Tonight’s meeting on the Virginia Estate amendment was publicized as an ‘opportunity for councillors’ to hear resident submitters and their views. Hyams chaired the meeting together with a council planner. This is the norm for planning conferences. The only other councillor present was Magee! So we have the largest development proposal in Glen Eira’s history and only 2 councillors bother to show up. We are also expected to believe that our illustrious 9 councillors will bother going through and reading word for word the 153 stated submissions (plus 5 in support) in the next couple of weeks since a Special Council meeting has been called for Wednesday week. This amendment will be rushed off to a planning panel at this meeting no doubt. Indecent haste indeed!

The general tenor of the meeting included residents pointing out the following:

  • Why the proposed school isn’t on the main road (East Boundary) given that a bus now runs along this road. Instead it is tucked away in a corner and students will be sharing the open space with residents. Representatives from the Education Department and the developer refused to answer the simple question of whether the State Government had purchased the 1.2 hectare site for the school, or whether the developer had ‘donated’ the land. Apparently a tender has already gone out for construction and the school will ultimately house 1100 students and be 5 storeys in height. On resident voiced his disapproval of the fact that he had hoped to influence where the school is sited (especially regarding safety issues) but since the tender has gone out, then the evening was really a waste of time if nothing would change.
  • Traffic, lack of open space, heights, and general vagueness of the plans featured again and again. Many residents pointed out that a school of this size would require about 150 teachers who could all be driving, parents dropping off kids, etc. Asked about ‘drop offs’ and general traffic generation, parking, etc. the Education Department rep was unable to provide any answer. That was still being worked on! Yet council is voting on the 23rd!!!!
  • Retail was also questioned in terms of: size of proposed supermarkets, timing of the development and whether all the ‘analyses’ was really up to date given the planned Kaufland supermarket less than a couple of km away.
  • The lack of third party objection rights was mentioned by several speakers. The response from Aiden Mullen was that council had already gone through various comprehensive consultation processes, so this amendment was basically to provide ‘certainty’ for the developer and residents!!!!!!

We congratulate residents on the pretty good turnout, and most importantly, for their willingness to plough through hundreds of pages of inconclusive and nonbinding waffle, and make sense of it in the end. It’s just a pity that we have a council that does not fight tooth and nail for its residents.