We’ve received another email from the Elsternwick residents. We concur completely with their, and other comments regarding the release of information to the public. It simply is not good enough that residents will only get to see the structure planning proposals anytime past 12 pm on Friday and councillors are to vote on the recommendations the following Tuesday night!

What this means is:

  • residents will have limited time to digest the documents
  • residents will have limited time to lobby their representatives

Please remember that in a recent ombudsman’s report there was the recommendation that councils publish their agendas at least 5 working days prior to any council meeting. Plenty of other councils such as Bayside, Stonnington, etc. seem able to do this, but not Glen Eira!

Here’s the email –

Dear residents,

We have been advised that Glen Eira Council has now developed and completed a third plan (Option 3) for the Urban Renewal Zone – but are not releasing it to residents until the papers are issued for next Tuesday 27 February council vote.

It is completely unacceptable not to socialise this new proposal with residents and it certainly makes us wonder what they are trying to hide.

FOR URGENT ACTION:

Please URGENTLY email the following list of councillors and key council staff to demand Option 3 be released immediately for residents to review.   We need as many people as possible to do this in the next 24 hours or so.

Please make it clear in your emails that the complete lack of transparency throughout this entire consultation process with people in and around the Urban Renewal Zone boarders on deceptive behaviour and will not be tolerated by our community.

List of council email addresses are below:

MDelahunty@gleneira.vic.gov.au; JSilver@gleneira.vic.gov.au; DSztrajt@gleneira.vic.gov.au; NTaylor@gleneira.vic.gov.au; JMagee@gleneira.vic.gov.au; JHyams@gleneira.vic.gov.au; TAthanasopoulos@gleneira.vic.gov.au; MEsakoff@gleneira.vic.gov.au; CDavey@gleneira.vic.gov.au; RMcKenzie@gleneira.vic.gov.au;  cityfutures@gleneira.vic.gov.au; RTorres@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Thank you in advance for your help and support.

We’ve received the following email regarding the draft Elsternwick structure plans.

Dear Residents,

Thanks to everyone who met with Councillor Clare Davey on Sunday.  It was a great turnout of 40+ residents.  The signs opposing the 12 storey rezone made an impact when we walked her through our community and she was shocked to hear about the lack of consultation.

KEY DATES:  Tuesday 27 February – Council vote on Elsternwick Structure plans Option 1 & 2.  We need as many people as possible to attend. 

FOR ACTION:  As a result of negative feedback, we believe council may be considering alternatives to Option 1 & 2.  This is our last chance to influence the plans.
Please contact ALL councillors and clearly request they vote NO to BOTH options on 27 February and tell them what you will be happy with.  (Note: all nine councillors get a vote).

 

PROCESS: 

  • Where possible, please consider calling them – this has the most impact as it connects the decision with real people.
  • Please also email all councillors (and CC City Futures department who developed this proposal: cityfutures@gleneira.vic.gov.au )

 

GIVE COUNCIL AN ALTERNATIVE BY DETAILING WHAT YOU WILL SUPPORT  (Below are EXAMPLE statements – please tailor for your own opinion….):

  • I ask you vote NO to BOTH options and I EXPECT you develop a more appropriate option (this time with proper community consultation).
  • I ask you spread the density in the correct place – right down Glen Huntley Road Activity Centres (up to 4-6 storeys).
  • I only want 1-2 storey HOUSE & TOWNHOUSE development in our residential streets in the proposed Urban Renewal zone.
  • I want commercial areas off Nepean Hwy to be restricted to 2-4 storey development (& preferably townhouses) in order to maintain our village feel.  If you can’t put forward an appropriate option for the car yards, then leave them commercially zoned.
  • I want MAXIMUM Height Limits (no ‘Recommended’ heights as this will be overturned at VCAT)
  • ALTERNATIVELY, I would be happy for council to buy up the commercial sites and give parkland back to the people.
  • I also note that of all the feedback submitted (and available on your website), less than 10 per cent provided feedback to say they were in support of the Urban Renewal Zone options.  I expect you to represent the interests of ratepayers in this community.


