Readers will remember the furore over Claire St., McKinnon and how this dead end street of 14 or so houses (zoned GRZ) has been bought out by developers. The first application was for 3 storeys and 34 apartments. Both council and VCAT refused the application. So now we have the new VCAT decision for 3 storeys and 33 apartments. The permit was granted!

The member’s decision should be compulsory reading for every single resident who has any doubt about the impact of the zones and what they mean for their streets and their suburbs. Magee can cry all the crocodile tears he likes at VCAT’s doorstep, but what has he and the other councillors done to review and amend the zones over the past 3 years? The continual lament that VCAT ignores council ‘policy’ is shown up again for the bogus and spurious claim it is. Claire Street and its development is part of council’s ‘local policy’ and thus another street is literally handed over lock, stock and barrel to developers!

Please see the following extracts:

In the Steller Elite decision (ie first application) I analysed the guidance provided by the Glen Eira Planning Scheme, which lead me to conclude that the outcome encouraged for the review site is one of increased housing supply that will constitute a marked change to the existing neighbourhood character. I set out below that analysis and rely on it given that no consequential changes have occurred to the Glen Eira Planning Scheme in the intervening period.

I understand this vision does not agree with the hopes and aspirations of the local community, including those that appeared at this hearing. I was moved by the emotional submissions made by a number of residents that have clearly planned their long term future here in this neighbourhood, and who see this future threatened by the type of development proposed for the review site. While I have been moved by these submissions, I must be guided in my decision making by the content of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme. This Planning Scheme has been drafted and adopted following extensive community consultation, thorough analysis by an independent panel of experts, and approval by successive Ministers for Planning. By law, I am required to consider the submissions that I have heard, and assess the plans that are before me, through the prism of guidance contained in the Glen Eira Planning Scheme.

In this proceeding, Mr & Mrs Menko lamented that most of the lots in Claire Street have now been purchased by developers, and are likely to be subject to forms of development like the one before me. They resist this level of change, and the likelihood that only two of the original single dwellings will remain. They also raise concerns about how this extent of development can be suitable for a dead-end street, with its only access point to McKinnon Road, and limited on-street car parking supply. They also question the ability of McKinnon Road to accommodate the additional traffic. I understand the frustrations and anger expressed by residents about the rate of change that might occur in Claire Street. However the extent of redevelopment that is likely to occur is a direct realisation of the very clear intent of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme, in particular the local policies created by the Glen Eira City Council.

The Glen Eira Planning Scheme clearly supports substantial development in Claire Street, McKinnon. This substantial development is not expected to imitate or reflect the style and form of the single dwellings that currently exist in this and other streets. Instead, a policy intent has been clearly been articulated for Claire Street, by the Glen Eira City Council, that encourages more intense and more diverse housing forms. Invariably this means that apartment buildings are strongly encouraged in this neighbourhood.

It is clear, when taking into account the policy framework as whole, that apartment style development is the undeniable future for Claire Street, McKinnon, as clearly identified and articulated by the local policies contained in the Glen Eira Planning Scheme, as drafted by the Glen Eira City Council.

In their submissions in this proceeding, the Council did not challenge my previous analysis of the relevant planning framework, and conceded that there were no consequential changes to the relevant policy framework in the intervening period. As such I find it appropriate to rely on my previous analysis in this proceeding, an analysis that identifies significant policy support for increased housing that represents significant change to the existing neighbourhood character in this locality.

Clearly this is a typology and scale of development that will still contrast to the surrounding single and double storey dwellings. That outcome is an intended result of the application of the clear policies pursued by the Glen Eira City Council for this housing diversity area. It is an outcome that will continue to prevail throughout this housing diversity area, as more and more sites are redeveloped for apartment style development. However I am satisfied that the revised development for the review site now mitigates the offsite impacts of the proposed built form to the streetscape, in a manner that is appropriate and acceptable.

I acknowledge that the proposed development will represent a significant change for the adjoining property owned by Mr and Mrs Menko. However it is an extent of change that is anticipated, and indeed encouraged, by the provisions of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme. For these reasons I not persuaded that the matters raised in the statement of grounds lodged by Mr and Mrs Menko should influence the proposed outcome for the review site.

The proposed development provides car parking for both residents and visitors at rates that either meet or exceed that required under Clause 52.06 of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme. Therefore as no permit is required to reduce the extent of car parking to be provided on-site, I have no means by which to review whether the extent of car parking provided is reasonable and appropriate, nor to require additional car parking to be provided on-site.

In their statement of grounds, Mr and Mrs Menko again raise concerns in relation to the traffic impact on Claire Street. In the absence of any new analysis of the current and proposed traffic levels within Claire Street, I must give significant weight to the independent assessment that has been undertaken by Council’s traffic engineers, who support the proposed development, including the extent of traffic increase that will occur to Claire Street. I do not doubt that the additional traffic from the development of the review site will increase delays for drivers exiting Claire Street. However that is an inevitable consequence of the deliberate and informed decision made by the Glen Eira City Council to identify Claire Street, McKinnon as a preferred location for this extent of housing change.  For these reasons I find that there are no car parking or traffic grounds on which to withhold the grant of a permit.

I find that a number of the components as drafted by Council simply reiterate aspects of the proposal that are already shown on the plans. For example a condition requires the provision of car parking at certain rates when car parking is already provided at those rates, and another condition requires the development to have a specified maximum site coverage, when that site coverage is already achieved. I do not consider that an amended plans condition should be used in such a manner, and so have deleted parts of Condition 1 where I find that the requirements are already achieved.