Tag Archives: Placemaking

Traders seek a safer Macedon Square

IT HAS BEEN a long road for Manningham Council at Macedon Square following opposition from local traders around the proposed Streetscape Upgrade.
Following the initial release of concept designs in August 2020, the majority of traders in the Macedon Square precinct were opposed to Council’s concept designs.
An alternative “Option C” was put forward via petition to Council by Macedon Square Traders Association (MSTA), with current Association President and owner of Egons Bakery, Gary Cyganek, presenting as the spokesperson for the disgruntled traders.
At the September 2021 Ordinary Council meeting, councillors voted to pass that a “modified Option B” be taken forward, in line with the presented Officers’ Report.
With no acknowledgement of the petitioned Option C as having any influence on the, then, final decision, and analysis of the Officers’ Report indicating that of the 192 responses to the Macedon Square Streetscape Upgrade received, only 62 were in direct response to whether or not Option A or B was the preferred option, traders petitioning for Option C felt snubbed and have since expressed a lack of confidence in both Manningham Council as an organisation and Ward councillors Dierdre Diamante and Cr Stephen Mayne.
As we go to print, Manningham Council has arranged a set of community consultation meetings on the subject of Macedon Square, with the first meeting set for September 14 at the Manningham Uniting Church.
The M&N Bulletin understands that the first meeting is designed to address the breakdown in communication that has occurred and to re-establish trust before consultation continues on how to use the allotted $3.5 million to “upgrade” the shopping centre.
M&N Bulletin recently spoke with business owners at Macedon Square about the messy situation that has developed.
Macedon Square is a vibrant shopping centre; despite being sandwiched between an ALDI and a Woolworths Supermarket, the strip has retained many traditional local shops, such as a bakery, butchers, and green grocers.
The focus of the traders recently has been around the narrowing of Macedon Road to accommodate the additional car parking spaces needed to offset the removal of parking and the proposed installation of a park on one side of The Mall.
Mr Cyganek and Monika Simonetti are business owners in Macedon Square and represent the traders opposing the plans.
Ms Simonetti, whose shop is opposite where extra parking spaces would be created and, ultimately, the roadway narrowed, described the community of Macedon Square.

“There are a lot of shops here that want to be here forever; they are not just thinking about it as a transition, and they do care about the local community and how good we can do for them as well.
“You are always trying to improve and ensure the shoppers can be happy in the environment.”

She recounted numerous incidents and near-misses with cars trying to negotiate the car park at dusk or during busy periods.
She also said that the trial sitting area set up during the Coronavirus lockdowns was not well utilised and that the concept runs contrary to the current behaviour of the shopping centre visitors.

“[In summer] it was too hot, and in winter it would be way too cold.
“We’ve been here a long time.
“People just want to come in, do their shopping, and leave again.”

Mr Cyganek added that trying to make Macedon Square a “destination” place within Manningham — such as Warrandyte or Templestowe Village — runs against the nature of the shopping centre.

“People are never going to come to this place as a destination because it doesn’t have the architecture for it.
“It’s really a boring strip shopping centre, which needs to be functional.
“Get their goods, go to the post office, go to the newsagent, go to the chemist, get their stuff and then go back home.”

In reaction to Manningham Council’s inaction, Mr Cyganek and several other traders erected signage on their shops illustrating their grievance with Council.
Still, these signs — some of which have been described as confronting — are only one aspect of the situation.
The protest about the road narrowing and the re-shuffling of the car parks is easy to focus on, but to take the conversation forward, the Bulletin asked Mr Cyganek and Ms Simonetti what Council can do to update the centre and keep the traders happy.

“Pretty much everything except the roads and the park,” said Ms Simonetti.

Mr Cyganek added a general safety upgrade of the centre was desired, including resurfaced footpaths, better bollards to separate the pedestrians and shopfronts from the cars, a reassessment of the drainage, and the trees in the centre to combat slippery leaves and bird droppings,  stating many of the issues they are facing now are a result of what occurred during a centre upgrade in 1997.
While Mr Cyganek has support from many business owners, some business owners find his methods — the use of signage on shopfronts around the centre — provocative.
Kris Rowe, Proprietor of Helloworld Travel, spoke to us about her discomfort around Mr Cyganek’s use of large, confronting signs.

“He’s putting up ridiculous, intimidating signs — I don’t think that these signs are appropriate for a shopping centre.”

Ms Rowe told the Bulletin that there are safety and congestion issues within the shopping centre.

