Another mammoth agenda of 731 pages. Lowlights are:

  • All planning applications result in a recommendation for permit
  • Nothing to be done in relation to extending existing Neighbourhood Character Overlays

Here’s a quick summary:


  • 47 ALMOND ST CAULFIELD SOUTH3 storey, 6 dwellings
  • 20 BENT STREET, BENTLEIGH4 storey, 7 dwellings
  • 653-655 GLEN HUNTLY ROAD CAULFIELD5 storey, 15 dwellings
  • 79-87 HAWTHORN ROAD, CAULFIELD NORTH7 storey, 33 dwellings
  • 33-35 NICHOLSON STREET, BENTLEIGH4 storey, 22 dwellings

Grand total? = 85 dwellings

The Glen Huntly Road and the Hawthorn Road applications are in our Neighbourhood Centres (Activity Centres) with no controls whatsoever. Thus these so called ‘lower order’ activity centres are now reaching heights in excess of our Major Activity Centre of Bentleigh!

The 7 storey application in Hawthorn Road is the most contentious. As council notes, it will sit immediately alongside another 7 storey development approved by VCAT. Council had originally refused this neighbouring development and its stated reasons were:

The proposal is inconsistent with the intent and objectives of clause 22.07 (Housing Diversity policy) as:the density, mass and scale of the development is not appropriate to the scale, character and physical size of the Caulfield Park Neighbourhood Centre

Less than 2 years later, with no change to the planning controls, council now states (in several places) that this latest proposal is –

suitable for an intensive form of development that would complement the well-established mixed-use role of the Caulfield Park Neighbourhood Centre

The 7 storey building height is considered to be compatible with the neighbourhood where there is an emerging change in character that includes 5, 6 and 7 storey mixed-use buildings fronting Hawthorn Road

There is no height limit in the Commercial 1 Zone that forms the core of the Caulfield Park Neighbourhood Centre. However, the 5-7 storey heights of the recently-approved buildings are considered to be appropriate given the built form and planning policy contexts of the area.

When the VCAT member handed down his decision on the neighbouring 7 storey application, he stated:

We are not persuaded that the building would be unduly tall in this centre because: There is no specific guidance in the scheme in a schedule to the zone, a DDO or a policy regarding the preferred height.

At 144 Hawthorn Road there is a 6 storey development that council had suggested should only be 4 storeys. The VCAT member merely reiterated what has become the constant refrain –

There is nothing in the Planning Scheme to indicate that a uniform height is sought for buildings within this centre. Indeed, as noted during the course of the hearing, the land within the activity centre is not affected by any overlays that regulate built form outcomes, such as a Design and Development Overlay or Heritage Overlay 

This above decision was handed down in 2015!!!! Thus for over 4 years this council has done absolutely nothing to ensure that our neighbourhood centres are adequately protected. And residents are still waiting for some guidance on what is to be done with the remaining neighbourhood centres and when!!!!!

The most laughable comment in the current officer’s report reads –

There are currently no maximum mandatory or discretionary height limits for this area. It is acknowledged that strategic planning work will be done by Council for this activity centre in the future and it is considered that the 7 storey height of the proposal will not prejudice the orderly planning of the area.

There are countless other issues as well – for example:

  • A 3 metre rear laneway that will be the entrance and exits for both 7 storey building car parks. The ‘solution’ is to use some of the ‘rear setbacks’ of the buildingS as a passing lane. Planning at its absolute best!

Council’s Transport Planning Department has advised that the proposal would significantly increase the volume of traffic using the laneway. An estimated additional 35 peak hour vehicle trips will need to be accommodated in the laneway. Furthermore, the cumulative effect of the additional peak hour vehicle trips generated by the 3 developments at 67, 79 and 97 Hawthorn Road will be 4 times current volumes (i.e. 65 vehicles/hour with >50% attributable to the proposal).

Given that the laneway currently carries an average of approximately 15 vehicles in each of the morning and afternoon peak hours, it is anticipated that the total future traffic volume would be in the order of 80 vehicle movements/hour which is relatively high but will be manageable provided that suitable passing areas are provided along the laneway.

It is noted that there will be additional opportunities for additional passing areas for future developments at the southern end of the laneway.

We can only assume that residents will now have to back up a considerable distance into these ‘passing areas’ so that 2 cars can get by.

The message is clear. Council has no intention of doing anything about its lower order activity centres until it is well and truly too late. As we’ve previously stated, we already have:

10 storeys in Ormond

6 storeys in McKinnon & East Bentleigh

a potential 9 storeys in Caulfield South

6 storeys in Murrumbeena, etc. etc.

When for years VCAT has been handing down decisions in these areas that state again and again that no planning controls exist, council has done nothing except sit back and gloat or blame VCAT.

Our summary of the Neighbourhood Character Overlay will feature in a coming post.