In the ‘public participation’ section of tonight’s council meeting, there were two excellent questions asked by residents on the draft structure plans for Elsternwick – especially the proposals to rezone large areas of the suburb to cater for buildings up to twelve storeys. We present below a direct transcript of the questions and the answers provided by officers and councillors. Please consider the responses carefully.


“Your worship and councillors thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on the Elsternwick structure plans. The area that I am particularly concerned about is the area between the railway and Nepean Highway north and south of Glen Huntly Road. So what is this area comprised of? …I’ll be quick. There are about 250 residences. I counted the letter boxes south of Glen Huntly Road. There’s about 48 to the north. And by Glen Eira’s statistics there’s 2.48 persons on average per household. So that adds up to 742 people that are affected by these structure plans.  The six main sites of commercial enterprise, they comprise by my rough estimate,  31% of the land. So 69% of the land is homes. It’s an ethnically diverse area – Greek, Polish, Dutch, Italian, – many of us have superb cultivated gardens. We have solar panels, we have extensions, we have rain water tanks and we are friendly. We visit each other and we visited each other before the structure plans as well. We are a village community. We are exactly what the Elsternwick survey feedback said was important.

The most frequently used phrase in that feedback was ‘maintain the village feel’. I think I counted it five or six times. Our homes are not aged as in your report. They are period homes and they are cheery apartments.  And as Mary, sorry Cr Delahunty said when discussing 10 St Georges Road, in this very forum, this is not a paddock. I ask that you consider the current rezone with the same scrutiny  as you did with 10 St Georges Road. Any my two questions are: Where are the economic, and the social, and the traffic and environmental studies,  on our particular area? I know the documents exist and they are very good,  but they don’t say a lot to our little area. And what makes west Elsternwick residents matter less with respect to rezoning than the rest of Elsternwick? I thank you for your time.” (applause)

ATHANASOPOLOUS – handed over to Ron Torres.

TORRES: …I must say that this little location of our municipality received very strong feedback on our structure plans. Very diverse feedback. And the challenge for officers now is to digest all the views we’ve  received and to form a recommendation to council to determine on the 27nd February. As you know we went out to community engagement on two options and I must say that those options polarised the community. Not just the residents but also the car yard owners as well and we received very diverse views. So officers are now considering how to respond to that. What final recommendation we may offer to council to try and balance all those views. So stay tuned. It’s not an easy task. Hopefully we can find a balance for this precinct.

DELAHUNTY: I do want to add that I obviously concur with the process that Mr Torres has outlined, but also from the council’s point of view, we wanted consultation. And so we are really pleased the feedback’s strong, but it’s true and I think you should know that our minds  are true to it as well. That this is a question that was asked and when we’re getting answers there was never any preconceived  ‘this is how it must be’. So I think you should all be congratulated on the way you’ve all entered into that discussion.

ATHANASOPOLOUS: I concur with everything that Cr Delahunty has said.  Look, it’s been a massive process. It really started before any of us were even in the chamber and all along the way we’ve kept communicating with the community. There’s been some changes, there’s been some positive change, some would say there’s been some negative change.  So, we’re not sure what the recommendation will be come the 27th  but we’ll wait and see, then discuss it in this chamber.


Thank you councillors. My question relates also to the structure plan for Elsternwick. Now, you will be aware that there was a public meeting here in this building some time ago when the first plan came out and there were hundreds of people in attendance and – all residents of course – the response was most negative. So I have two questions. The area that is going to be affected also impacts on abutting residents. I know there’s a railway line in between but you’re proposing twelve storey apartments on that particular site. The railway easement for that area is only about 20 metres in width. And on the other side of that easement from the railway there are residential properties, single dwelling covenants, of one and two storeys only. And I want to ask council, what consideration has been given to the overshadowing of twelve storey apartments only 20 metres away from the single dwellings on the other side? Further, I want to ask at the southern end, because I’ve had a close look at those plans, you’ll find that there is no access from those particular apartment blocks to the train area in Glen Huntly Road  other than under the railway viaduct and then up some very narrow residential streets. And I want to know what consideration has been given to the pressure of traffic from all those new residences trying to access the train area and Glen Huntly Road, the tram on Glen Huntly Road, the buses on Glen Huntly Road, and the train on Glen Huntly Road? And how do you intend to ameliorate the issues that we as residents in the abutting areas Have? Thank you for your attention. (applause)

ATHANASOPOLOUS: I think that one thing that needs to be understood is that …there’s no plans submitted on any of the sites yet, so any traffic management is not yet entirely decided upon. However, in saying that, if a structure plan was to be approved by this council, what will occur  those controls may be put in place upon that structure plan that may speak to some of the questions that you’re asking.

TORRES: ….the feed back that we received from both the residential and business community caused us to look more closely at this precinct in terms of traffic, vehicular access,  shadowing on the adjoining residential area to the east and looking at the shadowing actually doing more sophisticated modelling, taking into account the topography of the railway embankment to properly assess the impacts of shadowing. So that work is being conducted as we speak. In terms of traffic, we are very aware of the issues that have been raised but linking back to the mayor’s answer, these structure plans are really just the start. They set the broad framework for possible future development. Well they set the parameters. When a development is eventually lodged for this precinct, as for anywhere else in the municipality I might add, more detailed analysis of traffic impact occurs as well. So there’s a whole journey ahead of us in setting the vision, setting what sort of planning provisions match with that vision,and that will still involve the community and ultimately deciding on detailed applications still involves the community.


The responses to the above questions reveal some important facts –

  • Councillors have no real input into this entire process of structure planning. If they did have any influence, and were really listening to the feedback received, then we wouldn’t have had to go through the farce of consultation after consultation where residents have made it abundantly clear that 12 storey apartment blocks are anathema to the vast majority of the community. Yet this aspect of the structure planning for Elsternwick and Carnegie, has not changed one iota despite all the feedback!
  • How is it possible that with the volume of ‘documentation’ released in one fell swoop, that traffic, overshadowing, is not fully researched? What then is the point of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ‘expert’ Urban Design, Traffic, (and currently a Integrated Traffic Plan that was supposed to be the backbone of the structure planning) when council hasn’t the foggiest about the impact of all this development? Surely any decent planning should have been ‘sophisticated’ right from the start and not a year down the track? And, may we suggest, that if residents hadn’t kicked up such a stink, would council even be considering more ‘sophisticated’ approaches to analysis? We doubt it!!!!!
  • Torres’ comments on setting a ‘framework’ and ‘parameters’ are beguiling but misleading! Once a structure plan containing either preferred or mandatory height limits of 12 storeys is set, then developers have been given the go ahead to literally reach for the skies. And we all know the level of ‘analysis’ that goes into individual planning applications. The vast majority of officer reports note that an additional 100 or so apartments will not cause any negative impact on traffic, parking, etc!!!!!