Development will happen at Virginia Park. That is inevitable. What matters is:

  • How much development is ‘necessary’ or even ‘appropriate’ for this site? 1000, 2000, 4000 or 5000 apartments?
  • What will this development look like?
  • What short and long term benefits will accrue to the community as a result?

The answers to these questions are currently unknown. What is known, is that housing brings in the money for developers and that rezoning of the land is the first step in the process. Once rezoned it is the fine print of the so called Development Plan that will reveal much of what the future might look like. Thus it becomes even more imperative that Council insists that the eventual Master Plan is more than a glossy salesman’s promotion – which it currently is!

At this stage we can only go on the published documentation and there is much to be concerned with here given the absence of specific detail and the plethora of motherhood statements.

We address some of the core issues below.

How many apartments are planned?

The developers neatly side-step this concern with this catch all statement – Final densities and dwelling numbers cannot be determined at this point as they are dependent on a number of factors such as potential heights, scale and uses on which feedback is sought as part of this consultation phase.

The intended message is that resident input will have a decided effect on the outcomes – such as ‘dwelling numbers’. That remains to be seen of course, but we are indeed skeptical. Heights for close to half of the site are already set by the existing Schedule to Amendment C75 gazetted in 2011. Plus, when it was envisaged that a 12.5 hectare site could accommodate up to 4000 apartments, it is extremely difficult to believe that a site double this size will not attempt to accommodate more!

The final number of apartments will also be determined by how many are single bedroom, double bedroom or how many are 3 bedroom apartments suitable for families. When the issue of ‘housing diversity’ is reduced to the following, as the documentation repeatedly emphasises, then this is potentially another cause for concern – ie Feedback from earlier consultation on the development of a 20 year masterplan for the precinct asked for consideration of smaller dwelling options, affordable housing and aged care and retirement options.

Housing diversity is much, much more than ‘smaller dwelling options’ or even the inclusion of aged care and affordable housing. The ‘offer’ of ‘up to 5% of total dwellings’ as ‘affordable housing’ palls when we consider the Yarra Council’s Schedule to the Alphington Paper Mill development  (16.5 hectares – 2500 units) and the imposition of an ‘unconditional’ 5% affordable housing component.  

It is therefore imperative that Councillors insist on unequivocal terms and definitions, once the final Master Plan is submitted.

Population Growth In Glen Eira

The various published documents emphasise how Glen Eira’s population is projected to grow by 2031 and the number of apartments that are required to meet this housing need. We’re told that population will increase by a third and that another 7,474 new dwellings are therefore essential – and that is throughout all of Glen Eira, not just East Bentleigh!

What the Gillon conglomerate does not tell residents is:

  • That there are already another 1500+ apartments in the pipeline due to the Caulfield Village development and these will all be completed by 2031.
  • According to Planning Permit Victorian figures for the first quarter of 2016/17 another 448 net new dwellings have been granted permits.
  • According to the ABS data on building permits for the current financial year, we can add another 420
  • On the cards is also major development projects at Rippon Lea, Ormond rail station and probably McKinnon and Bentleigh stations as well. Ormond is purported to house another 200 apartments. No information has been released for McKinnon and Bentleigh, but we can’t imagine that these stations will be left untouched. Then of course there is the recent sale of the Daily Planet and 2 surrounding properties where the developer promised ‘bay views’ to his prospective buyers.

Thus we have the situation where we already know for certain that out of the ‘required’ 7474 new dwellings, Glen Eira already has at least 2600 accounted for. This of course does not take into account the flurry of applications already in for the RGZ and GRZ areas of the municipality and those applications which will still come in. Even discounting all these latter scenarios, all Glen Eira has to achieve is another 4800 new dwellings over the next 15 years to meet its unofficial ‘quota’. Thus, there is absolutely no need for Gillon to use the excuse of a housing shortfall in order to condone the potential  (over)development at Virginia Estate. And certainly not the questionable and debated target of 4000+ that was in the first attempt at rezoning.

And all of the above ignores the major problems of traffic, parking, infrastructure, commercial viability of Centre Road shopping strip, residential amenity of neighbours, open space, walkability, transport options, blah, blah, blah. Each and every one of these concerns must be addressed – and not by motherhood statements, or vague promises. The onus is on council to do its own research and to insist that every single ‘I’ is dotted and every single ‘t’ is crossed and that clear, rational justification is provided to residents for the subsequent decision making.