It is becoming a regular occurrence that council cannot get its act together and determine an application within the required 60 day period. Thus, the developer side-steps council and goes directly to VCAT. This occurred on the first item of the agenda – ie. the application for 4 storeys and 47 dwellings in Vickery St., Bentleigh. Council received the application on the 7th October 2015 and despite the excuses of Christmas that Hyams throws up, the 60 days would have expired well and truly before the holiday period and still leaves most of January for a decision.

Hyams moved motion to advise VCAT that if Council had the power to make a decision they would have issued a permit for 3 storeys and ‘up to 39 dwellings’. He also included several other conditions involving site coverage, increased setbacks and visitor car parking spots. Seconded by Magee.

HYAMS: explained that they were informed at ‘seven minutes past four this afternoon’ that the developer had gone straight to VCAT because of failure to determine within 60 days. Said that ‘given Christmas holidays’ it is ‘very difficult if not impossible’ to get a decision for ‘to be sorted out within 60 days’. Claimed that the developer ‘chose to appeal’ because it ‘suggests they weren’t prepared to accept anything’ that council would put up as conditions. Said the ‘effect’ of this was ‘neglible’ because now council goes to vcat and says ‘this is what we would allow them’. Objectors can still be ‘a party’ to the case. Said that ‘it gives them no advantage at all’ and maybe the ‘outside chance’ that the developer would ask for costs against council. But since it is on the ‘agenda and just over 60 days’ then unlikely. ‘Their tactics are up to them’. Admitted that the site is ‘near station’ and ‘not near the edge’ of the Residential Growth Zone, but it is ‘still fair to say’ that 4 storeys is too much in that it would ‘impact unduly on residential amenity’ and the ‘slope of the street would make it appear higher’. Therefore ‘three storeys in this case is more appropriate’. Said that there were increased street setbacks to ‘reflect other properties’. And so it would be ‘less impactful’. Council accepts the argument of objectors who ‘passionately’ made the point about car parking in the street so they are asking for full visitor car parking spots. Outlined the conditions related to site coverage and ‘safety’ with sight lines into the basement garages.

MAGEE: said objectors talked about ‘height and scale and massing’ and now ‘council has listened to that’. On landscaping, council has also taken note by ‘increasing setbacks’. Said that there is an ‘impact on infrastructure as we know in that area’ and with grade separation they are looking at ‘storm water’ and that ‘will help’. Said that objectors concerns had ‘been addressed’ by the conditions. It was ‘unfortunate’ that the developer went to VCAT but that was because he wasn’t prepared to ‘accept’ what council conditions were after he saw the officer report on Friday and he probably wouldn’t accept what Hyams moved either.

OKOTEL: supported the motion because the application was ‘certainly out of keeping with neighbourhood character’ and because there’s already so much ‘congestion on the street’ the conditions about car parking is important. Asked Torres a question – since there were 39 objectors, will they be informed about the VCAT hearing?

TORRES: replied that VCAT ‘will now’ go through its processes and inform all objectors.

DELAHUNTY: thanked objectors for their ‘informed’ participation in the planning conference and that this ‘helped set the conditions’ for the application. Said that ‘something will go on this site’ and it ‘will probably be a larger building’ than what people ‘at the moment want to see’. But ‘it’s a great place to live’ and whatever happens at VCAT she hopes that it ‘strikes the right balance’ between protecting amenity and catering for population growth.

HYAMS: reiterated that ‘all objectors are part of the process and will be notified by VCAT’. Objectors have ‘the right to be involved’.



  • How many more times will council fail to determine an application in the statutary time limit? Please note that in recent cases VCAT has awarded costs against various councils on this very ground.
  • How many more VCAT decisions have to point out to this council that its zoning is the determining factor in its decision making and that lopping off a storey in a growth zone is doomed to failure?
  • How many more times will these councillors continue to blame VCAT rather than the current planning scheme?
  • How much longer will council continue to pretend that its planning scheme is god’s gift to Glen Eira residents, rather than the inept, and archaic document it really is?

And as a final nail in the coffin to the arguments that are presented above, we quote from the latest VCAT decision on another site in the Residential Growth Zone.. Either these councillors are deaf, dumb, and stupid, or derelict in their duty to analyse each and every VCAT decision and then to ensure that they amend the planning scheme to close off the gaping loopholes that now exist. Please consider how each of the following statements totally contradict all of Hyams’, Okotel’s and Magee’s assertions

The source for the following is:

Neither the purposes of the RGZ or clause 22.05 refer to the character of the neighbourhood as a benchmark for the way a development might fit into the area. The Tribunal has consistently found that land within the Urban Villages is encouraged to be developed more intensively than the prevailing housing that is in garden settings. New development is to be measured by reference to a preferred or emerging character rather than the existing neighbourhood character. The extent of change between the existing and the new built form can be substantial rather than a gently nuanced transition.

Consequently I consider that policy contemplates that the height, massing and setbacks of development within the RGZ should not be defined by adjoining one or two storey dwellings in a suburban setting.

No guidance is provided in the schedule to the zone or local policy to support greater setbacks.