Keep your character

IT’S taken the better part of a decade and three mayoral regimes, but Vincent finally has a character retention policy that lets concerned residents maintain the look and feel of their streets.

Historic streetscapes being interrupted by boxy modern buildings has long been an issue in the dormitory suburbs, accounting for a fair percentage of concerned letters to the Voice over the years.

The character retention policy passed this week allows residents who like the look of their streets to come to council to seek preservation.

It’s been tried before and fallen apart: on previous iterations residents took umbrage at schemes that’d see the council pick streets and impose protection from on high.

Under this policy residents nominate the streets themselves: if 40 per cent of affected owners support the nomination, they get together at a council-run workshop to figure out what they like about the area and what they want to protect.

“This is a really flexible approach and it’s driven by what the street wants,” mayor John Carey says.

He says an area’s rules “could prescribe height, ie two storeys, it could prescribe fencing, carports, house frontages.

“Ultimately, this has got to be driven by the street, I don’t want to impose something on people that they don’t want.”

Former councillor Dudley Maier had long wanted to get this type of policy up and running, dating back to the days when Nick Catania was mayor, but could never get enough support to vote it through.

He sat in the public gallery on the other side of the velvet ropes as councillors voted it in unanimously on Tuesday night.

“It’s reasonable, it’s measured, it’s a good start,” he says.

“There are improvements to be made, but it’s a learning exercise and as you go through you’ll identify those improvements.

“The whole emphasis is it’s community based, the community has to take the first step so it’s neighbours talking to neighbours rather than council starting it.”

by DAVID BELL

Studio Bomba 20x7

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