Council and some of their supporters insist on propagating the myth that the introduction of the new zones has not been the impetus for far greater development, and density, in Glen Eira. The standard line has now become that nothing is different; that the introduction of the new zones merely reinforced what was council’s policy since 2002 and earlier. That in the end, the new zones represent a ‘neutral translation’. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Readers will know that Bent Street Bentleigh has now become the focus of some large combined property sales with the potential for huge developments. Bent St was previously designated as ‘housing diversity’. A large part of Bent St is now zoned Residential Growth Zone – meaning that 4 storey developments are likely to become the norm.

In the interests of historical accuracy, we want readers to reflect on the following VCAT case and development application. It dates from February 2012 and concerned an application at 23 Bent St for a 3 storey, 27 unit development. The land comprised a large block of 1,057 square metres. Council had refused the application. VCAT granted the permit. What is most telling however is the argument produced by Council against the development and the VCAT member’s comments. We cite directly from the judgement.

I note from council’s delegate report at page 7 “the construction of a three storey development is reasonable having regard to the zoning of the land is consistent with the state and local policy in terms of its strategic vision for the Bentleigh urban village”.

COMMENT – so two years ago a 3 storey development was considered ‘reasonable’. Now we have to assume that a 4 storey development is also ‘reasonable’

Council acknowledged that a site of this size could accommodate a three storey building however had concerns regarding the extent of the third level combined with its side setbacks, in that it would provide an overly dominant form particularly when viewed from the private open space of 25 Bent Street to the north which is a single storey dwelling.

COMMENT – 3 storeys was ‘dominant’ 2 years ago, and now 4 storeys is okay?

The maximum overall height of the building varies between 8.8 metres and 9.51 metres due to the fall of the site from south to north. It is acknowledged that the overall height largely exceeds the suggested 9 metre height contained in clause 55 but the permit applicant maintains that it is an appropriate and respectful height given the existing and preferred character of the neighbourhood which is identified in the LPPF for managed change to accommodate more intensive residential development.

COMMENT – So a building of 9.51 metres was in 2012 considered ‘dominant’. Even Clause 55 suggests a ‘9 metre height’. What we’ve got now is 13.5m!!!

The subject site is within the residential precinct 4 of the Bentleigh Activity Centre which at a policy level is directed towards increasing residential densities. This building will be the first introduction of a three storey building into the locality however, I am satisfied with the changes that I require via permit condition the proposal will set a standard for future redevelopment within the area whilst also sitting comfortably with its neighbours in the street

COMMENT: what was the ‘standard’ two years ago has therefore changed. The ‘standard’ now is 4 storey due entirely to the introduction of the new zones and the designation of this street as a Residential Growth Zone. The same applies to countless other streets throughout all of Glen Eira.

Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2012/197.html

PS: and like any sensible developer would, given the largesse of council, there has been an APPROVED amended application to turn this 3 storey development into a FOUR STOREY DEVELOPMENT. The developer got his amended application in October 2013 – after the zones were introduced!