Friends of St Kilda

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Who does the pot of gold belong to ?

August 7th 2017

The Seabaths has been sitting on public land in one form or another for the last 157 years.
A hearing was scheduled at VCAT for the end of August. The operators applying to take over half the public space on the rooftop, build on it and have a liquor license for 300 people.

July ended with the operators of the Seabaths unable to produce a signed Coastal Consent notice as promised. This caused a cascading event. CoPP denied the application and the VCAT hearing became invalid.
A win for locals who faced the loss of public space, with no reciprocal public amenity offered that out weighed this loss.

As a result of local activism to save the rooftop, a few anomalies in the planning and decision making process around Seabaths applications were unearthed, including the confusion about coastal consent mentioned above.

Another is the current application for the Seabaths 543/2017:
Buildings and works comprising construction of two roofed external bar structures/alcohol service areas (ground courtyard and mezzanine "deck" levels) in association with existing licensed areas for Republica and Captain Baxter tenancies (retrospective).

Note this is retrospective, and involves yet again public space (the courtyard) ie. the two bars have already been built prior to obtaining a building permit.
Normally if you built a chook shed in your backyard without a permit, the council would make you tear it down.

It seems this does not apply to businesses on the foreshore, even when public space is involved. A rule for us and a rule for them.

I am also concerned with the culture of loose council lease arrangements on the foreshore and environs.
Agreements are signed and then neatly filed away, gathering cobwebs and dust. At times misplaced or completely lost. Sometimes only conducted with a nod of the head.
Meanwhile council officers move on, gaining employment elsewhere, new ones take their place. Agreements become forgotten or malleable over time, aided by insufficient governance/compliance.
This allows an easy pathway for lessees to conveniently forget obligations agreed to as part of their negotiations to influence rent and concessions sought.

One of the worst situations is the West Coast Pavillion (again on public land) paying the princely sum of $1 per year rent for the complete building.
Another, the Metropol reneging on a lease agreement, (using safety as a concern) to close the public toilets to the public, but safe enough to allow shopkeepers access and use.
I assure you there are others, the mind boggles.

Happy hunting

Alan West

 

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Dear friends, my mid year opinion piece.

 

June 22nd 2017

Friends, it's winter solstice, we are half way through 2017

A reoccurring problem steadfastly stuck in the quagmire of promised action.
Council is very slow to get a wriggle on with the audit of buildings and spaces of local significance within CoPP.
We need to stop easy demolition of significant buildings like those that we have lost recently.
Vale the Greyhound and the London and I'm too scared to mention existing buildings or spaces for fear of putting a hex on them.

Council motions carried unanimously of late:
Dec 13 2016 "Continues to progress scoping a project to review the architectural and social significance of buildings and places across Port Phillip."
May 17 2017 "Reaffirms its commitment to reviewing the heritage protection of socially significant places across the municipality that are currently not covered by a Heritage Overlay."
Will we get another motion by xmas re-re-committing to these last two motions or will we actually get something off the drawing board and physically happening ?
I'm sure developers are not idly sitting by, doing nothing, waiting to see if the council will jump out of the starting blocks.

Also there seems to be an easy pathway with developer permit applications circumventing council and going straight to VCAT.
Council must make a decision on an application within 60 days or else the applicant can take it's case directly to VCAT under section 79.
All the applicant has to do is delay council with an amendment or confusion around details to an application.
Whilst council waits to receive notification/clarification, 60 day period expires, and section 79 comes into play.
Quite nifty, eg. Seabaths application 829/2016 and possibly the 26 storey junction monstrosity and swapping Novotel for a bigger shit box by the bay.
This is handy for developers because VCAT is intimidating to the "ordinary" legit person and tends to dissuade concerned locals from going to VCAT and having their righful say.
I am not a lawyer but am putting together a laymans info pac for legit locals to go to VCAT and be relaxed about the process and be properly heard. - VCAT

Things coming up over the horizon
The eternal situation of insufficient governance of council leases.
Novatel development
Marina lease
The Triangle

Happy Solstice

Alan West

 

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What is Friends of St Kilda all about ?

April 26th 2017

Just over seven months ago I was on the St K Images and Stories page, and posted about the Veg Out Market. It was politely taken down by Paul Di-Masi​ (no grudges) as he considered it was advertising. I had no connection with Veg Out monetary or otherwise, except I live in St K and enjoy fresh food.

This spurred me to take on the work of constructing Friends of St Kilda FB page from scratch, one month out from council elections..
A page whose basic tenet is for opinion and disagreement without being disagreeable, and a guaranteed quick exit for ad hominem attacks.

The thrust of the page is to guard St Kilda against rampant over development. Shine a bit of light on the local council and be involved in local issues. All the way from a lost dog notice to the impending Triangle resurrection, or other crown/public land and property issues on the foreshore and environs. An avenue for expression, and importantly for "do people" to galvanise into action.

