For all the talk about ‘consultation’ the single thing that residents have been clamouring for over the past few years is being totally ignored – a review of the residential zones.

The image above provides clear, unassailable evidence of how disastrous the implementation and maintaining of the current zoning has been. Please note carefully:

  • The vast majority of development since the introduction of the new zones HAS NOT OCCURRED in those areas zoned as Commercial – which is what the planning scheme states should happen. Instead, street after street has been destroyed because it is zoned as suitable for 4 storey development.
  • Many of these streets are not within cooee of the railway station (circled in red) which is the reason for designating these areas as an ‘activity centre’. They might be 400-600 metres away from the station, but only as the crow flies. Walking distance (ie properties in Mimosa, Beena, etc) would make these sites at least one kilometre from any railway station.
  • Activity centres are also supposed to incorporate community facilities such as open space. The map reveals not a skerrick of nearby open space!
  • Other councils do their structure planning on the basis of recent Housing Strategies. Glen Eira’s fossilised strategy originates from 1998 data. Yet, we now have the spin about structure planning that will extend over the next 10 to 15 years, WITHOUT any new housing strategy!
  • Even Matthew Guy had enough sense in his July 2014 directive to mandate – A planning authority must use a housing strategy to inform the balanced application of the three residential zones. We assume that Guy’s order would presume recent analysis and data, since those councils who chose the option of going to a committee for the implementation of their zones were told that their proposed zoning couldn’t go ahead since their data is too old! Glen Eira as a result has no strategic justification for its implementation of the new zones according to what the committee told numerous other councils!
  • Guy even states – A planning authority must evaluate and monitor the implications of the application of any of the three residential zones within two years of their gazettal into a planning scheme. Planning authorities must specifically assess the affect of the residential zone(s) on housing supply, housing prices, infill development site land prices and the availability of land for infill development but are not limited to those matters. Three and a half years down the track and residents are yet to receive any decent ‘report’ as to the efficacy of all the zones – are they working? Where is development really going? What needs changing? How best to protect residential amenity?
  • Residents also should realise that when Amendment C25, which created the Housing Diversity/Minimal change areas in Glen Eira, the panel appointed to evaluate the amendment clearly saw this as an ‘interim’ measure. The word ‘interim’ was used over 20 times in their resulting panel report. Here is one example of what was stated – The boundaries of the neighbourhood centres identified in the amendment are considered by the panel as interim at best. Thus, we are stuck with ‘interim’ housing diversity borders and for the past 17 years no inclination by Council to do what it promised – ie review the areas and implement controls that will protect residents.

The take home message is that unless these councillors have the courage to admit that disastrous mistakes have been made, the rot will continue until the bottom falls out of the housing market. We simply ask:

  • Why can’t the borders of housing diversity areas be reduced given the fact that instead of the required 600 new dwellings per annum, Glen Eira is now accommodating over 2000 net new dwellings per annum?
  • Why should suburbs such as Ormond have over 40% of its area designated as suitable for 3 storey developments? – especially when large swathes are zoned as heritage?
  • Unless there is a comprehensive review of the zones, then residents have every right to label this council not only as incompetent, but negligent in its duty.
  • Creating structure plans only for the Commercial areas will not solve the problem of street after street being over-run with substandard dog boxes. This isn’t planning. It is cow-towing to the development industry and the refusal to admit that the Newton & Akehurst vision for Glen Eira is a total disaster, especially when residents have had no say in what happened!

As a reminder of the human cost involved, we re-publish an email we received a while back from an Elliott Street resident. It spells out everything that is wrong with planning in Glen Eira –

We live in the house next to the 51 units, 4 storeys, 3-9 Elliott Ave. It is on our north side! We will also be opposite 60 more units in Elliott Ave. Only 6 out of 20 houses left in our part of this small suburban street…… what can we say. We explored all avenues including going to VCAT, employing a Planner for quite a substantial fee. We achieved some minor concessions with shadowing and setbacks. It has been an exhausting process. I wonder if we are completely stupid to continue to stay here after 36 years, enjoying the peace and convenience of living in Carnegie. However, all has changed. The council has won. The peace and joy of living here is shattered. We will stay and see how things pan out. The world is changing at such a rapid pace around us and I’m afraid we’ve lost faith in the Council and its concern for the community. We will look back in a few years time at the implementation of these zones and wonder how it could happen. In a bizarre way it makes me empathise with the first people of our country and the bewilderment of colonisation! Rapid change can leave a community depleted.