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.

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