An application to amend a planning permit is up for decision at next Tuesday’s council meeting. The site is at 285/7 Neerim Road, Carnegie. Why this application is significant is that it highlights how council has repeatedly eroded residential amenity (especially in Carnegie) and how its strategic planning has gone from bad to worse.

The first application for 5 storeys on this site was submitted in 2015 and rejected by councillors. The developer appealed to VCAT, but prior to the case being heard, Wynne gazette council’s interim amendment in early 2017. The site was in the only precinct which then was granted mandatory height limits of 4 storeys. The developer subsequently amended his application from 5 storeys to 4 storeys and at a compulsory conference, agreement was reached and a permit granted. The other two precincts had discretionary heights of 7 and 6 storeys in 2017. Then in its wisdom, council in February 2018 decided that the 7 and 6 storey discretionary become up to 12 storeys and the applicant’s site be assigned a 5 storey height limit. Thus we have the developer asking for this height limit again plus the addition of another 5 dwellings, a reduction in retail space and the removal of visitor car parking spots in line with Wynne’s Amendment Vc148.

Council has never justified why it deemed it appropriate within the space of a year to go from 7 storeys to 12 storeys, or from 4 mandatory to 5 storeys. Even worse, we now have this application and an officer’s report which includes the most laughable comments. For example: is considered that this addition (ie height) will be an improved outcome on the overall design response as it crowns the building, which previously appeared unfinished.

Question: if the design was so poor previously, then why did council’s delegate at the compulsory conference agree to the permit?

What residents are now seeing are applications for amendment after amendment where height is increased as a result of council’s structure plans, or where no structure plans or Design & Development overlays exist, literally reaching for the skies.

A recent VCAT decision for 1207 Glen Huntly Road, Glen Huntly repeats the long standing refrain:

  • There are no built form controls affecting the review site such as a Design and Development Overlay or similar, which might provide more specific guidance or requirements as to the built form expectations for the review site.
  • This activity centre is identified in Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 as a Major Activity Centre, subject to local strategic planning.
  • The Council stated that strategic planning for the future of this centre is in early stages, with no proposed planning scheme amendments yet afoot.(

With years to go before anything concrete materialises for our neighbourhood centres, or the disasters of the current structure plans for our major activity centres are open to full scrutiny, residents have much to fear as to council’s agenda, its planning competence and its genuine desire to listen and act upon residents views.