COUNCILLOR DETAILS:

 

NAME & Contact details What they say about themselves
Mary Delahunty (Camden – Elsternwick)

Phone: 03 9523 9105
Mobile: 0427 970 879
Email: MDelahunty@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Strongly in FAVOUR of high rise proposal.
Joel Silver (Camden – Elsternwick)

Mobile: 0499 357 262
Email:
JSilver@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Priority is engaging with the community is Cr Silver’s
Encourages residents to be in touch on any matter.
Previously voted against Councillor motions on development matters.
Dan Sztrajt (Camden – Elsternwick)

Mobile: 0466 372 822
Email: DSztrajt@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Campaigned on sensible environmental sustainability, more open spaces, resolute objection to inappropriate development.
Nina Taylor

Mobile: 0466 372 809
Email: NTaylor@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Works for a not-for-profit organisation. Long-term commitment to meaningful community engagement.
Jim Magee

Mobile: 0427 338 327
Email: JMagee@gleneira.vic.gov.au

 
Jamie Hyams, Deputy Mayor

Phone: 03 9578 8314
Mobile: 0427 319 018
Email: JHyams@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Tony Athanasopoulos, MAYOR

Mobile: 0466 372 816
Email: TAthanasopoulos@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Born of two migrant parents from Greece and Italy
Margaret Esakoff

Mobile: 0407 831 893
Email: MEsakoff@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Committed to improving residents’ quality of life

Strong community involvement

Keen interest in all community issues.

Clare Davey

Mobile: 0466 469 776
Email: CDavey@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Traffic and Transport Engineer.  Affiliated with The Greens.
Rebecca McKenzie, Glen Eira CEO
RMcKenzie@gleneira.vic.gov.au
Strongly in FAVOUR of high rise proposal.  Has also dismissed suggestions that council has not done a thorough, open and transparent consultation process.
City Futures department cityfutures@gleneira.vic.gov.au
All emails: MDelahunty@gleneira.vic.gov.au; JSilver@gleneira.vic.gov.au; DSztrajt@gleneira.vic.gov.au; NTaylor@gleneira.vic.gov.au; JMagee@gleneira.vic.gov.au; JHyams@gleneira.vic.gov.au; TAthanasopoulos@gleneira.vic.gov.au; MEsakoff@gleneira.vic.gov.au; CDavey@gleneira.vic.gov.au; RMcKenzie@gleneira.vic.gov.au;  cityfutures@gleneira.vic.gov.au

OTHER POINTS TO CONSIDER RAISING (IF YOU WANT TO):

  • How long you have lived in Elsternwick and which street.
  • The Victorian state government’s policy is to “encourage local governments to review the purpose and function of individual centres, and revise local planning policies through structure planning for each of their activity centres”.  The proposed Urban Renewal Zone is outside Elsternwick’s activity centre.
  • Retailers in Elsternwick’s activity centre – right along Glen Huntley Road (and in particular near the corner of Glen Huntley & Hawthorn Roads – who recently petitioned the council on this point), want the higher density to be along the shopping strip – so residents will choose their shops and not drive to large shopping centres.
  • Key statistics on why such an excessive proposal unjustified.  When comparing Glen Eira to other councils:
  • Glen Eira has highest population density per hectare (2016 Census)
  • Glen Eira has overall highest building approvals for 2016/17 – with only 7% of these houses. (ABS).  Building approvals is almost three times higher than neighbouring councils.
  • Glen Eira has overall highest multi-unit approval 2016/17 (ABS)
  • Glen Eira has lowest open space provision per person
  • Glen Eira has third highest number of unoccupied dwellings (1,300)
  • Building approvals info was NOT included in the research & reports undertaken to inform the development of this proposal.
  • The Victorian state government highlighted Bentleigh and Carnegie for increased development in the activity centre NOT Elsternwick.
  • Elsternwick has 32 schools in a 5km radius – making it an ideal places for families.  It doesn’t make sense to re-zone for apartments which will not be able to cater for families.
  • This is one of the oldest parts of Elsternwick with long term residents who know and support each other.  It is the village feel you are seeking to create.  You can’t have a village feel if you build a high rise city.
  • There is no traffic impact assessment or traffic plan – and will create traffic gridlock in all streets going up to Glen Huntley Road shops.
  • The proposed park on the Holden site will be in complete shade if highrises are built around it.

 

A new application has just come in for a 14 storey building in Elsternwick –

10-16 Selwyn Street ELSTERNWICK VIC 3185

Proposal: Demoltiion (sic) of existing buildings; Use of the land for office and shop purposes; construction of mutli-storey buildings (up to 14 storeys in height), reduction in statutory car parking requirements and use of the land to sell packaged liqour on land affected by the Heritage Overlay

This is another example of woeful and inadequate planning by Council. Elsternwick does not even have interim height guidelines to provide a modicum of protection until the structure plans are all in place. We can only speculate as to why Elsternwick, a MAJOR ACTIVITY CENTRE, was left in the lurch and not included with the amendments for Bentleigh and Carnegie. Was it because council had already made up its mind that Elsternwick was to be set up as the high rise centre of Glen Eira?

