2022 candidate for City of Marion.
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. Community consultation should be paramount, especially when it can facilitate a greater active participation in projects by community members and groups. Ideally, planning and development should utilise local expertise and skills at every step of the process. Council should act as the means by which community interest and ability is connected to public developers, and to advocate for local needs.
What role should Councils play in protecting local heritage places from demolition or inappropriate development?
Councils should reevaluate their priorities regarding the use of council land and properties to place the long term quality of life of local residents and sustainability above short term gain - this includes protecting heritage. Councils should act primarily as a regulator, ensuring that all local development is held to rigorous standards, is sustainable in terms of the environment and population growth, is accessible for their diverse communities, and provides a net positive for locals' quality of life
How would you seek to improve protections for heritage places in your area?
The best practice to avoid the demolition and inappropriate development of heritage places is to restrict the sale or lease of council land and properties to private sector and out-of-council developers, and for council to instead focus on bids for development by local groups with the interests of the community in mind. The private sector simply cannot be trusted with heritage places as their profit motives are incongruent with the preservation of our heritage and sustainable development. Plus, once Council sells or leases land, the time and cost to retrieve it is prohibitive and Council thus is forced to accede and compromise with private developers even when doing so is in contradiction to the public will.
We rarely see new places added to local heritage listings. Why do you think this is?
I'm not privy to the exact mechanisms regarding the process of heritage listing, but I can speculate as to why new heritage listings are rare. I would think that the primary reason is that Councils/government/private owners are hesitant to bestow new heritage listings as they may limit their ability to utilise or market valuable land/properties. So many councils take a neo-liberal stance on government and seek only to reduce costs and rates and thus would have no real incentive to effectively 'reduce' council assets, let alone spend time and money to do so. Secondly, and similarly, Councils may be wary of oversaturating themselves with heritage listings, for similar reasons as above. Thirdly, I believe that Councils have failed to foster and support public interest in heritage on recent years, especially comparatively to the efforts to woo private and non-local investment. In terms of the benefits of new heritage listings, I can identify several major points; Firstly, it will offer increased protection and awareness to these places from potential demolition or destructive development, even if not full protection. Whatever bureaucracy that exists that deters sell-happy Councils from pursuing listings in the first place is better than no protection. Secondly, new listings can recognize the works of more modern architects, modern styles, and places relevant to modern history. Already so many wonderful 20th century buildings, even late 20th century, have been lost and unlisted due to their modernity, it would be a sorry situation for future generations to have an architectural gap between 1900 and 2050, say. Thirdly, new listings can better reflect the interests and perspectives of people today, and reflect what our modern and diverse culture considers relevant and worth preserving. There may well come or have been a point where an arguably more relevant structure has been lost in favour of another largely based on seniority and the interests of a now less relevant group well in the past.
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 would personally seek to limit greatly the ability for private developers to subdivide property, as subdivision has been the primary driver of development related issues in my area. I believe that subdivision is entirely counter to the interests of the community, and to sustainability in terms of population and density growth. Instead of subdividing land, and squeezing more people (renters, mostly) into poor quality and crampy housing, new development in our community should focus on consolidating property into larger lots, to facilitate the construction of medium density homes that can support a larger population with a higher quality of life. I would also like to see the rules around zoning changed. While I'm not explicitly familiar with the regulations in my local area, I know it's unfortunately quite common for mixed use zoning to be prohibited in suburban areas, and i think this should be reversed if the case in my area. Allowing commercial space and residential space to coexist in new development should be encouraged; there's no better way to reduce the very worst of our traffic than decentralizing business - less people trying to get to the same big hubs, and more people whose commute consists of going down the stairs from a 2° floor appartement to the store on the ground floor. To me, such development promotes a far higher quality of life than landlords subdividing, and would also preserve existing structures better.
What are the impacts of infill development in your area? What changes would you seek in the rules around infill development?
As above, I would like to see punitive disincentives applied to subdivision and incentives offered to construct medium density homes and mixed-zone buildings. Every time a house is knocked down in my neighbourhood, at least two (if not more) smaller and shoddier houses replace it. Medium density built to last would offer a far greater benefit to the community, in terms of efficient use of space (which would limit the need to demolish further), sustainability, and walkability.
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 believe that the best way to achieve sustainable growth in terms of urban development and density is to mandate greater minimum requirements in terms of living space, amenities, etc... for new builds. In this way, we can discourage private developers who are erecting swathes of substandard subdivision units for quick profits and reward both those who preserve existing long-term structures and also higher density residential builds (apartments, medium density housing) that facilitate a humane standard of living. I would support changes that create a new system of minimum standards that ensure new developments must at least match whatever their replacing in terms of quality of life for residents, including the cost of rent for residents.
How should the community be informed and involved in decisions about new developments?
I believe that the community should be involved at every step of the development process - including materially and physically. It should be clear to locals the effect their opinion and efforts have had on their community, and Council communication should show this clearly in a 'prompt -> action -> result' format.
Do you think there is adequate tree canopy across your local government area?
I believe my Council has been making good progress in improving coverage but there's certainly room for greater coverage.
How would you like to see significant and regulated trees in your area protected from removal?
Punitive fines for willful unauthorized removal would be a good start, but I can see perhaps people removing protected trees without knowing of their significance in some cases, so perhaps an easily accessible database of all such trees in an area could help as a quick reference.
What involvement should Councils have in decisions about protecting or removing significant and regulated trees?
All land leased from Council should include clauses in said leases that clearly establish the prevalence of Council's will over private will regarding the protection and removal of such trees, and in all cases it would be good for Council to confer with the community regarding relocating trees when necessary, including accepting bids from local groups and residents.
What actions would you advocate to slow or mitigate the impacts of climate change in your local government area?
The absolute most effective method to address climate change in my local government area would be to pivot hard towards supporting the primacy of pedestrian, cycle, and public transportation over cars. Not only should all new infrastructure development prioritise these methods of travel, but zoning and planing should seek to reduce the number of streets open to cars, should axe any minimum requirements for development pertaining to parking spaces (and replace them with transit/cycling space ones), better spread out zoning and services to maximize the walkability of our communities, and flat out prohibit new petrol stations. Electric cars are a half measure - too much pollution comes from tyre debris - and Council should not invest further into them, kicking the can down the road. Also, golf courses should be de-zoned, and turned into parks or used for infill development of walkable medium-density neighborhoods, just for good measure.
What issues are there with traffic and parking in your area?
If anything, in my area there is too much spaced allocated for parking when compared to how much is used frequently. I would attribute this to the relatively good access to public transport near me, and I would posit that a lot of space could be reclaimed from overly wide roads - there are some that could easily fit a decent sized block of land, or two subdivisions, and still have room for traffic. There are some high traffic intersections on main roads, which is fairly normal.
How could transport options be improved in your area?
In lieu of major public transportation expansion which would be under the purview of state and federal government, the best way to improve transport options would be as I have already mentioned - modifying zoning, limiting cars, and encouraging mixed use development that places pedestrian, cycle, and public transportation as the default mode for most local residents.
What would your top three priorities be for improving planning policy and outcomes in your local government area?
Restrictions on subdividing that encourage livable and mixed use medium density development
Encouraging a shift in infrastructure development away from car-centric to pedestrian, cycle, and public transportation-centric.
Overhauling the community consultation process so that the community is informed and offered the opportunity to participate at each step, including being involved physically, and to clearly communicate results and the decision making process.