Another 9 storey application has been received by council for a site zoned Commercial 1 at 217 Nepean Highway, Gardenvale. Our neighbourhood centres, of which Gardenvale is one, remains at the mercy of a council unwilling, or incapable, or secretly ‘satisfied’ that developers are utilising the holes in our planning scheme to turn our neighbourhood centres into high rise areas.

Nothing but nothing can excuse this council in failing to address such issues which have been staring them in the face for the past 15 years. Nothing but nothing can excuse this council for failing to embrace structure planning until ordered to by the Minister of Planning in December 2015. And definitely nothing can excuse this council for deciding that nothing will be done on proper strategic planning for such centres until at least BEGINNING in 2021. In the meantime developers set the precedents and any subsequent attempt to limit heights is doomed to fail. If this is the plan, then it is frankly unconscionable. Nor do we accept that council has not the ‘resources’ nor the finances to begin work on this immediately. When hundreds upon hundreds of thousands are spent on so called ‘community consultations’ on open space ‘redevelopments’ that won’t be completed until years down the track, or on more and more concrete plinths in our parks, then this council has no idea as to what the priorities should be. And of course, residents have never been properly asked!

Council’s budget year after year proclaims a hefty surplus. There is money that could be spent on additional planning staff, consultants, etc. All that is needed is the will to redirect some of this money to the ‘essentials’ such as safeguarding our neighbourhoods.

Further exacerbating the Gardenvale commercial area is that on top of this 9 storey application, there is also another application in for a 5 storey development.  Plus of course if there is a 9 storey eventually along Nepean Highway, then this augurs well for council’s ill considered proposals for 12 storeys reaching all the way back to Elsternwick! And what does Bayside think just across the road from this 9 storey application? Their Martin Street structure plan has varying preferred heights of 5, 4 and 3 storeys in the Commercially zoned land. The amendment is awaiting Ministerial approval.

The message to these councillors is clear. Get off your backsides and start fulfilling your role of representing the community.