Bendigo Advertiser letters to the editor

Call for action about Aspire parking plans

We write on behalf of objectors to a planning application by the Catholic Diocese Sandhurst, known as “Aspire”, on land adjacent to the Sacred Heart Cathedral. The business case aims to attract an additional 40,000 visitors making a total of 140,000 visitors annually to the Cathedral precinct.  At first glance, sounds good.

However… with scrutiny the proposal is flawed and can only result in disappointed visitors and tourists who cannot park their vehicles nearby and disgruntled residents who are already furious their concerns have been disregarded.   Rightly, the original plan announced by Monsignor Marriott (2009), recognised the need for car and bus parking and suggested up to 300 parks. Later Aspire Chairman Gordon McKern spoke of on-site parking of 200. For local residents, fantastic. Council’s split vote approving the application waiving statutory requirements for 40 on-site car parks and the loss of 8 existing parks is bewildering. No provision for buses means they will continue to dangerously double park.  Allowing a liquor license until 3am as a first for this site and patron numbers increasing from 80 to 120 for the parish hall will surely have an adverse impact on liveability and amenity of the local area.  Much of this proposal is a commercial business and should be treated like any other business making a planning application. 

Congratulations to councillors Hoskin, Metcalf, Williams and Flack all voting against the application.  They displayed a real understanding of the diabolical parking and dangerous traffic issues in the precinct and beyond.  To the other councillors, so much for the championed, “we are here to listen and consult.” The outer ring of the CBD has developed into a giant car park, Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, caused by dubious planning decisions; allowing developers to dodge clear statutory requirements for on-site parking.  The council’s own 2036 Strategic Plan cites under Liveability: people feel they are listened to and have a sense of control over planning matters that affect them”.  The process associated with the Aspire development has been anything but that.  Astonishingly, councillor Fyffe moved a special agenda item for a trial period for timed parking in the Cathedral precinct.  What a farce.  We are not naive enough to miss the link between the objections to waiving the on-site parking obligations of the Aspire development and the sudden rush to trial timed parking bays. Council sat on their hands and now suddenly rush to cover their “you know what” after passing this planning application. A petition to council in August 2017, requesting “resident parking permits” as used extensively in Melbourne and larger cities around the world has been ignored.  Objectors requested council embark on a thorough assessment of issues in the precinct. Parking forms only one piece of a much larger body of work required to address traffic management and parking within, around and traversing through the area.  It cannot be done in isolation. Such assessment may have also been beneficial to the long term viability of Aspire.  Unfortunately the planning department of the city failed to rigorously and fairly assess this application against all planning criteria and in our opinion has produced an unbalanced report. If you live within blocks of the Cathedral, or for that matter in the outer ring of the CBD residential interface you should be most concerned.  Please do something before it is too late and our parking and traffic safety is also further compromised.

Max Turner, Wattle Street

Alan Ellis, MacKenzie Street. 

CONCERN: Max Turner and Alan Ellis are among the concerned residents.

CONCERN: Max Turner and Alan Ellis are among the concerned residents.