Currently the abutting sites are zoned as RGZ – ie 4 storeys and 13.5 metre mandatory height. The draft structure plans released by council in October continue to make no sense. The current RGZ is proposed to become “heritage and character housing’ of 1 to 2 storeys. All well and good for those dwellings that haven’t been destroyed and are still at this height and not the 4 storey current limit. But what does council now propose – 6-8 storeys abutting 1 and 2 storeys and in a Heritage zone!!!!

We can only hope that the VCAT member has more sense than council’s planners as occurred with the Horne Street application!

Please bear with us for this long post which reveals the planning mayhem that is Glen Eira.

In October last year council released its second version of the various structure plans. This followed the July release of version one. Both the Elsternwick and Carnegie October versions maintained the 12 storey height proposals, but this time 2 options were provided for each centre. Our focus of attention is Elsternwick’s Horne Street and its relationship with Ross Street.

The following images depict the 2 current options for this area. Option One is for a complete rezoning of Horne and Ross Street to 12 storeys and the second option is to allow 12 storeys along Horne St., and 4 storeys along Ross Street. Please note that Ross Street is currently zoned RGZ (ie 4 storey maximum height limit of 13.5 metres). Council’s stated rationale for potentially rezoning Ross Street to 12 storeys is interesting to say the least – This option would allow for property owners to gain from the property uplift gained from a future rezoning (Page 56 of the ‘background report’!!!!!!!).

In December 2016 an application came in for a 9 storey development at 1-3 Horne St. We assume that prior to this formal application there would have been plenty of meetings between the developer and the planning department – as council’s own website even recommends! The development application was decided by council six month later on the 13th of June 2017. The officer’s (Rocky Camera) recommendation was a refusal. Councillors voted unanimously to also refuse. Here is part of what the officer’s report stated –

The subject sites have a total area of 612 square metres. The application proposes a maximum building height of 28 metres. Building heights within the immediate area predominately comprise one, two, three and four storey buildings. Despite the policy direction for higher densities in this location, the proposed 9 storey building is likely to present as a jarring and imposing building when read in the context of surrounding lower scale buildings, in particular to the lower scale residential dwellings located to the rear at Ross Street. The design therefore does not appropriately respond or contribute positively to its context or provide an appropriate scale in terms of the bulk and height relative to the scale of the street and surrounding buildings. Development should be appropriate for the area and new buildings should respond to the scale of surrounding buildings. Although there is not always a need to break up the massing of a building based on its context, in this instance it is considered that a predominant lower scale building, characteristic of the immediate surrounding area necessitates a more thoughtful and sensitive design response. (agenda 13/6/2017)

The developer then marched off to VCAT for a review of the refusal. This hearing was held on the 4-5 December 2017. The VCAT member upheld council’s decision to refuse a permit. (See: http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCAT//2018/172.html)

The decision and what it implies about council’s planning for the area is fascinating.  In June 2017 council thought that 9 storeys was too high. Yet structure planning was well and truly underway by this time. Barely one month later there was the release of the first draft of the Elsternwick structure plan containing the proposed 12 storeys. So we have the incredible situation where on the one hand council says that something is too high for the specific area and at the same time ignores its own arguments and comes up with 12 storeys instead. Ironic, or just plain incompetent, or have developers, itching to get their hands on some sites been knocking down the doors of council?

Ultimately what does this say about council’s and councillors’ entire planning approach? The VCAT member’s judgement focused quite specifically on overshadowing. Exactly the points that residents raised and which we revealed in our last post. Council of course was forced to admit that they were only now undertaking more ‘sophisticated’ analysis of the impacts. Yet it did not stop them from arguing about overshadowing at the VCAT hearing!

We will finish off with some quotes from the decision.

What is at issue is whether the extent of building intensification at nine storeys is too much for the particular constraints of the site. These constraints include the residential properties to the general south-west of the site, the continuity of development for adjoining commercial sites and the overall presentation of the building to the broader area.

