Item 9.3 – Neerim/Belsize Ave, Carnegie – 4 storey 35 dwellings

Hyams moved motion for 4 storey building and 30 dwellings plus increase in visitor car parking and retention of 3 trees. Delahunty seconded.

COMMENT: It took Hyams approximately 7 minutes to read out the motion. With a packed gallery, and usually only about 10 sets of agenda items available, it is impossible for people to fully follow what is going on. We see no reason why council cannot provide hard copy of motions that are so lengthy or, even better, provide an overhead so that residents can follow.

HYAMS: started by saying this is a Residential Growth Zone and on Neerim Road, so ‘four storeys is appropriate’. The proposed height is less than the allowed 13.5 metres but he ‘accepts’ the objectors’ views that ‘it should at least comply with ResCode’. Also ‘front’ is Belsize and not Neerim Road leading to the increases in setbacks along Belsize. Said that with the increased setbacks it ‘is likely’ that there will be even less than 30 dwellings. Went through all the setback requirements, landscaping requirements, screening, etc. On parking, council is asking for visitor car parking that ‘meets ResCode’ since ‘that’s all council can ask’ for. Accepted that this won’t make ‘objectors happy’ but saw it as a ‘reasonable compromise’. They could refuse, it will then go to VCAT, and council hasn’t ‘put conditions down’ and VCAT will give developer ‘what they want’. People ‘might clap in chamber’ but could be ‘worse off’. He’s ‘about achieving the best possible outcome rather than being popular’. Said he has asked officers to look at a ‘residential parking scheme’ and the possibility of moving ‘no parking signs’.

COMMENT: Once again there is fudging of the facts! If council rejects an application and VCAT becomes involved, then council must submit its version of what is ‘acceptable’. This submission in effect does put ‘conditions down’ as Hyams would well know.

DELAHUNTY: thanked residents for letting her into their houses since there were quite a number of ‘sensitive properties’ near the site. Thought it was ‘important that we respond to that’ and the motion ‘finds what is allowable’ and ‘what makes sense’ and that the ‘modifications have done this’. One tree protection condition isn’t relevant anymore since the developer and occupant of the house have come to their own agreement. Said that the motion for this ‘really big block’ sets out what is ‘fair’ for people living in the street. Her sister is trying to buy a house so Delahunty has been to many auctions and it ‘galls’ her that real estate agents ‘aren’t forthcoming’ about the zones before and after. As a financial advisor she can’t talk about certain things but real estate agents can say that it’s a residential zone and therefore ‘the highest form of ownership’ and ‘not telling the full truth about what can happen in these zones’. Said that all governments ‘encourage infill developement’ in areas like Carnegie because it is ‘environmentally responsible to do so’. Hoped that both developer and residents can ‘live with this’ because it’s the ‘right response’.

COMMENT: ‘environmentally responsible to do so’?!!!!!!! No need to say more on this little gem.

ESAKOFF: said that there had been a lot of ‘fiddling around’ on this application and that she had ‘tried very hard to lessen the impact’ especially to 23 Belsize Avenue. Said there was a ‘substantial increase’ in setbacks for the ‘upper level’. Hoped that both applicant and residents would accept the conditions. Didn’t want this to go to VCAT because ‘we’ve seen some really awful results’ whilst ‘also some good ones’. Went through some of the other conditions – ie site coverage, acoustic fences, visitor parking. Said that objectors had been comparing this to a decision in Mavho Street, Bentleigh and that they are similar – ie residential growth zones and ‘having the same issues’. So ‘it’s not a cut and paste’ but looking at the context.

LIPSHUTZ: said it would be easy for councillors to either approve or reject applications. But here a lot of thought has gone into ‘how best to alleviate’ the situation. He ‘wouldn’t like to see this in my street’ but ‘given it’s going to happen we have to try and find a middle way’. Thought the conditions were ‘the right way to go’. Said that anyone listening should realise that they’ve ‘very carefully’ looked at the application and looked at setbacks, etc. and that they haven’t just ‘rubber stamped it and said ‘yes’.

OKOTEL: said that is it ‘essential’ that councillors ‘look at what is appropriate’ and the motion ‘does do that’. Said that by increasing upper setbacks it ‘significantly reduces footprint of this building’ and does ‘achieve a balance’ with neighbours. Went through conditions again like car parking and acoustic measures.

LOBO: said again that the ‘zones are cutting to the bones’ and that Belsize is a ‘beautiful street’. He ‘was called by the residents’ and there was also a reporter there. Said that ‘people were anxious’ and that ‘they have spent their life savings’ on their properties. ‘It may not be our fault’ but it’s the government that ‘wants to get as many people as possible’ into these areas. Said large part of Australia ‘is empty’ but if they keep ‘building, building building’ then on infrastructure ‘you and me will have to bear the cost in rates’.

SOUNNESS: wasn’t entirely ‘happy’ with the application but had to look at ‘how we can apply densification’ of the area and thought that the motion would be a ‘defendable position’. Thought that this would go to VCAT and that the ‘arguments can be pretty challenging’ but thought that council’s position could be ‘defended adequately’.

HYAMS: thanked Esakoff for her work on this. Objectors had asked that main driveway be on Neerim Road. Hyams said this would cause a major redesign of the application so couldn’t do that and Vic Roads prefers driveways not to be on main roads like Neerim. Said that emails talked about the new zones and that the ‘only difference’ with the new zones was height limits and it’s the ‘people of Carnegie’ who should know best that the new zones aren’t responsible because there was a lot of development there before. So ‘it’s not the new zones’ and that there’s going to be a population of 7 million and ‘we need to cater for that’. Glen Eira is ‘stuck with its share of infill’ even though some people ‘mightn’t like it’.

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED. Lobo called for a division and was the only councillor to vote against.