Yes Minister...The Ruler says 79.8m is not 81m !

Thu, Oct 13, 2005 at 3:06 PM
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Letter to the Editor,

The Progress Leader is to be congratulated for helping the Bracks Government's Minister for Planning, Rob "The Ruler" Hulls (11/10)  actually engage in public debate on Kew Cottages. You have succeeded where residents, parents, and the rest of us, including the Kew Cottages Coalition,  had all failed !

Minister Hulls mischievously says that " the hallmark" of strong democracy", however, as we all know it was his predecessor, Minister Delahunty, who completely scuttled any chance of  proper public debate on the Cottages when she withdrew third-party appeal rights on 11th of November 2003. The best that can be hoped for now is that Boroondara Council will be given 28 days to respond to a new Development Plan for the Cottages. A new plan  that apparently no one outside of the offices of the Bracks Government and their Sydney Developer, Walker Corporation has even seen yet ! So much for informed public debate !

As to the facts of the high-rise flats shown in the Government's plans submitted to Heritage Victoria over the past six months, I would encourage you to simply look at the plans yourself, and draw your own conclusions.  We have put copies of the DHS plans publicly submitted to the State's Heritage watchdog on our website at

Yes, the Minister, is now correct,  the RL height of the 5 storey flats will no longer be 81m,  following Heritage Victoria's intervention last month,  it will now be only 79.8m !  A 'significant reduction',  as Sir Humphrey would say.

On the 9th of September the Bracks Government withdrew its original plan that showed the proposed RL height of their 5 storey flats to be 81.3m, and submitted a revised plan to comply with Heritage Permit P9639 Condition 8, issued on that date, which states in part, "the overall building height, including plant, shall not to (sic) exceed RL 79.8.."

I congratulate Rob Hulls on this outcome in his role as Minister for Heritage  - a 1.5 metre height reduction in a high-rise block of yuppy flats overlooking the Yarra on such a sensitive landmark site named after the creator of the Australian Game, is not exactly overwhelming, but it is a start for a young batsman new to the heritage crease.

Bracks had to argue ' Government economic hardship' to get the flats approved at all by his Heritage watchdog. Not an easy task at a time of record State Government surpluses.  So it appears Hulls was on a good heritage batting wicket, despite facing strong opposition from his Cabinet colleagues who wished to extract the maximum economic return from the private sale of the Cottages Crown Land, no matter what the cost to Victoria's cultural heritage.

A courageous stand by the Minister. Unfortunately it appears bad light stopped play at Heritage (9/9), and now its back to VCAT( 14/10) for another one day game with bat, ball,  ruler, and of course a light meter for the umpire tomorrow. 

Brian Walsh

Kew Cottages Coalition