Hyams moved to abandon amendment plus ‘affirming’ Amendment C75 (which set up the C1 in the centre and 10 storey heights) and Plan Melbourne. Lobo seconded.

HYAMS: went basically went through the officer’s report outlining the history of the site and what occurred with C75 amendment in 2010. There was ‘maximum of 2000 square metres of retail’ with this amendment so that ‘it would service the people who work there’. Council sent 600 notifications and got 15 submissions – objectors didn’t turn up to the Panel hearing. In 2012 Minister changed zoning and now developer wants to put up to 1250 apartments and 12000 square metres of retail. Said that there are two options before council – to send to a panel or abandon amendment. On officer’s recommendation to go to panel said that this was ‘not an unreasonable recommendation’ because that would mean ‘we do some more investigation’ and the panel would ‘weigh up’ the evidence and make their own recommendations which council is then ‘free to accept or reject’ or modify. It then goes to the Minister. However, he thinks that sending it to a panel ‘would be a waste of everyone’s time and money and effort. ‘ Claimed that this view was only formed ‘late last week’ after he read the objections. In fact, ‘I can’t see myself ever supporting what the applicant is asking for’. Has ‘grave concerns’ about the ‘residential component’ and the impact on traders and ‘allowing this to proceed to the Development Plan Process’. Stated that Gillon ‘proposed’ that the amendment be changed to 1250 apartments but officers’ advice was that this may not have ‘statutary weight’. He thought that even 1250 and 3000 people is ‘still too many for this site by a long way’.

Unlike Caulfield Village this isn’t a ‘transport hub’ with only buses and would ‘increase population’ by 10% in East Bentleigh, plus the retail component could do ‘significant’ harm to local traders and shopping strips. Said council received a ‘peer review’ on the applicant’s retail impact statement and that ‘points out’ that shops ‘on the border of Glen Eira’ were ignored by the applicant’s consultants.

Said that ‘neither’ the residential or retail ‘fit our strategy for this site’ which is for Virginia Estate to ‘continue to be an employment hub’. His ‘concern’ with the Development Plan process was that if the amendment is passed and they make a ‘subsequent decision on the Development Plan’ that is ‘ultimately reviewable by VCAT’ and ‘I absolutely have no faith in VCAT’. He wants ‘something of this significance to remain under Council control’ and not the ‘whims of VCAT’.

On the survey it was ‘not from Council’ and people have two choices – either they believe it is a conspiracy or incompetence and he sees it as incompetence because he doesn’t believe that ‘the applicant actually intended to mislead’ people. But ‘the nature of the questions’ were ‘fairly distasteful’ and ‘designed to produce the desired outcome’. But ‘distasteful as is it’ they ‘don’t make planning decisions to punish’ people and so ‘this hasn’t influenced my decision’.

Wanted to address some comments made at the Planning Conference. Once was from Staikos who ‘said that it is the new planning zones that are causing development’. Said that ‘our new planning zones are not causing development’ since apart from ‘one small patch’ developers can’t build what they could before and there’s only been a ‘rush in development’ between the announcement and the gazetting because developers tried to get their applications in on the old system. Others question why council is ‘only getting 5.7%’ as an open space levy. Said that ‘experts’ determined how council ‘could get the most money’ and they said that a ‘flat rate’ for all areas was better because if they wanted more for sites such as Virginia Estate then ‘we couldn’t have got’ the 5.7% for the rest of Glen Eira. In fact the ‘person who raised that at the conference was responsible for holding up’ the amendment and costing council ‘one million dollars’. So ‘that’s what you call chutzpah’.

Now the applicant can ‘get on’ with developing the park according to Amendment C75 ‘which is in accordance with our strategy’ or they can put in a new amendment together with a planning application and ‘that way we know what we’re getting’.   This was one major cause for worry for residents and councillors because ‘beyond broad parameters’ no-one knows ‘what they’re getting’. So with an amendment and planning application ‘we know what we’re getting and we make the decision’ and ‘not VCAT’.

LOBO: ‘I rise to speak for the people of East Bentleigh’. ‘People elected me to represent them and I will’. Said he won’t support amendment because ‘people do not want’ it. ‘My loyalty is towards the people of East Bentleigh’.

PILLING: said he chaired the planning conference which was a ‘good meeting’. Wanted to thank the community for their input. Said he supports the motion for 2 ‘chief’ reasons – lack of public transport and it’s not like the Caulfield Village which has a major transport rail line. Other reasons was ‘concern’ from the traders’ associations. The amendment isn’t ‘suitable and doesn’t fit our strategy’. Agreed with Hyams on the new zones that ‘you can’t get something now that you couldn’t before’ and that ‘you could probably get less now’. Plus ‘drawing a long bow’ then all parties at federal level are responsible because they ‘encourage population growth’. ‘Our job is to manage that population growth and set standards’. There’s been a lot of ‘criticism’ of council. Most ‘constructive’ but some ‘over the top’ and that’s like ‘criticising an umpire before the decision is made’. ‘Overall’ he ‘welcomes the community’s input’.

