We urge readers to carefully consider the quality of the arguments presented by each councillor in the following report. It concerns the 5 storey application for 18 units in Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North. We have previously commented on this in relation to an earlier application across the road and which was rejected outright. See: https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/wheres-the-consistency/.

Worthy of note:

  • Hyams’ selective presentation of the ‘facts’ – only to be shown up by Okotel and Esakoff
  • Lipshutz’s continued contrariness – supports, then rejects. Perhaps Lipshutz should have a read of Moreland’s current submitted amendment where they are seeking a building design/environmental sustainability amendment and are not waiting for any ‘building code’.
  • Delahunty’s wild claims of ‘affordability’ and anecdotal/personal evidence as the rationale for car park waivers. Where is the quantified council traffic assessment?
  • Sounness’ implication that living near an already overcrowded park and along a tramline is justification for allowing what Lipshutz called ‘dog boxes’
  • There’s also the question of why the house shown below has been zoned Commercial 1 to begin with? No one of course queried any of this!

cromwell street

Hyams moved motion to accept ‘as printed’. Sounness seconded.

HYAMS: said that the question was whether this was the ‘right place for a five storey building’. Went on to explain that this is a commercial zone, and backs onto a house also in the commercial zone. There’s a tramline and unlike Centre Road this is ‘far more commercial in nature’ than Centre Road. Went on to say that in terms of precedents, that VCAT had already given a permit ‘further down Hawthorn Road’ for a five storey building ‘near Princes Park’ so if a 5 storey can go ‘down there’ it can go here. Setbacks mean that it will be a three storey fronting Hawthorn Road. All parking under ResCode is provided on site and only shop parking is less but since there are less shops proposed the situation for parking will mean that ‘it is an improvement on current situation’. Will be a construction management plan, waste disposal plan, etc. Balconies will also be screened to avoid overlooking. This is ‘quite a reasonable application in this area’.

SOUNNESS: conditions considered overshadowing and other issues. Applicant has ‘made a very good effort’. Sounness does recognise that ‘five storeys is quite a substantial size’ but that part of the city can handle more density because of the ‘proximity of the park’ and the tram routes. Said that the ‘turntable for cars’ is something he hasn’t seen for a long time so that’s a new feature.

ESAKOFF: said that she would have liked to see ‘the deletion’ of one floor. That would be a better ‘outcome’ even though the property next to it is also zoned commercial even though ‘it is a residential property and is lived in as a home’. So the ‘impact on them’ for 5 storeys ‘is not a good one’. Car parking would also ‘be better with one less floor’. Said that parking at Balaclava Junction is ‘damn near impossible’. Said she wouldn’t be supporting a 5 storey building. Added that the 5 storey further down Hawthorn Road ‘got up’ because of VCAT and that there weren’t any ‘residential interfaces’ since this site is next to Maple Street Rec Centre and other shops alongside.

LIPSHUTZ: supports this because it is ‘well designed’. It is ‘set back’, and ‘ticks all the boxes’. But he was also ‘concerned’ about the impact on the house and parking. Said that when he first ‘came on council’, three storeys were ‘being knocked back’ and now there is five, six and seven storeys. Said he doesn’t want to see ‘huge developments’ which end up with ‘borrowed light’ but that this is a State problem and council can’t ‘deal with it’ because there aren’t any ‘building laws which say you can’t build dog boxes’. ‘That’s what you’ve got here’ and there will be ‘more and more’.

OKOTEL: supported Esakoff’s comment about lack of car parking, especially for the retail since the 3 offices are being replaced and the development is providing 1 car space instead of 4 required for the retail and she thought it was ‘important’ that car spaces be provided for ‘those who are working in retail’. ‘One car space is not enough’ and especially since policy dictates that there be more.

DELAHUNTY: supports the motion and said that ‘I don’t love it’ but that she ‘doesn’t hate it enough’. Said it’s only 18 so height of building ‘doesn’t mean a whole lot’ in terms of ‘intensity’. Claimed that she ‘doesn’t have any trouble parking there’ but does have trouble ‘sometimes’ with her bike because of the mass of people ‘in and out’. Said she didn’t see any problem with lack of retail parking spaces and that when such spaces are underground they aren’t even used. Borrowed light isn’t an issue with the conditions put on such as being able to open the ‘opaque window’ so that ventilation and light can come through. Thought that it’s important to ‘realise’ that ‘we’re not being asked to live in the building’ and ‘not being asked to buy the property’ but this ‘keeps property prices down’ so people can afford to live there. It’s important to ‘encourage’ people ‘into the area who have all sorts of different socio-economic backgrounds’. Thought officers had made this ‘reasonable’ and that it is ‘environmentally friendly to have shop-top dwelling’ near transport.

MOTION PUT: VOTING FOR – Sounness, Delahunty, Pilling, Magee, Hyams,. VOTING AGAINST – Lobo, Esakoff, Okotel Lipshutz. Motion carried.