On its Have Your Say webpage for the Virginia Estate development, council tells us –

So far this year we have undertaken three rounds of consultation. The feedback we received for round three clearly stated that the community required more detailed information in order to provide feedback. We have listened to this feedback and the VPA has engaged independent expert consultants to provide advice on a number of topics including urban design, parks and open space, traffic, employment and drainage. (Source: http://www.haveyoursaygleneira.com.au/east-village)

According to this blurb, residents should expect:

  • Comprehensive and detailed reports. The vast majority of these reports are anything but ‘comprehensive and detailed’. Further, why council couldn’t provide the documents in question on its own site instead of referring residents to the Planning Authority site via a link that requires further searching is open to question.
  • That what council writes is unambiguous, accurate and transparent. It isn’t! For example the impression created is that the VPA has engaged (read ‘paid for’) consultants’ reports that are ‘objective’ and ‘independent’. Far from it. The Urban Design report on page 4 states –

MGS Architects Pty. Ltd have been engaged by The Gillon Group, Make Property Group and Abacus Property Group to develop an Urban Design Report to inform the East Village development in Bentleigh East, Victoria. (page 4)

The same is true for Environmental Conditions report –

Senversa Pty Ltd was engaged by MAKE EBRB Dev Nominee Pty Ltd. (MAKE) to prepare a summaryof environmental conditions for the proposed East Village Precinct, Bentleigh East, a 24 hectare parcel of land (with multiple titles) on the corner of East Boundary and North Roads, Bentleigh East (thePrecinct) (page 1)

Reading the Urban Design effort we find that many sections are nothing more than a regurgitation of the original Gillon propaganda, practically verbatim, that came out a few years ago. (By the way, the East Village Gillon site has suddenly disappeared!)

More importantly the VPA website doesn’t include as yet the most contentious documents – ie commercial assessment and social infrastructure. (See: https://vpa.vic.gov.au/project/east-village-strategic-site/p/east-village-key-ideas-objectives/). If these appear in December/January, then that means residents will not have had the opportunity to read, much less digest the so-called ‘information’ before this consultation concludes. Hardly an ideal situation!

As a brief overview of what we’ve gleaned thus far, please note:

  • Of 400 trees reviewed on the site, only 5 are deemed to be of ‘very high value’ and only another 73 are categorised as ‘high value’. Another 150 are seen to be of ‘medium retention value’. Sadly the gate is left wide open when this evaluation is followed by – “If designing around these trees is not feasible or practical, removal and replacement would be an acceptable compromise”. Bye, bye trees!
  • It is now mooted to be at least 2 supermarkets and no mention of size, capacity, etc.
  • The so called traffic report only looks at the current state of affairs – not what it will be like with another 3000+ apartments and hundreds upon hundreds of additional cars clogging the roads. Readers should also take note of the photographs that are supposed to represent traffic conditions on North Road and East Boundary Road. We can only suppose that there has been some good Photoshopping, or that these images were snapped in the middle of the night or daybreak!

There is much, much more that could be said – and we will in ensuing posts. We repeat that in our view this is not consultation. Until residents are provided with realistic data that is justified, explained, and open to debate, then we are simply being lead down the garden path to an amendment that will leave little room for change and community input! It will be a mirror image of Caulfield Village – a fait accompli!