From submissions made and the reasons identified in the council’s grounds for refusal we find there a number of questions we need to determine. These are:

  1. Does the built form adequately respond to its site setting? This is the key matter of consideration and includes how the proposal responds to:
    1. It’s setting in the activity centre at the corner of Glen Huntly Road.
    1. It’s setting to the existing and possible future rear interface of Ross Street and the broader view from the south-west.
    1. Its setting as part of the commercial street of Horne Street, and in particular its immediate abuttal to sites directly south-east of the site.
  1. Does the proposal need to include greater commercial use?
  1. Doe the proposal provide adequate car parking, bicycle and pedestrian access?

The building has a direct interface to three single storey houses at 26A to 30 Ross Street. These sites are located in a Residential Growth Zone where the planning scheme anticipates that there will be redevelopment through consolidation of sites and new building likely to be up to four storeys.

  • The proposed building will present as a nine storey building to these immediate abuttals and the generally lower building forms that exist in the wider area of Ross Street. This includes a three storey apartment building at 26 Ross Street and a 3-5 storey building under construction on the Nepean Highway that has an exposed façade to the court bowl, western end of Ross Street.
  • A key question is what amenity expectation should be held for the immediate abuttals, particularly the secluded open space areas of the three houses at 26A to 30 Ross Street that orientate north-east directly toward the review site

There are two key issues that interlink in this consideration. There are the visual impacts associated with the building bulk and shadow impacts to windows and secluded open space areas. The three adjoining properties all have small secluded open space areas that already receive limited direct sunlight at the equinox.

The proposed building will extend shadow at 9am over the entire roof of the buildings at 28-30 Ross Street. A person standing in these rear yards would therefore be in full shadow. This remains the case generally until sometime between 10.30 and 11am. The western yard at 26A Ross Street is significantly impacted by the shadow by 10am until sometime between 11am and 12pm. By 12pm the shadow of the proposed building moves to the commercial properties at 4-6 Horne Street.

The extent of additional shadow in the morning to these properties is concerning, particularly the complete enclosing of the rear yards at 28 and 30 Ross Street with shadow between 9 and 10am. This emphasises to us not just a question of shadow but also visual bulk to all three of these rear neighbours.

In conclusion we are not satisfied the proposed building sufficiently addresses the amenity of the existing dwellings to its rear. The shadow diagrams indicate that not only will the building cast significant shadow to these sites, but will significantly ‘loom’ over the rear yards of these adjoining sites.

  • Objective 5.1.2 of the Urban Design Guidelines for Victoria seeks to ensure that an activity centre provides a graduated transition between different building scales and uses. We are not satisfied the current proposal at nine storeys, against single storey, or even redevelopment up to four storeys to the south-west, achieves such appropriate graduation.
  • The sharp contrast in heights results in a combination of shadow and bulk impacts to the existing dwellings. We find these impacts to be a key failing of this proposal. Even assuming that the sites are redeveloped we remain concerned that the proposal will create an unacceptable interface to which the adjoining sites would then need to compensate for. We consider this an inequitable outcome.

More important questions arise out of this judgement. Does it in fact mean that council’s proposals don’t even meet the relevant legislation and guidelines for activity centre development?

In the ‘public participation’ section of tonight’s council meeting, there were two excellent questions asked by residents on the draft structure plans for Elsternwick – especially the proposals to rezone large areas of the suburb to cater for buildings up to twelve storeys. We present below a direct transcript of the questions and the answers provided by officers and councillors. Please consider the responses carefully.

RESIDENT ONE

“Your worship and councillors thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on the Elsternwick structure plans. The area that I am particularly concerned about is the area between the railway and Nepean Highway north and south of Glen Huntly Road. So what is this area comprised of? …I’ll be quick. There are about 250 residences. I counted the letter boxes south of Glen Huntly Road. There’s about 48 to the north. And by Glen Eira’s statistics there’s 2.48 persons on average per household. So that adds up to 742 people that are affected by these structure plans.  The six main sites of commercial enterprise, they comprise by my rough estimate,  31% of the land. So 69% of the land is homes. It’s an ethnically diverse area – Greek, Polish, Dutch, Italian, – many of us have superb cultivated gardens. We have solar panels, we have extensions, we have rain water tanks and we are friendly. We visit each other and we visited each other before the structure plans as well. We are a village community. We are exactly what the Elsternwick survey feedback said was important.

