THE STORY SO FAR..
The proposal by VicTrack to develop the air space over Camberwell railway station came to light late in 2003. Council approached VicTrack indicating its concerns that the proposal for a multi-storey commercial/retail complex with large scale car parking on the site did not take into account the general amenity of the area nor the requirements of Melbourne 2030, namely, it did not contain a housing component and it should include a bus interchange. In December 2003 some local residents got wind of this, they letter-boxed the community, attracting Geoffrey Rush to their number. In January 2004 they organized a small protest meeting at Camberwell Railway Station which lead to the public protest meeting at the Camberwell Civic Centre. Over 500 attended and approved the formation of a community action group to oppose inappropriate development of the site, under the banner of “No Development”.
Very quickly they formed an incorporated association called Boroondara Residents Action Group - BRAG - and on May 2 organised a 2000 strong protest march up Burke Road to the Station, where they were addressed by Camberwell's famous actors Geoffrey Rush and Barry Humphries, among other community and resident action group representatives.
Council established a "Working Group" to develop an Urban Design Framework (UDF) for the station precinct. These meetings commenced in January 2004.At this time BRAG was campaigning under the banner of "no development", which was shorthand for "no inappropriate development" at the station of the kind being pursued by VicTrack. The Working Group considered three options:
- No development (option #1)
- Community proposal (option #2)
- Full Development (option #3)
In fact Option 2 was developed wholly within the Working Group and did not have the input of any external community stakeholders. It was subsequently not put forward for community consideration, with the Working Group in late August 2005 proposing options #1 and #3 for consideration by the community.
BRAG made a formal submission to Council, stating why it did not endorse option #1 as presented to the community and its opposition to option #3. In the absence of an acceptable option, BRAG developed a fresh proposal - Camberwell Station Square - and commissioned architectural designs and plans together with a full scale model of a community plaza on the car park site which included landscaping and a small single level structure for restaurant/community service outlets. Throughout the community consultation process, BRAG displayed its model at Pharmore’s Pharmacy in Burke Road and organised well-attended public information sessions.
60% of those who responded to the Council survey opted for the BRAG proposal whereas only 15% opted for option 3.By contrast, no other stakeholder engaged the local community or shared their proposals with it. VicTrack submitted an expanded development proposal to Council exactly one month late - after the community consultation period had ended.
Back in January 2004, the resident group contacted the National Trust asking for their help. The Trust was extremely supportive as they saw the Camberwell Station as historically significant and recommended it's inclusion on the State Heritage Register.In December 2004 BRAG, together with the National Trust, addressed the Registrations Committee of Heritage Victoria in support of the earlier application to include Camberwell station on the Victorian Heritage Register. In February 2005, the Registrations Committee overturned the earlier determination of the Executive Director and made a provisional determination pursuant to section 42(2) of the Heritage Act to include the station. The site including the embankment, platforms and buildings was protected but not the car-park.
After Minister Delahunty criticised the development proposal for not containing any housing, further palns were submitted for commercial/retail complex of nine storeys including 118 small apartments and eventually VCAT approved the plan but required a bigger setback of upper storeys from Burke Road and, in doing so, offered an extra storey by way of compensation for the consequent loss of space.
After considerable time passed with no work commenced, VICTRACK announced in 2012 that the project had been abandoned due to contractual difficulties with the developer.
The project was first under consideration in 1999 and finally abandoned in 2012. We believe that BRAG's efforts, supported by the residents, frustrated and delayed the project raising the developers holding costs. but VICTRACK announced that the public resistance had nothing to do with the decision. To accept this you would have to believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden
THERE’S MORE TO DO
So far BRAG has expended well over $15000 in carrying the fight to VICTRACK and the Government over this issue, raised from membership fees and donations. We cannot thank the Boroondara residents enough for their willing generosity. At the same time BRAG thanks all those who have contributed their valuable time and energy - everything from involvement in committee activities to delivering our notices and information letters, attending meetings and marching up Burke Road to a protest rally at the station.
But the battle is far from over for the developers continue to want to opperate in Boroondara and we need your continuing support thru donations and joining BRAG (if you’re not already a member).
BRAG will continue to play an active and constructive role to ensure that council, government and developers continue to hear - and pay heed to - the voices of residents and other community stakeholders who want to "protect what we love about our neighbourhood."
(Information Kindly Provided by Ann Reid, Malvern East Group)