Council’s recent release of documents related to its ‘structure planning’ must, in our view, be treated with a huge grain of salt. This is the first in a series of posts analysing what has been placed in front of residents and how valid, accurate, and transparent these documents really are. Are we again being taken for a ride via data that are highly questionable and manipulated to present already determined decisions?

The first document is called ‘Activity Centres Snapshot: February 2017’. It purports to be ‘based on similar studies carried out by Melbourne City Council’ in its Places for People and Local Liveability 2015 Study. (uploaded HERE). The aim is to ‘provide a more comprehensive understanding of how the city performs for everyday people’. Yet, when both of these documents are compared, the Glen Eira version is anything but ‘comprehensive’. For starters we are told that:

  • All data used in this document is current (February 2017) except for residential and employment population data, which is taken from the Census carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2011. How much credence should then be placed on this ‘snapshot’, especially given the rate of development since 2011?
  • The land uses were determined using Council’s internal database and does not include residential land within the study areas. How on earth any study can ignore ‘residential’ is simply mind boggling! Or is this simply more confirmation of the fact that council is focusing exclusively on the single street shopping strips themselves and not the zones that have blighted countless people’s lives?
  • Then of course, there is this wonderful ‘escape clause’ – Disclaimer: this document is provided for information purposes and does not claim to be complete. Although due diligence has been applied to ensure that all information contained in this document is accurate, it cannot be guaranteed that this document is without errors or omissions. Why publish anything if its accuracy and integrity cannot be assured?

We’ve drawn up a table below which illustrates just some of the differences between the Glen Eira version of good planning and what the Melbourne City Council included in their study. To therefore claim that this piece of paper represents a ‘snapshot’ of what is happening in Glen Eira, and is the basis upon which to plan for the future, is not only ludicrous, but deliberately misleading and invalid.


Compounding all of the above, we then have neat little maps of the various areas under consideration – with no explanation, no criteria, and again, lines drawn on a map. The City of Melbourne’s study clearly defined how its various neighbourhood borders were selected –

To understand the Local Liveability 2015 Study area at a local level, 5-minute walking catchments were identified across the study area to effectively act as a sieve and allow for disparate urban geographies and their components to be compared ‘apples for apples’. For greater rigour and to reflect the true local urban conditions, real 5-minute walking catchments were determined rather than standard ‘as-the-crow-flies’ walking radii.
Local Movement as defined by Melbourne then includes ‘Car Spaces Per Employment’, ‘Car Spaces Per Resident’, and the numbers of bus stops, tram stops, etc.  All Glen Eira includes are the latter. As mentioned previously parking does not figure at all. Instead we are presented with nice little maps, that may look ‘professional’ and pretty, but which don’t reveal very much when terms, borders, and important categories are omitted!
The Bentleigh snapshot is typical. Depicted is a huge area that is overwhelmingly ‘residential’ – which we’re told has been excluded. Thus, what knowledge and what kind of basis for future planning can be drawn from this effort? Finally, Melbourne has no qualms in pinpointing areas that are ‘poor’ in terms of ‘liveability’ for its neighbourhood areas. In Glen Eira of course, the category ‘poor’ simply does not exist – everything is ‘great’ or ‘good’!!!!!!!!!