Set down for decision Tuesday night is an application for a 6 storey building with 33 units, 6 shops, basement car parking and the waiver of parking spots for the shops and visitors, plus a loading bay. The site is along McKinnon Road between Wheatley and Jasper. The officer’s recommendation is to approve a permit.

We highlight this item for several reasons:

  • McKinnon is one of the smallest ‘neighbourhood centres’ – now officially an activity centre. Yet according to council’s planning scheme it sits well below its so called ‘urban villages’ of Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick. Thus we have the insanity of council’s application for height limits of 5 storeys in Bentleigh and now six storeys is viewed as acceptable in McKinnon!
  • Readers should also remember Amendment C143 where councillors changed an advertised amendment from Mixed Use Zone of 4 storeys in McKinnon Road, to a zoning of General Residential Zone (3 storeys) because they argued that 4 storeys was too much. Community opposition does work wonders!
  • This application is supposed to have 6 shops ranging in size from 53 square metres to just over 90 square metres. McKinnon has no bank, no supermarket, no butchers, no fruit shops, no clothes shops, and nothing really except cafes and more cafes. How much employment will be generated by a 53 square space is debatable – especially since council’s consultants predict a decline in ‘retail’ of thousands by 2036.

We have commented time and again on the lack of transparency in council officer reports for applications. This report is no different –

  • Instead of highlighting the number of one bedroom, two bedroom apartments proposed, the report lumps together the number of 1 and 2 bedrooms so that it is impossible to determine the percentage of one bedroom compared to 3 bedrooms. Worse still is the inclusion of totally illegible plans. When council spends millions on IT systems, surely it can provide images that are capable of being read. Is this deliberate?
  • The application has a deficit of 9 car parking spaces for its shops and 2 spots for visitor car parking. The recommendations on shop parking are far from transparent when we get sentences such as – Given the location of the site and proximity to residential areas, it is recommended that all visitor car spaces (6), and at least two car spaces for each commercial space be provided onsite. What is not spelt out is that this only totals 12 parking spots when the legislation required 16. Thus a waiver of 4 spots and no mention of loading bay or any reason for this largesse!
  • The traffic department’s view is also bereft of justification. All we get is this single sentence – Transport Planning is satisfied with the number of customer car parking spaces that has been provided for the shops
  • The best however is to be found in this incredible paragraph that is meant to justify everything but which conflicts completely with the current planning scheme –

The proposal has an overall maximum height of 19.96 metres. While the proposal will undoubtedly be taller and more robust than adjoining existing development, it is considered that it represents what policy expects in terms of change given the size of the site, the emerging built form in the immediate area and its strategic location. 

Where in the planning scheme does ‘policy’ envisage buildings higher than the major activity centre of Bentleigh?

Where in this area is there another building of this height?

Why is it acceptable to have a six storey building towering over a three storey building at its rear, when council first refused a permit in Caulfield North because it was to be a mere 2 storeys higher than its surrounds?

Nor are we talking about a really huge site. It is barely 1150 square metres and of course is not mentioned anywhere in the report!

Nothing changes in Glen Eira’s pro-development agenda. Officer reports are abysmal, deliberately vague and most importantly either conflict with the planning scheme itself or provide practically nil justification for the final recommendations!