The most frequently used phrase in that feedback was ‘maintain the village feel’. I think I counted it five or six times. Our homes are not aged as in your report. They are period homes and they are cheery apartments.  And as Mary, sorry Cr Delahunty said when discussing 10 St Georges Road, in this very forum, this is not a paddock. I ask that you consider the current rezone with the same scrutiny  as you did with 10 St Georges Road. Any my two questions are: Where are the economic, and the social, and the traffic and environmental studies,  on our particular area? I know the documents exist and they are very good,  but they don’t say a lot to our little area. And what makes west Elsternwick residents matter less with respect to rezoning than the rest of Elsternwick? I thank you for your time.” (applause)

ATHANASOPOLOUS – handed over to Ron Torres.

TORRES: …I must say that this little location of our municipality received very strong feedback on our structure plans. Very diverse feedback. And the challenge for officers now is to digest all the views we’ve  received and to form a recommendation to council to determine on the 27nd February. As you know we went out to community engagement on two options and I must say that those options polarised the community. Not just the residents but also the car yard owners as well and we received very diverse views. So officers are now considering how to respond to that. What final recommendation we may offer to council to try and balance all those views. So stay tuned. It’s not an easy task. Hopefully we can find a balance for this precinct.

DELAHUNTY: I do want to add that I obviously concur with the process that Mr Torres has outlined, but also from the council’s point of view, we wanted consultation. And so we are really pleased the feedback’s strong, but it’s true and I think you should know that our minds  are true to it as well. That this is a question that was asked and when we’re getting answers there was never any preconceived  ‘this is how it must be’. So I think you should all be congratulated on the way you’ve all entered into that discussion.

ATHANASOPOLOUS: I concur with everything that Cr Delahunty has said.  Look, it’s been a massive process. It really started before any of us were even in the chamber and all along the way we’ve kept communicating with the community. There’s been some changes, there’s been some positive change, some would say there’s been some negative change.  So, we’re not sure what the recommendation will be come the 27th  but we’ll wait and see, then discuss it in this chamber.

RESIDENT TWO

Thank you councillors. My question relates also to the structure plan for Elsternwick. Now, you will be aware that there was a public meeting here in this building some time ago when the first plan came out and there were hundreds of people in attendance and – all residents of course – the response was most negative. So I have two questions. The area that is going to be affected also impacts on abutting residents. I know there’s a railway line in between but you’re proposing twelve storey apartments on that particular site. The railway easement for that area is only about 20 metres in width. And on the other side of that easement from the railway there are residential properties, single dwelling covenants, of one and two storeys only. And I want to ask council, what consideration has been given to the overshadowing of twelve storey apartments only 20 metres away from the single dwellings on the other side? Further, I want to ask at the southern end, because I’ve had a close look at those plans, you’ll find that there is no access from those particular apartment blocks to the train area in Glen Huntly Road  other than under the railway viaduct and then up some very narrow residential streets. And I want to know what consideration has been given to the pressure of traffic from all those new residences trying to access the train area and Glen Huntly Road, the tram on Glen Huntly Road, the buses on Glen Huntly Road, and the train on Glen Huntly Road? And how do you intend to ameliorate the issues that we as residents in the abutting areas Have? Thank you for your attention. (applause)

ATHANASOPOLOUS: I think that one thing that needs to be understood is that …there’s no plans submitted on any of the sites yet, so any traffic management is not yet entirely decided upon. However, in saying that, if a structure plan was to be approved by this council, what will occur  those controls may be put in place upon that structure plan that may speak to some of the questions that you’re asking.

TORRES: ….the feed back that we received from both the residential and business community caused us to look more closely at this precinct in terms of traffic, vehicular access,  shadowing on the adjoining residential area to the east and looking at the shadowing actually doing more sophisticated modelling, taking into account the topography of the railway embankment to properly assess the impacts of shadowing. So that work is being conducted as we speak. In terms of traffic, we are very aware of the issues that have been raised but linking back to the mayor’s answer, these structure plans are really just the start. They set the broad framework for possible future development. Well they set the parameters. When a development is eventually lodged for this precinct, as for anywhere else in the municipality I might add, more detailed analysis of traffic impact occurs as well. So there’s a whole journey ahead of us in setting the vision, setting what sort of planning provisions match with that vision,and that will still involve the community and ultimately deciding on detailed applications still involves the community.

