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

The "monster development"

16 Aug 2004

A developer wants to build a 9-storey shopping mall and apartment block on Smith st, between the Grace Darling Hotel and the old Toy Museum. What do you think about the so-called "monster development"?

Posted by Author Editor


From Lia Vandersant on 28 Jul 2004:

The worst aspect of this re development is the fact that we will loose all the traders that currently operate in this complex. I am a small trader in Smith Street and know how hard it is to make a living here. The people trading in the proposed re-development will in all likleyhood not be able to afford the rents and will be forced to re-locate. The traders in this strip all cater for low income earners and therefore provide a valuable service for the local residents. It is yet another case of gentrification and the poor being forced to move on. The big bucks should be stopped from entering Smith Street, this is historically a working class area, it is surrounded by high rise and serves low income earners who need the valuable services supplied by the current Smith Street traders.

From Tracy Merchant on 19 Aug 2004:

I'm very concerned at what is being proposed for Smith Street.
As a local resident, the reason I and I'm sure most others live in that area is because it 's really special. There's nothing quite like it anywhere. The combination of galleries, art supply, pubs, op shops and interesting one-off stores makes it a wonderfully creative precinct. Brunswick Street is no longer what it was - the Smith/Johnson/Gertrude block has now got the edge, and it's so inappropriate to be turning it into something else entirely in one foul swoop... I think it's of great concern, and hope the council can recognise what it currently has in this area. It's something money can't buy. The proposed development would greatly lower the tone of the area.

From Rory Hyde on 29 Aug 2004:

the redevelopment of this section of smith st is such a difficult prospect, because what is at stake is so difficult to articulate. undoubtedly what is proposed would kill all the character and things i love about smith street- but equally video busters and go-lo are hardly of an architectural merit worth conserving. if 2030 does take priority over local planning and a development proceeds, the issue then becomes: if you had to do something, what could you do to make it better? i think a transparent development process is critical, a smaller scale building, a more relevant range of programme (not apartments!), a cheaply built (cheap to rent) and a bold and interesting aesthetic could steer what could be an inevitable development from being a 'monster' into something that reinforces what i love about smith st.

From Kate Stolz on 29 Sep 2004:

Like most people in the area I have grave concerns about what is proposed for Smith Street. However, my concerns are also broader than just this immediate area. Don't ever think this is about one development in Smith Street. There will be others in Smith Street, just as there are others all across Melbourne.

On the one hand I am concerned planning for the whole of Melbourne. 2030 seems to be something other than planning. Where are the height restrictions? Where are the guidelines for the protection of existing key aspects of what is known as 'liveable Melbourne' - the neighbouring residences, shops, small businesses? Where is there any protection of our diversity, cultural and economic? 2030 is nothing short of an invitation to developers interested in opportunitistic development. The whole concept is wrong, wrong, wrong.

My other concern is about this website. Looks great, but who is behind it? Who or what is CAG? Just who are they? How many are they? Are they incorporated? Are the democratic? Just who do they represent? Are they meeting with powerful people to represent all the people of Collingwood and Fitzroy? Who goes to those meetings? Come on fellas, how about a little bit of information about the democratic processes? With Federal and Council elections in the offing, now is the perfect time to tell all.

From Steve on 30 Sep 2004:

All I can say is that this development is a good response to a site that crying out for redevelopment. Additional housing and improved facades along Smith Street will bring more vibrancy to a wonderful shopping strip. I think its a good development.

From Elizabeth on 30 Sep 2004:

And what, pray tell, is good about it? Come on, be specific. Is it the height that will cast a shadow over Smith and Little Oxford Streets for a large part of the day? Is is the incessant noise from the box crushing machines? Perhaps you like the idea of traffic congestion. Or is it air pollution that turns you on? Stevie Wonder, you must be blind!

From Andrew Garton on 1 Oct 2004:

This is in answer to Kate Stolz's questions regarding this web site.

Kate, you will find information about CAG here:


CAG had recently held a public meeting. There's information about it under the CAG section of this site.

CAG contributed towards the hosting costs of getting this site up and running. One of their members worked with us (c2o/Toy Satellite) on the site design. We host and are currently site editors, working in collaboration with both CAG and residents who have become involved in this site.

c2o/Toy Satellite has been in the area for over 10 years. We're a non-profit web hosting service (c2o) and new media arts production house (Toy Satellite).

Curiously, we started out on Webb Street, then moved into a shop front studio on Smith. We were there for three years before the building was sold and the near 100% increase in rent! We're now located on Gore Street with much of our work occuring online. Our servers are located in South Melbourne.

You'll find a little piece I wrote about our involvement in the area here:

On Smith Street.

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate :)

From kate on 3 Oct 2004:

Elections at CAG?

