We urge all readers to carefully consider this post. In our view it encapsulates all that is awry in Glen Eira concerning planning, namely:

  • The utter lack of consistency from application to application
  • The failure to adhere to council’s own planning scheme and zoning
  • The unbelievable lack of logic
  • The reliance on pseudo and irrelevant argument (ie VCAT, open space, etc)

Item 9.2 – 7 storey application for Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick

Delahunty moved to accept as printed. Seconded Sounness.

DELAHUNTY: began by saying that the motion was for a ‘shorter building’ and some ‘rearranging’ (ie 5 storeys instead of 7). Felt that this addressed most, ‘but not all’ of the objectors’ claims such as zones and area. She felt that officers had done as much as is ‘possible’ considering that this is a main road with good transport options. There’s a 7 storey building not yet started nearby and Delahunty said she was ‘very uncomfortable’ with that at the time. Said that when this came up there was ‘shocking open space’ and with all the new people coming into the area she was concerned about how council would ‘address’ the issue of lack of public open space. But now, ‘I feel much more comfortable’ since council has got a ‘strategic plan’ and ‘soon a very robust funding source’ so she now feels more ‘comfortable’ that this will be ‘a building that can be absorbed into the streetscape’. This application has got different zoning to the 7 storey building (ie Mixed Use) and this application for 7 storeys in terms of ‘scale’ is ‘inappropriate’. Now that officers have reduced the height to 5 storeys this ‘allays many of the privacy’ concerns of objectors. What is still ‘missing’ as pointed out by objectors is the ‘traffic’ impacts and that’s something that council needs to ‘take on board’ in future. Since it is on a main busy road that traffic is something that ‘we will have to deal with as separate from this application’.

SOUNNESS: said that people had contacted him and were pleased with the fact that this was now reduced to 5 storeys and he supported ‘their position’ since a 5 storey is ‘much better’ than a 7 storey building. He still felt ‘uncomfortable’ though about the ‘intensity of the building’ but that’s what the ‘planning zones speak about’ so he can’t see any good grounds to reject or amend since it is likely to be approved if it ‘goes to VCAT’. As for the ‘architectural’ features this is really all ‘in the eye of the beholder’. He recommends the proposal.

ESAKOFF: said she hadn’t made up her mind as yet and whatever she decides it will be with a ‘heavy heart’. Was worried about the ‘amenity impact on neighbouring properties’ especially the proposed ‘balconies to the east’ where they had received photos from residents. Even though they will receive sunlight it will ‘still be a major amenity impact’. There is a NRZ of 8 metres to the north so even a 5 storey building ‘will be a disappointment to say the least’. The site is ‘at the fringe of the activity centre of Elsternwick’ and ‘outside the boundaries of the urban village’. Therefore she felt it needed ‘more transition to what is essentially a tram route’. VCAT ‘allowed’ the 7 storey building opposite and that one ‘abuts a GRZ and not RGZ’. She thought that this application needed to be of ‘less intensity’ and that a ‘four storey building would have been more appropriate here’. With tramlines they allow 4 storeys but ‘there may be the odd 4’. Also concerned about the ‘border to border building’. Said that in the past she had tried to get the ‘old fashiioned’ conditions that would allow a ‘backyard with a clothes line’ or roof top gardens but this ‘seems to go nowhere’. When people said they are ‘happy’ with 5 storeys, she thought it was more a case of ‘damn relief that it’s not going to be 7’.

HYAMS: this was a ‘difficult one’ because it backs onto NRZ and is ‘outside the urban village’ and there’s a 7 storey going up nearby. Council has ensured sufficient visitor parking to ‘meet policy’ and it presents ‘as a three storey podium’ plus a Construction Management Plan. Since the other 7 storey building hasn’t started as yet there’s the possibility that both developments will go on at the same time and cause disruption but he didn’t think there was anything council could do about that. Asked Akehurst and the response was that at ‘critical times’ council could ensure that Yorston Street wasn’t blocked off. Hyams then said that the Waste Management Plan would ‘stop 60 or 70 bins being out on the road’. Even though he’s got some ‘sympathy’ for Esakoff’s views, because of the site of this application, he will support the motion.

LIPSHUTZ: said this was causing ‘concern’ because since they don’t have in their planning scheme anything about size of apartments or ‘how big a back yard is’ and that’s his ‘concerns about general development’. So they can’t look at this and everywhere ‘there’s an issue of traffic’. However, ‘if I was to listen to that and take that as my primary issue’ then he would have to reject every application since there isn’t enough infrastructure in Victoria – ‘trains and trams don’t cope sufficiently’. On this application he asks himself ‘where else’ could something like this go except on a ‘main road’. He wouldn’t accept 7 storeys but 5 storeys ‘is appropriate’ and there is a ‘trend’ on Glen Huntly road for ‘larger style buildings’. He also needs to be ‘practical’ in that he could ‘easily reject’ this but it will go to VCAT and they will say that ‘I haven’t turned my mind to it properly’ since he has to sit here in a ‘quasi judicial’ position and ‘working on planning laws’. These laws ‘allow this building to happen’. So the officers have ‘mitigated’ some of the ‘major problems’. At ‘the end of the day it’s a general compromise’ and it will be ‘appropriate’.

LOBO: thought that ‘Mixed Use Zone should have a stop somewhere’. Said that ‘we cannot afford to have schools, massage parlours’ in streets. Schools should be in ‘places where there is more open space’. Before with a smaller population it was okay to have Mixed Use.

MAGEE: asked Lobo to ‘come back’ to the item.

LOBO: ‘yeah, yeah’. Said he ‘wasn’t going to philosophise on the residential codes’ but he ‘definitely’ wasn’t in ‘favour of 7 storeys’ since this is a ‘monstrosity’ and will lead to other 7 storeys. This will ‘completely spoil the present beauty of Glen Eira’. Wasn’t saying that councillors ‘have destroyed the beauty’ but that they are ‘guided by the Minister’. Whoever is the Minister next week should ‘be told that he needs to revise the planning scheme’.

DELAHUNTY: said that Eskoff is right in that councillors weren’t ‘completely comfortable with what is going on’ but they are ‘all aware of our obligation to provide housing’ and her view is that this ‘doesn’t have to include a garden’ since her kids won’t be able to afford a garden. So they will have to provide ‘high density living where high density is appropriate’ such as ‘tramlines, close proximity to trains’ and the right sort of ‘infrastructure’ and in ‘this case public open space’. This site ‘is very close to public gardens’ . Went on to say that on the issue of sunlight, this provides sunlight when people aren’t home so there are ‘anomalies’ in the notion of ‘adequate sunlight’ that ‘needs addressing at a level’ higher up than council. Said that parking is now ‘more appropriate’ with 2 less storeys. Hoped that there comes a point when they can ‘influence behavioural change’ and that people don’t use cars and that ‘the more’  car sharing and other options are looked at then it will be more likely to ‘become a reality’. Ultimately even though ‘we’re not comfortable’ with the application she thought it was an ‘appropriate response to that site’ and that ‘traffic is something we have to look at as a council’ down the track.

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED. Lobo called for a division. Those voting in favour: LIPSHUTZ, DELAHUNTY, HYAMS, OKOTEL, PILLING, SOUNNESS, MAGEE. Voting against – ESKAOFF AND LOBO.