The new year has not got off to a great start in our municipality with the release of the latest agenda. Planning in Glen Eira remains incompetent, ad hoc, and entirely pro development. The current agenda proves this in spades. Council can of course now cite Wynne and the Labor government as a very convenient scapegoat for the proposed changes to the current amendments/structure plans for Bentleigh & Carnegie. This however, does not absolve them of years upon years of inaction and disastrous strategic planning.

A brief summary of the agenda is in order.

  • All heights for strategic sites/urban renewal sites have now become ‘discretionary’ rather than mandatory as they currently are. That of course means that developers can go for broke in terms of heights.
  • Our estimation is that about 180 sites in Bentleigh and Carnegie have been ‘upgraded’ so that they will now go from 2 storey height limits to either 3 or 4 storey height. Others that are currently 3 storey will now be permitted 4 storey. No justification for any of these changes has been provided. Nor is there any explanation provided as to why Godfrey Street in Bentleigh from number 9 to 27 will now be assigned a 4 storey height limit. Why not number 29 Godfrey Street, especially since the argument proposed by council is that they are attempting to ‘fix’ the problems of 2013 when single streets had multiple zonings. This kind of decision is simply repeating the mistakes of the past. Literally unbelievable! The same questions apply to changes to other streets throughout these suburbs.
  • We also have an admission that council’s ‘uplift’ policy, that was based entirely on what Melbourne City Council had created was a definite ‘no/no’ in order to determine what constitutes ‘community benefit’. They have now been told that what is required is a Development Contributions Levy. Of course, council’s response to this (after promising it in the 2016 planning scheme review) is:

Incorporating a Development Contributions Plan into the Planning Scheme for Carnegie will not be able to be undertaken as part of Amendment C184 due to the length and complexity of this process and may be worth examining at a later date.

So is this another council promise out the window?

  • Gone as well is the useless Quality Design Guidelines that was so vague and nebulous that you could drive a truck through it.
  • Most important is the simple fact that this council does not have an up to date Housing Strategy. The last one was done in 2001. Instead we now have the smoke and mirrors exercise of a ‘city plan’ that is supposed to do the work of examining closely every single street in the municipality. It doesn’t come within cooee of a decent housing strategy. Also worth pointing out to readers is that countless other councils have had housing strategies for well over a decade and have reviewed them continually. Not Glen Eira. The question that then needs asking is how can you perform decent strategic planning when no such overall strategy or policy exists. As per normal, this council does things arse backwards. First, and only because you’ve been ordered to, you get structure plans done, and then worry about a housing strategy!!!
  • Wynne and the department also recommends the use of Neighbourhood Character Overlays. For the past few years, council has been bent on removing NCOs from the planning scheme! So is it back to the drawing board again on this one?
  • As for the schedules to the zones themselves, council is quite happy with what already exists, instead of improving things like permeability, site coverage, etc. We’ve pointed out previously how other councils make a mockery of Glen Eira in that they have even 40% permeability in the GRZ zones whilst Glen Eira is stuck on its meagre 20%!!! Another big opportunity lost to do something positive! RGZ 4 is the most remarkable. Here site coverage can be 90% and permeability a fabulous 5%! Well done council!

There is much much more in this agenda that requires commenting upon. We will provide updates in the coming days. However, we believe that it is important that all those residents who will be affected by changes in zoning to fully comprehend what the changes will mean.

Below is council’s list of the proposed changes: