That feeling – powerlessness
It must be terrifying to stand on the shore and watch a tsunami approaching! What can I do? What can I do to protect myself, my family, my community? So little time! A feeling of powerlessness to confront or respond to a force of nature.
At the risk of over-dramatising, I felt the same powerless feeling on my walk this afternoon. Let me explain; please come on the walk with me, it’s along Macaulay Rd.
Note to readers – it might be useful to follow our walk with a Google Map as reference, or better still, actually do the walk – it is actually quite confronting (Lifeline 13 11 14).
We’ll start from the narrow heritage bridge across Moonee Ponds Creek and head west towards Kensington Village. Immediately to our right we can see the partly demolished ex-Vision Australia building stretching along Stubbs St, almost to Robertson St. This corner is soon to feature a gigantic eight-storey block of 450-plus build-to-rent (BTR) apartments. Immediately on our left, south of Macaulay Rd, we can see the scaffolding-lined “Little Hardiman Lofts” building site (347-367), which runs about 60m from Bent St towards Albermarle St. This is at present populated by one very lonely crane, a very high-maintenance resident that has been sitting idle for months while various owner/builders weather their crises. In time this lonely crane will also make way for an eight-storey apartment block. The next block on the south (369-391 Macaulay Rd) is a two-storey building, stretching about 40m up to the imposing eight-storey Assemble (73 apartments) development on the eastern corner of Albermarle St (393 Macaulay).
Let’s pause here. First, what will be the fate of that two-storey building? Perhaps it has already been “harvested”? Will it be another six- or eight-storey apartment block? It certainly could be!
Let’s also look over the road. On the north side we are looking at 352-400 Macaulay Rd, the second largest of the four mega sites in this block (at present The Northside Industrial Estate). This is subject to a development application by the Greystar development group, for an eight-storey building of 427 BTR apartments. The third (most western) site on this block facing onto Macaulay Rd already has development approval, also being developed by Assemble; it has three buildings comprising 426 BTR apartments.
Let’s turn back and look at the south side again. After Albermarle St we see another low-rise building (W.B.Wragg) with a 35m frontage onto Macaulay Rd. What will happen to this building? Has it already been “harvested” as well!?
Continuing up this south side, we have another six-storey apartment development (415-423 Macaulay) followed by a series of other properties, ripe for harvest, stretching over about 75m up to the super-ugly Macro apartments facing Barnett St.
Let’s take stock. We’ve passed three mega apartment developments on the north side of Macaulay Rd, and three very substantial apartment developments on the south side. On the south, the developed and developing frontage is about 145m; the undeveloped frontage (yet to be harvested) is about 155m. The north side will comprise about 250m of six-storey frontage apartments, with eight storeys close behind.
Perhaps readers can begin to appreciate my tsunami analogy. As chairperson of the Kensington Association, I feel a sense of responsibility, because we try to protect the amenity and liveability of Kensington. I feel we are powerless to stop this tsunami (albeit, very slow moving) of development, no matter how much “noise” we make. What will transpire with the 155m of undeveloped frontage on the south of Macaulay Rd? Sometime ago someone in the Kensington Association coined the term “Macaulay Canyons!” How apt!
One thing is certain, whatever happens, when this development wave has passed through, this part of Kensington will be changed forever. •