At the June 11th 2019 Council Meeting, councillors adopted the Social & Affordability Housing Strategy. The figures for ‘housing stress’ in Glen Eira are well above the average according to the State Government’s Infrastructure Victoria report Economic, Social and Environmental Profile: Inner South East. (April 2019). ( On page xiii, we are told: City of Glen Eira had the greatest proportion of households in rental stress in 2011 and in 2016, with more than 25 per cent of households in rental stress.

The numbers in council’s recently adopted strategy differ from the above report, even though Council claims the same source! Page 12 of the newly adopted strategy states:

It is estimated that 7,800 renting households in Glen Eira are in housing stress. This includes 3,400 lone person households, 1300 couple families without children households and 1000 couple families with children households. Households in rental stress represent 13 per cent of all 60, 251 households (or one in seven) and 44 per cent of the 17,700 renter households (nearly one in two).

Regardless of which set of figures one chooses to believe, it is clear that rental stress and hence affordable/social housing should be an important issue for Glen Eira council and its councillors. But is it? What could council have done to ensure that social/affordable housing was made more (financially) accessible to those in need?

The Virginia Estate development plan includes the ‘condition’ that 5% of the initial 3000 dwelling proposal be earmarked as social/affordable housing. That makes it 150 dwellings for this category. What is not known is whether or not this figure remains a constant if, in the future, the developer submits an amendment and we are faced with say 4000 dwellings, as is likely based on the experience with the Melbourne Racing Club. Will 150 dwellings be the total, or will the 5% for TOTAL DWELLINGS be the ultimate standard?

Furthermore, Council could have, and should have done heaps better when we discover that buried in the fine print there is this sentence:

Specified Consideration means 90% of the market value of the improvements constructed in respect of the Affordable Housing dwellings as at the date of the exercise of the right of transfer pursuant to the terms of this Agreement

What this means is that ‘affordable/social housing’ only gets a 10% discount on the market value at the time of hand over. Surely a windfall for the developer when we compare what other major developments and agreements have taken place. As an example we cite the Hobson’s Bay C88 amendment. This was also done under the auspices of the VPA. It involved a huge site of 40 hectares, 3000 dwellings and also a 5% quota for social/affordable housing. The difference however lies in this section of the Schedule and the Section 173 Agreement between the developers and Hobson’s Bay Council:

The price at which the Affordable Housing Dwellings are to be made available for purchase to the Council or a Housing Agency must not exceed an amount that is 25% less than the current 12-month median unit price for a two-bedroom unit in Altona North as published by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria as at the date the agreement is made (Offer Price).

Adding further salt to the wounds is that Hobson’s Bay was able to include this sentence in its schedule which augurs well in case the developer decides to go for more than 3000 apartments.

A number of dwellings equal to 5% of the total dwellings that are constructed on the land rounded down to the nearest whole number  

Hence we again have Glen Eira City Council caving in and exacting far less than it should from the Gillon Group. Why can Hobson’s Bay extract a better deal for its affordable housing component? How hard did our illustrious officers and councillors try? Or were they prepared to talk the talk about the need for social housing but when it comes to it, the developer gets away very cheaply indeed. If Hobson’s Bay can achieve so much more, then questions need to be asked about the intent of Glen Eira and its prowess in ‘negotiations’. Also if the VPA is involved in both projects, then why are the results so vastly different? Does it all boil down to our council refusing to undertake hard bargaining, or is it more cow towing to the State Government and its development arm the VPA, in exchange for some future benefit? If so, then residents should be told what the backroom wheeling and dealing has been about!

We urge all residents to read the documents and to ensure that they enter their submissions to this proposed rezoning. Once rezoned then all cards are in the developers’ hands, especially since there are no third party objection rights to any planning applications that will ensue.