Report cover
Inner urban conservation and development - An independent panel report on a proposal for Smith Street, Collingwood, under Melbourne 2030. Edited by Miles Lewis, August 2004. Order your copy

Poem: Ballad of Smith Street

5 May 2005

Ballad of Smith Street
by Anon

Smith Street's an inner city icon
Of ratty charm and whimsy
A boho style luring all types
Made it ripe for development frenzy

By investing wise and holding tight
To slabs of Smith Street land
From Grace Darling to the Old Post Office
Now comes under one command

Soon developers wept tears of joy
Thanks to government decree
Melbourne 2030 � a planning vision
Encourages high density

Smith Street's a 'Major Activity Centre'
'A place of major change'
It seems its mix of services
Can cater for a range

Of housing and business choices
All crammed into tiny spaces
Apparently massive development
Makes more attractive places

The local press first broke the news
Mid 2003
That Banco � famed for Lygon Court
Planned to super-size Smith Street

The rumour mill returned to life
Early 2004
While the people partied over Christmas
Banco'd been in Council's door

A group of locals read this news
Sick with panic and alarm
So they called a public meeting
To put out the call to arms

It was agreed to make a stand
Collingwood Action Group came to be
A committee met to plot and
Fight for Smith Street�s liberty

They met each week in dingy nooks
Issued agendas, passed resolutions
They pored all over Banco's plans
Searching for solutions

They swatted up on planning law
Targeted movers and shakers
Tried schmoozing with the powerful
And sussing out the fakers

In accordance with their legal duty
Yarra in April duly advised
The public of Banco's grand plan
'Please come view it' � how civilized

Banco's scheme of three huge towers
Thrust upwards to heaven
Had parks for over 400 cars
Its supermarket, open 24/7

Hundreds of glitzy apartments
Enjoying panoramic views
Equipped with European appliances
And chi chi designer loos

One hundred student rabbit hutches
Proved low-cost housing credentials
The glitzy mall and offices
Oh so swank and presidential

CAG letterboxed and petitioned
Sent releases to the press
They took the fight to cyberspace
Pleaded with pollies to clean this mess

In May the public had their say
Told Yarra of their view
A record 1500 objectors said 'NO'
To Smith Street renovation rescue

Thumbs down to demolition
Hands off Smith Street's history
Don't destroy our neighbourhood
And keep your planning zealotry

Meanwhile the local member says
On every occasion available
'I'm Dick Wynne, this is an ambit claim
You'll get a Win/Wynne 'cos I�m able'.

'I'll get the Minister to call it in'
Said Dick, 'the plan's a disaster
It's too big, too high and will not fly
To the planning ubermaster!'

The law says Council must decide
On all planning applications
It has 60 days to put its case
And advise its deliberations

But Banco's scheme was not the dream
That 2030 intended
While the Mayor said 'It's just too big'
Council swears it's well intentioned

So May goes by but there's no word
A cone of silence descended
Council's incommunicado
The community seems undefended

'Dear Madam Mayor' said CAG in letters
Too numerous to mention
'What's Council doing for the community?
When will Yarra end this tension?'

Meanwhile a group of planning boffins
Esteemed in Melbourne circles
Release a critical report
Says Banco scheme's too radical

The press goes wild in newspapers
2030's 'perverting planning'
The Banco proposal's a 'test case'
Melbourne's doomed from predications damning

Behind closed doors a cunning plan
Is hatched to solve the impasse
The community can negotiate
Save the authorities, stop the farce

The Council and the Developer
Want a secret deal with CAG
So they cite commercial in confidence
Slap on a confidentiality gag

The parties meet 'without prejudice'
In discussions hermetically sealed
Talk of design, heritage, amenity
But nothing can be revealed

CAG's August public meeting
Is to get word out on the street
The pollies front to put their case
The public get to their feet

The Yarra Mayor takes centre stage
And explains the Council strategy
It seems the best outcome for all
Will be negotiated by the community

'Melbourne 2030's a dud'
Claims the shadow planning Minister
The local Member counters with
State planning's not that sinister

Melbourne residents are rising up
To protest about planning
They storm the steps of Parliament
Give authorities a panning

Throughout the suburbs high rise towers
Start spreading like the plague
In Camberwell, Mitcham and Brunswick
Over-development's the rage

Then Banco's new Smith Street scheme
Is unveiled, on drawings hazy
But emerging from their diagrams
An eight storey priapic monstrosity

So CAG responds as it must do
Puts an end to all the guessing
'We have some concerns, the plans are vague
We cannot give our blessing'

CAG tells the Minister for Planning all
Asking her to intervene
Her officers say this is Yarra business
The State cannot be heard or seen

Now November's here and Yarra seems
Poised to state its position
What will it say � yay or nay?
What will be their proposition?

A warning, the end may not be nigh
Just the beginning of round two
Will Banco fight it out in VCAT?
Or revise its plans anew?

What will become of Smith Street?
What happened to people power?
Maintain the rage, don't leave it to
The system and developers to devour

Posted by Author Editor


Comments

From mac on 5 Mar 2006:

its not just smith street you know, what about the development of five storey planned for corner of gore and charles streets? It effectively brings smith street heights back into the residential areas. this development has been pushed the system while all the heat has been focused on banco's smith street.

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