Inner East Review
Wednesday, 6 December 2023

Frustration over council neglect at Cremorne meeting

June 14 2022 - 5:00am
A tree set in concrete surrounds in a Cremorne "pocket park". Photo: Courtesy of The Cremunity.
A tree set in concrete surrounds in a Cremorne "pocket park". Photo: Courtesy of The Cremunity.

Frustration spilled over last week at a meeting in Cremorne convened to discuss planning and amenity in the tightly-packed, fast-developing suburb when Yarra City councillors had little to offer on progress.

Mayor Sophie Wade and all three Melba ward councillors attended the Tuesday night meeting organised by lobby group Cremorne Community Inc but were unable to provide details on an urban design framework the council is undertaking for the suburb.

Cremorne is being promoted as a major growth area by the state government, and under the Victorian Planning Authority's Cremorne Precinct Implementation Plan, Yarra council is required to carry out detailed planning work.

The councillors said the work was not progressing as quickly as they would like, and they had not yet been "fully briefed" on it, which they were as frustrated about as the residents.

Cr Wade said new Yarra CEO Sue Wilkinson, who is due to start on June 27, was a former planner who would be a "game changer" in terms of prioritising issues.

The general nature of the councillors' comments prompted frustration from some attendees, who said they were tired of talk about plans and improvements, which they had been hearing for many years.

With the "open slather" of recent development Cremorne had become "so full-on just everywhere that you cannot even function in your own neighborhood now," one attendee said.

Another, who had been writing to the council for 15 years since her youngest son was in prep, asking for a pedestrian crossing, described herself as "gobsmacked" that safety was not a top priority for the council.

Cremorne Community Inc last year painted two of its own pedestrian crossings in locations where the group felt they were needed, and the guerrilla action has resulted in a council promise of a new crossing outside the Seek building in Cremorne St.

The outcome was an underwhelming result, according to one meeting attendee, a Cremorne resident of 16 years.

"..[W]e're going to get one pedestrian crossing after 16 years - which is just applying paint on the road. I'm afraid I'm not impressed," he said.

"We look to you guys to resolve this because we figure you are the council, you have the power to do something. If this is incorrect, just let us know and then we'll stop hassling you about it."

We look to you guys to resolve this because we figure you are the council, you have the power to do something

A series of other residents raised issues negatively impacting them that resulted from poor planning or lack of attention to detail.

These included people getting blocked into their streets by simultaneous construction projects on surrounding streets, apartment developments with car lifts built on narrow streets with nowhere for cars to pull over and businesses' bins being left out for days to block footpaths because collection was on Monday mornings.

The results of an online survey Cremorne Community Inc carried out in May, receiving 122 responses, were reported by the group's president Gary Shadforth.

He identified the safety and walkability of the streets, the need for more green space and general attention and maintenance as respondents' top priorities.

Traffic bottlenecks, lack of parking, the phenomenon of back street "rat racing", a need for lighting, a desire to see "the greening up of the area", cynicism about "pocket parks" and a lack of access to the river were also discussed.

But the tone of the meeting was not all negative.

There was enthusiasm for ideas such as using the Kangan TAFE campus for community events.

Shadforth said he was pleased by the turnout of around two dozen people and the attendance and goodwill of the mayor and ward councillors.

He was hopeful the meeting had made a positive start towards addressing what was "a bit of a history of neglect" in the area.


Jenny Denton


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