The Surrey Hills & Mont Albert Progress Association (SHPA) aims to improve, preserve and advance the neighbourhood of Surrey Hills & Mont Albert, Victoria.
The first Surrey Hills Progress Association was formed on 1 May 1899. In its short existence it was able to achieve many objectives. These included having a police constable stationed in Surrey Hills; having provision made in the next railway estimates for the erection of a footbridge over the railway line; and having the Minister of Education reply to a request for a new school, promising that an officer would be visiting to inspect possible sites.
The second Surrey Hills Progress Association lasted six years (1899-1905). It was in effect inoperative in 1905; a meeting of office bearers in February 1905 then again in July agreed to adjourn for six months in each instance due to a lack of public support and the absence of anything of a public nature requiring attention. It appears the Association then dissolved as no newspaper reports can be found between 1906 and November 1907.
In November 1907, the Surrey Hills District Progress Association was formed, although the word ‘District’ was soon discarded from the name. This association appears to have operated until at least 1931.
These three early associations, as with the later ones, were concerned with the material progress of Surrey Hills and by ideas of economic, social and civic betterment. Achievements and these ideas were expressed in the records of annual reports and monthly executive committee meetings as well as articles in the local and metropolitan press. The local press, the Box Hill Reporter in particular, was the means by which the association appealed to Surrey Hills residents, as well as conveying their achievements and ambitions for the suburb.
In 1903, women were accepted as members, the Reporter noting that ‘the ladies are responding handsomely by joining in large numbers’. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, a Surrey Hills South Progress Association was operative, but very little has been found out about it.
Evidence has been found of the existence between at least 1928 and 1934 of a South Surrey Hills Progress Association which met monthly at the Wattle Park Café, corner of Riversdale and Boundary (now Warrigal) Roads.
From at least the mid-1930s to an unknown year a body known as the Surrey Hills Citizens’ League was in existence. A leading figure was Natale Cerini, after whom a room is named in the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre. In 1934, the League opposed expenditure of money by Camberwell Council on the expansion and remodelling of the Town Hall.
A new Surrey Hills Progress Association was established in 1979 in response to the possibility of an elevated roadway being erected in Union Road. The Association appears to have been in existence up to 1984 as records for this short period of five years are the only ones held in the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre Heritage Collection, having been donated by association office bearers. Its objective was ‘To preserve the rights and lifestyle of the residents of Surrey Hills.’ The Association was involved in the annual ‘Carols in the Gardens’ service and the annual Surrey Hills Day.
REF: For further detail regarding the history of the SHMAPA in all its iterations, refer to Surrey Hills Progress Associations, 1899-2015 by Ken James; available from Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre.
THE CURRENT SHMAPA
The current Surrey Hills & Mont Albert Progress Association was formed and incorporated in 2010. This followed the demolition of the historic Surrey Hills Post Office building and general concern over what were perceived to be undesirable urban developments and a lack of protection of neighbourhood character and heritage within Surrey Hills. In 2021 it agreed to change the name of the Association to include Mont Albert.
Surrey Hills Post Office built in 1915
The SHMAPA’s approach is one of positive and constructive engagement, both with the community, and with relevant agencies such as the City of Boroondara and the City of Whitehorse. The SHMAPA provides a central consultation and communication portal for residents, traders, local interest groups, councillors and municipal officers, developers and all other relevant stakeholders to work towards maintaining and developing our community, amenities, environment and neighbourhood.
In 2017 the Association expanded its coverage to include the parts of Surrey Hills and Mont Albert within the 3127 postcode contained within in the City of Whitehorse. This followed the winding up of the West of Elgar Road Residents Association (WERA), a long time residents action group with a history of effective resident representation.
We believe there is an essential and increasingly pressing need to strongly preserve all the things we love about our neighbourhood, great opportunities to plan for its future right now, and also some fantastic strategies and development opportunities to improve what we currently have.
It is important for the local community to be engaged in what is happening around us, and to ensure that we have our say. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the greatest risk to the thoughtful, considered and ordered development of our suburb is complacency, and the view that someone else will do the heavy lifting when it comes to promoting community interests.
The current Surrey Hills & Mont Albert Progress Association Inc (SHMAPA) values the prevailing neighbourhood character and heritage of Surrey Hills & Mont Albert. The SHMAPA also has a constructive attitude towards the evolution of Surrey Hills & Mont Albert, and welcomes appropriate developments which respond to, respect and are consistent with, the prevailing neighbourhood character and heritage of Surrey Hills & Mont Albert.
We are keen to support and challenge the State Government and its related departments, Boroondara and Whitehorse Councils, developers, residents, traders and other stakeholders to achieve these aims by representing the local Surrey Hills community.
ABOUT SURREY HILLS & MONT ALBERT
Surrey Hills and Mont Albert are friendly and vibrant neighbourhoods with a strong sense of their history and heritage. Initially a farming community, Surrey Hills expanded rapidly as a residential suburb following the extension of the railway to Box Hill and the opening of the Surrey Hills railway station in 1882. Today it offers local village shopping in Union Road, a commercial area along Canterbury Road and charming tree-lined streets with a rich mix of housing styles, providing a desirable residential lifestyle. Mont Albert has a similar background and character, and also offers local village shopping areas, including Hamilton Street.