A fantastic turnout at tonight’s Elsternwick Forum of at least 180 residents. And once again the anger and outrage was palpable. Councillors present were: Delahunty, Silver, Hyams, Esakoff, Athanasopolous plus CEO, McKenzie. They need to take serious note of this community response which has been mirrored by the Bentleigh and Carnegie forums!

As in Bentleigh one resident got up and asked people to put up their hands if they were happy with 12 storeys in Elsternwick. Not one hand went up. She then asked if people would be satisfied with 4 storeys? Most hands went up. This mirrors what happened at Bentleigh.

Yet throughout all of this ‘consultation’ the constant response from Mullen (and therefore presumably council) has been to avoid answering the most basic questions:

  • What is the strategic justification and the data that supports 12 storeys as say opposed to 6 or 8 storeys? Simply arguing that Elsternwick has to serve its function as a Major Activity Centre is not an answer!
  • Why when Glen Eira is providing double its housing ‘quota’ is council so hell bent on more development?
  • Why does Mullen continually resort to false dichotomies by arguing that the issue is about ‘no development’ versus 12 storeys? No one is saying there shouldn’t be development. The angst is all about what council is proposing and its impact on residents. We have yet to learn anything about what council will do with the schedules to the zones, etc. That is being kept secret!
  • Why when residents ask for another ‘option’ to be provided instead of the two options that the plans indicate (each option containing 12 storey buildings) does Mullen say that is a ‘councillor decision’ when he has previously stated that the plans are his recommendations. Who is running the show?
  • Why does Mullen, when asked about mandatory height limits say that council can opt for 4 storey preferred heights as opposed to the 12 storey height limit but VCAT will exceed this height limit. Surely there is a vast difference between 4 and 12 storeys? Plus, didn’t council in its interim height amendment for Bentleigh insist that they should opt for some preferred heights rather than all mandatory and couldn’t stop patting themselves on the back that the preferred heights would provide ‘certainty’ to all? Now we get the reverse argument – that preferred heights are non enforceable and that VCAT will exceed the limits imposed. Pity this wasn’t stated at the time the amendments for Bentleigh & Carnegie were introduced!
  • And yes, whilst amendments must be signed off by the Minister, surely this does not excuse council from listening to its constituents and at least trying to incorporate their views. Other councils can and do!

Until this council provides residents with honest and transparent answers, with data that is fool proof and detailed, we have absolutely no faith in any pronouncement made by this lot. Consultation is a farce. Pretending to listen to residents is a sham and acting upon resident views has yet to occur. As one resident said, council should be fighting tooth and nail for its people and not facilitating the slums of the future!

Finally we highlight this comment from one resident. She stated that she was concerned with council’s intention of extending shopping and night time hours and the deleterious impact this would have on surrounding neighbours. She said that this had been brought to the attention of Cr Silver and that his response was – “if you want peace and quiet go live in the country”!!!!!!!!!

If this is the attitude of our councillors then we are indeed in deep shit!