Some inevitable highs and lows along the way:
October last year, we were heavily involved in and reasonably happy with the council elections. Resulting in some new, some incumbent, and a serving of Lazarus souffle with greens on the side.

A tough battle against the demolition of the Greyhound ensued, with Caro Thurling​ as team leader, Andrew Ball​ and myself. Caro doing a marvellous job of gaining over 2600 signatures on a petition and very professionally presenting it to council. She is way under acknowledged for the work she did for the Greyhound. This one is full of pit falls and is looking like it is gone.

Lucked in on a couple. The Old Munroes over development in Fitzroy St was changed to be the Gay Pride Centre and the Surf Life Saving Club 24 hr license application has been pulled back to 1am closing.

The current campaign for retaining the public space on the roof top terrace at the Seabaths was initiated by Krys Tyna​ and myself. From total oblivion to being on everyone's lips within two months was fantastic. I have a good feeling about this one, morally it is a dead cert.

OK, time for the old westy to move forward. The Triangle, the Hydra, the multi headed monster. Chop off one head and two grow back. There is so much money tied up with this project. At a guess, anywhere from $300-600 million. I think this will attract hordes of invading armies of money hungry developers, to say the least !

Attention to the Triangle project is now an imperative.
We are looking for, expect and will fight to gain an equitable outcome.
If developers think they can just waltz into St Kilda and cut any deal they want, quote me - "they be in for a mofoasswoopin time !!"
Anybody want to join in on our campaign ?

There are so many people who have supported me/us this year.
I wish to thank them all, they know who they are.

See you in the soup

Alan West

 

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Dear friends, my end of year opinion piece.

 

December 19th 2016

Never a dull decade

The sun has set on 2016, and what has been achieved ?
We have a new council to take us to the end of this decade.
Where will they lead us, or are they in turn being lead ?

They are setting up their old argument of having little power to act.
Well hello, I have little power too, but it doesn't stop me trying to protect what history and culture we have left.

We need councillors to become pro-active and for them to stand up and be motivated to help protect the character, vibrancy and old charm of St Kilda. Not just regurgitating reasons why their hands are tied. Instead looking for innovative ways to protect buildings of architectural and social significance and ensure heritage overlays are in place and not easily circumvented.

Fitzroy and Acland St tramworks are completed and hopefully we see the backs of PTV construction for awhile.
They will return to "fix up" the other side of Fitzroy St. To put in another DDA stop somewhere near the bowlo, choke off that area with single lane egress and take my beloved tram stop for the last 25 years at Canterbury Rd away from us.

For the last century, Fitzroy St has always been a bell weather of economic cycles. When shops become vacant and Fitzroy St looks empty and unloved, voila, within 12 months Melbourne has a recession. PTV's carve up has obfuscated the canary in the coal mine, but a downturn looks well and truly on the way. A recession might be the only thing that gives us a respite from developer onslaught. Slowing them down for a few years, until once again things pick up and pouring concrete becomes a quick easy earner.

Acland St is now cut in half.
We have the Village end and the Terminus precinct. Even the different footpath tiling marks the borderline.

The new mall acts like a big concrete funnel to pour people off the trams and back down into the village and to the beach.
There is a battle looming over Acland St's identity.
Either holding on to its image of a village, or being turned into a precinct with attendant high rise apartments.
By the end of the decade, the whole suburb might be facing this same battle.

It is the $ that is shaping Melbourne and in particular St Kilda.
Primarily greed is the catalyst. Manifest in the incessant invasion of concrete Bauhaus boxes. Rising from the rubble of beautiful old buildings, extending ever higher, knocking out views of the beach, rays of sunshine and patches of blue sky.
I am not against steady growth, but certainly against rampant, large scale overdevelopment.

Salvaging St Kilda, the battle continues.

Happy holidays and happy new year to all my friends, and happy holidays to my enemies.

Alan West

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VCAT

Links, for help in going to VCAT
Objector to Planning application-
Community Enviromental legal service -
Legal Aid Victoria -

I'm not a lawyer, but this is my understanding of VCAT

as an original objector to a planning application, you will recieve notification in the mail about the VCAT hearing dates, you have 4 choices.

1) go to the VCAT hearings and have your say .
2) have a spokesperson to attend and speak for you and others of similar opinion.
3) submit a written statement and lodge it to be read at the hearing.
4) ignore all of this and do absolutely nothing.

1-3) a fee of approximately $20/ $9conc. is the cost of submitting your Statement of Grounds, with no further outlays.
After submitting your VCAT form, including Statement of Grounds and paying the above fee, the only thing you have to spend is your time.
Make sure you send off copies of your statement of grounds to the applicant and respondants.
(if you want you can bring a relative or lawyer to speak for you at your own expense)

All options to act must be lodged in writing by the due date, to the three parties on the notification.

This info pac is under construction and any help is welcomed.