The Age – Farrah Tomazin
The Yarra River will be subject to tougher planning controls and overseen by a new trust in the latest attempt to protect it from inappropriate development.
For the first time, the Melbourne waterway will be governed by a special Yarra River Protection Act, which the Andrews government hopes will curtail the encroachment of large-scale apartments and preserve vegetation and parkland.
The move comes amid ongoing concern from residents, environmentalists and community groups, who say existing planning rules haven’t done enough to stop the proliferation of tall buildings ruining amenity along the Yarra.
At present, planning is overseen by different councils and agencies, with guidelines that can easily be ignored or appealed by developers.
Now opposition leader, Mr Guy said: “Daniel Andrews is just re-announcing what the Coalition did two years ago with the strictest planning controls ever for the Yarra River. However, while it’s nice to see Daniel Andrews copying our protections for the Yarra River, he should also copy the other half of our policy which was to extend the same protections to the Maribyrnong River.”
Others, however, have embraced the government’s plans. City of Stonnington mayor Melina Sehr said her council had been consistently advocating for stronger controls along the Yarra River.
“You’ve just got to look at the level of development that’s occurred to date in the Stonnington section – especially from Punt Road up until Williams Road,” she said. “To date [there] have been these big square blocks that haven’t kept consistency and, more importantly, the height of them has blocked the heritage architecture behind it.”
Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly also welcomed the move, saying there had been many plans to protect the Yarra over the years, but some hadn’t been implemented, while others took effect only after large scale development had already been approved. He said the creation of a trust could preserve what was left, “so you’re shutting the gate before the horse has bolted”.