I often find myself thinking about the future in Port Melbourne. Port Melbourne is an inner suburb of Melbourne which has been home to three planned developments of significant size at different stages in Victoria’s planning history. It is also the location of many apartment developments in the past couple of decades. Here some residents have had experience with objecting to developments and advocating for broader planning overlays, sometimes with high profile success.
I have gone to quite a few council planning meetings where the very large developments, as well as ones with enough objectors, go in front of the councillors. ‘It’s about the future and the future is unknown.’ is my stock standard response when people suggest that the people objecting, along with me as an observer, are wasting our time. People seem to accept this superficial explanation analysis, and even agree with me.
These planning meetings contribute greatly to my understanding of what the built form means to people, but also the social contact people have, and want to have, in their suburbs. People talk about the impact on ‘the community’ and no longer being able to park near the local cafes where they catch up with their friends. A number of times I have heard people describing the ‘village feel’ as what they like about Port Melbourne, so it is easy to see how large developments are perceived as a threat. However, people cannot stop changes from unfolding in their suburb just because they like how their suburb is at the moment.
Being okay with change has turned into something of a challenge for me as my own identity and sense of belonging become more intertwined with what I do in Port Melbourne.
An older person whose entire life has been lived in Port Melbourne is moving to a retirement village outside of Melbourne. This move means leaving behind neighbours, quitting volunteer work and missing out on the local sporting matches. When I found out about this I felt sad and a sense of loss. Really, I would not be more than an acquaintance to this person, but the very idea of a person being removed from certain place based relationships strikes me as being very sad.
While this person will be missed, it is not necessarily a sad turn of events. Some people are very positive about this up coming move, they see it as a model for what they should be considering doing in the near future. I am sure people will miss each other, but I have been overly focused on the importance of preserving past relationships while the people I am thinking about are getting on with their future.