The State Government’s latest ‘review’ of our laws has led to another instance of doublespeak, window dressing and the continued watering down of legislation that serves the purpose of making things as difficult as possible for communities to peek behind the veil of secrecy and lack of accountability.

We remind readers that on every occasion when real reform to local government and planning could, and should, have been achieved, Wynne and his cohorts have literally wimped it in favour of bureaucratic (continued) control, or in favour of developers and the construction industry.

We’ve had the following legislation changes that are nothing more than empty words:

  • The Objector’s Act that was supposed to take account of resident objectors’ concerns to development applications and pay heed to the number(s) of objectors. It does nothing of the sort and is a dismal failure as various VCAT decisions have pointed out.
  • Better Apartments. Another whitewash where instead of stipulating mandatory size apartments we got nothing more than guidelines for ‘ventilation’, etc. A complete cop out.
  • Garden area requirement for NRZ & GRZ developments. More fiddling and failure. Following several VCAT decisions where it was decided that land under eaves should NOT constitute part of the open space requirement, Wynne changed the Practice Note so now these areas CAN be included in the calculation. Also changed was the requirement that these areas be on the ground floor level. That also went so that now that this aspect of open space can be part of someone’s balcony.
  • VicSmart (Amendments C143 & C148) are nothing short of disastrous for residents. No need to advertise some applications and the introduction of the Transport Networks, has resulted in 80% of Glen Eira now not having to provide visitor car parking.

The latest woeful effort is the proposed changes to the Local Government Act. Instead of ensuring that councils are far more accountable and transparent, this proposed Bill does the exact opposite. Parading as giving residents more say we now have a farce writ large!

Currently only another councillor or an officer may report a councillor to a Conduct Panel. In trying to appear as if this government really gives a damn about resident views we have the intention to ‘broaden’ this so that a petition can be sent off asking for a ‘commission of enquiry’. Not so simple however. The applicant has a 200 word limit, plus this petition must obtain 25% of signatures of residents eligible to vote in the municipality. This is not only ludicrous. It is designed to fail. In Glen Eira at the last council elections there were 104,000 qualified voters. That means that any petition asking for an investigation under this ruling would require at least 25,000 signatures. The chances of that happening are zilch. But it surely sounds good, when the government talks about more ‘community accountability’.

Another aspect of great concern is the proposal that a councillor can only be dismissed if there have been 2 findings of gross misconduct in the space of 8 years. What happens if the misconduct takes place over 9 years? More importantly, this completely changes what the current Local Government Act states:

If VCAT makes a finding that a Councillor has engaged in conduct that constitutes gross misconduct, VCAT may order that the Councillor is disqualified from continuing to be a Councillor for a period specified by VCAT not exceeding 8 years and the office of the Councillor is vacated.  

No second chances here. That councillor can be booted out immediately for a period up to 8 years!

We present below the two pages from this draft for readers to digest.

In summary, every legislative review of the past few years has not resulted in greater transparency and accountability to the community, but the exact opposite. Shameful in a so called ‘democracy’’

At this week’s council meeting, it was resolved to advertise the long awaited draft Local Law. Residents will be disappointed with the proposals given that:

  • The significant tree register does not feature. It will take another report, another round of consultation before anything is codified. We assume this will not be before March 2020. Shameful that after all this time, council is still unable to get its act together in a timely fashion. Further, there is still no guarantee that it will even get up with the likes of Magee, Esakoff, Sztrajt and Cade already stating their potential opposition to laws regulating private property. We will have to wait and see what kind of compromise the draft document features.
  • Even more disappointing is the failure of this council to even entertain the idea of a Notice of Motion. We have commented on this ad nauseum over the years. How is it in the best interests of residents and sound governance that Glen Eira is the only council in the state (the last time we checked this out) that refuses to grant councilors the opportunity to raise an issue and hence to adequately represent their constituents? If there is concern about making ad hoc decisions without the ‘expert’ advice of officers, this is easily overcome with the opportunity for officers to comment at the next council meeting. That’s how Kingston does it for example.
  • Also unacceptable is the continuation of the current Public Questions policy. Still a limit of 150 words. Still no public record of what was asked if the questioner isn’t present since the query is not read out and does not go into the minutes. Hence calling this section ‘PUBLIC QUESTIONS’ is ironic indeed. Answers to questions should be on the public record. That is how accountability and transparency are maintained. It is simply not good enough that a ‘response’ is given to the individual and the community has no idea of the question, the answer, and the issue.
  • Council’s constant refrain is that they desire to engage more people. Placing Public Questions near the end of each meeting defeats this entirely. It forces residents to sit through up to three hours (often of sheer tedium) before their questions are read out. All of our neighbouring councils see the folly of this approach. Municipalities such as Bayside, Stonnington, Port Phillip, Monash and Kingston for example place their Public Questions early on following the confirmation of the minutes. Why this can’t be done in Glen Eira is mind boggling, unless of course it is to ensure that few residents have the stamina to wait for hours before their question is read out and responded to.
  • Finally we also remind readers that an ombudsman’s report of recent times recommended that council agendas be made available at least 5 working days prior to a council meeting. In Glen Eira the mantra is that agendas are only available on the preceding Friday after noon and that public questions must be in on the following Monday before noon. It certainly does not give residents time to digest what is often hundreds upon hundreds of pages, nor the time to successfully lobby councilors before a decision is made.

