Tonight was the first of the 5 ‘community forums’ on the Planning Scheme review. About 30 residents showed up. Magee introduced the evening and then departed due to a prior engagement. He reiterated that Glen Eira has about 1300 people moving into the municipality each year and that they need to live somewhere. VCAT was still his main villain! His ten minute introduction was followed by another ten minute introduction by a ‘facilitator’ hired by council.

Residents were seated at tables with a council planner assigned to each table and a scribe given the task of recording people’s responses to the set questions from the discussion paper. At the conclusion of ten minutes for each theme, the elected scribe reported back to the entire gathering.

The following proposals were repeated several times and from most of the groups:

  • The need for structure planning
  • The need for tree protection
  • The need for parking precinct plans
  • The need for preferred character statements
  • The need to curb overdevelopment
  • The need for a full heritage review
  • The need for policies with more ‘bite’
  • The need for greater environmental considerations in terms of building design and vegetation
  • The need to protect local shopping strips
  • The need to review the zones and schedules
  • The need for height limits overall
  • The need for developers to pay for parking waivers and infrastructure

Sadly, the opportunity to ask questions and receive responses that the entire audience could hear, was not provided. It was clear that the focus was to be on the set questions from the discussion paper, rather than an open and free discussion. When one resident towards the end interrupted the facilitator as she was summing up and asked why no forum was scheduled for Bentleigh, the response was that council could not find a venue! We should also point out, that if council was really determined to engage with the community, then surely 6pm is not the ideal time! And finally, we ask, is it sheer coincidence that the forum scheduled for Carnegie, is to be held so late in the piece (25th May), with only 6 days left before submissions close?

PS: this is why the above recommendations are crucial