City apartment boom dwarfs government projections

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There are 42 more buildings proposed for the CBD on the planning minister’s desk.Click through to our interactive

Melbourne’s residential apartment boom is set to leave the central business district, Southbank and Docklands flooded with dwellings far outweighing the requirements predicted by the state government.

A research project by RMIT over the past nine months has found there are about 85,000 apartments and new residences either built or in the pipeline in Melbourne’s central city area in the decade between 2011 and 2021.

The government’s own Victoria in Future study, released in May, shows about 43,000 new dwellings needed for the area over the period covered by the RMIT analysis.

However, Planning Minister Matthew Guy continues to sign off on skyscrapers in the city and at the new suburb of Fishermans Bend, and last week shrugged off concerns there was a looming oversupply problem for Melbourne.

On Sunday, his spokeswoman said: “Any suggestion the government has or will approve anything like 85,000 apartments in central Melbourne is utterly false and grossly misleading.”

The research by RMIT used data from Melbourne City Council’s development activity monitor. It included a range of completed projects, under construction, and those slated to be built but not yet begun throughout the CBD and surrounds, plus the fledgling suburb of Fishermans Bend.

Since coming to office in December 2010, Mr Guy has approved about 90 buildings in Melbourne’s central city area, recently telling a group of property lawyers it was the biggest building boom “since the gold rush”.

His predecessor as planning minister Justin Madden approved about a third as many buildings in four years in the job.

The research by RMIT’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies adds to warnings from the Reserve Bank last week – and from researchers including BIS Shrapnel and Moody’s Analytics – that there are too many apartments being built.

Moody’s warned in July of a “housing glut”.

RMIT planning expert Michael Buxton, who worked on the research, said Melburnians should be alarmed at the number of skyscrapers being approved.

“We are in the big league of high rise internationally – there are very few cities approving the scale of what we are,” he said.

He criticised the pace and secrecy with which Mr Guy was approving skyscrapers, saying so many so quickly was unprecedented. “This is a really irresponsible way of planning a city.”

Professor Buxton said the high-rise towers being built were creating wind and overshadowing problems, and were “among the world’s worst energy performers”.

The apartment construction boom has in part been driven by development money coming to Australia from south-east Asia since 2009.

Analyst Charter Keck Cramer found last year that international property developers in Melbourne’s central city area were expected to be involved in almost half of the CBD’s development by 2015 – up from 10 per cent in 2008.

Its report found Melbourne’s central city apartment market was “no longer acting as a traditional housing sub-market to service the basic accommodation needs to the city’s growing population”.

Instead, globalised investment into apartments was funnelling money into Melbourne, as it was into cities such as Toronto, London, New York, Hong Kong and Dubai.

Charter Keck Cramer director Robert Papaleo said apartments in Melbourne had become part of a global market, but that prices and rents would adjust to balance any serious oversupply.

Victorian Property Council executive director Jennifer Cunich said not all of the planning applications approved by Mr Guy would be built.

“If the developer decides there is no market there, I think it would be unlikely they would risk capital in doing that,” she said.

She said the high-rise boom was bringing life to the city centre. “If people are in the city, those services [health and education] will follow. If it’s managed well … you can get a very vibrant city.”

Ms Cunich said that, if rents did drop in the central city, “isn’t that a good outcome?”

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures last week showed Victoria’s population continued to grow dramatically, with almost 109,000 people moving to the state in the year to March.

Meanwhile, another planning academic warned both sides of politics had adopted a “big, shovel-ready projects” ideology, often ignoring what people needed.

“The high-rise building boom in Melbourne is another example of a big project that the state government can say it accomplished,” said Carolyn Whitzman, an urban planning professor at Melbourne University.

But it could only be accomplished by “ignoring any sense [of] what good planning is, through approving things with very shonky planning practice, by not really costing out the alternatives, not costing out the social consequences. But hey, it’s a big achievement and shows planning can do something in Victoria.”

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Firefighting authorities working together on planned burns

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CFA volunters from Sassafras, Selby and Dixons Creek take part in an exercise near Plenty Gorge.CFA volunteers will increasingly join fire crews from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries to conduct planned burns across Victoria, under a new partnership to be announced on Monday.

Under the partnership, which follows a pilot program involving more than 30 burns on public land over the past two years, the fire agencies will work together conducting burns on public land and private land.

Bushfire Response Minister Kim Wells said the new arrangement would cut the risk of bushfires across the state, as well as significantly improve co-ordination between the two firefighting authorities.

