Structure planning is complex. It is supposed to be accompanied by indepth analysis that leads to valid strategic justification. It is also meant to be done with significant community input. At least that’s what the State Government’s Practice Note No 58 says. Here’s just one example, from many, to be found in this document: Community engagement is essential for the structure plan and involves the wider community and may include targeted consultation.

The Practice Note also goes on to state that a ‘Discussion Paper’ is an important part of the process. This Discussion Paper should also: identify existing and proposed built form outcomes based on a comprehensive built form analysis

Interestingly, the VPA (government’s development arm) has neatly sidestepped this requirement in its current survey for the Caulfield Station Precinct. Plus, all previous ‘vision statements’ have also ignored this important component. We have plenty of ‘vision’ statements, plenty of feel good generalisations, plenty of motherhood statements about ‘sustainable development’, ‘high quality architecture’ and so on. What is missing entirely is anything that would provide a clue as to ‘built form outcomes’. Residents are being asked to respond to a survey which is basically meaningless and intentionally evasive. We have absolutely no idea of:

  • How high will buildings be allowed to go?
  • What will happen to heritage overlays that currently exist?
  • What setbacks are being considered and why?
  • What are appropriate overshadowing requirements?
  • How many apartments can satisfactorily be housed in the area?
  • What parking arrangements are being made?
  • How will Monash and the Melbourne Racing Club be ‘accommodated’ in terms of building heights and use of open space?
  • What levies are likely to be imposed on developers?

So instead of a Discussion Paper that provides some answers to the above, we get the following type of questions shown below. We note that the answers are a given. No one in their right mind would object to ‘sustainable development’, access to open space, etc. This is simply another example of a Clayton’s consultation that leads exactly where the developers want it to go! We will only receive some inkling of what’s in store when the draft structure plan is published. By then it will be far too late! Council should be congratulated once again for its appalling processes in (not) working with the community in an open and transparent fashion.