The Victorian Chapter President and Chapter Manager met recently with staff from the Office of the Minister for Planning to discuss a range of issues we have been working on and/or following in recent months. Although the meeting was originally meant to be with the Minister, his schedule was changed due to other commitments and we met with a senior staff member instead. In the last four years the Chapter has only been able to secure one direct face to face meeting with the Minister. He has also refused all invitations to attend Institute events in this time.
We raised the following issues with the staff member who, interestingly, took no notes. We have since followed up with an email record of the meeting.
Topics we discussed were:
The Institute views the new Residential Zones as too restrictive of development, and are opposed by Industry bodies including ourselves and the Property Council. The release of Plan Melbourne allays none of our concerns. The re-zoning of large areas of the residential inner suburbs with dubious mandated height limits is an unprecedented politicisation of planning policy and a gift to political lobby groups such as Save Our Suburbs. We are deeply concerned about the future development of diverse housing types and sizes in our best-serviced inner suburban areas. Sensible proposals such as densification along main transport routes and around railway stations have been ignored and new Residential Zones benefit existing property owners to the detriment of the orderly future growth of Melbourne;
We are greatly concerned about lack of public infrastructure (i.e. schools, shops, police, libraries) and lack of transparency of the master planning process. Apparently this is currently sitting with Metropolitan Planning Authority;
Melbourne’s lack of apartment design standards puts us at last 10 years behind Sydney. The Institute supports far stronger quality controls and mandatory use of Architects in multi-residential projects. We urged the Minister to implement and enforce the recently developed OVGA (Office of the Victorian Government Architect) apartment standards. Apparently this is currently sitting with the Department of Planning;
APPOINTMENT OF NEW GOVERNMENT ARCHITECT
With Geoffrey London’s term coming to an end in September we are keen to see a quality candidate take on the role, and the role to continue and not be weakened;
VICTORIAN DESIGN REVIEW PANELS (VDRP)
The Institute is very clear that a change to a user pays system for the VDRP process, without mandatory use, would see the program fail. We strongly urged the Minister’s office to review any such decisions that may lead to the dilution of the VDRP;
The Institute is pleased to see the appointment of Yvonne Von Hartel to the board of the VBA as a new Commissioner. While we are still concerned about the detail of the proposed changes to the ARBV through the VBA restructure process, we are pleased the Architects Act has been retained. The detail of re-registration, introduction of mandatory CPD, representation of members on Board and Panels continues to be an issue. The implementing legislation has been set aside until the spring session of Parliament, and the matter has been delegated to at least number 26 on the legislative agenda. Given the current state of Victorian politics and the forthcoming November election, it is quite likely that the legislation won’t get up under this Government. The Institute is continuing to talk to both the politicians and the bureaucrats on this;
AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
On any given night, 1 in 200 people in Australia is homeless. “It’s an issue for the Housing Minister” is an insufficient response from the Minister’s office. We view issues of housing equity and homelessness to also be planning issues as space must be reserved for affordable and public housing in planning schemes.
A recent focus of the Heritage Committee has been providing input to the Federal Government’s draft 2014 Australian Heritage Strategy. A formal submission coordinated by Kylie Ruth and Richard Barton from the Institute’s National office, included input from all states Chapters.
Key issues raised related to:
_Policy and process alignment across all levels of government
_Building heritage capacity through workforce support
_Education and training
_Creating incentives to care for our heritage.
The submission highlighted an emerging problem of protection for post 1950 sites and structures, as lists at local, state or national level are lagging behind the push for new development. The consequential danger of this is that sites of significance risk being swept away.
As the lights were turned up at Peninsula in Docklands and 830 patrons were ushered into a predictably cold Melbourne night in June, the curtain closed on the 2014 Victorian Architecture Awards program. With 206 entries, 35 awards and prizes, and 26 commendations it was another impressive year. Projects were shortlisted from Port Fairy to Wonthaggi and from Broadmeadows to Portsea, from a travelling exhibition display to a major industrial plant, and engaged with principles of sustainability both environmental and social. It was a great honour to have the inaugural John and Phyllis Murphy Award for Residential Alterations and Additions presented by Phyllis Murphy herself and likewise to have both Peter and Dione McIntyre on stage to receive the Enduring Architecture Award.
The Exhibition of Entries in The Atrium at Federation Square was also a great success, attracting much public interest and bringing far greater exposure to the whole field of entries than ever before. As we all reflect on the outcomes and Institute staff breathe a deep sigh of relief, I’d like to thank all those involved. The whole team at the Institute, the Award jurors, the Awards committee members and the student volunteers all contributed in staging yet another Awards program of the highest calibre.
By Diego Ramirez-Lovering Chair
The Education Committee has been active in contributing to a number of national discussions around a number of topics including education and accreditation standards, internships and the deregulation of education.
National Competency Standard in Architecture (NCSA) review
The Education Committee was part of a national concerted effort to contribute to the NCSA review. The current draft presents a radical shift from past standards, reducing the number of competencies for accreditation from more than 150 to 53. There are concerns about omissions (eg in the areas of history and theory) and the way in which the standard will be incorporated into the Australian and New Zealand Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure (APAP). The NCSA presents essential criteria that must be met by architecture programs, while the education framework; the Institute of Architects’ education competencies, are classified as professional advice only and do not require compliance.
The Committee discussed internships and the potential development of a paper on internship strategies. There is an assumption that internships are unpaid or lowly paid which isn’t legal. Under the Architects Award there is a required pay scale and there is a need to identify and emphasise structured internships. An internship survey has been circulated to all architecture program heads around the country to capture information and better understand where the issues may lie.
Deregulation of Education
There have been movements in the TAFE sector toward the provision of Bachelor of Architecture Degrees. There is concern about the effect that this may have on publicly funded University programs. Members of the Committee are in discussions to develop a paper around the issue.
In the first instance the paper will seek to get clarity on the issues and perceived threats and establish the current situation.