Historically, planned burns in Victoria on public land have been conducted by  DEPI crews, with only a limited involvement across Victoria from local CFA brigades. Mr Wells told Fairfax Media that while department crews conducted such burns, “at the same time, there were lots and lots of CFA trucks sitting in sheds, with [the department] trying to do everything”.

Mr Wells said that the new arrangements would give CFA crews a say in nominating which burns were prioritised, and that they could “actually take ownership of some of the planned burns”. He acknowledged that in some places, such as East Gippsland, CFA members had expressed frustration that some parts of the bush had not recently been treated by fuel reduction burning.

“The significant benefit of this will be of course that the relationship between the CFA and [the department] will be a lot closer, if they’re able to do planned burning in the cool seasons. Firstly, the personnel will get to know each other. They will get an understanding of what equipment each agency has, and there’s obviously the issue of communications – which they’ll work on,” he said.

“Strengthening CFA’s partnership with [the department] will provide firefighters with invaluable on-the-ground experience, and training and mentoring from experienced firefighters in a controlled, but real-life environment,” he said.

Asked whether the partnership was about saving money, Mr Wells strongly denied this: “Absolutely not. This is about improving the working relationship between CFA and [the department]. It’s about better use of equipment by both agencies, it’s about the ability to be able to train new CFA volunteers in real, live situations and for me it’s also about the ownership of planned burning around country towns.”

Chief Officer of the CFA, Euan Ferguson, said the trial had been a success. “We’ve had a fantastic reaction from both the [the department] and CFA brigades. I think through the trial we’ve realised that there is an untapped capability within CFA and many brigades are wanting to undertake more burning on public land. The other thing is that because we work together an awful lot, the process of both planning and conducting planned burns, it improves the relationships, it builds forest firefighting skills in the CFA members … it adds to the inter-operability between CFA and [the department], ” he said.

To illustrate the increase in joint operations between the fire agencies, Mr Ferguson said that in 2011-12 CFA crews were involved in 326 planned burns across Victoria over 3960 hectares. In 2012-13 this jumped to 763 planned burns and 5255 hectares. In addition, far more CFA brigades became involved in the burns.

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, conducted after the devastating Black Saturday bushfires, which claimed 173 lives, urged the state to significantly increase the amount of planned burning done across Victoria via an annual rolling target of at least 5 per cent of the state’s public land.

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Drinking session turns ugly for pair

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GRAND final celebrations went a bit too far for two Albury men who started fighting outside the Star Hotel on Saturday.

The men became involved in a verbal disagreement inside the venue and became aggressive after they were asked to leave.

Co-owner of the Star Hotel Andy Newton said he believed the men had been drinking elsewhere during the day.

“It’s a difficult day because a lot of people are drinking all day and you try to be as careful as you can screening them but one slipped through and they are the ones who spoilt things for everyone else,” he said.

The men were quickly identified as being intoxicated after their arrival and were ejected from the Albury venue about 8pm.

Mr Newton said the fight moved 100 metres down Guinea Street towards Albury High School.

“They made a fuss about being asked to leave and wanted to get back in but weren’t allowed so they started fighting among themselves,” Mr Newton said.

“The thing that started to worry me was when neighbours came out on the street to see what the problem was, so when they got involved we knew we had to get them to move on as quickly as possible.”

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Hard work pays off as building opens

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Barnawartha Trust president Kevin Williams, member for Benambra Bill Tilley and Indigo mayor Bernard Gaffney at the official opening of the multi-purpose recreational building. Picture: TARA GOONAN

MORE than 10 years of planning and hard work has paid off for Barnawartha with the official opening of a new multipurpose recreation building yesterday.

The $1.3million project was first discussed in 2002 and, after years of setbacks and funding issues, it was finished this year.

President of the Barnawartha Trust Kevin Williams said that although today marked the official opening, the building at the Barnawartha Recreation Reserve had been in use for six months.

“Everyone loves it,” he said.

“The old building that used to be here the roof was falling in, we couldn’t have any functions so you’d have to hire to hall or go to the pub, but now we can have heaps of functions here, it will be fantastic.

“It’s somewhere for the community to come and they are really excited about the prospect of having doctors here, even if it is just one day a week to start out.”

The building includes function and meeting rooms, a combined kitchen and canteen, three medical consulting rooms, a waiting room and foyer, a player change room, a golf club meeting room, shared-use internal toilets and space for new public toilets in the future.

The Victorian government contributed $720,000 towards the building, which was opened by Benambra MP Bill Tilley.

“This is a great day of celebration to formally open the building,” he said.

“There is a really strong vibrant community here and it’s terrific how they have pulled together and what’s come out of it of the back of many years of patiently waiting.”