It is instructive that when councilors resolved to advertise the Local Law the above issues (apart from the tree register briefly) weren’t even mentioned. If council is serious about enhancing community engagement, and being as transparent and accountable as possible, then these ‘laws’ are the things that will ensure it doesn’t happen.

Readers will remember that council has slipped in some new (dubious) figures for our housing projection needs. At first we were told that Glen Eira requires 9000 net new dwellings by 2031. This was suddenly changed to 13000 by 2036, with an average requirement of approximately 800 net new dwellings per annum.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics(ABS) has today released its latest figures for the current financial year ie from July 2018 to the end of April 2019. That is a 10 month period. We have taken the trouble to analyse these figures from July 2016 up to the present day to coincide with council’s prognostications. We have also removed the number of building permits for single house replacements. Thus what these figures represent is building approvals for multi developments in the main. The figures literally make a mockery of council’s propaganda. Please also bear in mind that these figures do NOT include the 3000+ for East Village, plus an anticipated additional 1500+ for the Caulfield Village precinct 3 development.

Of particular interest is the average number of net new dwellings per annum. At the current rate, Glen Eira is DOUBLING the 800 average with its total of 1755pa. Compare this with the following averages: Bayside: 685; Boroondara: 838; Kingston: 903; Stonnington: 1106; Port Phillip: 927, and Monash: 1469. If this rate continues (without including East Village & Caulfield Village) the so called target of 13000 net new dwellings will be achieved NOT IN 2036 but in 2023.

Council’s persistent argument has been that not all building permits are acted upon. In fact, they claim that 50% are abandoned and never completed. Even if we accept this argument that means that on current figures council is already achieving its 800 net new dwellings per annum. Which of course raises again the fundamental question(s) of:

  • Why do we need to double the size of our activity centres?
  • Why do we need to turn Glen Eira into a high rise municipality with 12 storeys?
  • Why do we need to rezone so much of our Neigbourhood Residential zoning to GRZ or RGZ?
  • Do we really have the infrastructure to cope with this development given that council spends approx. only $3m per annum on drainage and we do not have a Development Contributions Levy?
  • Why does council never answer these questions?

Finally, so that readers can compare councils in our area we provide a graph that shows the number of building permits since July 2016 until today. The data does NOT include building permits for single house replacements. We also reiterate what we have said countless times previously:

  • Stonnington has roughly 8% of its land zoned commercial. Glen Eira a bare 3% meaning that most multi unit development is occurring in residential streets and NOT in our commercial areas
  • Glen Eira’s density is already the 4th highest in the State behind Melbourne, Port Phillip and Yarra. Port Phillip is a special case with its Capital City Zoning and large tourist requirements
  • Monash is 80 square km in size whilst Glen Eira is half that size with the least amount of public open space per population.

Whilst council sits back waiting until 2021 before it even thinks about doing anything for our Neighbourhood Centres/Activity Centres, developers have an open field day. There already is a 9 storey application in for Hawthorn Road (opposite Godfreys). Now we have another potential sale of the indoor bowls facility. Again practically opposite the 9 storey application.

When the asking price is close to $9 million, then nothing is surer than this will lead to a high rise application with a few token retail shops below.

Council has much to answer for following 15 years of steadfastly refusing to implement structure plans, or any decent Design & Development Overlays in these commercial areas. To delay again is not only unacceptable, it is negligent. That is, of course, unless you are a council that is all for more and more development, aka Glen Eira City Council!

Source: Today’s Caulfield Leader

The State government, via its recent Plan Melbourne Refresh, has reiterated that Glen Huntly is to be seen as a Major Activity Centre and not a Neighbourhood Centre as council has insisted upon for years and years. There are many pros and cons for either position. What concerns us here is the manner that council has gone about informing the community about its plans; its current ‘consultation’ methodology; and the ramifications for what this could all mean for residents.


