This post concerns last night’s ‘discussion’ on VCAT Watch. The cases brought up involved Royal Avenue and Manchester Grove, both in Glen Huntly. The former application was for a 5 storey development in the Commercial Zone. True to form, councilors voted for 4 storeys only to be knocked on the head by VCAT with the developer getting his 5 storeys and car parking waivers. The second application also got the nod from VCAT where the site is zoned GRZ (ie 3 storeys).

VCAT certainly is no friend to residents. But neither is council!!!!! Until councilors stop pretending that all the blame should be laid at the feet of VCAT, and that poor old Glen Eira is a ‘victim’ of this autocratic institution, then nothing will change. Glen Eira is in the state it is because that is what was decided and the major culprits are Hyams, Esakoff, Magee, and Delahunty who oversaw the introduction of the disastrous zones without community consultation, and now again attempting a 20(4) appeal to the Minister for 12 storeys in Bentleigh & Carnegie. These same individuals have sat for years and years as our ‘representatives’ and have achieved zero when it comes to proficient planning. Worse is that they still insist on pulling the wool over residents’ eyes, when they certainly should know a lot better.

We urge all readers to listen carefully to what Hyams, Esakoff & Silver said in the following. We will then comment.


HYAMS stated that the member said that ‘the site didn’t need visitor parking because it is near a station” NO, THIS WASN’T WHAT WAS SAID. Paragraph 57 of the judgement states – I am satisfied the provision of one visitor parking space is acceptable. The member also states – I understand the provision of one or two visitor parking spaces rather than three spaces was supported by the Council’s professional planning and traffic engineering officers

So Hyams is taking issue with VCAT because some visitor car parking is waived. Yet officer reports repeatedly use the same arguments as the VCAT member. If Hyams and Esakoff are so concerned about the waiving of visitor car parking, then how come they voted for permits on the vast majority of the following cases? Why didn’t they stand up on their hind legs and ask the traffic department to justify its recommendations? If council’s own traffic department uses the same arguments as VCAT, then is VCAT really the villain or does the fault lie with a council that has no parking precinct plans, or decent parking overlays, even though these were promised in 2004?

Here are some quotes from officer reports for various applications – most of which got their permits from council and were voted through by the likes of Hyams and Esakoff and lately Silver. The quotes are all verbatim from the various reports found in the agenda papers (dates provided so people can check)

Application for 13 storeys, 117 dwellings – Glen Huntly Road/Ripon Grove

The Planning Scheme requirement is for a total of 213 car spaces to be provided on site. There is a total shortfall of 43 car spaces proposed.In relation to the car parking reductions proposed, this is considered reasonable given the commercial location, opposite a rail station, tram line and with short term on street parking available. (agenda of December 17th, 2017 – officer report)

13-15 Hamilton Street, Bentleigh – (10th April 2018 – officer’s report)

The reduction in visitor parking is considered acceptable. The applicant has provided a car parking assessment which outlines that peak visitor demand would likely be up to two, visitor car parking spaces. Given the site is within an area highly serviced by public transport, and there is sufficiently available space within the vicinity of the site to cater for 1 car space to be accommodated (as there is 1 space in the basement), this waiver is considered acceptable in this instance. 

21st March 2017 – It is also noted that the site has good access to public transport. A tram route runs along Glen Huntly Road which operates between Melbourne University and Carnegie. The nearest tram stop is approximate 50 metres to the east. Glen Huntly station is also a short walking distance from the subject site (approximately 400 to the west). 1254-58 Glen Huntly Road, Carnegie – 6 storeys, 79 dwellings)

The proposal is seeking to waive the requirement for one visitor parking space. Given the proximity of the site to the Ormond Train Station (less than 100 metres), this reduction is supported. It is noted that Council’s Traffic Engineers did not raise any concerns with the waiver of the visitor car space. (12th April, 2018) 532 North Road Ormond

9 Royal Avenue Glen Huntly – Given the strategic location of the site, proximity to public transport and the availability of short-term car spacesavailable within the immediate vicinity, a reduction of 2 visitor car spaces is consideredacceptable. .(26th September 2017)

So we have the paradox of councillors now blaming VCAT for something their own transport department endorses!

Adding further salt to the wounds is that councillors have voted in the Integrated Transport Strategy. As we’ve pointed out previously, council’s intent is clear. When parking overlays are eventually introduced, they WILL NOT maintain the current requirements of Clause 52.06. Council will REDUCE the statutary requirements for parking in its activity centres. Thus instead of 1 spot for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment this will in all likelihood be reduced to 0.8 spots and visitor parking (currently 1 spot for every 5 dwellings) cut back to maybe 1 in ten. Offices and other commercial properties will get even greater dispensations. All one has to do is read the document and ponder what the following (again quoted) has in store –

Where it is demonstrated that office parking usage is lower than the planning scheme requirements due the high level of public transport provision, explore a reduction in the statutory parking requirements for office use. When determining appropriate parking rates, the site specific conditions of the development and the corresponding ability for the centre to adapt to an increase mode share of sustainable travel, should be taken into account. (page 38) 

Where it is demonstrated a public parking availability is underutilised during the evenings, explore a reduction in the statutory parking requirements for these commercial uses. When determining appropriate parking rates, the site-specific conditions of the development and the corresponding parking utilisation of the centre should be taken into account. (page 38)

Next we’ve got the the Esakoff view. Her argument that Royal Avenue isn’t in the ‘core’ of the commercial centre is literally stunning. Since when is the interpretation of a commercial ‘core’ taken to mean a LINEAR line drawn down the major arterial road? That’s not what the planning scheme says. Neither the Urban Villages policy, nor the Housing diversity policy differentiates between commercial sites along the main road and those commercial sites that sit adjacent to the main road. It’s a great pity that Esakoff didn’t think of this ‘problem’ when she voted for the Carnegie structure plan with its proposed 12 storey height limits in Commercial centres that are all over the place and definitely NOT LINEAR! For example Woorayl, Egan, Arawatta. In Elsternwick the same non-linear configuration applies – ie Horne Street branching off Glen Huntly and earmarked for 12 storeys.

Then there’s Silver and his bemoaning of the fact that Manchester Grove’s ‘neighbourhood character’ was overlooked by the VCAT member. We wonder if Silver has even ventured down this street and attempted to define its ‘neighbourhood character’ since council certainly hasn’t! We remind readers that council DOES NOT HAVE any character statements for its housing diversity areas. It does not have ‘preferred character statements’ like other councils. In fact there is nothing except the zoning of GRZ and the go ahead for development. And Manchester Grove is being ‘developed’ constantly. There are already 22 units at 15-17 Manchester Grove and across the road the Coles car park followed by a long series of 3 storey townhouses. Asking VCAT to respect ‘neighbourhood character’ when council doesn’t is the supreme joke!

So ultimately the question becomes – when will these councillors fess up to their mistakes and apologise to the community instead of continuing to spout utter bullshit that shows no respect whatsoever to those they are meant to represent.