Item 9.2 – Elliot St., Carnegie – 4 storey, 21 dwellings.

Esakoff moved motion for 3 storey and 18 dwellings plus no waiving of visitor car parking requirements. Seconded by Okotel.

ESAKOFF: even though this is a growth zone, Esakoff thought it required more ‘conditions’ put on the development. Said that a 4 storey would ‘dominate the existing area’ so a 3 storey will ‘allow better integration’ into the residential areas to the north plus reducing the ‘number of apartments’. As a result this will then also meet the car parking regulations. Spoke about conditions on setbacks to Neerim Road and site coverage of 60%.

COMMENT: we wonder how well ‘integrated’ a 3 storey development will be in a street that is predominantly single storey and predominantly Edwardian weather boards? Are residents to assume that height is the only criterion that signifies ‘integration’? And that towering two storeys above a single storey meets any reasonable person’s interpretation of ‘integration’?

OKOTEL: in the last year council had seen ‘a number’ of applications along Neerim Road for ‘four storey buildings’ and ‘because’ of this it is ‘important that council look at the impact’ and the increases in ‘the number of people living in those buildings’ and the effect this will have on ‘existing infrastructure as well as traffic’. This application is ‘next to one storey dwellings’ and so ‘important that there is that transition’ from 4 storey to single storey. Agrees with Esakoff that it’s not ‘appropriate’ that there be a four storey on the site but that a ‘three storey building would be more appropriate’. Also a 3 storey building would ‘certainly be more in keeping with neighbourhood character’ and the ’emerging neighbourhood character’. Reiterated the conditions about setbacks and site coverage. Said that residents had asked that there might be a Neighbournood Character Overlay for the Californian bungalows and Edwardian houses and that this was a street that ‘could be looked at’ to see if this might be applied.

COMMENT: Okotel is developing the habit of ‘noting’ things that pertain to residents’ concerns – ie traffic, infrastructure, etc. However, words never seem to materialise into action! Neither she nor any other councillor has got up on their hind legs and moved any motion to give effect to these ‘concerns’. If this isn’t grandstanding and playing to the packed gallery, then we don’t know what is! Furthermore, we suggest that Okotel revisits the Glen Eira Planning scheme and ‘notes’ that there is NO DEFINITION of ‘preferred neighbourhood character’ in the equivalent of Housing Diversity.

LOBO: said that ‘residential zones are cutting to the bones of the residents’. Said that ‘China had a boom’ in building and that they now have 64 million apartments empty. Magee asked Lobo to ‘stick to item 9.2’. Lobo said that Australia has the potential to increase population but that it is also ‘democratic’ and ‘should be seen to be democratic’. Said that he has previously ‘asked for forgiveness’ from residents for ‘being part of the decision’ about the zones. Magee then interrupted, asking Lobo to ‘address item 9.2’. Lobo said that ‘Carnegie is going, going, gone’ and that it will ‘be full of apartments. Carnegie will be destroyed’. Applause from gallery. Hoped that the ‘new government will do something about it’.

COMMENT: Our impression following all the media coverage, plus the GERA forum is that residents are waiting for councillors to do ‘something about it’ for starters!

SOUNNESS: was worried by the 4 storey development but is now ‘comforted’ that it has been reduced by one storey but was still ‘uncomfortable with the density’ but that’s what developers are doing. Nevertheless, he supports the Esakoff motion.

DELAHUNTY: supported the motion and that 4 storeys is not ‘fair on neighbouring properties’ and is ‘perhaps asking too much of that block’.

COMMENT: Perhaps Cr Delahunty might answer the basic question of how she interprets the meaning of ‘fairness’ and exactly what ‘asking too much of that block’ means? What would be ‘fair’ and what constitutes not ‘too much’?

LIPSHUTZ: told the gallery that there would be development ‘like it or not’ and that councillors’ job was to ‘try and get it appropriate’ and ‘reality’ is that the Government wants ‘development in this area’. Said that council has to look ‘at this from a legal point of view’ because they are a ‘quasi judicial body’ looking at ‘planning law’. ‘It would be nice’ for councillors to reject the application. Said he grew up in Balwyn and his old street is now developed and Elwood is ‘ruined by flats’. He has to look at the application and ‘see what can I do as a councillor’ to ‘try and minimise impact on residents’. The motion is ‘the way to go’ because it tries ‘to improve transition’. Stated that he ‘would love to have a law’ that determined ‘how big’ rooms are, the design and there ‘shouldn’t be shared light’ but there are no such laws and that’s up to the government. So all he can do is ‘minimise the impact on residents’ which the motion succeeds in doing.

COMMENT: oh dear, the old bug bear of the ‘quasi judicial’ rubbish. Once and for all, the government establishes the parameters and nominates the activity centres. But it is councils who have the lee way to nominate what goes where, and what goes into the schedules associated with the zones. Any use of the term ‘transition’ is the biggest furphy of all. There is no transition zone in Glen Eira. All there is are upper level setbacks of multi-storey buildings. Readers should visit some of the new developments currently going up in Centre Road to see exactly what such set-backs mean. They are visible from hundreds of metres away. As for size of rooms, lights, sustainable design, etc., other councils have amendments in that attempt to set such standards. They have not sat back waiting for ‘government’ to act but have taken the initiative themselves.

ESAKOFF: Reminded people that this is a Residential Growth Zone with a maximum of 13.5 metre height limit. But ‘this doesn’t mean that 13.5’ is suitable for everywhere and that ‘this is a prime example of that’. Said that ‘we are lucky to have the height limits that we do have’ and that the issues ‘are not limited to Glen Eira’ but ‘they are everywhere’. Told Lobo to be ‘careful in what you wish for’ since the Government has said it will ‘review the new zones’. ‘We could end up with a worse case scenario’. Now council ‘knows what we’ve got, knows what to expect’ and they attempt to ‘moderate where we can’. That’s what she’s done with this motion but VCAT is ‘another story’. Thought that a three storey site was the best result.

Motion put and carried. Lobo called for a division and was the only councillor to vote against.

In order to give people a taste of what Elliot Avenue looks like, we’ve taken a screen dump from Google dated June 2013. This needs to be archived since Elliott Avenue, with this permit, will never be the same again. The zones are an open invitation and the permit sets the precedent. Well done councillors!

elliott avenue