Preserving historical buildings like Newport Masonic Temple.

There’s a new application to demolish the historic Newport Masonic Temple.  What can you do to stop this?

The Newport Masonic Temple No. 5925 is listed as of local historic, social and aesthetic significance in the Council’s planning scheme and we’re duty-bound to do all we can to save it. I’d hate it to see it go the way of the 1850s Oriental Hotel in Nelson Place.

The owners of this significant 1920s building are having a second stab at getting approval for housing here.

The original application came before Council about four years ago. The application was refused (by council’s special planning committee on the basis they just wanted to keep the facade; after it drew many residents’ objections). The decision was upheld at VCAT.

There is nothing to stop the applicants re-applying. The application will be advertised, assessed on its merits by the planning staff and proceed from there. If the planner recommends approval and there are eight or more individual objections, it triggers a hearing by the Special Planning Committee (comprising of three Councillors, with a rotating chair and with full delegated powers).  Here is a link to the current application on Council’s Greenlight.  You can put in an objection online.


Condition of roads and lanes.


More money seems to be spent on roads and footpaths in certain parts of the city. What can you do to fix this?

I can understand how people from the different areas of Hobsons Bay, feel that they’re not getting their fair share of funding. In fact, there’s a systematic way and (I believe) a fair one, in which funding for roads and lanes across the city is determined. This fairness listing applies to everything: from car parks, to sports facilities, to roads, to footpaths, and —the bane of our older suburbs —back lanes.

Councillors have their say when the draft lists come before them, usually at budget time when the capital works program is agreed — this is done across five years. The list goes out for public consultation and the final list is adopted on annual budget night.

Read more about HBCC capital works here.

Western Distributor


Will this project really mean removing trucks from our suburbs?   What’s the Council doing to get the best design for Hobsons Bay? 

In April Transurban released concept plans for the Western Distributor Project showing widening of the West Gate Freeway and options for a long and short tunnel to Yarraville and ramps to Hyde Street, Yarraville. The $5b plus project will have ramifications across our City, but will have particular impact on residents closest to the freeway like South Kingsville and Spotswood.

After a slow start, the Council has taken a strong stand on behalf of residents.     The Council’s official position, adopted an after extensive feedback and consultation with residents, business owners and community members was endorsed at a Council meeting in late August.   View and download the adopted position and recommendations, including the principles, objectives and performance measures. 

I’ve done my best to keep people updated on both Council’s and my own position.  With my ward colleague Peter Hemphill, I’ve distributed a number of newsletters over recent weeks.

I want to stand with community groups such as the well-organised Spotswood South Kingsville Residents Group who have mobilised so effectively and so quickly, to lobby against aspects of the ‘Preference Design’.

The current design raises a number of potential traffic problems. In particular, the  traffic lights planned for the intersection of the on and off ramps onto Hyde St/Douglas Pde, have the potential to cause unnecessary delays. Like the Best West group, Council supports a modified option #2, which would site both on and off ramps to Hyde Street north of the freeway. The current design proposes a ramp either side, bringing the southern ramp too close to Spotswood’s McLean Reserve, the kindergarten and housing.

I’m speaking at the Spotswood Best Group’s candidates forum tomorrow night, where I will talk more on my position on Western Distributor.  I will have more to say on my WD views after that.

I encourage to visit the council’s dedicated WD page for more on what Council is doing to lobby hard on your behalf.




Development pressures.


Why are there so many new multi-storey housing blocks built. What’s the Council doing to protect local residents and their amenities?

We do seem to be inundated with big housing developments in our ward, especially in the Newport, Spotswood and South Kingsville area.

Overall city planning is done by the Council’s strategic planning; enabling proper, integrated sustainable planning across Hobsons Bay.    Inner cities like ours are expected to allow denser housing, especially along rail and main roads corridors. This push is overseen by the Government’s new, powerful Victorian Planning Authority. Council decisions can ultimately be overruled by VCAT, as many of you would know, but there’s hope ahead. We are in the late stages of adopting new residential zones which will give greater certainty as to where, what and how high new infrastructure can be built.

All plans must comply with strict planning codes, ultimately dictated by state government and incorporated in the city’s Planning Scheme.

The ‘Aldi’ site in McLister St, the former Caltex site on Blackshaws Rd and the massive Dons Smallgoods housing project are some examples of major residential developments coming on stream.    Earlier this year I published a newsletter updating residents on the status of these  key housing developments.



Parking and Traffic Management


Dons Smallgoods site

On Blackshaws Road in Altona North, there is an industrial site known as the Dons Smallgoods site, for which an application has been lodged for a huge residential development. The site is on the north side of Blackshaws Road, between Kyle Road and New Street, and it backs on to the Westgate Freeway.

We understand there will be about 3000 housing units in this development, although the developers have not given exact numbers to date. So that probably means about an extra 4000 to 6000 cars coming and going from this site. We think this will cause further blockages on Melbourne Road and Millers Road in peak hour traffic. It also potentially means more cars parking near the Spotswood Station, which is also reaching capacity.

The Council has been arguing for sports fields, such as football ovals, soccer pitches and basketball/netball courts in this development to give kids spaces to be active. For too long, big housing developments ignore these basic needs. A kindergarten and day care centre will also be needed.


There are too many trucks using Blackshaws Road and it will only get worse when the Dons Smallgoods site is developed.
What action is the Council taking to provide better traffic management solutions?

Combined with the Western Distributor project, the Dons Smallgoods housing estate will have a huge impact on traffic flows in the area. The Government has sent the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) out to speed up this development. We have told them we want tunnels under the Westgate Freeway linking Kyle Road and New Street to streets on the north side of the freeway. That will provide some “relief valves” for traffic merely wanting to go north, rather than further clogging Melbourne Road or Millers Road.

We urge you to support this proposal and let the Government know this needs to be sorted out before the developers submit a detailed plan for the site. Let the MPA know a solution for traffic is needed NOW. The developers will potentially block out this proposal unless action is taken soon.


Level crossing removals

Three local level crossings, at Aviation Road, Kororoit Creek Road near Mobil, and Ferguson St Williamstown North station have been listed for removal by the State’s Level Crossing Authority.  Ferguson St is scheduled to begin in 2019.   Tenders for Kororoit Creek Road have been called and the design includes partial duplication of the Altona line.

The council has adopted a set of principles which advocates sensible designs for any crossing removals and they will form the basis of our lobbying and advocacy.   I don’t necessarily oppose removal of the Ferguson St crossing but not at any cost.  And not if it means we get an overpass like the one that has badly divided Newport CBD.  Nor would I support grade separation if it means shifting the historic railway station.   Surely, in this high tech era, we can find an engineering solution that restores the underpass that provided a safe crossing for school-children and rail commuters?  Whatever the result it is imperative we are properly consulted before a final decision is made

I’d like to think that the principles allow the council to advocate for a sensible solution.   I believe a good way forward is for the new council to convene a public forum with representatives from the Crossing Authority, Council’s in-house traffic experts including our Integrated Transport planner and executives from Rail, so we can get all the facts on the table and inform the public properly and truthfully. This should be done ASAP in the new council term.