For months now, some councillors have been voicing concerns about Glen Eira’s planning scheme, the zones, the way they were introduced, plus the lack of necessary ‘tools’ that council could use in determining applications. Residents themselves have taken to social media, with petitions, comments, and demands. We have consistently reported on VCAT decisions that make it abundantly clear how inept and lacking Council’s planning scheme is. People are angry and getting angrier at what they see as the destruction of their neighbourhoods and their lives.

So how do our councillors respond to this ground swell? More empty talk, more ‘we should do this’, but absolutely, no firm action from any of them! Words are cheap and ultimately useless. What is required is a simple council resolution which orders the pen pushers to get off their backsides and to immediately put the planning scheme on the table for intense and full, honest consultation with residents. Or will we continue to have more hand wringing, more crocodile tears, more blaming of VCAT, more ratepayers’ money being thrown down the drain with public relations disasters intended to excuse 13 years of negiligent planning under Newton?

Tuesday night provided some further examples of ‘we should’. As we’ve already said – talk is cheap. It is now, with the election year looming, time for action! Here’s a report on some of the comments that were made on several items.

LOBO – thought that it was time to ‘review policies’ following Plan Melbourne’s release and how the government is expecting over 7 million people in Victoria. Said it was also important to ‘review our Municipal Strategic Statement’ that ‘was adopted by council on 17th May 1999’, and accepted by the government on 5th August 1999, 16 years ago’ and in ‘light of the boom and new residents’.

SOUNNESS: said he was ‘concerned’ that even though the VCAT member rejected the 16 storey application in Egan St., Carnegie, he still stated that the height was acceptable. This then leads onto the question of an urban design framework that looks at traffic, “what’s the shape of a city’ and where density should go and ’16 storeys doesn’t meet that criteria’. And there is also a paragraph in the VCAT member’s judgement that notes ‘the absence in the scheme that provides guidance about these areas’. The decision then talks about ‘first principles’ and the design guidelines for high density developments. There is also discussion about how the Carnegie area is ‘undergoing substantial change’. He is pleased that the application was refused, but strictly on amenity design and ‘not the other features’. For him ‘a village is not 16 storeys’. ‘I have some concerns about how council’s policy framework is directed’ and that there is a ‘due process to go through in reviewing planning schemes’ and for those sections in the planning scheme that involve ‘urban villages’. He ‘hopes’ that there can be a ‘conversation about that earlier rather than later’ because if these sorts of applications for 16 storeys comes in then they are not appropriate.

HYAMS: also didn’t think that 16 storeys was appropriate and that ‘Mr Torres has assured us’ that this is against the ‘policy for the area’. Also if VCAT is ‘incapable of interpreting our policy’ then maybe there needs to be ‘policy that VCAT can understand’ so there is some ‘work that we need to do’.

We remind readers of the following facts:

  • The Planning Scheme was allegedly ‘reviewed’ in 2010. This was, in our view, not a real ‘review’, but a predetermined decision to do very little except tinker with the edges.
  • Council (or some anonymous officer with no delegated authority) applied for an extension so that more years could pass before the scheme was touched again. There was no council resolution on this and no rationale for why another two years of delay was sought. The Minister granted council an extra year.
  • That would take any review well into 2017 – plenty of time for suburbs, streets, and amenity to be ruined.