UPDATE ON DECISIONS: Councillors voted unanimously to reject the Egan Street application last night. (Davey was absent and Taylor has resigned). The Snowden Avenue application was another rejection! Both will undoubtedly end up at VCAT and we envisage permits for both.

Once again we have two applications up for decision where the officer recommendations appear to have no correlation with the current planning scheme. The applications are:

  • 8 Egan Street, Carnegie for an 8 storey mixed use development containing 84 apartments of 40 one bedroom. 38 two bedroom and 6 one bedroom plus study. Parking shortfall is 8 spaces. A permit is recommended.
  • 57 Snowden Avenue, Caulfield for a two storey building containing 4 dwellings of three bedrooms each in a Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ). The site is 857 square metres. Officer recommendation is a refusal of permit.

The first application received one objection whilst the Snowden Avenue one had 12 objections.

What is staggering about the officer recommendations plus the overall assessment of these two applications is the inconsistency, plus the complete disavowal of council’s planning scheme.

EGAN STREET APPLICATION

The site has a long history of applications. Initially there was a 16 storey attempt which both council and VCAT refused. This current application is an amendment to what was originally a 12 storey plan and as a result of the interim height amendment of August 2018, the developer has opted for an 8 storey version. In this instance the introduction of the DDO has resulted in a reduction of height. That’s a positive outcome. What is not so ‘positive’ is the evaluation by the planning department of this current attempt and the explicit acknowledgement how council has stuffed up in the past.

An important element in the decision is the interpretation of ‘community benefit’. Council admits that currently there is no clear definition or criteria to adjudicate on what ‘community benefit’ means. This does not stop the report however from claiming that pedestrian access from Egan Street to the rear of 1062-1064 Dandenong Road  equates to ‘community benefit’!!!!!! This is further endorsed with the following  –

The proposal also contains a diverse mix of housing, as one (some with study’s) and two bedroom dwellings with various layouts and sizes are proposed. While this, in the context of community benefit is low, it does add to the broader community benefit that is achieved through the securing of a publicly accessible laneway 

Thus, housing diversity is satisfied by a 8 storey building containing primarily single and two bedroom apartments! That is seen as a ‘community benefit’!

We then have the biggest backflip of all time when it comes to overshadowing of public open space. Council admits that the degree of overshadowing is excessive and inappropriate’, but this is okay since the language of the amendment is so poorly constructed  –

When considering the wording of the DDO control being to minimise overshadowing impacts on existing and future open spaces … , it is considered that the Urban Design advice in this instance goes beyond what the control seeks to achieve. In this respect, Council must be satisfied that the proposal has minimised overshadowing impacts. It is considered that the extent of shadow is limited to the northern section of the park directly opposite the site. The shadow largely avoids the walking and cycling path and the building’s side setback will also provide filtered light through to the open space when shadow is cast by the building. Overall, the proposal is considered to have minimised the impact of overshadowing onto this new park. 

There are plenty of other issues with this application that have basically been ignored in the report, or failed to be addressed with clear and irrefutable ‘evidence’. In the end, a narrow laneway becomes a ‘community benefit’ and dubious employment potential another benefit. Overshadowing is okay because the authors of the amendment got it so wrong!

SNOWDEN AVENUE APPLICATION 

This application well and truly meets all requirements of the planning scheme in terms of height, site coverage, permeability, garden area, setbacks etc. Yet it is refused on the most tenuous and ‘subjective’ reasons. The major reason for the refusal is that the application is for an ‘apartment’ style building in the NRZ, rather than detached housing/townhouses. The hypocrisy of such a stance is unbelievable given that:

  • Council is now proposing to allow 3 storey townhouses/apartments in NRZ areas as per its latest structure planning proposals
  • Council has already granted permits for apartment style buildings in its NRZ – ie Hudson Street (below)

The planning scheme verbage has not changed in the intervening period. Why this current application which meets all criteria is refused when council previously issued a permit for exactly the same kind of structure is bewildering to say the least. Does the answer lie in the number of objections perhaps?

The greatest blooper in this officer’s report however is the questioning of why the applicant chose to provide on site car parking that goes beyond what is required!

It is unclear as to why a total of 10 resident spaces are proposed along with an additional visitor space (total – 11 spaces) have been proposed for a 4-dwelling development which would generate a requirement of 8 spaces.

We are not endorsing the granting of a permit. What we are questioning is the consistency and validity of council’s decision making and the ‘influences’ that might be at work. When the planning scheme is ignored then planning is indeed in an almighty mess. That is Glen Eira!