“Cars have been crashing into buildings here for years.
“The pathways and everything in this centre is incredibly dangerous.
“The [traffic] flow is terrible, they get caught up in the lights, and they will try and duck around [the car park] the wrong way, illegally, to get out.
“The pathways are falling to pieces, are dangerous for elderly people — this centre needs upgrading badly.
“We are happy to go back and plan, but the way it is now is not good, is not safe, and it is not practical.”

Despite their clash, both Mr Cyganek and Ms Rowe both express concern around business and visitor safety in the centre and that an upgrade is needed, but the needs of the shops in the centre vary greatly — while the bakers and fruit and veg shop will be looking at hundreds of transactions per day, other businesses like the barbers and travel agents may only need a dozen to have a good day.
The challenge for Council is to develop a design that meets the safety concerns without unfairly disadvantaging traders.
M&N Bulletin asked Manningham Council for an update on Macedon Square; Acting Director — City Planning and Community, Lee Robson, provided this statement.

“Manningham Council has received a significant amount of feedback about the concept plan for the Macedon Square.
We have clearly heard that there are concerns about issues such as traffic congestion, green space, footpath widths and the car parking layout.
There has been no further work on the design as it was recognised that we need to get more clarity on the needs of traders, community and Council before we proceed.
Even though Council has engaged with many people over many years in relation to this important amenity and safety upgrade, we have listened and recognise that there is benefit in more engagement on the current plan.
To make sure we provide a fair and transparent process for feedback, we have engaged an external third party to facilitate a series of meetings with traders and the community.
Our goal is to ensure that the traders and community have a say in the upgrade and, that we can collectively find a way to improve the safety and amenity of the area.
Council is open to revisiting elements of the concept plan to ensure it achieves a balanced outcome for all Macedon Square users.”

Anyone interested in attending is  encouraged to register at macedon-square-feedback.eventbrite.com.au or by phoning 9840 9416.

What is 21st Century Warrandyte

RECENT DISCUSSION in the pages of the Diary has focused attention on the question: What do we want Warrandyte to be?
That is, what do we want the physical character of Warrandyte to be?
Do we want to keep it as a low-density bushland suburb, semi-rural in parts, centred on the environment, the Yarra River, and its heritage connection to the gold rush days and local rock construction?
Or is this concept of Warrandyte one we should leave behind and face up to ever-spreading suburbia: growing population with more subdivision; grander houses; less open space; sacrificing the trees for more buildings; more concrete footpaths, curb and channel guttering – in other words, is it inevitable that Warrandyte should become more like a typical Melbourne suburb?
Or is there something in the middle?
What is your view of the future of Warrandyte?
The question isn’t just an abstract one.
It comes up when Council starts to address drainage, pedestrian safety, and road treatments.
It comes up when Council considers planning permits involving vegetation removal or what constitutes acceptable outbuildings associated with a dwelling.
It comes up in discussions about traffic flows and whether roads should be widened to accommodate more traffic to reduce traffic jams.
It comes up when landowners want to clear their block.

Recent example: Taroona Avenue

The proposal to build a shared pedestrian and bike path down Taroona Avenue sparked a strong reaction from residents over how tree removal, kerb and channel, removal of gravel shoulder used for parking and extensive underground drainage would impact the area’s visual amenity.
Council listened to community views, and we believe a less intrusive option that will still meet the needs of pedestrians and cyclists is under consideration.

Recent example: planning in North Warrandyte

As other suburbs become concrete jungles with hard surfaces covering every square metre with almost no vegetation, keeping Warrandyte as a bush and garden suburb requires a constant effort to maintain the planning regulations.
For example, a recent application in North Warrandyte’s low-density residential zone sought to expand the outbuildings and hard surfaces well beyond that which could reasonably be associated with domestic housing.
This application sought the removal of significant amounts of vegetation along with commercial-sized shedding on top of an existing double garage and large shed, which was also proposed to be expanded.
Applications like this are really commercial in scale, masquerading as domestic.
The more this type of development is allowed, the more the residential neighbourhood character is progressively destroyed.

