A great turnout at tonight’s Bentleigh meeting – well over 80 residents we estimate. Councillors in attendance were: Magee, Hyams, Athanasopolous and Taylor.

The outstanding pattern of the night however was that those in attendance had definitely had enough of spin, obfuscation, lack of detail, and definitely lack of strategic justification for any of the ‘concepts’. The anger in the room was palpable and expressed time and time again. Council’s responses were, to put it bluntly, pathetic. Here’s how the evening went–

  • Facilitated once more and room set up with tables, butcher paper and planners assigned to each table
  • Following on from facilitator’s introduction, Aiden Mullen provided the ‘background’ – ie what’s happened thus far and what’s still to be done and what previous feedback had been. Some new stats were put up purportedly displaying the percentages of homes in the various zones in Bentleigh. Noteworthy is the fact that Mullen NOT ONCE SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED THE PROPOSED 8 STOREYS HEIGHT LIMIT. These areas were referred to as potential ‘office’ space! Did admit that the current circle designating the RGZ ‘didn’t make sense’! – that means that the August 2013 introduction made ‘no sense’!
  • Residents then wanted to ask questions – and they did!

RESIDENT NO 1 – wanted to know what the strategic justification was for the 5 and 6 storeys and now 8 storeys and what is the definition of ‘community benefit’? Also said that he didn’t see ‘any connection’ between the vision statement and what the concept plans proposed in terms of height. Mullen answered that an ‘activity centre is typically a 10 minute walk’ from the station. Said that ‘feedback’ from community was that developers ‘were taking, taking, taking’ and ‘not giving back to the community’ and council will be looking at every application and deciding ‘what the community really needs’. Thus ‘greater employment’, ‘office’ opportunities meets ‘community benefit’ plus ‘additional car parking’ and street connections. The resident then again asked about the vision that’s been proposed and how this fits in with 8 storeys. Wanted to know how that figure was reached and that ‘it seems a bit arbitrary’. Mullen answered that the vision was about a ‘more family friendly vibe’ and have a better ‘mix’ of housing.

RESIDENT 2 – how many properties were being rezoned from 2 storeys to 3 or 4 storeys? Mullen answered that he didn’t have those figures.

RESIDENT 3 – asked about current applications and whether they would be limited to the new heights. Mullen answered that once they’ve got their permits that’s it.

RESIDENT 4 – stated that there’s a childcare centre next to an 8 storey building and didn’t think this ‘benefited the community’ and ‘wasn’t very family oriented’.

RESIDENT 5 – queried council saying that they ‘heard’ from the public agreeing to some parts being 3 and 4 storeys. Went through the number of developments in Bent Street along a 250 metre stretch of road and these totalled well over 200 new dwellings. Said ‘that’s what people are up in arms about’ and ‘to fix that you’re saying’ that houses opposite can also now be 3 storeys when they are zoned for 2 storeys. ‘You’ve ruined Bent St.’ so ‘leave that alone’. Went on to say that ‘no-one gave you the okay’ to change some houses in Vickery from 2 to 3 storeys. (applause). Said he lives near Patterson and he has opposed development because of lack of parking and now council has ‘the audacity to say that’s what we heard from the public’. ‘You did not hear that from the public’.

RESIDENT 6 – asked ‘what gives you (council) the confidence that consultation has informed’ the plans? Mullen answered that the feedback made it clear that people didn’t want to see apartments in residential streets. Resident 5 then came back and told Mullen to stop talking in percentages and to give precise figures. ‘We want to know absolute numbers so tell us the truth’. Mullen said he would ‘update numbers and put them on the website’.

RESIDENT 7 – said she’s been to a meeting years ago and about a development in Centre Road and that ‘it was loud and clear’ that people ‘went against development along Centre Road’ that was high ‘because of the shade’ and would make Centre Road a ‘wind tunnel’. Concluded that those people weren’t listened to ‘years ago’. Also permits that were then granted had 2 years to start building but council simply granted extensions after extensions.  So how can residents have confidence that this won’t happen again and the ‘new plan’ and the ‘old plan’ don’t look any different’. The old plan has heritage but ‘we know’ by driving down these streets that they are ‘not’ being protected. Mullen responded that it’s important for council to get ‘policy’ written into the scheme. Facilitator then said that policy makes it harder for VCAT.

RESIDENT 8 – asked about balconies and that people use these for hanging out washing, sheds, etc. and what council is going to do about this. Mullen responded that council is looking to ‘tighten controls’.

RESIDENT 9 – asked about the interim height guidelines and what this means for Centre Road. Mullen said that this allowed council to get on with the structure planning work without having to worry about VCAT.

The facilitator then tried to put a stop to the questions. However one resident stood up and insisted on being heard.

RESIDENT 10 –  was told to be ‘brief’ by the facilitator but the resident answered ‘I’ll take my time thanks’. Said that we’ve got the lowest amount of open space and Stonnington is developing an underground car park and open space on top. Why isn’t Glen Eira doing the same? Mullen said ‘that we’re proposing to relocate our parking to the central strip’. Resident went on to density of population, and rates of development, and that ‘we’ve got enough housing supply’ for the next 35 years, so why ‘when we’re pulling our weight’ and the ‘critical issue’ for people is about ‘overdevelopment’ are they recommending 8 storeys in Bentleigh and 12 storeys in Carnegie and ‘repurposing council land for development’. Thus ‘how are we meeting the first principles of the origin’ of the planning scheme review and the rounds of consultation? Mullen’s answer was ‘you can’t reverse what’s happened’ and ‘you can’t put a stop to development’. Resident then asked ‘why’ and Mullen answered ‘because the Minister won’t approve’ it. Resident then said that ‘Boroondara is challenging it’. Mullen said that council is trying to provide the ‘right building in the right place’.

RESIDENT 11 – queried the boundaries since it was said a 10 minute walk and he lives near Thomas St which is at least 15 minute walk to the station. So why are these houses being rezoned and ‘I query the boundary of the activity centre’.

Facilitator then intervened and insisted that people now break up to discuss issues at their tables.

The final part of the meeting included Magee being invited to speak. He started by saying that it’s important for residents to speak up and that nothing ‘was set in concrete’ and that residents could always speak with councillors. One resident then said that he’d been to forums before and questions of height keep coming up. Said he was ‘quite amazed’ that ‘the message isn’t getting through to council’ that people don’t want 8 storeys. Said ‘it would be good to see a show of hands’ from those people who wanted 4 storeys. Magee answered that it’s about context and that if you asked people if they wanted 8 storeys most would say no. But if you asked them about 8 storeys at Ormond Railway station ‘I guarantee you that most would not say no’. The resident insisted on asking the question whether people wanted a maximum of 4 storeys. Our observations indicated that just about everyone put up their hands!!!!!!!!



Southern Metropolitan Region

Mr DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan)

— My constituency question relates to the Minister for Planning and is about the precinct surrounding Chestnut Street in Carnegie

That area has a significant set of protections over the streetscape and the properties there . It is also an area in which the government has recently put an interim design and development overlay in place . The City of Glen Eira is currently consulting with the community but has proposed an area where up to 12 storeys will be built. This would be a very significant increase in height and would put massive pressure on traffic, with congestion .

There is obviously an area already impacted significantly by the sky rail, and the risk of this imposition and overshadowing is significant.

. What I ask is whether the minister in his planning scheme amendment will rule out a 12 -storey tower or 12 storeys that overshadow heritage protected areas?