DELAHUNTY: said that in ‘making my mind up’ she is concentrating on ‘three particular areas’ – strategic reasons, planning reasons and community input. If she lets this go to a planning panel then didn’t think that she would be ‘upholding’ the premises of ‘local government’ – ie ‘listen to the community’ and then apply the strategic and planning ideas. Said mainly to the ‘applicant’ that when ‘you seek community consultation’ this must be done with ‘integrity’ and is ‘about a two way conversation’ and not just about ‘telling the community what you are about to do’. So it’s listening, ‘taking on board’ what people say and then ‘making some changes along the way’. Conceded that there ‘had been some belated attempts to do so’ and she commended the applicant on that. SAid that the Municipal Strategic Statement from the planning scheme identifies this as moving from industrial to a ‘really important employment node’. Said that ‘I don’t see any strategic reason’ why this objective should ‘go’. On planning grounds, if there is to be the upholding of this site as an employment zone then ‘commercial 2 is the best way to do this’. So, ‘I don’t find that there are planning reasons to move this forward’.

LIPSHUTZ: said that he suggested at one point that a panel would be the ‘best way to go’ so that residents could go and make submissions and it would come back and ‘we could look at it’. But he then ‘thought’ about it and decided that even if it went to a panel “I couldn’t support it, so why go to a panel in the first place?’ Repeated that ‘we intended this to be an employment hub’ and won’t be ‘under this proposal’. ‘I don’t think you can trust what the developer has said’. Hyams said incompetence, he suggests ‘conspiracy and they’ve been ‘deceptive’. Said there’s been ‘bandied around’ 4000 and 1250 units but ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen and I don’t trust them’. But ‘that’s not the reason’ why he is voting as he is. This ‘isn’t C60’ and isn’t CaulfieldStation and it will ‘kill business in this whole area’. Said he wanted to see the area ‘developed’ and for it ‘to go forward’. ‘Not something that is forced on the community’.

SOUNNESS: Said he was sure that the applicants don’t consider the issue as ‘dead’ and there will ‘have to be a discussion and the presentation of something new’. For people in the gallery there ‘will be more discussion in the future’ on ‘how is this going to be the best thing for Glen Eira’ and how ‘to meet the needs and expectations of residents’. He expects the applicant will now ‘have a chat’ with the community and officers. Suggested that ‘you maintain an eye out’ and ‘stay aware’ of any developments and ‘be part of the conversation’. It’s the ‘applicant’s land’ but ‘your city’ and the job of council is to ‘mediate’ between the two to achieve the best outcome. Said there are gaps in the planning scheme and that’s made him ‘uncomfortable’.

ESAKOFF: said that this has a ‘long history’ and she remembers her childhood when it was W.D & H. Wills. Glad that there has been such a great response from the community because it’s been a ‘terrific exercise in community consultation’. The amendment ‘doesn’t meet council’s strategic planning’ or council’s ‘sustainable transport’ strategy that seeks higher density in transport hubs. This isn’t one of those transport hubs. Admitted that council ‘tried hard’ to get the bus to go down East Boundary for GESAC but ‘to no avail’ and if council ‘can’t get it’ she didn’t know how the developer could.

OKOTEL: thanked both applicant and residents for the ‘amount’ of ‘information that was provided’ because ‘this was critical in our decision making’ and ‘helped us raise questions with the officers’ . Agreed with others and mainly about the impact of ‘density’ and what this means for residents in the area in terms of ‘traffic and infrastructure’. Even though she wasn’t a councillor when C75 came in, she thought this was a ‘better fit for the area’ than leaving it as ‘industrial’. However, ‘changing the zoning would lead to over-development’ and therefore can’t see ‘any reason why’ the amendment should go to a panel.

MAGEE: said that in his 7 years on council ‘nothing has scared me more’ than this. He lives in East Bentleigh and the weight of the decision meant many ‘sleepless nights’. Accepted that the ‘developer’ is trying to ‘maximise the return on his investment’ but the ‘cost is our community’. East Bentleigh was the most liveable city but not if this goes through. ‘Something will be built on this site’ but if it’s about ‘land’ then every inch is important in Glen Eira. Said that council has to ‘maximise’ open space ‘where we can’ but ‘more importantly we have to maximise the amenity’. We know that there will be ‘change’ because there are 1000 residents each year who ‘want to come and live with us’. SAid the developer has to think whether it’s all about ‘maximising’ profit or also giving residents ‘something that benefits them’. Amendment C75 is not ‘in place’ and thought that ‘we will be back here in 18 months time’. Ultimately ‘it’s about maximising the best use of the land’ and he doesn’t ‘want this change’.