From Andrew Garton on 3 Oct 2004:

Kate, those "election" postings were spams. We are currently blocking between 10 - 20 spams directed at commenting tools and discussion boards. Most are blocked, but new ones appear every so often and that was one that managed to work its way through our blacklist.

From Pearly on 4 Oct 2004:


In these democratic times... No I won't go there. In answer to your questions, though, CAG is made up of a number of hardworking VOLUNTEERS, all of whom are residents in the Fitzroy & Collingwood area who have a strong interest in Smith Street and this development in particular. Incorporation is on the cards, but we haven't had a chance to get stuck into that whilst we've been meeting with all the necessary important people and some important people whom are not so obvious. We welcome new members to both CAG and also the CAG Committee. If you are keen to see how the group operates - JOIN UP and come to a committee meeting. You will be most welcome!

You can e-mail us directly at

We look forward to your personal contribution to this and other future endeavours!


From Kate Stolz on 8 Oct 2004:

Been there, done that. Democratic decisions subverted. CAG is a compliant group in cohoots with a secretive council. 'Let's get it all sorted before the council elections.' Not likely. The next lot would have to be better.

From Jack on 15 Oct 2004:

Can someone from CAG or the Council explain just what is going on? I am hearing that the development is going ahead despite our objections?

From Dave on 15 Oct 2004:

Where can the local's of Smith St get informed and accurate information on the dealing and wheeling..."compromise" relating to the banco development?
I thought the development had been stopped!

From kate on 20 Oct 2004:

Well you won't get accurate information from Ben Schneiders at the Melbourne Times. What lazy journalism! He smells a rat about the lack of democracy and the manipulations in CAG so he goes to one of the recalcitrants for his closing quote. Nice one Ben! A word of advice, don't go the defensive-aggressive. Take a check mate.

From Editor on 27 Oct 2004:

According to the latest media release from CAG, answers may soon be forthcoming:

CAG Moving in the Right Direction


From kate on 28 Oct 2004:

Bravo for CAG. At last there appears to be some semblance of community consultation. However, I am concerned that these positive changes haven't yet been picked up the local press. Sounds like a trip to David Marr is in order.

From Diarmuid Hannigan on 15 Jun 2005:

CAG IS A FORM OF STICKY GLUE. This development is the best thing that has happened for Smith Street. As a trader we have put up with the incompetence of the Yarra City Council for years. We have been subjected to a heroin market drunkeness and constant abuse. Now we have a few very organised yuppies whoes real concern is the loss of their city views from the Little oxford street development Cagging up Smith Street Again, Bring on the development The sooner the better I say.

From Andrew Garton on 15 Jun 2005:

Firstly, I can't see how a new shopping centre is going to solve the herion problems, the drunkeness and threats Diarmuid talks about. Secondly, my experience of CAG is more inclusive than the exclusive club of "yuppies", what ever that means these days, that reside on Little Oxford St. I'm on Gore st and a proud renter and I'm just as concerned about the social problems on Smith St as I am about the proposed development. Commerce, and more and more commerce doesn't stop people from sticking needles into their arms... it actually isolates further the marginalised in our communities. We seem to be creating more venues for mercantile rather than social activities... although, many will argue shopping is a social activity of sorts. I'm not against retail... we all need to find a way to make this precinct work for the common good, not just commercial interests.

From aarmel on 30 Jun 2005:

wouldnt it be better to make sure the current shops on smith street get good exposure and maybe some help rather then add in a whole lot more shops that probably arnt even needed?

I'm sure the developers will make a fortune, but is it really needed?

Like a lot of development done these days it seems everyone rushes in for the quick dollars and not really develop anything that is good or required. Just building more trash, like all the new apartments blocks in north melbourne that they are struggling to rent out. And will fall apart in 10 years cause they are poorly built.

From J Taylor on 1 Jul 2005:

Have to agree with Diarmuid, these complaints are all about middle-class welfare. Why don't the yupppies pour their energies into solving the social problems on Smith Street rather than protecting their property prices.

From aarmel on 4 Jul 2005:

J Taylor. Dont you think thats a bit of an oversimplification. Your saying that it's simply yuppies wanting to protect their property prices. In that case what about the developer wanting to build this huge shopping center? They arent trying to capitalise on the location etc to make a quick and very lucrative dollar?

What exactly would be the benefit of having a big building like this built. I'm yet to hear it? How exactly is it going to benefit the area?

From J Taylor on 4 Jul 2005:

Well the developer will benefit, that's obvious. As will the construction workers and contractors who get more work during its construction. And probably lower income people who can only afford small flats will benefit as the housing supply will increase. But, oh wait, i can only see one loser. The well to do with their $500,000+ loft warehouses - but they seem to be making a lot of noise. don't hear many complaints from the nearby housing estate.

From aarmel on 5 Jul 2005:

So you think they are going to build a 9 storey apartment/shopping mall and it'll be low cost houseing?