COMMENTS

The responses to the above questions reveal some important facts –

  • Councillors have no real input into this entire process of structure planning. If they did have any influence, and were really listening to the feedback received, then we wouldn’t have had to go through the farce of consultation after consultation where residents have made it abundantly clear that 12 storey apartment blocks are anathema to the vast majority of the community. Yet this aspect of the structure planning for Elsternwick and Carnegie, has not changed one iota despite all the feedback!
  • How is it possible that with the volume of ‘documentation’ released in one fell swoop, that traffic, overshadowing, is not fully researched? What then is the point of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ‘expert’ Urban Design, Traffic, (and currently a Integrated Traffic Plan that was supposed to be the backbone of the structure planning) when council hasn’t the foggiest about the impact of all this development? Surely any decent planning should have been ‘sophisticated’ right from the start and not a year down the track? And, may we suggest, that if residents hadn’t kicked up such a stink, would council even be considering more ‘sophisticated’ approaches to analysis? We doubt it!!!!!
  • Torres’ comments on setting a ‘framework’ and ‘parameters’ are beguiling but misleading! Once a structure plan containing either preferred or mandatory height limits of 12 storeys is set, then developers have been given the go ahead to literally reach for the skies. And we all know the level of ‘analysis’ that goes into individual planning applications. The vast majority of officer reports note that an additional 100 or so apartments will not cause any negative impact on traffic, parking, etc!!!!!

Item 9.3 – North Road, Ormond

An application for a 6 storey, 39 apartment  dwellings is up for decision this coming council meeting. The site is in the Ormond Neighbourhood Centre , zoned Commercial and abuts a GRZ area (3 storeys).  The officer recommendation is to grant a permit with some minor tinkering of conditions – eg. increased setbacks on a few of the proposed apartments, car parking requirements, and a landscape plan, etc.

As an augur of what is to come, this application is significant –

  • Council has already admitted that it sees nothing wrong with an 8 storey development over rail in Ormond. Thus a six storey development in a Neighbourhood Centre is also welcomed. What this means for our other Neighbourhood Centres is ominous! And without any hope of getting structure planning done for these centres in the next 2 years at least, developers can rest easy that council will bend over backwards to support their applications.
  • Council is now quite content to allow a 3 storey differential between its current zoning. Several years back there was an application for a 6 storey development in Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North. The officer report at the time recommended a 5 storey height limit and included this comment – The General Residential Zoned land to the west has a known future height limit of 10.5m or 3 storeys. The transition of the 6 level proposal to the existing residential land to the west is considered to be too abrupt to the substantially single storey dwellings. This holds even if the land to the west is ultimately developed in accordance with the GRZ provisions. Nothing has changed in the planning scheme regarding North and Hawthorn Roads. So where is the consistency? If anything, the Caulfield North site (now viewed as a Major Activity Centre by Plan Melbourne is more ‘suitable’ for 6 storeys than is North Road which still remains a neighbourhood centre. We remind readers that these ‘recommendations’ make a complete mockery of council’s current planning scheme.

There is much in this officer’s report which should be questioned. For example: the proposed height of 23 metres is considered ‘acceptable’ because of previous permits granted that are smack in the middle of the commercial centre and NOT ON THE EDGE as this land is. Council however resorts to the jargon of this building representing a ‘gateway structure’ to the Neighbourhood Centre! Please remember the arguments on Wynne’s 13 storey proposal where councillors such as Esakoff saidwhat makes a building a landmark’? Didn’t think that a landmark building ‘needs to be 2 storeys higher’ than its surrounds. Landmarks are building of ‘some special design feature’ and not just height . Sztrajt also commented on what constitutes a ‘landmark’ building when he said that the State Government is  – ‘calling this landmark’ in order to ‘give them the possibility of creating a cash cow’ and to ‘recoup’ their costs for the grade separation. They are therefore ‘using the word landmark to convince us that a residential tower’ is ‘something special in a shopping area’.

As for the other components of this report, residents should note the following:

PARKING – The applicant advised (at the planning conference) that if required, an additional 14 car spaces could be provided on-site (by providing an additional basement level). This will result in a total of 29 car spaces provided for the retail component which is a shortfall of only 7 spaces. This is considered a reasonable outcome and forms part of the recommendation. 

