Manningham annual rates were among the highest in the state because it depended almost entirely on them for its survival during the nineties and had come very close to being carved up among adjoining municipalities, as part of the government’s amalgamation plan, before it agreed to build a high-rise activity centre as part of the Melbourne 20/30 program. Now, twenty years on, according to the Committee for Melbourne research, one council, or a hand full of regional  councils for greater efficiency and would make economic sense by providing a better approach to planning.

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Alojs from Cooma, whose father had worked for the Snowy River Authority, had moved to Doncaster in the period when Manningham council had prepared a number of medium density plans for a town centre in anticipation of the opening of the eastern freeway which was expected to ease traffic volumes in Doncaster Road. “We wondered what the hell was going on when buildings up to 15 storeys, as part of the Doncaster Hill Strategy, were  foisted upon us”. “No one wanted them because we did not have the infrastructure or street network for such a large undertaking and the area was too remote especially after the Cain Labor government had cancelled the railway line nearly a decade earlier”.

“The consultation was a joke with resident objections swept aside as the Manningham  executive kept promoting it supported by the owners of the development sites within the strategy’s boundaries”.  “We were to learn later that a deal might have been done with the State planning authority where Manningham could survive intact and receive funding in return for building the activity centre”.

Magnolia Doncaster 
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After 9 years it was clear there was no local demand for high rise apartment development and the Doncaster Hill Strategy (the jewel in the crown of the 20/30 program) was shaping up to be a massive failure until the the Federal Investment Review Board (FIRB), under instructions from Government of course, rescued the strategy by easing restrictions on foreign developers and enabling overseas investors to purchase apartments in Australia off the plan. As a result most Doncaster apartment sales today are made through overseas intermediaries to foreign buyers who seek to place some of their money in a stable economy..

Activity Centre Plans 1990 and 1994 were more conservative than what we have today.

Doncaster ActivityCentre Strategy (1990)                       Town Centre Project (1994)

The consolidation of councils had to come sooner or later according to Committee for Melbourne boss Martine Letts, either by way of merging all municipalities into one or merge the 32 into six super councils  “We believe a new system of government that creates an economy of scale through collaboration is essential for service delivery and sustainability”

Almost 1000 council officers earn at least $150.000 a year and more than 100 executives get at least $250,ooo annually. Four Manningham executives and CEO get a total of about $1,300,000 per year.


  1. Larech says:

    It has been admitted by a Manningham senior officer, during the era of the Kennett government in the nineties, there was concern that the municipality of Doncaster and Templestowe, as it was known then, was about to be divided among its neighbouring Municipalities as part of the State Government streamlining of local councils. State government had already dispensed with aldermen and appointed commissioners to all municipalities. Perhaps it was thought that by having a strategy up and running Doncaster Templestowe could stave off annexation. It might help explain the succession of tried and failed strategies during that period to help justify its existence and maintain the employment of officers and staff.

  2. Celeste says:

    If there was an amalgamation of councils it would not worry me. Representation of our community, might worry some people, but it could not be any worse than what we are getting from manningham…they are so bias towards developers. The deadwood in the planning department would then have to try and a get a job in private enterprise…Good luck!!

    1. Edward says:

      They may have lost their way a little with town planning but Manningham is still one of the most efficient councils in Victoria. Their home care and meals services are superior to most municipalities. I have found their people are very caring and respectful to the aged. A central authority that dealt with planning might work with councils still allowed to exist for all the other functions.

  3. Denzel Don says:

    It is hard to take some of these consultants seriously. How could you go from what was planned in 1994, which had allowed for the eastern freeway extension, to the over development we have today without any corresponding increase in infrastructure.

  4. Dragoninal says:

    Not many people realise just how vulnerable Doncaster was in regard to the State government’s activity centres plan ” The Living Suburbs”, later renamed the Melbourne 20-30 program, because it had no height controls which meant it could be easier to dump the high rise apartment strategy on the municipality. As a result it was open slather for over development in an area totally unsuitable. Doncaster is no longer a “place to be” because it will join Box Hill as the drug and crime capital and future slum areas of the eastern suburbs.

  5. East of Whittens says:

    George Orwell – “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.

    Don’t you just love it – It sums up our council planning department…so true!

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