In what can only be seen as a total admission of failure (and straight out incompetent planning) Hyams and Delahunty moved this Request for a Report at last Tuesday night’s council meeting –

Crs Hyams/Delahunty

That a report be prepared on whether Council should apply for a planning scheme amendment to raise the Public Open Space Contribution Levy above the current 5.7%.

Thus, just on one year since the amendment was gazetted, council is now acknowledging that 5.7% falls far short of what is required. The ‘excuses’ provided were that Council’s ‘assumptions’ and conditions have changed. Nothing could be further from the truth! The so called building boom owes much to the introduction of the new zones which date from August 2013 – 2 years before the open space amendment was gazetted and a year after the deficient open space strategy was made public. The writing was literally on the wall and council needed to introduce a far higher open space levy to ensure that funds were available – but more importantly that the amount of public open space per individual did not decline.

Nor does this sudden interest in open space account for 11 years of doing absolutely nothing to raise funds to purchase open space. The levy from 2004 to 20015 was not only miniscule, but a gift to developers. Exacerbating the situation was the failure of council to purchase additional space apart from 2 house blocks in Packer Park even though the lack of public open space in Glen Eira was known and stated in both the 1987 and 1998 open space strategies.

What is even more disgraceful is the repeated and continuing slurs (including last Tuesday night) cast on the 2 objectors to this open space amendment and the completely bogus claim that their objections cost council in the vicinity of $1 million. How much did council cost ratepayers from 2004 to 2015 with its laughable levy rate? And how dare the likes of Hyams and Lipshutz in particular cast slurs on residents who decided to exercise their legal rights and object to council’s inadequate proposals and shonky strategic planning?

It is now obvious that 2 residents were able to forecast  what would happen a lot better than ‘consultants’ who cost $130,000 and councillors who were determined not to listen and bureaucrats who were only intent on limiting the damage for developers.

FYI, here is part of one of the submissions presented to the Planning Panel that argues strongly that a 5.7% levy is inadequate – especially since Stonnington with the second least amount of public open space opted for an 8% levy. In the end Stonnington achieved its 8% levy for 4 major suburbs – South Yarra, Windsor, Prahran and Armadale. The total area of these 4 suburbs at 8% will alone bring in more than Glen Eira’s 5.7% across the entire municipality. Further, Stonnington’s objective is to keep creating further open space with its $36 million in the kitty as opposed to Glen Eira’s splurging on mega palaces and concrete and disowning its twice passed resolution that the levy would go for the purchase of open space and not the ‘maintenance’ of existing open space!


Contention: The proposed contribution levy of 5.7% is inadequate to meet the open space needs of the existing and future populations of Glen Eira.

Throughout this submission I have pointed out that:

  • The projected population figures are extremely conservative
  • The cited potential land development area is well and truly underestimated
  • The rate of development in Glen Eira has risen astronomically
  • The stated land values are well below the current market figures
  • Infill development figures and how they impact on potential revenue is ignored
  • Impact of strategic development sites is ignored

As a consequence of all the above, a 5.7% levy, and the overall recommendation to create (at a maximum) another 11 or so hectares of public open space will not meet the needs of the community. I acknowledge fully that there is no standardised methodology for determining what an appropriate contribution levy could be. I also acknowledge that the consultants were to a great extent dependent on figures provided to them by council. It is precisely these figures which I believe are suspect and need to be fully reviewed and updated.

Without access to current council data I can only hypothesize on what would be an appropriate levy given all the above factors. What I do find telling however is the comparison with the current Stonnington proposed contributions levy and the analysis done by their consultants. As pointed out in an earlier table, Stonnington is two-thirds the size of Glen Eira, has a smaller population, and has the second lowest amount of public open space in the state, behind Glen Eira’s record of having the least amount of public open space. Yet Stonnington’s consultants find that:

Based on current provision of open space throughout the City, the Strategy identifies that acquisition of 53 hectares is required to meet the benchmark. When factoring in population growth acquisition of 108 hectares would be required to meet the benchmark[1]

The Glen Eira OSS provides no quantifiable benchmark to work towards. If no targets are set, then I’d argue that it is extremely difficult to calculate what revenue is required in order to meet the most minimalist standards of open space per individual – especially if the data is highly suspect. At a maximum, the OSS recommends the acquisition of another 11 hectares of open space in the entire municipality.  The  least recommended would only equal another 2.2 hectares, and the ‘average’ is given as 6.51 hectares. None of these possibilities are adequate. If Stonnington is currently finding a deficit of 53 hectares then Glen Eira’s claims to need only an additional 11 hectares at best, does indeed appear well below the mark.

There’s also Stonnington’s request that their contribution levy be raised to 8%. Why a council with the second least amount of public open space should ask for an 8% levy, and the council with the least amount of public open space only demands 5.7% levy is quite frankly, beyond me.

Nor do the consultant’s reports provide any historical breakdown of levy contributions per precinct as does Stonnington. All that is cited are the cumulative figures for each financial year. Without such a breakdown it is incredibly difficult to gauge where the majority of subdivisions are occurring; the nature, scope, and size of these subdivisions and how these may indicate what occurs in the future – especially in the urban growth centres.

Stonnington has also created a list of proposed projects for its entire 20 year plan and its figures are based on the anticipated costs. Apart from disclosing 3 projects in the current budget, Glen Eira has not revealed whether in fact it even has such a long term plan and what the specific projects might entail and hence their probable costs. Again, a highly dubious basis upon which to calculate what needs to be done over the next 13 years.”


“Based on all the above I would strongly urge the Panel to recommend a higher contributions levy than what is currently proposed. I am not able to provide a definite figure since I have no access to the current data and I do not consider it my task to do so. That belongs to council and the consultants.

If the residents of Glen Eira are to be well served via the acquisition of the necessary public open space, then I urge the panel to recommend a total review of what has been proposed and that this is based on the most up-to-date and accurate data. Glen Eira residents cannot afford to undergo any further loss of open space which is inevitable I believe, if the current proposed amendment remains unchanged.”

[1] SGA Economics & Planning. (2013). Assessment of Mandatory Open Space Contributions – Page 16