Columns
10 years on Image

10 years on

March 2009, Issue 40
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Away from the desk Image

Away from the desk

The little bent tree
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Chamber update Image

Chamber update

The Summer Campaign
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Docklander Image

Docklander

Mona’s enjoying her upside down life
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Docklands Secrets Image

Docklands Secrets

Politician disrespects us
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Fashion Image

Fashion

Top five street style trends
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Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Flexibility, mobility and wellbeing
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Letters Image

Letters

Well done Sam
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New Businesses Image

New Businesses

70 years later, family business still suits
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Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

Boom, boom, bust and out -
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Pets Corner Image

Pets Corner

She’s the boss, and I like it!
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SkyPad Living Image

SkyPad Living

Energy vulnerable vertical villages?
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Street Art Image

Street Art

Goodbye from Blender Studios
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We Live Here Image

We Live Here

Cladding, short-stays and rooming
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Letters to the Editor - September 2015

03 Sep 2015

Unsustainable situation

I completely endorse the sentiments of Kelly Mercer, who wrote a strong objection to the VCAT decision regarding short-stays. What are these people thinking?

I own an apartment in Jeffcott St. During the last year or so, I have noticed more and more students and other young people moving into our block.

There is a great deal of subletting. No one knows how many tenants are in the building, but the excessive quantity, means that in case of a fire emergency, god knows how many will be able to access the stairs!

The point that Kelly makes about the owners having to share in paying the body-corporate to maintain the common areas is a very relevant one too.

Why should an owner-occupier have to pay the same rate as someone who is gaming the system with eight tenants in one apartment?

The current state of affairs is unsustainable, and sooner or later there will be a serious incident.

And don’t get me started on the dangerous cladding that has been used in so many of the new apartment blocks!

Paul Holbourne

Nothing wrong with short-stays

In the interest of providing a balanced viewpoint I am submitting the following letter.

I have read so many negative articles in Docklands News about “short-term stays”, that I feel compelled to provide an alternative view.

I know this article will not be popular, but I have always been taught to deal with the facts, rather than conjecture.

Firstly, some background. I am a long-term resident of Docklands. I have lived in this great suburb for more than five years in the Watergate apartments. I have recently moved to an apartment in NewQuay. While in Watergate, I was both a resident and a landlord (long-term leases). I still own my apartment in Watergate.

I have been reading so much about the, so called, bad behaviour of short-term tenants, and I have become increasingly concerned that this does not measure up with my own experiences. I have only seen one issue with a short-term resident causing damage, and that was over four years ago, and have not heard or seen any incidents since. I believe that the short-term operator involved has long since ceased operating in Watergate.

Meanwhile, I have seen incidents from longer-term residents, such as: parties, moving in over the weekend, overcrowding and abusive behaviour. I repeat, that all of these incidents have involved long-term residents.

So it would seem that short-term residents do not have a monopoly on bad behaviour. In fact, I feel that this issue is being overplayed by the Watergate committee and the media.

I would also like to point out that as a landlord, I have seen the sort of damage that long-term tenants can do to your property as an owner.

I am constantly having to repair holes in the wall, oven cooktops, stained carpet and other damage. So I have decided to lease my property out to short-term stay this time around.

I have a feeling that the property will actually be better looked after by the short-term operator, who promises to return my property in the same condition it was left in.

My new home, coincidentally, is next door to a short-term residence.

I have been in this apartment for nearly three months and I have not had any incidents.

The property is actually vacant most of the time, and the tenants I have seen have been courteous and respectful.

Maybe the Watergate OC should consider spending more energy working with short-term operators, establishing guidelines, and promoting good behaviour, instead of wasting residents’ body corporate funds on legal fees.

I am also sure that Docklands is not the only waterside CBD area where there are a lot of short-term stays. A quick look on Google and you can find short-term stays in abundance in Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, Brighton, Darling Harbour and many other suburbs.

Personally, I feel that Docklands is actually a great suburb to live in.

In my opinion, the long dragging debate about short-term stays is doing damage to Docklands’ reputation as a place to live, as an investment and as a place to visit for tourists. Perhaps a more tolerant attitude to our neighbours (short or long-term) would go a long way.

Paul Vella

 

Backward facing seating

I am totally confounded as to why our new seats along NewQuay Promenade have been installed facing away from the water.

It seems pretty obvious that anyone wishing to enjoy the marina and its events would wish to take a comfortable seat and gaze out across the water.

The view looking over to Victoria Harbour and the city is magnificent, especially at night. Why then are the seats facing the wrong way?

This is yet another example of total insanity. Furthermore, the new seats are cold, metallic and uncomfortable.

The old seats were wooden benches, and the genius of them was that you could sit facing either direction, out over the marina or towards the restaurants. They were also aesthetically suitable to the nature of the site.

I remain perplexed and disappointed!

