With the proposed zoning changes depicted in the draft Housing Strategy, Council has shown itself  incapable of remedying  all the mistakes of the past. Over the past few years, we have had admission after admission that council got it wrong when it introduced (in secret) the residential zones in 2013. Since then, there has not been a review of the zoning. The only changes proposed to rectify the stupidity of the past is to rezone heritage areas from RGZ (4 storeys) to NRZ (two storeys). A little too late we say, when some streets have already had 4 storey developments erected!

As for the other ‘mistakes’, we quote directly from council documents which state categorically that ‘radial’ zoning is inappropriate given that this creates multiple zonings in single streets. Council has claimed that this is what they wish to correct and avoid with the Housing Strategy and the Framework Plan. Here’s what was stated:

While the radial zoning makes sense at plan view, the result creates inconsistency and conflict in local streets. Areas within some streets, have all three residential zones represented. In some instances, this means that four storey apartment buildings and low-scale detached housing are supported by the zones in close proximity. …….Where practical the plan uses the road network as a border to best manage transition between different zones. (Appendix C – Page 4: Background document to the Bentleigh Structure Plan – 2017)

the transition of zones in the middle of residential streets has been an issue of community concern. The Bentleigh Structure Plan seeks to significantly re-address the configuration of zoning in Bentleigh to remove, where possible, apartment development proposals in long residential streets ….(Agenda: 27th February, 2018 – page 2 of item 9.2)

These issues are consistent with the community concerns raised when apartment buildings are proposed in low scale residential streets. The Quality Design Guidelines look to address these issues by focusing apartment buildings on main roads and encouraging medium density garden townhouses, rather than apartment buildings, on local residential streets. (agenda: 27th February 2018 – page 4 of item 9.5)

In certain areas such as the residential land south of Centre Road (ie. Mavho, Loranne, Mitchell and Robert streets) transitional issues are caused by irregular ‘radial’ zone boundaries and multiple zones within a single streetscape. This creates inconsistency with four storey apartment buildings and low-scale detached housing in the same street (November 7th 2019)

All of the above are admissions of what is wrong with the 2013 residential zones. One should reasonably expect that with the current Housing Strategy and ‘new’ structure plans for Carnegie, Elsternwick & Bentleigh, that such errors will be corrected. But no, not in Glen Eira. History is allowed to repeat itself – this time as pure farce!

Here are some screen dumps from council’s current proposals. Please look carefully at the number of streets that retain their ‘radial’ zoning with the result that scores will have multiple zones and/or schedules within the one street – something that we’re told is to be avoided! Adding further to such inept planning is the fact that council has no control over what will be built. Apartment blocks can be created in any street – they do NOT have to be townhouses as ‘required’ by council.

Worse still is the latest DDO’s for our major activity centres. Instead of including residential areas in the new DDO’s, they now only cover the commercial and mixed use sites. What this means is that the previous DDO is now defunct and hence residential areas such as Mimosa Road in Carnegie revert back to its earlier zoning of RGZ (four storeys). Both the 2017 and the 2018 DDO’s had earmarked this as 3 storeys.

Council has been absolutely silent on this aspect of the latest DDO’s apart from saying that the Housing Strategy will deal with the residential areas. Yet the above screen dump clearly shows that Mimosa is zoned as RGZ and by the time that council gets around to even considering zoning for the residential areas we could be looking at another few years. Plenty of time for developers to make hay!

More disconcerting is the question of why council went along with this latest DDO. Did they protest? Did they ask for this? What discussions took place between the department and council officers? Is the rationale again to simply allow more and more development in our residential streets – regardless of whether Glen Eira is meeting its housing projection figures? And the ensuing silence and lack of real explanation is unacceptable. We can only conclude that council by its failure to fully inform residents is simply part of a strategy to keep the public as ill-informed and silent as possible!

Thus countless streets throughout Glen Eira will continue to have multiple zones. Others will have multiple schedules. And there is not one single word of justification for why this should remain so given council’s previously quoted statements.