If any resident still has doubts as to the planning department’s priorities then listening to Item 8.1 from Tuesday’s council meeting will resolve any doubts still held. (See: http://webcast.gleneira.vic.gov.au/archive/video21-0608.php#placeholder)

Item 8.1 was for an application at 646-66 Glen Huntly Road, Caulfield South – a 5 storey mixed use development including 18 apartments, a shop and an office.  There were 16 objections including one from an adjoining  resident who asked that council include in its conditions screening for the balcony on one of the units since this directly overlooked his back yard’s private open space. No such condition appeared in the officer’s recommendation.

We therefore congratulate the 8 councillors who finally determined that such a condition be imposed within the ensuing permit – especially councillor Zyngier who first brought the issue up and moved the amendment for the inclusion of the condition. The only councillor who saw fit to reject such a proposal was Athanasopolous. His arguments revived the nonsense that was the modus operandi of Hyams, Lipshutz and others from the past – that VCAT would not uphold this condition since all the ResCode guidelines on this issue had been met. After 5 years as a councillor one would hope that Athanasopolous should know by now that future decisions by VCAT are irrelevant to council’s decision making. Planning Schemes make no mention of VCAT. What they do say is that each application must be evaluated on its individual merits – ie according to zoning, urban design, decision guidelines, etc. What VCAT may or may not decide is irrelevant. Furthermore, since the additional condition of screening is certainly minor, the developer would do his sums, consider the inevitable time lag, and in all probability decide that going to VCAT was not in his best interests.

But it gets worse when Torres was asked two questions. We include both of his responses below.


  • The reliance on Rescode as an argument against imposing the condition is nothing more than a furphy. First of all, there is nothing MANDATORY about ResCode. Secondly, ResCode does NOT APPLY to building of 5 or more storeys!
  • Council has on numerous occasions imposed conditions that far exceed the ResCode requirements. The perfect examples are previous applications along Neerim Road, Belsize, etc. These were all for 4 storeys where ResCode did apply.
  • It is very sad indeed that in Torres’ second response his emphases was entirely on the amenity of the apartment, rather than the amenity of the neighbouring resident!  Also the response is quite frankly ridiculous given that other apartments in this development all required screening! So much for ‘avoiding screening’!

Again, we congratulate those 8 councillors for showing common sense, and a concern for residents. Something this planning department appears incapable of doing!