as the olden neighbourhood.”

Despite the number of residents in support of change, Senior Strategic Planner Amanda Seymour said at the Committee that “there were no character grounds” to do so.

Councillor Jane Addis, whose ward includes Precinct 74, said the GRZ emphasises “low-rise, low intensity [with] multi-unit developments that will perhaps accommodate people at different stages of their lives”.

However, Mr and Ms Madangure say that more needs to be done to provide for future generations, and that those complaining about it are the ones who need to leave.

“The urban sprawl of Melbourne is just out of control. At some point, density has to increase closer in. The trick is to get the balance right,” says Ms Madangure.

Mr Madangure says, “It has to change. It’s cold to say, but eventually all these older generations will pass away … [redevelopment is] inevitable.”