Phoebe

 


Upgrade of Harbour Esplanade waterfront

“Harbour Esplanade waterfront is the most sensitive, most important public open space left in central Melbourne.” Cr Mayne, Future Melbourne Committee, June 2, 2015

I have recently returned from overseas and was pleased to be informed that at the Future Melbourne Committee Meeting on June 2 it was resolved to issue a planning permit in relation to the masterplan for the Harbour Esplanade upgrade submitted by Places Victoria (PV).

It was further resolved that prior to submission of detailed plans for approval a community consultation process be undertaken and subsequently all documents relating to proposed works in accordance with the master plan be referred to the Future Melbourne Committee, as the responsible authority, for determining compliance with the planning permit conditions.

My travels over recent years have only reinforced my belief that upgrading of this potentially prominent piece of waterfront land (one of Melbourne’s most strategic) is vital to elevating the attraction of Docklands, improving visitation, boosting retail trade, promoting further and more rapid development of the northern precincts and enhancing returns through rates and taxes to the City of Melbourne and State Government.

There is no doubt that the upgrade of public spaces, at relatively low upfront cost, can have a substantial and sometimes massive impact on the attractiveness of cities whilst enhancing the value of surrounding assets.  

Dometrio Scopelliti is an architect who lives in, works in and loves cities. As part of Arup’s Milan master-planning and urban design team, he works to shape better cities, which he sees as collective pieces of art made by the people, for the people, through time. As an urban observer and as a placemaker, he is fascinated by how architecture and urban design affect people’s behaviour and social life, particularly in streets and public spaces.

In a recent article Scopelliti wrote that “investing in walkable public spaces should be a no-brainer; they can be a catalyst for regeneration, make cities attractive to private investment and provide benefits to communities.”

He went on to say: “Walkable streets and attractive public spaces have proven social and environmental benefits.  They enhance liveability – increasing social cohesion and encouraging physical activity while reducing traffic and improving air quality.  However the fact that the public realm can also be incredibly profitable is less well understood and often overlooked.”

Recent research has revealed that well designed public spaces can boost pedestrian traffic and retail trade by up to 40 per cent and rents by up to 20 per cent.  The transformation of an under-used parking area adjacent a pedestrian plaza, in Brooklyn NY, led to a dramatic increase of 172 per cent in retail sales.

The often quoted “High Line effect” in New York saw expenditure of US$115 million by the city reveal the generation of US$2 billion in private investment surrounding the elevated park whilst attracting five million visitors a year, creating 12,000 jobs and doubling property values in the surrounding area.

Scopelliti even mentions Melbourne, over the last 20 years as having “renovated its pavements and street furniture and turned narrow (laneways) into a walkable network … as destinations in their own right … outdoor cafes have increased from fewer than 50 in 1990 to over 600 today.  Liveable cities and walkable environments make cities more vibrant, sustainable and healthier but also more attractive.  They boost the urban economy, and they definitely make us all richer – in every sense of the word.  This is another reason to put the quality of public space at the heart of placemaking”.

Listening to audio of the Future Melbourne Committee meeting of June 2 it was gratifying to hear Cr Leppert move an amendment to the motion to approve a planning permit for the Harbour Esplanade Masterplan to ensure that all proposed works be ratified by council.  

This was followed by Cr Wood encouraging the incorporation of increased tree canopy cover, green open spaces and references to the maritime heritage but not by bringing back bits and pieces of the old goods sheds.

Cr Mayne, along with the other councillors, congratulated PV for the quality of the masterplan proposal and Cr Leppert for a good amendment.  He went on to say that the Harbour Esplanade waterfront was the most sensitive, most important public open space left in central Melbourne.  The big question that Cr Mayne raised was who is going to fund/deliver the project.  “Major financing is the question,” he said.

Cr Mayne implored the council to put the Harbour Esplanade waterfront works into its 10-year capital works plan.  He indicated that the council has budgeted to receive $20 million in open space contributions from developments each year over the next few years and the Harbour Esplanade upgrade should be prioritised to receive funding from these contributions as it is highly important to Melbourne.

In discussions with PV, it was revealed there is also a desire to address the interface between the stadium and the waterfront.  This is a desperately needed piece of work and, with indications being given by the AFL that a revamp of the stadium is likely to occur in the near future, it would be a wonderful outcome to see visitors to the stadium benefiting from a quality urban design outcome along Harbour Esplanade and the waterfront.

PV is keen to see the first stage of works underway and is awaiting imminent funding approval from the Department of Treasury and Finance to commence the design and permit application phase to be followed by construction of the first stage.

At last the political support and collective focus appears to be turning toward Docklands and the Harbour Esplanade waterfront.  As outlined above, it is foot-traffic that will generate increased retail activity and give a long-awaited boost to the flagging fortunes of the NewQuay restaurant and cafe traders.  

Can we dare to hope that detailed planning of the first stage commences during 2015, whilst construction starts early 2016, and that this first stage is comprehensive enough, with sufficient financial backing, to achieve an outcome that looks and feels complete?

David Napier

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