Fitzroy Residents’ Association

Annual General Meeting 2018

Martin Brennan, Chair

On behalf of the FRA Committee – Margaret Portelli, Secretary, Sue Wheatley, Treasurer. Mike Keats and Chris Hyrnevich I welcome you to the 49th AGM of the Fitzroy Residents’ Association. I also welcome Crs Danae Bosler, Amanda Stone, Jackie Fristacky, Judy Ryan, Reason Party, Jeremy Lawrence, Streets Alive, David Walmsley, Manager, City Strategy, City of Yarra, and Professor Michael Buxton, RMIT University.

I acknowledge that we are meeting on the lands of the Wurundjeri, and pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging and to Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be with us this evening.

As most will be aware the FRA was established in 1969 in response to the large-scale demolition of Fitzroy and North Fitzroy for redevelopment.  On the eve of our 50th year I recognise Louise Elliot who was the first FRA Secretary alongside Brian Howe our first Chair. There will be many stories to tell next year!

The objective of the FRA is to keep Fitzroy liveable for all. Our mission statement is to promote, protect and enhance residential amenity.

Tonight’s AGM program includes the formalities of an AGM together with 3 themes that will underpin our work in 2019, along with with our 50th year celebrations –

  • the impact of an expanding night time economy on residential amenity
  • Future Structure Plans for Brunswick & Smith streets
  • the protection of the heritage of our shopping strips into the future

Fitzroy is the epicentre of the night time economy in the City of Yarra – Smith, Brunswick, Johnston and Gertrude streets.

We are also the suburb that is experiencing a high growth in residential apartments in close proximity to the activity centres that are the collective spines of Fitzroy.

The impact of the night time economy is of concern to many residents.

The increasing number of bars and clubs and the expansion of existing establishments with additional patrons is affecting the well-being, safety and amenity of residents.

The late night / early morning trading together with a lack of diversity in our activity centres is threatening their vitality, safety and function.

In 2012 Yarra City Council investigated Yarra’s Night Time Economy in response to:

  • community concerns about alcohol misuse at night in public places; and
  • growing residential dwellings in, and nearby, activity centres and the expected increase in Yarra’s population of some 20,000 over the next 15 years.

In 2011/12 Yarra had the third highest alcohol-related ambulance attendances across metropolitan Melbourne. The peak times were between 10.00pm and 2.00am Friday and Saturday.

In June 2014, Council endorsed the Night Time Strategy with objectives and actions aimed at promoting the safety, vibrancy and functionality of Yarra’s night time entertainment precincts and activities.

Three objectives inform the strategy:

  • Safety – at night public spaces are well-kept and people behave respectfully;
  • Vibrancy – at night there are a range of people and ages, and a diversity of facilities and activities; and
  • Functionality – at night entertainment precincts accommodate people at peak times, attract people to walk, cycle or use public transport and have adequate public amenities and infrastructure.

An updated implementation plan in 2016 included new actions under the following strategies. Key among those adopted were –

  • proactively manage the safety and amenity of people’s experience of visiting night time entertainment precincts;
  • develop and enhance data, evidence, policies, and protocols;
  • support diversity in night time related activity and minimise impacts on residential amenity;
  • collaboratively work with key stakeholders to identify and implement initiatives that enhance and support the night time economy; and
  • improve decision-making, consistency and processes around liquor licensing referrals, planning applications and enforcement.

Underpinning the Night Time Economy Strategy are the Council Plan, the Health Plan. the Economic Development Strategy and the Yarra Planning Scheme.

One of the five priorities of the Council Plan is making Yarra more liveable.

As the Plan states “Much of Yarra’s significant residential development occurs close to or in Yarra’s entertainment precincts. This requires Council to appropriately manage the conflict between residential and other land users”.

The adoption of Amendment C209 into the Yarra Planning Scheme this year allows for licensed premises with a capacity of more than 200 patrons to be located in core entertainment precincts including Brunswick, Smith and Gertrude streets whilst aiming to ‘protect the amenity of nearby properties by effectively managing the location, size, operation and hours of licensed premises’.

We need joined up policies and practices!

So how effective has been the Night Time Economy Strategy in ensuring that the economy and residential amenity are not in conflict and that its objectives and the actions being implemented are working?

Recent economy driven planning decisions are of concern and include – the Provincial Hotel (roof top bar, 3am licence, 805 patrons) and Naked for Satan (extended roof top bar into a residential neighbourhood, 3am licence and 400 patrons). The Glamorama Bar (seeking roof top bar, 450 patrons with an existing 5am licence) and the Deluxe Bimbo Bar (roof top bar, 1am licence, with an existing 350 patrons) are under consideration

In conclusion there continues to be a heightened level of disquiet and uncertainty across our residential community given recent planning approvals and the decision-making of Council. The glue that holds the suburb’s economic, social and environmental bottom lines together is being weakened.

Growth is not good if it is not managed and there are indications that our planning regimes and related Council policies are not joined up and thus decision-making is fractured.