Letter to Planning Minister

Dear Minister Kilkenny

Cremorne Community Inc (CCI) is an incorporated association formed in the wake of a booming of commercial developments, and as a response, we want to collaborate to create a sustainable, vibrant precinct that is respectful of its past while embracing its future.
CCI would like to connect with you to address the planning around Cremorne in the City of Yarra. We are particularly keen that you and your department consent to proposed planning amendment C317yara, to ensure that this special part of Melbourne can be an exemplary place to live and work.
To further take advantage of Cremorne’s distinctive character, we would urge you to consider changing the commercial areas of Cremorne to the Commercial 3 Zone (C3Z). This would allow a best-practice mixed-use zone, with more residents available as patrons to support local traders during evenings and weekends. It also provides flexibility for business owners to be able to live where they work.
At this moment, the streets of Cremorne feel like a war zone. Ongoing constructions, at various stages of completion, along with water/power/telecommunications utilities tearing up the narrow one-way streets, are drastically reinventing the suburb. In the meantime, thoughtful planning and consideration for the future of Cremorne is potentially being allowed to drift. We fear that the very nature of what is special and attractive in Cremorne’s streets is allowed to be destroyed by those who were drawn to it in the first place.

We are currently seeing a continuing succession of large multi-storey (up to 13 storey) commercial office projects that sit among a fine grain street configuration consisting of an eclectic mix of small businesses and residential cottages. Many of these projects abut significant pockets of residential zones within Cremorne. While business investment in this little suburb is not necessarily a bad thing, we have a fear that there is a lack of control that will lead to bad developments, clogged non-functioning streets, lack of space and light, and a resulting soulless and intimidating living and working environment. The experience of how Docklands was developed is an example of what we would seek to avoid.
Back in 2020 the State Government launched the Cremorne Place Implementation Plan (CPIP), which sought to guide Cremorne as a ‘global innovation and technology precinct’. As it describes itself: “The plan sets a long term vision for Cremorne as a global innovation precinct with a vibrant village feel. It provides a high-level vision for the future of Cremorne that reflects input from the communities that live, work and invest there.”
CPIP identified the major players including the City of Yarra, Vic Roads, Dept of Transport and Dept of Education to work on specific actions. These actions are around the themes of economy & Innovation, Transport & Movement, Public & Open Space and Buildings and Development. CPIP consulted locally in preparing the plan and it has been largely welcomed as an acknowledgement that the government has the interests of people who live and work in Cremorne. We would like to see the recent interest from large developers as an opportunity where the suburb can be an exemplar of urban design that can attract and grow business while being a pleasant, functional and sustainable place to live and work. We would like to see the state government directly invest in the street improvements recommended in the CPIP, which are needed to keep Cremorne liveable and workable at higher densities.
The City of Yarra has responded with a Cremorne Urban Design Framework that addresses the CPIP’s actions. This has also involved the preparation of Planning Amendments C317yara and C318yara. We have been told by the CoY to expect these to be released at some stage this year, but we’re aware that you need to consent to the amendments with associated DDOs.
We believe that the controls within the DDOs are not overly restrictive to property developers, and we certainly believe that the special nature and position of Cremorne warrants high quality building architecture and streetscapes that can be a credit to Melbourne and its planners. We are not anti development. CCI sees that having a consistent planning framework would ensure that developers investing in Cremorne are confident that they will be part of a quality working precinct, without the uncertainty of ending up in VCAT. The result will be much more attractive to businesses looking to set up in Cremorne.

Cremorne is in a little corner of Richmond (Vic) that planning forgot. It emerged from Wurundjeri country on flat, flood prone land by the Yarra. Part of that corner became incorporated into the Cremorne Pleasure Gardens in 1853.
This area soon became populated with workers’ cottages to service nearby industry. By the second half of the twentieth century, Cremorne was an eclectic mix of small businesses and remnant housing alongside such iconic establishments as Bryant and May, Barrett Brothers Maltings and Slade Knitwear.
Because Cremorne is contained by railways, river, freeway and Punt Rd, it has been allowed to quietly simmer in its own juices and emerge with quite a distinct and interesting character. This character is a function of its diverse use and history.
The Cremorne Community Inc seeks to retain the positive charm and attributes that make it distinctive and attractive in the first place, while encouraging new investment and interest that will contribute further to a great place to live and work.

Cremorne is a key destination for local and global high technology companies. The suburb encompasses residential neighbourhoods nestled amongst the rapidly changing commercial areas. With good access to public transport, nearby activity centres such as Swan Street in Richmond and a rich industrial and residential heritage, it is a unique place in metropolitan Melbourne.
The new activity has been within the commercial zoned areas of Cremorne (C2Z), though this zone retains a component of residential properties that have been a long-term presence. This mixed, eclectic nature has contributed to the special appeal of Cremorne, yet the C2 zone restricts how people can live and work in the same neighbourhood. Happily, the Victorian government introduced a Commercial 3 Zone in 2018, which specifically considers areas such as Cremorne. We would urge you to incorporate this planning approach along with the amendments.
The state government sees Cremorne as a place to attract and ‘support high-tech, innovative enterprises and investment while building on its unique attributes and location’. We would sincerely hope that as the appropriate minister you consider that the Cremorne planning amendments contribute positively to this.

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