2022 candidate for Mid Murray Council.
Heritage survey responses.
Do you think that Councils and community members need to have a greater voice in planning and development decisions affecting their local area?
Yes. Currently there is a change of land use going on at Blanchetown. From Community use to Transport and Infrastructure. I have not been able to find out who is driving that. Could it be a fuel company wanting to build a petrol station? Could it be worker's accomodation? There is a whole lot of guesswork as to the purpose, and how am I meant to give feedback if I do not know what the purpose is for. My feedback to the establishment of social housing would be different than for another petrol station.
What role should Councils play in protecting local heritage places from demolition or inappropriate development?
Some heritage areas are run down, unusable, block future development, take Council resources to maintain/insure. For example, the Morgan Institute, unusable because of the current condition of its toilets. So it gets used as a very expensive storage shed. That Council has to maintain and insure. I would rather the Morgan Institute be put out for sale, not for demolition but for repurposing. Anyone who spends the money to buy it from Council will have shown their willingness to invest by default. The Morgan Jetty is dilapidated and dangerous and I do understand the attraction, it is like looking at the ruins of the Acropolis. I wonder at the stories of all those that came before. The PS Canally is an ongoing repair job. There will be no financial reward from this investment, but the work is worthy in its own right. (shipwright) :) So there is evidence from my town that Mid Murray Council has a role that they are resourcing. I think that perhaps some thought needs to put into that strategy. And a lot of discussion. I don't have any better answers, but I think we could find some.
How would you seek to improve protections for heritage places in your area?
I think of our heritage as short term. A 100 years ago the world was completely different, in a 100 more it will be again. So to think of trying to protect heritage places requires more than just building fortifications against the juggernaut of time. We need to flex with the changes we want to see and those imposed on us. Morgan has a signposted walking trail through the town. This is used. The more people using the trail the people that would support what Morgan has to offer. In a way this offers protection to the heritage of the town, by informing people of our heritage. There are some improvements that could help. Shaded benches, mostly. And perhaps a survey of people with the signposts outside their buildings asking if they could be better. So, information is the best protection.
We rarely see new places added to local heritage listings. Why do you think this is?
I see a place for sale privately in Morgan, the rumour is that it is old and heritage listed. Therefore lack of interest because people jump to the conclusion that council staff, heritage staff, and people from other government bodies would intervene on any changes. There is not a building currently in Morgan that I would consider worth listing. Benefits to heritage listing are two fold. Telling the story, and keeping the functionality. If the building is unused, then I struggle to see why to list it. Because the community shows their lack of interest by not being involved.
How has the Planning and Design Code impacted on the heritage, amenity, and environment of your area? What changes would you seek to the Code?
I am not terribly familiar with what I think is the simplification of the code. Changes to Rural Living effect the blocks around Morgan. I would like along with simplification some acceleration of processes. I'm told stories of people waiting months for planning approval. Which goes a long way to explaining all the undocumented dwellings out in rural areas. Mid Murray Council is hiring a Compliance Officer to chase up some 198 issues. Which will give them a full time job and I am not sure will resolve the issues. I am told of some better off ratepayers who pay fines without qualms, and carry on. So unmonitored, and unchecked, development does lead to what can be described as DIY scrap metal yards.
What are the impacts of infill development in your area? What changes would you seek in the rules around infill development?
None. Morgan has had no land development, as in housing, since the 1980s. If you drive around Morgan you will see empty houses that look uninhabitable. Would redressing this waste of space be a good idea? Absolutely.
Construction of new housing typically uses 30% labour and 70% materials. Renovation of existing housing stock typically uses 70% labour and 30% materials. What policy changes would you like to see made to encourage people to renovate, rather than demolish and build anew?
I want a rate mechanism for untenanted houses. There is something like 35% house vacancy in Mid Murray Council. If a house has been renovated in the last 2 years, normal rates. If the house has been left untenanted for 6 months, then double rates. Double if no recent renovations too.
How should the community be informed and involved in decisions about new developments?
Less coy wordsmithing. It was very difficult to get anyone from Mid Murray Council to tell me why the valuable land at Blanchetown was being repurposed. The land is valuable because the petrol station over the road turns over $6 mill a year. I worry Council will be too generous with the lease to whomever they are talking with, but not telling us about.
Do you think there is adequate tree canopy across your local government area?
Nope. I love trees. I want hundreds more around the outskirts of Morgan, at least.
How would you like to see significant and regulated trees in your area protected from removal?
I am not too worried about significant and regulated trees, I think it is slightly arrogant to pick and choose which trees should live where, when we have changed the whole environment. I just want more trees. Doesn't matter if Jacaranda or Pepper Tree, or the officially approved one that used to live here. More trees, that is all.
What involvement should Councils have in decisions about protecting or removing significant and regulated trees?
I have seen how this goes before. Someone wants a tree down, council intervenes to save the heritage tree. Two years later the tree is dead, and then has to be cut down as it is a hazard. It is very difficult to police this. I would prefer perhaps the group wanting the tree down, donate to someone like LandCare, or to Council on their behalf. Or to a local group who plants trees. Say a donation worth enough to plant 100 trees.
What actions would you advocate to slow or mitigate the impacts of climate change in your local government area?
The evidence has been in for years, climate change is exacerbated by human activity. We need to move away from fossil fuels much faster than we are now. So recharging stations in regional areas. Tons of them. Get rid of that range anxiety that some like to spruik.
What issues are there with traffic and parking in your area?
Morgan is a very quiet town. We have further development on the way soon, with 176 worker accommodation units being built. That's going to mean many more cars. For one example, driving down to the pubs. Yet in Morgan we have no Uber, and no Taxi. We need them.
How could transport options be improved in your area?
I asked Premier busliners to go through Morgan but they refused, they said they had tried years ago, but the business wasn't there. We need to ask them again, and other bus companies, because we are going to get workers for 2 solar farms and the interconnecter at least here in Morgan. And we should set up an Uber or taxi.
What would your top three priorities be for improving planning policy and outcomes in your local government area?
Ratepayers who are stayers. Restrategise to achieve this.
Housing development. Towns die if you don't let people live in them.
Energy. Not just for EV cars, but for WiFi laptops and phones. Recharge and work everywhere.