EXCLUSIVE: Property pollution from one of Melbourne’s ugliest buildings is plaguing residents in the city’s north. Gary Johnston investigates.
Yarra City Council in Melbourne’s resurgent inner North, is one of the few Green Party influenced local administrations in Australia. No surprise therefore that the council is run according to a somewhat hubristic policy of clean ecological cognisance, leading to a building boom focusing on high rise, low density apartments.
Such is the rate of development in Yarra in fact, that some residents claim the area sees more cranes than the coastal mudflats of Moreton Bay.
The main beneficiaries of this urban regeneration however, are not the long term residents, many of whom are of South European origin. Or, for that matter, the new occupiers; in the main young professionals prepared to splash out $500,000 on a one bedroom apartment so compact and bijou you can lock the front door, raid the fridge, do the washing up and make the bed, all without stirring from your favourite armchair.
Sensing an opportunity, builders of every hue have latched on the possibilities of a council prepared to give the green light to built it fast, built it cheap, multi-storey development and allegations abound of substandard materials, shonky work practices and a flagrant disregard for regulations, safe in the knowledge that Yarra politicians are likely to be swayed more by ideology than basic standards.
Nowhere is this unhappy situation better illustrated than in the case of Steve Angelo, the proprietor of the Angelo Group and the builder responsible for the Haus project; a notorious construction voted the ugliest erection in Melbourne, a title previously – though not very proudly – held by a certain ex-Lord Mayor.
So grotesque is the Haus edifice, in fact, that the architect who designed it is said to have considered throwing herself from its grey concrete encased rooftop terrace, an action she only recanted on because she couldn’t bear to look at the building, never mind enter its ghastly portals.
The Haus development: Regarded by many as Melbourne’s ugliest building (Image: Supplied)
The group, whose curriculum vitae is reputed to be littered with unpaid bills, non union labour and cursory fines, many of which have been apparently ‘overlooked’ is said by many in the industry to be bigger cowboys than Buffalo Bill Cody and they certainly seem to share a number of primary characteristics with the notorious, self-serving Bison slaughterer.
Chief amongst those unlovely traits is a near pathological level of greed and disregard for ecological consequences which, paradoxically, has not dissuaded the politically clean Yarra council from authorising the Angelo group to build another high rise, low quality development in another part of the local area.
TRUE OPINION: Melbourne’s House of Cardboard
One year on from the completion of the Haus development – and despite appearances to the contrary it is said to be ‘complete’ – residents in adjoining properties continue to deal with the fall out from the building, in particular, a steady stream of white-tinged water which emanates from overflow sewer outlets on a perpetual basis.
Despite numerous concerns raised with the council, there has been no effective resolution and in fact, an email obtained by True Crime News Weekly shows that Yarra’s response seems to consist of heaping the blame on residents for daring to wash their cars and watering gardens!
This victim-blaming seems misplaced, to say the least. Photographs supplied by residents clearly indicate that the liquid originates from the Haus development, leading to a build up of green algae on pavements and in gutters. Whilst the colour of the aquatic matter might be in keeping with Yarra council’s stated ideology, it is to be assumed that the likely resultant ecological pollution certainly is not.
Yarra Council like all administrations, is a delegated authority under the auspices of the Local Government Act 1989 and chief amongst their responsibilities is, of course, environmental protection.
As the council state on their own website:
“The protection of our environment is an important global and local responsibility. We want to continue to lead the transformation in how we live and use our resources in the future.
“We have a proud history of environmental action and leadership. We take our mandate for environmental leadership from a passionate and engaged community who demand strong action to meet our urban sustainability challenges.”
Photos taken by local residents showing liquid flowing down streets and a build up of green algae on pavements and in gutters (Images: Supplied)
A proud history indeed. Perhaps the council though, need to consider how this stated aim quite squares up with a seemingly deliberate and clearly evidenced policy of favouring developers whose only objective is naked profit, over the concerns of residents whose basic wish is to protect and sustain the community in which they not only live, but through ever increasing rate charges, actually finance Yarra’s dogmatic ideology.
Words, as we know come cheap. Friedrich Nietzsche, in his philosophical novel, Thus Spoke Zarathustra’, famously said –
“One must be a sea, to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.”
Melbourne’s inner city residents might take the view that the Council would do well to remember it, that despite the name, Yarra, in this instance, is not a reference to Melbourne’s famous watercourse.
Otherwise, it might be the Green Party’s political influence and reputation that ultimately floats down the gurgler.