DIVERSITY OF DWELLINGS: The application proposed 39 dwellings of which 33 are two bedroom and 6 are three bedroom. The planning scheme under Section 58.02-3 states –To encourage a range of dwelling sizes and types in developments of ten or more dwellings.  Council’s response to this clause is – Whilst only proposing two primary forms of dwelling (two bedroom apartments and three bedroom apartments), it is considered that this is a suitable response. No explanation of course is provided as to why such a configuration is ‘suitable’ nor how a building that contains 85% of 2 bedrooms can be considered to meet the standards of a ‘range’ of ‘types’. Yes, there are no single bedroom apartmens but surely diversity does not mean 85% of two bedroom units?

Given the location of this site we also find it remarkable that only 9 properties were notified!

Our last comment reflects on the ‘consistency’ of council. A table is included in this report which purports to present ‘compliance’ with the various provisions of the planning act. Why such a table should only feature for one application and not all applications is beyond us. Secondly, we invite readers to again compare the quality of such a table with what other councils provide. Please note Bayside’s interpretation of ‘diversity’ in the image below.

As long as councillors continue to accept sub-standard officer reports and base their decision making on such reports, then we are indeed in deep trouble!

We are repeatedly floored by the lack of substance and constant acquiescence by this council to government planning proposals. In this case it involves Wynne’s proposed changes to what is commonly known as ‘aged care’. This involves:

  • The ‘reclassification’ of aged care from ‘residential building’ to ‘accommodation’. This means that all current ‘standards’ such as ResCode, neighbourhood character considerations, and the new ‘garden requirement’ for NRZ and GRZ areas no longer apply.
  • Height limits of the relevant zone no longer apply – hence such ‘accommodation’ in the NRZ could ‘legally’ be 4 storeys
  • An 80% site coverage allowance
  • No notice, appeal rights for the community

All in all, this is a further erosion of democratic rights and the continued relaxation of the law in favour of developers. We do acknowledge the need for (more) aged care facilities. What we do not accept is that the rest of the community is made to pay the price for shoddy legislation, and the total disregard for residential amenity.

So how does Glen Eira Council approach this? As stated above, the tone, content and ‘misgivings’ provided by council are pathetically weak, minimalist, and hardly informative for the community. By way of contrast, the Monash submission is all those things which Glen Eira hasn’t bothered with. We can find no excuse why the Monash agenda can include the actual proposed amendment, provide detailed explanations, and all Glen Eira can come up with is a one page officer’s report that is basically all jargon (ie Clause 74/5) and a page and a half submission that overall is cow-towing in both tone and content.

Glen Eira starts off its submission with this:

Glen Eira City Council thanks DELWP for the opportunity to provide feedback to the consultation process for changes to planning controls for residential aged care facilities (RACF). Council agreesthat changes need to be made to allow more efficient delivery of well-designed and located residential aged care facilities throughout Victoria.

Monash includes this commentary in its agenda –

It should be noted that Council did not receive direct notification of the the consultation program. Officers became aware of the consultation through the weekly State governments generic “Planning Matters” email which is distributed weekly to registered planning officers and industry professionals. Planning Matters is generally used to communicate planning information on amendments, panel hearings and planning training.

AND

Whilst there are a number of technical changes proposed to the planning scheme. The objective of the changes are to make it easier to obtain a planning permit for a RACF in all residential zones in the State. 

Admittedly, Glen Eira does comment on proposed heights, car parking, and locations for these aged care facility (RACF) changes.  But at the same time we find council’s SUPPORT for an 80% site coverage –

The proposed site coverage of 80%, including a driveway, pedestrian path and area set aside for car parking is considered acceptable. 

No explanation is provided as to why an 80% site coverage is ‘acceptable’ – especially in light of the fact that these facilities could be placed in NRZ areas where site coverage is currently 50% 

Monash’s view differs markedly as shown with these comments –

The proposed provisions would allow site coverage of 80%. This far exceeds the site coverage in existing residential areas – currently 60%, and in the Amendment C125 residential zones – between 40% and 60%.

Garden area requirements in the residential zones (usually between 25% and 35% of the site area depending on lot size) would not need to be met as RACF would no longer be in the definition of Residential Buildings, so the requirement would not apply. The result could potentially be buildings with very large footprints and little garden area or landscaping that would be at odds with the garden city character of Monash. 

The lack of any requirement to consider neighbourhood character and the impact on surrounding land uses is concerning and not appropriate in a residential zone. 

Such requirements apply to other uses in these zones and it is not clear why RACF should be exempt. 

Surely it is time that this council had the balls to stand up for its residents and strongly oppose amendments that continually favour developers whilst impacting negatively on the larger community and ratepayers.

FYI – the Monash submission is uploaded HERE.