In documents dated May and July 2017, council nominated Glen Huntly as an ‘emerging Major Activity Centre’ with this ‘criterion’ for development: High focus for housing growth opportunities. A February 2017 document outlined the supposed ‘study area’ for Glen Huntly which increased dramatically from the borders that currently existed as shown below.

No mention was ever made of collaboration with the Victorian Planning Authority(VPA) and its work on the Caulfield Station Precinct until recently. In fact, at the time of writing the VPA website still includes its original borders. No mention is made of Glen Huntly as part of this development.  (see below). We’ve highlighted in red the borders to make them clearer.


What residents now face is another expansion of the land subject for major development, albeit that council continues to use the label of ‘study area’. We have already had examples of how ‘study areas’ morph into the expanded borders of activity centres in Bentleigh and Carnegie. We doubt this will be any different.


Thus, potentially the current ‘activity centre’ border for Glen Huntly has at least tripled in size. Why?



One thing is absolutely clear. Major Activity Centres are slated for intensive housing ‘growth’. They also include areas zoned Residential Growth Zone (ie 4 storeys or 13.5metre height limits). Commercial areas are also expected to carry much of the burden. Currently Glen Huntly does not have:

  • Any areas zoned as RGZ. It contains approximately 35% of its area (minus parks, utilities, etc) as GRZ (ie 3 storeys and 10.5 metre height limit). As a Major Activity Centre this will undoubtedly change. We envisage that rezoning will see much of the current GRZ become RGZ. How much of the current Neighbourhood Residential Zoning becomes GRZ is unknown at this stage. Given what has happened in Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick we anticipate the worst.
  • Currently there are no height limits for the Commercial and Mixed Use areas. Given what is happening in other Neighbourhood Centres not to mention Major Activity Centre, Glen Huntly will not be spared with a structure plan that allows a mere 4 storey height limit in these zones.


Once again council resorts to the pretext of undertaking genuine consultation. Once again there is an online survey that hides a multitude of sins, namely:

  • Residents are asked to ‘prioritise’ up to 11 options several times that basically cover all the same ground as first ‘surveyed’ in early 2017 (ie what do you value about the precinct today?.)
  • Development as such, especially height limits does not rate a mention. Instead we get the category of ‘Housing Options’ for two different questions (ie what do you value and what should be improved?) How do readers interpret the phrase ‘Housing Options’? Does this mean affordable housing? 3 and 4 bedroom apartments? Low rise dwellings? High rise dwellings? Etc. Without clear direction and definition whatever answers council garners, the answers are open to manipulation. Is that the intent here?

When other councils undergo structure planning or any important community consultation there is inevitably a Discussion Paper released. Such papers set out the facts: all the pros and cons; the current situation and the possibilities. Glen Eira has never done this with its structure planning. Instead residents have been drip fed vague, useless tidbits of information (that change continually and without sufficient justification) and surveys that are devoid of all validity. Residents aren’t even provided with the opportunity here to consider their fellow residents’ views/responses and to comment on them if they wish. This is not ‘consultation’.

The prodevelopment agenda is alive and well in Glen Eira City Council. Partnering with the VPA (the State Government’s development arm) is fitting for a council determined to facilitate as much development as it can.  The result will be that between 80 to 90% of Glen Eira will be turned into ‘activity centres’ if our fears are realised on ‘study areas’ becoming the final borders. Expansion has nothing to do with residential amenity but everything to do with packing in more and more development.


We ask that residents listen very carefully to the following audio. It features one question on flooding, Water Sensitive Urban Design, and permeability standards from a resident at the last council meeting, in the ‘participation’ phase of the meeting.

Thinks to note:

