When big money is involved (for both developers and council) then transparency and truth are the inevitable victims. We revisit the Virginia Estate proposal since the claims by the developer, council officers and councillors appear to be at odds and are strikingly reminiscent of what occurred with the Caulfield Village enterprise. Here’s why:

  • Gillon cites 1250 new dwellings in this week’s Leader articles. In the officer’s report the figure of 4,400 was stated. Magee even claimed 5000 new dwellings.
  • Caulfield Village started off with a proposed figure of 1100 dwellings. At this stage it has ballooned out to over 2000 – on a site that is half the size of Virginia Estate. We anticipate further increases once the remaining development plans are submitted.
  • How council can cite 4,400 new dwellings and Gillon only 1250 needs explanation – especially when the existing amendment (or equivalent of the Caulfield Village Incorporated Plan) grants permission for towers ranging from 4 to 10 storeys.
  • Council quotes directly from the ‘Retail Impact Statement’. Hence detailed documentation by Gillon does exist. It would also have existed when they approached the department and the Minister. Undoubtedly private discussions between Gillon and Council have been going on for some time. Requests for changes to setbacks and other conditions of the current amendment are not agreed to without some clear indication of why this is needed. Setback reductions can only mean more land for more development. Council’s reasons for agreeing to this are top secret as revealed in the non-answer to this public question –

“In 2011 Council resolved that the schedule for Amendment C75 maintain the 8 metre setback to East Boundary Road. The officer report now states: “The DPO will be amended to require that any land development within 6 metres of the East Boundary Road must be to Council’s satisfaction”. Why and on what basis has it been recommended to renege on a previous council resolution and the terms of the gazetted Schedule 2?”

The Mayor read Council’s response. He said:

“The request to change the existing DPO is a new amendment process and is totally separate to Amendment C75. The proposed changes to the existing DPO will be required to go through a full

public exhibition and independent panel process. At the conclusion of the amendment process, Council can decide to either support or reject this amendment.”

And as with the Caulfield Village fiasco, residents are the last to know what is really going on. Yes, a ‘public information event’ might be held. But how much veracity residents can rely on from both council and the developer is the real question! Finally, as has already been noted – when each and every councillor basically spoke against the requested amendment, why on earth did they vote to exhibit rather than reject! Given Andrew Newton’s email to the Minister’s Office, the writing is on the wall that the proposed Amendment will be pushed through – aka Caulfield Village!