Item 9.1 – Centre Road, Bentleigh East. 3 storey, 24 dwellings.

Lobo moved motion with the amendment that some of the windows on upper floors have ‘glazing’ and ‘panels to 1.7 metres’ in height. Seconded by Delahunty.

LOBO: said he was ‘generally against development’ but here ‘a lot has been tried on behalf of residents’ like increased setbacks. But because of ResCode they ‘can’t do much’ other than what the report recommends. So all they ‘could do was this amendment of transparency’. Stated that he ‘understands it is a dilemma for Australians’ with overlooking into backyards which is a ‘way of life for an Aussie’ when they have a ‘barbecue and a beer in their hands’ and for the Greek community who ‘dance Zorba the Greek’.   He had been contacted by ‘half a dozen people’ who ‘didn’t like what they are seeing’ and who feared that the area will be ‘dominated by high rise buildings’. Didn’t want to go over the issue of the zones but said that residents had told him that ‘they have been treated with contempt’. They pay their rates and are facing ‘a ghetto’ and problems like parking, lack of privacy and ‘peeping toms’. Said he ‘reluctantly’ has to vote in favour because ‘I have no other choice’. Changing the application ‘would push this to VCAT’ which would then be a ‘case of David and Goliath’. Said that VCAT’s ‘wings have to be cut’ by the government.

DELAHUNTY: said that they were trying to ‘strike a balance’ as to ‘what is allowable under the zones’ and what is ‘fair’. She chaired the planning conference and thanked residents for their ‘detailed and comprehensive’ submissions. Traffic was the major themes and this has ‘been increasing in recent times’ and is possibly ‘exacerbated by the paid parking’ at the hospital. Said she asked for traffic management to undertake a review of the area. This is ‘ongoing’ and ‘will stretch to some of the other roads’ in the area. Said that ‘we’re not really sure’ whether there is a ‘rat-run’ occuring so they ‘will be looking at that’. On the application said that it ‘unusual’ for council to be ‘endorsing’ something ‘of this size down that end’ because of the lack of public transport there but the conditions imposed ‘go some way to help the amenity’ of residents. Stated that she was ‘disappointed’ at the planning conference when the developer ‘chose to attack the residents for not selling their houses’. Hoped that residents would ‘find that this building sits well’.

PILLING: supports the amendment and thought that ‘this goes some way’ to address residents concerns about overlooking. Thought that ‘generally’ this was a ‘good application’ since it’s on a ‘main road’ and in a General Residential Zone for 3 storeys. It does ‘tick many of the boxes’ even though he takes Delahunty’s point about lack of transport. He ‘took issue’ with Lobo’s comment about council treating residents ‘with contempt’ because they treat developers and residents ‘in a fair way’. They’ve listened here to residents concerns and the changes show that they’ve taken this seriously.

LIPSHUTZ: when he first ‘read this’ he wanted two storeys but then thought ‘what’s going to happen in terms of VCAT’. ‘We can play the populist card’ and ‘knock this down to 2’ as residents want us to do ‘but at the end of the day it goes to VCAT’ and they give the developer what he wants. Thus, ‘the best we can do is tinker and try to find a balance’. ‘Shared’ Pilling’s view about Lobo’s comments on ‘contempt’. Said that ‘we’re all residents’ and ‘each one of us is concerned about planning’ and that they ‘try to do the best we can within the confines of the law’. Despite what they ‘want to do’, ResCode makes them do things ‘we might not want to do’. Said that Lobo’s amendment has ‘tried to alleviate some of the issues’ such as parking and overlooking. Not the ‘best’ that residents wanted but the ‘best balance’ that council could get’.

ESAKOFF: would have liked greater setbacks on ‘rear’ and ‘where it adjoins residential properties’. Said that her ‘understanding’ is that residents were ‘happier’ to ‘leave it like that’ once the conditions of the amendment were put in ‘rather than push the boundaries’ and end up at VCAT. Said that ‘I probably would have pushed those boundaries’ more but she ‘understands’. The saiving grace is that some of the residential properties are north so won’t have overshadowing to a great extent.

OKOTEL: thought that 3 storeys ‘was appropriate’ since near the hospital and a permit already exists for three storeys ‘to the west’. Appreciated the increased setbacks to the front and the concern about parking and thought it was ‘important that we ensure there is adequate parking’. Said one resident was worried about balconies overlooking her garden and they did ‘explore options’ as to whether ‘balconies could be removed’ but that couldn’t be done because of the need to supply private open space to the building apartments. As to increasing setbacks even more planning officers ‘advised’ that this would mean the ‘deletion’ of more apartments and that this would be ‘overstepping the mark’. Thought that this strikes the ‘appropriate balance’ and hoped that ‘neighbours could be comfortable’ with the result.

HYAMS: visited the area on Saturday and therefore ‘totally understands’ residents’ concerns. ‘we’ve done everything we can under ResCode’ about overlooking. They’ve also done all they can in ‘requiring’ the number of parking spots. Said they are looking into parking but with the no parking permit conditions put on the permit this means that there is ‘restricted parking in the area’ so people who will live in the building will only have ‘cars as they have parking spots’ or they will have to park ‘further away’. Said it ‘probably is the right place’ for this dwelling even though it’s near ‘shops, and bus routes’. In the past he’s spoken about ‘neighbourhood character’ but in this instance neighbourhood character is ‘more varied’ so demanding pitched roofs wouldn’t be a ‘valid objection’. Ultimately this is ‘the right balance’.

LOBO: said that ‘the word contempt has not come out from me’ – it’s what the residents think – and ‘since we represent the residents we have to hear the key words’. Said that like Martin Luther King he ‘had a dream’ about Glen Eira becoming Calcutta. He still thinks ‘this is going to be a Calcutta’. In china there are 64 vacant apartments and he was told that they build them ‘just to give jobs to people’. wondered whether ‘the same thing is happening here’. ‘Appreciates’ that government is trying to ‘accommodate people’ but ‘why don’t they accommodate people in their homes?’ One resident who has lived in the area for 30 years was ‘instrumental’ in raising over $200,000 for the hospital and is ‘now feeling that the job that she has done is just nothing’. ‘we have to put up a fight’ regardless of political parties.

Pilling raised a point of order here about ‘relevance’. Magee said that ‘I understand the relevance’ so ‘I will over-rule your point of order’.

LOBO: ‘we need to have guts as councillors’ or ‘not stand for election next time’ and promise ‘the world’ that they will ‘fight inappropriate development’. He wanted ‘reluctantly’ the item passed.