Infrastructure core principles for Warrandyte

In discussions with Manningham Council officers, the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) has floated a number of proposals around the question of how infrastructure works should be approached in Warrandyte.
Proposals have covered topics such as: What core principles should govern infrastructure works in Warrandyte?
How can Council engage in community consultation at the earliest possible design development stage instead of at the end of the process?
Can Council adopt a process of context-sensitive design for infrastructure works and adopt design guidelines and design treatments sensitive to neighbourhood character, environmental concerns, and historical features?
Local conservation stonemason James Charlwood and bushland expert Glenn Jameson have proposed several core principles that could be considered foundational for infrastructure works around our town.
To summarise and inspire, WCA believe new infrastructure projects in Warrandyte should: recognise, protect, and emulate Warrandyte’s historic character protect indigenous vegetation, and new planting should attempt to emulate the natural ecology, recognise that Warrandyte is the premier riverfront township and should enhance water quality, protect the banks of the river and its tributaries, and support the principle that slow water is good water, facilitate pedestrian safety and enjoyment, reduce fire risk by managing moisture and vegetation to reduce fuel load and hazard, foster storm abatement by slowing and retaining water to reduce storm impact and, foster sustainability by using natural materials instead of concrete wherever possible.
Concrete is one of the main contributors to global warming. It damages topsoil, the most fertile layer of the earth, and it creates hard surfaces, leading to runoff that can cause soil erosion, water pollution and flooding.
Natural materials reduce our carbon footprint and are reusable.
James has researched replacement stone suitable for high-stress applications such as kerbs and gutters, which is geologically and visually compatible with local Warrandyte stone.
He has a deep understanding of design and specification for the use of stone in civic applications.
Other local professionals such as retired civil engineers Maurice Burley and Doug Seymour have developed ideas around a context-sensitive design process and infrastructure treatments that are alternatives to the standard “concrete everything approach” typical of suburban infrastructure.
These will be explored in future articles.
We will also cover issues related to the health of the Yarra and how drainage treatments impact the river, creeks, and the natural environment.

We are all in this together

Warrandyte is a connected community, and if we are going to lobby government at all levels to create a 21st Century Warrandyte that genuinely represents its community, then the people that make up that community need to share their views.
The ideas presented in this opening article are just one set of ideas; whether you agree or disagree or have an alternative concept for Warrandyte, you need to tell us – so that, as the Environment League did in the 70s and 80s, the community is bound by a set of ideals that say “this is my home”.
Please get in touch with WCA via their website and send your thoughts and ideas to: editor@warrandytediary.com.au.

Will Placemaking destroy Warrandyte’s spirit of place?

MANNINGHAM Council has been busy around Warrandyte.
Council appears to be busily adapting our environment to a new modern aesthetic.
They call it “Placemaking”.
A new park and playground at the bridge, a newly landscaped garden behind the community centre, a new barbeque area at Warrandyte Reserve, and they proudly claim that we now have every road paved and seem to be working towards having every footpath concreted.
Wonderful, you might say.
But did they ask us?
As part of the Manningham 2040 Strategy, the council did in fact ask, and the feedback it received, and has recently endorsed, was “the key priorities/concerns for Warrandyte Village were about maintaining Warrandyte’s character, keeping it green and improving connection to the Yarra River and along Yarra Street.”
Instead, Council has rolled out infrastructure “upgrades” and “masterplans” with breathtaking regularity, sometimes giving consultation short shrift.
Even before the community consultation is completed on the Taroona Avenue shared path, they have excavated a new spoon drain installed a culvert beside the small oval, and installed a concrete barbeque area on what was once a green lawn.
At the Community Centre, at least one established eucalypt tree has been removed above and beyond the masterplan.
The footpath at the bottom of Webb Street was meant to be just that, a paved path – however, they seem to have cheekily taken the opportunity to install curb and channel gutters alongside the new path – and have conveniently forgotten to apply the promised colour treatment that was meant to allow it to blend into the surrounding landscape.
Since the last edition of the Diary went to print, the cement trucks have rolled in across the township, and there have been massive concrete pours at the Community Centre, Warrandyte Reserve, Stiggants Reserve, and wonguim wilam.
As we discuss what we want Warrandyte to be in this edition, it seems “what we are” has already been changed.
The Wurundjeri speak of tika lara, Spirit of Place.
Warrandyte has always had a strong tika lara, but Manningham Council has come in with Placemaking as if we don’t already have one. We HAVE a place – we ARE a place.
Placemaking could be the word of 2022, a high-concept bureaucratic buzzword born out of the depressing realisation – during lockdown – that Melbourne’s inner-city suburbs did not have a sense of place – or a place to be.
But does that make it a good fit for us, and is it justification to tame our Wild Warrandyte?

For additional coverage of this issue, see pages 3-7 of the August 2022 Warrandyte Diary

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