This is what is being done to our Yarra River Corridor

Below is the view that all recreational users will see from the river, and from the proposed paths. It doesn’t look like there is very much room for the 3 switchback paths with safety rails, as well as the “extensive landscaping” promised by SALTA.

The source is  SALTA’s own paid report by Orbit (pp 43-44; Orbit outline, filled in with colour by contibutor). These drawings were used to show VCAT that the building at 647-649 would not visually impact the amenity of the river, because the buildings at 607-627 would substantially hide 647-649 from the western side.


Below is what we will all see from the Walmer Street Footbridge, again SALTA’s drawings filled in with colour by contributor.


Below are the buildings from both developments (from SJB Architects Design Response for The Park House, contributor’s outlines). It is possible to see the correct bulk of the buildings in relation to their surroundings in these drawings. Drawings of the proposed “Plaza” and paths have given the impression that Building 1 has a setback, due to the upper levels being shown in dashed lines. It is also possible to see the narrowness of Walmer Street, and the canyon effect created by the bulk of the buildings. The car tunnels are not shown in this drawing, and will take up over a third of Walmer Street.


(All drawings/photos publicly available)


This is what is happening to our river corridor. The amenity which was supposed to be available for all the people of Melbourne, present and future, is going to be irretrievably lost.



The Plaza that isn’t.

Now that we aren’t even pretending that Walmer Street will ever be a “Plaza”, and Council has resolved: 7). That Walmer Street is not described as a Plaza following redevelopment and should continue to be called Walmer Street to reflect its intended use as a thoroughfare,  doesn’t this mean that SALTA is already in breach of the agreement to provide a Plaza as part of the approval of “The Park House” development?

We note again that VCAT specifically excluded “Walmer Plaza” and carpark entry from their decision on Walmer House. The Tribunal stated that they “have no jurisdiction regarding issues affecting Walmer Plaza, and they do not form any part of the consideration of the proposal for 647-649.”

SALTA does not have approval for the carpark tunnels from VCAT. VCAT approved the development of Walmer House without access to the development’s proposed carpark.

The main reason for the tunnels is the access to Walmer House (647-649 Victoria Street). The tunnels are not required for access to The Park House (607-627 Victoria Street).

Minister Wynne could have required that SALTA maintain Walmer Street at level by requiring deeper tunnels. This would have been more difficult and expensive for the developer, but would have avoided the ridiculous situation which we now face, where Boroondara Council is preparing to reduce the dangerous slope of the footbridge approach on the Kew side, and SALTA will be increasing the slope of the footbridge approach on the Abbotsford side.

Why were these developments greenlighted with so little thought and care for the community? Do developer profits mean more than the future of the Main Yarra Trail and generations of Melbournians who will be using this crossing?

New council will be overseeing the future of the Yarra River

The Birrarung Council will include experts, stakeholder representatives and at least two members of the Wurundjeri Council, and will provide independent advice to the government in an attempt to ensure the community’s voice is heard.

The state government is introducing new legislation which aims to create tougher rules to limit overshadowing of the river and it’s banks, impose height restrictions and minimum setbacks for new developments.

Melbourne Water is to be the lead agency for developing and co-ordinating funding and establishing regular reporting on the environmental condition of the river.

Unfortunately we have already seen the spectacular failure of the draft form of this legislation with the Walmer House VCAT case (647-649 Victoria Street). The developer was able to sidestep every provision of the ESO1 and the DDO1, except for a mandatory setback which made little difference to the bulk and intrusiveness of the building. The LSIO (flood overlay) was also set aside. Height limits were ignored. Environmental effects were not taken into account by VCAT. Developers paid submissions were accepted without question.

Unless VCAT is removed from this process for any large development along the Yarra River Corridor, and Environmental Effects Statements Processes are made mandatory for every apartment development in the Yarra River Corridor, we will continue to see developers thumb their noses at the community and the environment.

Victorian Auditor General releases report on DELWP March 2017

Sheila Newman (Sheila’s comments and credentials appear below the links) emailed us notice of the release on 23rd March, 2017 of the Auditor General’s Report into the DELWP and three councils, the Cities of Whittlesea and Yarra, and Moorabool Shire Council.

The Auditor General found that there is limited assurance that planning decisions deliver the net community benefit and sustainable outcomes that they should.The Auditor General also found that the DELWP should strengthen accountability requirements for decisions by applying better-practice principles for discretionary decision-making and transparent public reporting, including publishing reasons for all planning decisions, and publishing advisory committee reports within three months of the committee handing its report to the Minister for Planning. The report found that the Environmental Effects Statements Process is particularly flawed.

Please at least watch the short video on the Environmental Effects Statements Process. It is likely that the two SALTA developments, and in fact all the developments along the Yarra Corridor should have been subject to this process. However the process is such an ineffective mess that developments which should be scrutinised almost never are.

Victorian Auditor-General’s report:
Managing Victoria’s Planning System for Land Use and Development March 2017 read 122 page report here:

Watch video here:


Effectiveness of the Environmental Effects Statement Process 22nd March 2017
read 64 page report here:

Watch video here

Shelia’s comments:
Vic Auditor General Report shows Vic Planning and Development is  reckless, incompetent; makes recommendations.
The Victorian Auditor General notes that Victoria’s population grew from 5.5 million in 2011 to about 6 million in 2016, and is expected to reach* 10 million* by 2051. That is in 34 years! Responding to this madness, the Auditor General has recommended the introduction of “a risk-based approach to development assessment processes and guidance materials, by developing clear, simple assessment pathways that ensure applications are progressed in a transparent way in proportion to the potential risk, impact and cost, and in accordance with community expectations reviewing efficiency indicators to support the application of a risk-based approach (see Section2.2.2); the strengthening of accountability requirements for decisions by applying better-practice principles for discretionary decision-making and transparent public reporting, including publishing reasons for all planning decisions, and publishing advisory committee reports within three months of the committee handing its report to the Minister for Planning (see Sections 4.2 and 4.3.1). It has also recommended working with councils to complete the performance measurement framework for the planning system so that it provides the relevant information and data at the state and local levels to assess the effectiveness of the planning system, measure the achievement of planning policies and support continuous improvement of the planning system through monitoring the effectiveness of reforms (see Section 5.2).”
Will this help Victorians and Australians to halt the environmentally dangerous and antisocial development push from growth lobby governments? This is an excellent and informative report that will be of use to anyone wanting to understand our current predicament and the relevant bits of the law. It includes the subject of loss of agricultural land and how so defined and a summary of the objectives of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, which  have an ironic flavour under the present Victorian regime.
Vic Auditor General scrutinises Vic Gov’s Environmental Effects Statements in property development  
Successive Victorian governments too closely aligned with property development and investment have inflicted continuous rapid population growth on Victorians. This has had a terrible effect on democratic rights to object and protect property and the environment, built and wild. It has seemed that no power could hold the government up to any effective  criticism. The Victorian Auditor General has tabled the following reports. We have included an extract from the report which shows a democratic deficit in the public review process. This report may be of use to population and environment activists and they should publicise it.”

Sheila Newman is an environmental sociologist and editor of articles on energy, population, land use planning and resources, and is co-editor of the book The Final Energy Crisis.  Sheila also runs the site