I doubt that. Especially consider the location it'll be in. I also doubt that the loft warehouses will actually drop that much in value.

And like was said previously what about all the small shops and traders in the area? What sort of shops will they have in this complex? what will the rent be? etc etc.

I think you'll see some of the small shops lose out in all this.

There's plenty of construction work around melbourne and there's plenty of housing, In fact there is so much houseing that they cant rent out a lot of places at the moment and have to keep dropping their prices.

I have no big problem with a big development of some sort, but I just cant see the great need for it?

Is it going to make shopping a better experience? I cant see how. Is it going to benefit the traders in the area? I doubt it.

Personally I'd rather see a development that expands on whats already there to benefit the traders that are already in the area, and maintain the uniquenes without going all out and pushing a whole bunch of new stores into the area for no reason.

Plan for some sort of sustainability. And take into consideration what the actual needs of the area are.

But all that said, I dont know exactly what the development plans are. But I'd be very surprised if it'll be low priced housing. and benefit the traders on the street.

From aarmel on 14 Nov 2005:

"Highly amusing 'debate'. Dare to put up a contrary view (a la Diarmuid) and you get jumped on. Going on about Smith sts 'edge' (Tracey) and whinging about 'air pollution (FFS, Elizabeth, you live in the inner city)...yuppies, NIMBYs, and smug middle-class introverts."

So are you arguing for the development? and your argument is that the people complaining are smug middle-class introverts and therefore everything they have said is null and void?

From dfg on 14 Nov 2005:

Not at all. Just drawing attention to the fact that the yuppies, NIMBYs and middle class introverts have their own little agendas, too.

From dfg on 15 Feb 2006:

Goes to show what a plaything this site is for you all.

Hulls announces the development is going ahead and not a peep.

From DTayls on 15 Feb 2006:

"Beam me up Scottie. There's no intelligent life down here" [from a cartoon on the cover of Lot's Wife Magazine circa 1986]

CAG's / This Web Site's commentary has been sporadic at best. Like you 'dfg', I also came here looking for an update. But as you found, "Hulls announces the development is going ahead and not a peep" :-( Not a peep from CAG ... or practially anyone else. But I'm not entirely surprised. I've looked to become involved in CAG in the past; received a return phone call; and then ... nothing :-(

And Council! Government! What can one say except perhaps "Arghhhhh!!" Who knows what they really think, but of course I don't expect we're going to find that out from what they say publicly anyway!

I found out about the decision today, read the commentary in The Age (15-Feb-06) and noted the references to and A pity neither had anything to add. Both were quite stale. In fact, your comment 'dfg' was the only really recent post I found on the site.

So, what needs to be done? Indeed, what can be done from here. To be honest I'm still sitting on the fence. I don't know what the outcome 'should be' and I'm not even sure what I really think would be 'the best' outcome. All I can be sure of is that the process as it has unfolded to date has been an absolute joke.

Given the unique history of the area and the flawed system that IS our current planning process/system, I believe we are faced with a unique set of challenges and an important opportunity. If our community, the politicians, and, perhaps even the developers, can work together and get this one right, then maybe we can buck the trend and actually come up with a solution that works for the developers, current local traders, and the community as a whole. But, as most of us well-understand, the current adversarial system we now have in place will not allow this :-( Ho hum.

From Editor on 19 Feb 2006:

Click on to 'Collingwood Action Group Development Updates' for the latest news.

From Andrew on 25 Feb 2006:

Don't know what the problem is DTayls... there's a pretty obvious link to the CAG website on And in terms of getting involved with CAG, in their defence they're a pretty small hard working group who had announced a number of public meetings during which time those interested in participating were welcome to attend... community organisations like CAG are always between a rock and a hard place, often being seen as never doing enough work or doing the wrong kind of work... either way, they get bagged. Personally, I commend them for what they've done given the little resources they've had and the support they've received. But you're right... perhaps there should have been more information on this site itself.

From dfg on 3 Mar 2006:

The Age referenced your site. Now I would have thought it a prime opportunity to put forth's views on the approval. But no.

Instead, the latest article posted is a turgid vanity short story...

From Andrew Garton on 3 Mar 2006:

this ain't "my site"... it's open to anyone who wants to make a contribution. there are only so many hours in the day... instead of paying out on the site and me you could use your time more effectively by composing your own article or response to the situation at hand. if you look around, this site is open to anyone who wants to contribute... no secret cabal... a gesture towards collaboration. if we can improve on this, just let us know... all ears ol bean...

From Reuben on 4 Mar 2006:


If Banco thinks they can pull the wool over our eyes on this one, they've got it wrong. It's an demonstration of poor planing, greed for money and complete lack of consideration or respect for the local character of the street. They can build the towers elsewhere. It certainly ain't going to remove the druggies, drunks and aggression from the street. That's for sure. This is not an example of gentrification, it's an example of stupidity.

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