Residents really need to ask what is the point of having a planning scheme when council planners repeatedly chose to ignore its provisions and recommend approval of permits. The latest example concerns Item 9.1 in the current agenda.

Whether it is sheer incompetence, deviousness or simply the desire to advance the pro-development agenda is debatable. What is not debatable is the repeated ignoring of what the planning scheme actually states.

The application under consideration is 300 Glen Eira Road, Elsternwick. The proposal is for a 2 storey building contained 6 two bedroom apartments. The site is zoned Neighbourhood Residential and following Wynne’s C110 amendment, the mandatory number of 2 dwellings per lot is now removed. The officer recommendation states, with its usual waffle and imprecision – …the proposal is considered on balance to be generally in accordance with requirements of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme”.

Of significance is the following:

Proposed site coverage is 63%. Council’s schedule to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone requires a site coverage of 50%

Proposed permeability is 16%. Again, council’s schedule demands 25% – but officers believe that 20% is okay!

Here is the ‘justification’ for this largesse –

Several council meetings ago, we had Esakoff espousing the importance of adhering to site coverage in an application that had 63% coverage as opposed to the ‘standard’ of 60% (in housing diversity area). Now we have the situation where 13% over the standard is deemed ‘acceptable’ and instead of demanding the 25% for permeability, officers regard 20% as ‘satisfactory’. Compounding the issue even further is this sentence – Whilst the proposal does not meet some of the ResCode standards, the variations to the standards can be justified based on the immediate character of the neighbourhood. Permeability and site coverage have nothing whatsoever to do with Rescode. They are part of the schedules and hence should be adhered to in any recommendation.

We also have to query why council officers do not really know whether or not the plans meet the required garden area component of the planning scheme. If they did know, as they should prior to making any recommendation, then there would be no need for this paragraph in the imposed conditions

A survey plan prepared by a suitable qualified land surveyor demonstrating that the site has a minimum of 35% garden area in accordance with the definition of garden area within the Glen Eira Planning Scheme 

The site is 890 square metres. According to the legislation this requires 311.5 square metres of ‘garden area’. Surely it is not too hard to look at the plans and determine straight off whether this mandatory requirement has been met from the outset? Of course, the recommendations overall make a mockery of what is currently in council’s planning scheme when we find the following clauses and then consider the recommendations.

Ensure that site coverage is low to reflect the garden character of Glen Eira’s residential areas

To ensure that site coverage reflects the differences in character between housing diversity areas and minimal change areas

To maintain the open landscaped front yard which is a strong characteristic of Glen Eira.

Consider developments of more than two dwellings provided it is clearly demonstrated that the standards for site coverage, rear setback and private open space in the Schedule to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone have been met.

There are plenty of other things that could be said about this officer’s report and the recommendations – ie child care centres do not operate under the NRZ schedules. They have their own far more ‘liberal’ policy. Neighbouring dwellings (ie Garden Street) date back to 1996 and are hardly a feasible benchmark given the changes to planning since then. All in all, this report reveals what a disastrous state planning is in Glen Eira!