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Inner urban conservation and development - An independent panel report on a proposal for Smith Street, Collingwood, under Melbourne 2030. Edited by Miles Lewis, August 2004. Info + Order your copy

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17 Aug 2004

INNER URBAN CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT - An independent panel report on a proposal for Smith Street, Collingwood, under Melbourne 2030. Edited by Miles Lewis, August 2004.

About this report – a matter of public interest


The independent report Inner Urban Conservation and Development, describes the current development proposal in Smith Street, Collingwood/Fitzroy (PL03/1407) as so sizable and intrusive – with the power to set dangerous planning precedents along Smith Street and in inner urban areas generally – that it must be regarded as a major test case under Melbourne 2030.

For those in the inner city, the experts’ key message about development is that under current local and state planning policies, ‘this could happen to you’.

The report works from the general to the particular: from the general issues raised by Melbourne 2030, through the rights and interests of those affected in Collingwood and Fitzroy (and indeed the wider community that enjoys Smith Street), to the particularities of the current proposal and the possible alternatives.

The fourteen experts conclude that the development proposal is a ‘major test case’ under Melbourne 2030 in relation to the:

  • Validity of Melbourne 2030
  • Role of local planning provisions in relation to Melbourne 2030
  • Effect of new population provisions in relation to Melbourne 2030
  • Future of inner suburban retailing issues
  • Conservation of traditional shopping streets.

For these reasons it calls for ‘a comprehensive examination, as a matter of public interest’. In the report’s introduction, Professor Miles Lewis states that while none of the contributors were pressured to reach a ‘unified position’, it is ‘all the more telling that they should all be expressing concerns, of one sort or another, about the current situation’.

This independent analysis fuels recent publicity about planning controversies across Melbourne, triggered by a revival of residents groups emerging to fight ‘over development’, particularly in inner urban areas.

The Smith Street development proposal and its current status


In April 2004 the City of Yarra listed the planning application for a large-scale mixed use development at numbers 132-172 Smith Street and 63-71 Little Oxford Street Collingwood (PL03/1407). The planning application is for a permit to carry out demolition and buildings and works of 253 dwellings (comprising 3 towers, including student housing), retail premises (including supermarket, to operate 24 hours a day), offices, restaurant/café, gallery; multi level basement car park (capacity 400, servicing proposed uses) and loading bays accessed from Little Oxford Street, built form of 8-9 levels; and reduction in standard car parking requirements of the above planning application. The City of Yarra advised that it would not make a decision on the application before 28 April 2004.

The application is Malvernway P/L and Davgab P/L for the Banco Group, developers of Carlton’s Lygon Court. The town planners are Fulcrum, and the architects are Jan & Manton.

Despite receiving some 1500 objections to the application – regarded by some as a record for a single application to the Council – the City of Yarra failed to reach a determination about the application within the statutory 60 day review period. Objections were raised in a number of areas including design and zone; traffic management; heritage; environment and pollution; amenity; infrastructure; and occupational health and safety. In circumstances where a Council fails to determine, applicants have the option of appealing to VCAT.

While Council is on record as saying that it intends rejecting the application in its current form, there has been no formal indication when it intends doing so. At the time of this report’s publication, the City of Yarra is brokering a series of meetings with Council, the applicant, and the Collingwood Action Group, as ‘representatives’ of the 1500 objectors. Still in early stages, it is understood that agreed aims, processes, timelines and outcomes are yet to be established. Apparently, the applicant has agreed with Council not to consider appealing to VCAT, however the status and timeframe of this agreement is unclear.

Who should read this report


The topical and controversial planning issues the report raises will be of interest and concern to a broad audience including:

  • Government – Local, State and Federal agencies involved in planning issues
  • Elected representatives – at State, Local and Federal levels
  • The planning profession – lawyers, planners, architects, developers, professional bodies, academics, students and research bodies
  • The broader community involved in and concerned about planning issues
  • The media.

To order a copy of the report

$35 AUD (inc GST) + postage.
Pay by cheque or money order.

Email cag@smithstreet.org for details.

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Cover image: Postcard, c 1906, Foy & Gibson, Smith Street, Collingwood. The Shirley Jones Collection of Postcards, State Library of Victoria, no H90.160/1012.

Posted by Editor