  • Whilst countless other councils have WSUD policies in their planning schemes, our wonderful council maintains its stance on ‘government responsibility’ and hence will not do anything other than ‘advocate’. See one of our previous posts on what other councils are doing and have achieved
  • The claim that residents can express their views to a planning panel is deliberately misleading given previous events. Once an amendment is advertised then that’s it. Unless resident concerns are specifically listed then all comments will be regarded as outside the realm of the planning panel. They can only focus on what is in front of them. As occurred with Amendment C87 on Neighbourhood character overlays, residents found that if they wanted their views incorporated, then this would require a new amendment!
  • Council has had years upon years to change the schedules for its residential zones introduced in August 2013. Nothing has been done. Permeability remains at 20% for both the GRZ and RGZ and commercial areas don’t even rate a mention. Whilst council keeps patting itself on the back for its 25% permeability requirement and 50% site coverage in the Neighbourhood Residential zone, we wish to point out what some other councils have achieved in regards to permeability and/or site coverage throughout their municipalities: Banyule has a maximum 40% site coverage in its GRZ2 zone: Bayside in its GRZ1 AND GRZ6 & 7 has a 50% site coverage; Darebin also has a 50% site coverage in its GRZ1; Greater Dandenong has a 40% permeability requirement in its NRZ1 whilst MOnash has 30% permeability in NRZ1, 40% in NRZ2 plus 40% site coverage. Whitehorse has the following schedules:  50% site coverage for grz1 and 30%% permeability for grz1; grz2 40% and 40%; grz3 is 50 and 30% for permeability; grz4 50% and 30%; nrz1to 4 40% & 40%; nrz5 is 50 and 30%
  • Finally, council even considers these minimalist site coverage and permeability requirements as too much according to its draft amendment C184. Whether this remains once the amendment is advertised will be very interesting. Council has decided to create another zone RGZ4 (Garden apartments in activity zones) which will have a 90% site coverage allowance and a humungous 5% permeability requirement. Surely the way to go when all that matters is how many new apartment blocks can be crammed into Glen Eira? Here’s a screen dump of the draft proposal

Residents should indeed be following up and asking why this council is so adverse to introducing any decent controls into its planning scheme, such as a Water Sensitive Urban Design policy, or better still, amending its schedules so that site coverage and permeability standards are vastly improved. Other councils have done this, but not Glen Eira! We also note that the resident’s question(s) were directed to councillors. Sadly, not one councillor had the gumption to respond apart from Hyams and his usual waffle.



$300 million revamp for Caulfield racetrack — see the plans

Caulfield racecourse is set to undergo a $300 million makeover.

Among the changes include:

  • a new grandstand
  • a second racetrack
  • a new spectator entrance
  • revamped horse stalls and parade rings

If approved, the first stage could start as early as late 2019.

The Melbourne Racing Club is preparing to officially unveil its vision to create “a world-class racing and entertainment venue” and give an update on Sandown racecourse.

Training will stop at Caulfield in November 2023 so 18 hectares in the in-field can be redeveloped for public use.

But the MRC has told the Herald Sun, it has no plans to develop Sandown into a training centre and racing activities are set to stay.

The VRC opened a new members’ stand at Flemington last year and Moonee Valley Racing Club is embarking on a radical $2 billion project, which includes reorienting the racetrack so racegoers can face the city.



Caulfield’s $300m redevelopment

Andrew Eddy@fastisheddy

Caulfield is to gain a second inside turf track to be used primarily for night racing as part of a $300 million redevelopment.

The Melbourne Racing Club plans also include a new grandstand as well new horse stalls and parade rings with work potentially beginning on the major revamp by late this year.

But as for the MRC’s Sandown racecourse, it’s future is still unclear as it goes through a re-zoning process that could take up to two years.

MRC chief executive Josh Blanksby explained on Wednesday the second turf track could mean Caulfield’s meetings per season could rise from around 25 to as many as 45 with Wednesday night and the night before public holidays identified as potential dates to hold night racing meetings.

Training is to cease at Caulfield in 2023 so it is expected the $300 million redevelopment could be completed by 2025.

Blanksby told RSN’s Racing Pulse on Wednesday that the securing of a 65-year lease last year for racing at Caulfield meant the club could move forward with long-held redevelopment plans for the 18-hectare space that will be freed-up when training ends at the site in four years.

“That secures our home at Caulfield and that means today we can announce what we see as our vision of a complete redevelopment at Caulfield of all our facilities – our grandstand, day stalls, mounting yard and also the exciting prospect of a second track – an inner track at Caulfield and also lights as well so to really allow Caulfield to become that precinct, that world-class entertainment facility.”

Blanksby denied the sale of Sandown was integral to the Caulfield redevelopment. He said the club enjoyed “a number of assets and holdings and business interests” including the adjacent Caulfield Village development.

But he said it would be remiss of the club not to evaluate the Sandown site and have it rezoned to prepare for a potential new future.

As part of the redevelopment, the MRC-owned land on Caulfield’s western end is likely to be used for residential redevelopment while both the the Hiskens and the Norman Robinson stands in for facelifts.

The project has been well received by Racing Victoria with chief executive Giles Thompson claiming the upgrade would mean Caulfield a truly world-class racing and entertainment centre.