Another Special Council Meeting is set down for this coming Thursday (6.30pm) in order to hear submissions on the proposed partial closures of Selwyn Street and the one way redirection of traffic in Gordon Street.

What we have here is another appalling example of council’s failure to adhere to its own resolutions, its abject failure to advance ideas based on comprehensive analysis of the wider area, and to provide the community with consultation information that is consistent, accurate and timely.

We acknowledge that these latest plans (an earlier version was first published) are probably an attempt to put a spanner in the works of the proposed Woolworths development. However this does not excuse a council that is reactive rather than proactive. We repeat some of our previous comments:

  • Why was Elsternwick left out of the interim amendments for Bentleigh & Carnegie in 2017 when it is also a MAJOR activity centre?
  • The ABC Woolworths site was purchased in March 2017 for $45m. Council knew what was about to happen! You don’t spend that amount of money and only go for a supermarket!
  • The idea for a Jewish Cultural Centre has long been on the cards. Being granted at least $1m by government mandates some decisive action! The problem with the ‘action’ is that it is ill conceived, poorly researched, and as always, bereft of empirical justification.
  • Where is corporate memory in all of this? One submission from the Holocaust Centre complains bitterly that council’s plans fly in the face of the permit conditions granted to the Centre less than a year ago.
  • Why can council resolutions disappear into the ether and not be enacted? For example, the council resolution of 27th November made specific reference to the following: that Council receive a further report on the draft detailed design prior to community consultation. This has not happened! Nor has the following been produced: a comprehensive traffic impact assessment and mitigation strategy based on the endorsed Precinct Plan. Most reasonable people would expect that a ‘comprehensive traffic impact assessment’ would include far more than Selwyn Street, Gordon St, and Glen Huntly Road. As many of the submissions point out, ramifications for St Georges, Glen Eira Roads, etc. are not even mentioned.

Of the submissions themselves, the overwhelming majority are opposed to the closures, especially in turning Gordon Street into one way. Even more telling is that many businesses oppose these designs and the Jewish organisations themselves aren’t happy.

What sway this opposition will have remains to be seen. Will councillors have the guts to order the planners and traffic management staff to go back to the drawing boards and start again? We doubt it! What is clear however is that council has a lot to learn in terms of its consultation practices, and the professionalism of its planning/traffic department.  It would appear that council first makes the decision then scrounges around for anything that would support the decision. The cost in terms of money, and community angst is never considered.