Indigo Council injected $500,000 into the project and the community also chipped in $50,000 from various groups.

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Campaign ‘did not push vote shifting’

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Cathy McGowan the day she was declared the winner in Indi. Media adviser Cambell Klose, right, looks on. Picture: JOHN RUSSELLKEY members of the Cathy McGowan campaign have denied any wrongdoing following accusations that some of the independent MP’s young supporters engaged in electoral fraud.

Instead, they say it raises questions for the Australian Electoral Commission regarding the advice it gives to young rural and regional people about where they should register to vote.

Alana Johnson, president of the grassroots movement Voice 4 Indi, and Ms McGowan’s campaign media adviser Cambell Klose said while urging young people to enrol was encouraged, electoral fraud in any form was “absolutely not”.

“V4I was very keen on encouraging young people to enrol and vote, and we’ll be doing the same in the state election,” Ms Johnson said.

“We want them enrolled, engaged and voting regardless of who they vote for, but they need to be clear in their own minds where the best place for them to be enrolled is.

“I’m certainly not aware of anyone engaging in any specific conversations about where they should enrol … If Indi was their base electorate, if Indi is where they consider home then how wonderful they came back to do that.”

The Australian Electoral Commission advises that students can remain registered at their home address; however is unclear how it will interpret a situation where a student changes enrolment back to Indi after having been registered elsewhere, as is alleged.

Ms Johnson said it was something that likely affected many regional seats and should be cleared up.

Mr Klose agreed, saying when he was a university student he kept his details at his parents’ as he frequently moved.

Mr Klose was one of the high-profile “Indi Expats” — a group of young people who grew up in the region and returned to work on Ms McGowan’s campaign — and insisted volunteers “never explicitly or implicitly” encouraged young people from outside the electorate to enrol in Indi.

“We encouraged young people up there to enrol to vote and we definitely ran a strong camapign for that,” he said.

“We were telling young people in the electorate to sign up to vote, regardless of who they voted for, and there were a lot of year 12 students involved.

“But we never encouraged people from elsewhere to … I am completely comfortable we did the right thing.”

Mr Klose had been living in Melbourne when he returned to Indi — “it’s where my heart and soul is”, he said — in June last year to work on Ms McGowan’s campaign, and then changed his electoral details to vote in Indi.

He said he lived in the region full-time and had rented out his room in Melbourne so “to that extent I didn’t have an address in Melbourne”, and moved back to the city at the end of December.

It has been reported that several voters changed their addresses after an April meeting of the “expats” in Melbourne.

Mr Klose said they met each week from February to June to discuss campaign strategy.

“These meetings were not a rarity,” he said.

“But no, there was never a meeting where we specifically encouraged people to change their address to Indi.”

Ms Johnson said honesty and trust were hallmarks of the V4I campaign.

“It doesn’t have any implications for Cathy or the campaign because her campaign didn’t encourage or would have condoned any behaviour like that,” she said.

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Tipping cannon ‘dangerous’ act

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Vandals tipped this World War II cannon at the front of Wodonga RSL Club on its nose on Friday night. Picture: PAUL MARSHALLVANDALS who tipped a World War II cannon on its nose could have caused serious damage or even injured themselves, an RSL staff member says.

The incident out the front of the Wodonga RSL Club, across from Quest Wodonga, happened some time on Friday night.

A crane was needed to lift the piece of war history back in place on Saturday.

RSL club bar manager Trevor Baker said it was a dangerous and disrespectful act.

“Not only is it disrespectful, but it could have been very dangerous as it weighs in excess of three tonnes,” he said.

“If it hadn’t got bogged on its nose, it could have rolled and done some extensive damage.

“There’s a brand new facility across the road and it could have rolled into that or a parked car.

“It could have even flung up and hit the people trying to move it.”

Mr Baker said it would have taken more than six people to tip it.

“We have never been the target of vandals or thieves before — this is unacceptable,” he said.

“We have worked hard to renovate this place and make it nice for those who come here.

“The last thing we need is vandals coming by.”

The Reid Street building became an RSL sub-branch in 1981.

The cannon has been out the front of the club for the past 20 years.

Police are not investigating the matter.

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Gayle’s marathon effort for headspace

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Gayle Dawes is running a half-marathon in Melbourne to raise money for headspace. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSONTHE Border’s soon-to-open headspace holds a special place in the heart of an Albury disability support worker.

Gayle Dawes and staff at the Mercy Centre are still coming to terms with the death of a colleague who took his own life in April.

It has prompted Mrs Dawes to run a half-marathon in Melbourne on October 12 to raise money for headspace, a mental health centre for young people.

