This post features a report on the 12 storey application on Dandenong Road. We ask readers to carefully assess the arguments presented by each councillor since we feel they are extraordinary and in fact, represent an admission of total failure to plan and protect residential amenity.

Lipshutz, Hyams, Esakoff, Pilling and Magee have now been on council for a period ranging from 9 to 4 years. Not once throughout this time have any of them been willing to address the issue of height limits in Glen Eira. Not once have any of them insisted (in public) that Glen Eira Council applies for interim or permanent height controls. Now we have the nonsense argument that since there is no policy we can’t knock back entirely such applications. But, with the planning zone reforms they will finally look at height controls. It’s anyone’s guess if these height controls will be anything less than 8 storeys for activity zones.

Here’s the ‘debate’. Lobo was on ‘leave of absence’ until December.

Esakoff moved an alternate motion. Instead of 12 storeys the application be reduced to 8 storeys and 97 dwellings and that only 20% of dwellings be reliant on artificial light and car parking be 1 car space for 1 and 2 bedroom dwellings and not less than 48 retail car parking spaces. Seconded by Pilling.

ESAKOFF: said that her motion basically ‘halves’ the number of levels and reduced the number of units from 173 to 97. Her motion also ‘brings back the scale of the building where it will fit more comfortably into the surrounds’ but will still allow this development where it is “most appropriate along Dandenong Road”. Stated that she was concerned that there would be more traffic congestion along Koornangk Road therefore “the reduction in the number of dwellings is appropriate”….’although clearly there will still be an increase in car movements’. Concerned about the borrowed light and ‘my preference would be that all apartments’ have natural light but that this isn’t unusual these days when people go to VCAT. Even though council’s traffic department said that 35 car parks were sufficient for the retail section she felt that 48 should be available in ‘accordance with the requirements’. A sign would also have to be placed to let people know that no residential parking permits will be given out for this development so that people who are thinking of buying or renting will know the situation.

PILLING: supported Esakoff because it was ‘more modest’ even though the site is ‘right for development’ and is in a “fairly unique part of Carnegie’ but he does ‘have problems with the 12 storeys’. Went on to explain that in Carnegie currently most buildings are four stories even though VCAT did allow a couple of 5 storeys recently, so to go ‘from 5 to 12 is…too much for this area’. Said that “it was never envisaged that Carnegie would have 12 storey towers’ but that the alternative of 8 storeys “is appropriate”. Said that council needed to look at heights in some areas to give “better surety” to people.

LIPSHUTZ: Said that he always wanted to be consistent in that ‘development should be reasonable’ but in this case he supports the officer’s recommendation for 12 storeys. Argued that he would agree with Pilling if this was in a ‘quiet residential street’ but this is on Dandenong Road with a railway line and ‘doesn’t impact on any housing’ or overshadowing. ‘Where else are we going to have high density housing?”. Said that the government supports high density housing but that he doesn’t want that in ‘our quiet residential streets’ or some of the main streets in Glen Eira, but Dandenong Road is okay. Went on to ask ‘why is 12 storeys wrong’? Agreed that there would be an impact on traffic though but that would happen regardless of whether it was 8 storeys or 12 storeys. Further, this is a ‘high quality building’ and not cheap and nasty. The area is mainly commercial/industrial and there’s nothing really nice about it and this would ‘improve the area’. If the application was for anywhere else he would support the alternate motion but not this time. “I see nothing wrong with this building in this particular site”.

MAGEE: said that he’s got his own little ‘checklist’ and that before he makes a decision he asks whether the application is in a Major Activity Centre, and this is. It also ‘meets the State Planning Policy Framework’. Asked ‘where are the reasons to object to this?’ It meets state planning policy, is in a Housing Diversity Area and that earlier in the year council voted to turn this ‘into a business 2 zone’, so ‘intense development is encouraged in that area’. Also part of the urban village policy ‘which encourages high residential density’ in these areas. Further no problems with director of public transport nor vic roads and parks, waste management and no-one thought there was an issue or problem. What the problem is, is that ‘the framework is not there….because we have set no height limits. There is no height limits set by us in the past’ but there is an ‘opportunity’ with the Minister’s planned new zones ‘we may be able to put some restrictions in ourselves’ then. Said that council can’t tell a developer to apply for a permit and then say we’re ‘not going to give it to you’ when council has put in these conditions and allowed things to happen. Said that vcat would approve it anyway because they’ll look at the fact that it’s in a Major Activity Centre and ‘tick, tick, tick tick’. Vcat won’t reduce it by 4 floors. Instead of reducing it ‘you’ve got to say’ reject it entirely. “we as a council have put this policy in place….the framework is not consistent with reducing it by 4 floors’…‘we’ve got to make sure in future that we do set height limits’ and this application shows ‘the failings’ of council in that they haven’t looked at height limits closely enough.

SOUNNESS: supported the officers recommendations for 12 storeys. “I feel that if the development is not there, then where?’ He didn’t find the grounds ‘sufficiently compelling’ to support the alternate motion.

DELAHUNTY: started off by saying that many ‘of us campaigned on the grounds of opposing inappropriate development’ . Said that Lipshutz had made her case for her in that Lipshutz admitted there were traffic problems, borrowed light. Felt that this development ‘was overly intense and that’s enough for me’

OKOTEL: Said that no policy has been developed on how tall buildings should be and felt that this decision would set a precedent for development in the area. Said that other buildings on opposite side of Dandenong Road are 3 storeys and apartments of ‘no more than 2 storeys’ so this would be ‘far, far greater’ than what’s there presently. This would also cause ‘pressure on existing amenities’ and ‘create further congestion’. Said that residents already have severe problems with Koornang Rd, and trains make this even worse. Stated that ‘in the absence of policy’ as to height limits then council must also consider what the community benefit will be so given congestion and the likelihood of many families with kids living in the area, she thinks there wouldn’t be overall community benefit.

HYAMS: ‘this is a really tough one’…’it certainly is the right place for more intense development’. It ‘might set a precedent’ but since it’s the only such block in the area then maybe it won’t set a precedent. No overlooking or overshadowing, near shops and trains, ‘so the ideal place for intense development’. Said that Esakoff’s proposal would equate to ‘intense development’  but ‘it fits this site’. ‘In the absence of height limits it’s up to us….to work out what we think the height should be’. Admitted that there is ‘chaos on Koornang Road’. Said that he didn’t think it ‘was ever put to Vic Roads that there should be ingress from Dandenong Road’ and if there ‘had been my decision might have been a bit different’. Said that he did like the changes to parking, private waste collection and no parking permits. He supported the motion for 8 storeys.

ESAKOFF: said that this was ‘an intense development even at the reduced level’. Height limits ‘can be put when we deal with the residential zones at the appropriate time…..but this is what we have on the table now’.

HYAMS PUT THE MOTION. VOTE WAS TIED 4 ALL. HYAMS USED HIS CASTING VOTE IN FAVOUR OF THE ALTERNATE MOTION.

IN FAVOUR OF ESAKOFF’S MOTION WERE – ESAKOFF, OKOTEL, DELAHUNTY, HYAMS

AGAINST – PILLING, SOUNNESS, MAGEE, LIPSHUTZ