Ever since the introduction of the zones in 2013, Council has used VCAT as a convenient scapegoat. VCAT’s granting of permits of course has had nothing whatsoever to do with the inadequate planning scheme and the fact that developers could drive a truck through it! Time and again the blame was laid at VCAT’s feet but with no attempt to address the shortcomings of the planning scheme itself. We maintain that without Wynne’s order to get their house in order, Glen Eira would still be doing nothing since a further application for a review extension was undoubtedly the catalyst for Wynne to say ‘enough is enough’!

Now we have another scapegoat. This time it’s the State Government and the refrain of ‘we can’t stop development’. No one is arguing that development should be stopped. It is where and how much development is encouraged that is the sticking point. Plus of course the essential questions of capacity, density, and whether or not Glen Eira is meeting its housing needs for the projected population growth. These are the issues that council has been totally silent on.  Whether or not we have 37 years land supply, or the original Newton/Hyams claim of 90 plus years is beside the point. What needs quantifying and elaborating is whether or not Glen Eira’s rate of housing development is sufficient to meet its projected population growth and therefore there is no need to rezone areas for even greater development.

Judging by the various community forums on the current structure planning, what concerns residents is the extent of the development and what measures council is proposing that will ensure residential amenity and the environment is safeguarded. Allowing buildings of 8 to 12 storeys is not the majority’s view of reasonable development and neither is flogging off public land to facilitate such development.

According to Plan Melbourne Refresh (2017-2050) Glen Eira is now part of the Inner South East group of councils which includes Stonnington, Bayside, and Boroondara. Here is what is forecast in two scenarios – (1) current projections and (2) ‘aspirational’ projections. According to this, 4 municipalities should be able to provide an additional 110,000 or 125,000 net new dwellings over the next 34 years.

Since these figures are for all South East councils, we would expect Glen Eira’s share to be roughly 27,500 or 31,250 net new dwellings by 2051. That’s another 34 years away and provides an average of either 808 net new dwellings per year or, for the ‘aspirational’ scenario, 919 net new dwellings per annum. The fact that since the introduction of the zones Glen Eira has more than doubled this ‘requirement’ per year has not been acknowledged. If development continues at this rate then Glen Eira will have reached its supposed ‘target’ not in 2051 but closer to 2025. And since structure planning is never intended to be anything more than a ‘vision’ for the next 15 years, this makes council’s planning even more suspect given its rezoning proposals.

Another issue which council has remained entirely silent about and which is already having impact on dwelling numbers is Wynne’s introduction of VC110 and the removal of the mandatory 2 dwellings per lot in the Neighbourhood Residential Zones. Currently there are 9 applications in for multi-unit developments in these areas. Thus instead of 18 dwellings, we now have the potential for 38 dwellings on these 9 blocks of land. (see below).  Has council factored this into its planning? Why the silence? And what other countless loopholes can developers exploit before council actually introduces amendments that ensure the protection of residential amenity? Please remember that the new ‘garden’ area does not apply to land under 400 square metres. There is literally nothing to stop a developer subdividing his/her land first, and then applying for a planning permit. Result? No need for ‘garden area’!!!!

Until all of these aspects are taken into account, and until council provides concrete and reliable data to justify its expansionist planning proposals, residents have every right to believe that council’s agenda is to continue to facilitate more and more development – regardless of whether it is needed, much less sustainable! And finally, please bear in mind that Glen Eira already has up to anothyer 5000 dwellings waiting in the wings via the Caulfield Village development and the massive Virginia Estate! These latter developments barely rate a mention in council’s pronouncements!