Item 9.2 of the current agenda features an application for a 7 lot subdivision on land that is over 3,000 square metres. This property was up for sale just on a year ago and provided council with the perfect opportunity to add to the open space next to Riley Reserve. Of course, this was not even considered. Now there is this application to subdivide the land into seven lots on proposed lot sizes of – Lot 1 is 304 square metres in size, whilst, proposed Lots 2-7 (inclusive) range in size from 199 square metres to 238 square metres in size. The area is in Minimal Change/Residential 1 Zone. Readers should remember that Council’s proposed C115 Amendment for larger size blocks has not been given the green light for exhibition 9 months down the track. Even this application for subdivision dates back to March!

In a wonderful sleight of hand exercise, the officer’s report would have residents believe that The policy (ie the planning scheme) also recognised ‘larger sites’ being those lots greater than 2,000 square metres.

No it doesn’t! ‘larger sites’ are NOT DEFINED in the planning scheme. They never were. In fact, any size block that is ‘larger’ than its neighbours or the ‘conventional’ size can have more than 2 dwellings built on the land in minimal change. If we take ‘conventional’ to mean 500 square metres, then hundreds upon hundreds of properties fit into this category. Here’s what the planning scheme actually states:

Consider developments of more than two dwellings provided it is clearly demonstrated that the standards for site coverage, rear setback and private open space in the Schedule to the General Residential Zone have been met. Circumstances where more than two dwellings may be achieved could include any of the following:

Where the site is in an area characterised by larger than conventional lots.

Where the site is significantly larger than the majority of properties immediately abutting the title boundary and the properties directly opposite.

Where the prevailing development in the street and neighbouring streets is predominantly characterised by multi-unit development.

Ensure that the existing neighbourhood character and subdivision pattern are maintained by discouraging the consolidation of sites.

 Recognise that key pre-existing development sites over 2000m2, including transitional sites (eg sites once used for industry or other redundant uses) and existing residential sites, may be rezoned and developed in minimal change areas:

 With a higher development yield than would normally apply in minimal change areas.

 Incorporating a range of multi-unit developments.

 Ensuring that any multi-unit residential development is consistent with the prevailing streetscape scale, especially along the perimeter of sites.

What makes the above even more ludicrous and unforgiveable is that the PLANNING SCHEME CONTRADICTS ITSELF. Another example of the complete ineptitude and incompetence of both the planning at local level as well as the the department. Why? Because at Section 22.08 -3.1 it states:

Consider developments of more than two dwellings provided it is clearly demonstrated that the standards for site coverage, rear setback and private open space in the Schedule to the Residential 1 Zone have been met.

Hence what we have here is a total schemozzle and as we’ve indicated in a previous post, developers are quite legally entitled to argue that if they own a large lot in a minimal change area that the GENERAL RESIDENTIAL ZONE standards apply rather than the MINIMAL CHANGE AREA standards. Whose heads should roll for this gross incompetence? How on earth can something as significant as this get through unchecked? How many staff are in planning? Why are we paying exorbitant costs for what must be seen as sheer incompetence?

PS: we are in error with the above by inadvertently looking at an older version of the Planning Scheme dating from 2013. However, this still does not invalidate our view that by designating the standards for larger lot sizes as General Residential Zone, instead of those that applied to Minimal Change, the community is far worse off and the ‘translation’ has been far from ‘neutral’. It also does Council no credit when this change was picked up weeks after the new zones were gazetted!

There’s also another item that was decided last council meeting and features in the Records of Assembly. The ‘reconstruction’ of Fosberry and St Aubins Avenue at at cost of $908,000. We have to wonder whether all of this ‘reconstruction’ (ie drainage) is merely another subsidy going to developers. Recently a large development received VCAT approval under the ‘transitional provisions” for two buildings of double storeys and 22 dwellings. The land is 3934 square metres.

Another opportunity for council to purchase land in an area bereft of open space. Once again, no purchase. And once again major ‘reconstruction’ of areas surrounding large development sites. The hive of such activity around Caulfield Village, and now St Aubins may be coincidental. We leave that up to readers to decide – but there appears to be a definite pattern. Considering that Glen Eira has dumped its development contributions levy, what a wonderful present this is for developers when ratepayers are forking out the money for their drainage!