“It hit us all pretty hard,” she said.

“I wanted to do something after attending the Survivors of Suicide event in Wodonga earlier this year.”

Mrs Dawes said at the moment the Border did not have enough facilities around mental health.

“We need something in place for our youth and this new centre will capture that age group,” she said.

Border triathlete Jesse Featonby has been coaching Mrs Dawes, whose training each week includes five runs, two swims, a pilates class and two bike rides.

The 21.2-kilometre event is part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival.

Donations can be made online at run.gofundraise老域名.au/page/DawesG or by phoning 0488 095 257.

For help: Lifeline, 13 11 14.

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RSL vandals just stupid

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BRAVO to the “strongmen” who tipped over the World War II cannon outside the Wodonga RSL at the weekend — you really have proven yourselves.

Proven yourselves stupid, that is.

The cannon has held pride of place outside the Reid Street building for the past 20 years, a solemn reminder of our soldiers’ sacrifices.

RSL club bar manager Trevor Baker slammed it as a dangerous and disrespectful act, and he’s right.

And that’s aside from the injuries the culprits could have caused others or themselves, or the damage to the cannon or buildings.

All of our city’s buildings and property should be treated as you would want someone to treat your own home — with respect. But sometimes, there are incidents that particularly hurt those affected and this is one of them.

By all means, go out and have fun but please, use a little intelligence.

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Quarry will ruin our life, claims family

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Sandra and Ross Klippel, with their children Nate, 5, Milanni, 6, and Chad, 7, standing near the road at the gate to their property that the trucks will be using to access the quarry. The quarry is proposed near the top of the hill behind them. Picture: KYLIE ESLER- Council meeting is last hope

A DECADE of searching landed the Klippel family their perfect property, but their dreams may soon turn to dust if a quarry proposal goes ahead.

The family invested everything in their block of land on Hardys Road, Tallangatta.

Their settlement went through just three months ago and they had planned to start building next year.

But their excitement turned to devastation when they realised Hurst Earthmoving was proposing a quarry 1.5kilometres from their future home and in the direct line of sight from what would be their living room window.

Sandra Klippel said health and safety are the main concerns of more than 20 residents who have sent objections to the council.

“We finally decided on Tallangatta and settled our kids into school here.

“We are in love with the school and the town and this quarry would ruin it all for us.”

“We wanted to move out there so our kids could ride to the bus stop and at their mate’s house but we can’t let them do that with trucks around.

“If we wanted to sell, our land wouldn’t be worth what we paid for it and if the land is worth nothing, we’ve got nothing.”

Sandra’s son Nate, 5, has asthma and she is worried the dust from the quarry and trucks would affect his breathing.

There is also concern that drinking water will become contaminated with dirt given that families rely solely on tank water.

Sandra said traffic dangers, noise and road conditions were also a common point of opposition in the community.

“There’s a preconception around Tallangatta that it will create jobs but it won’t,” she said.

“There will only be a maximum of four people on site at any one time and that includes drivers.

“The condition of the road is not suitable for trucks, it is a very narrow road with an old run- down cattle grid on it.”

Application manager from Blueprint Planning James Laycock said the quarry would be used to extract rock and gravel and road issues would be dealt with.

“At some points along Hardys Road the constructed road formation is narrow, however, this is not unlike a lot of other rural roads.

“It is understood that Towong Shire Council will be requiring certain works to Hardys Road as a part of the approval process.”

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Driver killed after broken-down truck stops on freeway

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Driver killed after broken-down truck stops on freeway Crews spent much of Saturday morning clearing the crash site where two heavy vehicles crashed. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Crews spent much of Saturday morning clearing the crash site where two heavy vehicles crashed. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Crews spent much of Saturday morning clearing the crash site where two heavy vehicles crashed. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Crews spent much of Saturday morning clearing the crash site where two heavy vehicles crashed. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Crews spent much of Saturday morning clearing the crash site where two heavy vehicles crashed. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Crews spent much of Saturday morning clearing the crash site where two heavy vehicles crashed. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Crews spent much of Saturday morning clearing the crash site where two heavy vehicles crashed. Picture: TARA GOONAN

TweetFacebookThe Border Mail’s website yesterday to leave their tributes.

“You will be forever in our hearts and not a day will ever pass without you in my thoughts,” wrote one.

“RIP to a true family man and a forever mate to us all,” said another.

The tanker’s driver was not in the vehicle at the time and suffered no injuries.

The Hume Freeway near Woomargama was closed northbound almost all day Saturday as salvage crews cleared the site from the crash and fire; the truck had been carrying a cargo of magazines.

Northbound traffic was diverted.

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