GE Consultation/Communication

The audio presented below is from last night’s council meeting. The ‘message’ is clear. For far too long this council has continued to ignore residents and implemented planning decisions that fly in the face of both common sense and resident views.

VCAT has handed down its decision for the Daily Planet, Elsternwick application. This was for a 14 storey building with 21 apartments. Readers should note that council’s Structure Plan states that this area be 8 storeys but with ‘community benefit’ be allowed to reach 12 storeys. With Wynne’s interim height amendment (C157) the site was granted discretionary heights of ‘up to 12 storeys’.

What is remarkable about this decision is the fact that VCAT has spelled out in full the sheer incompetency of Glen Eira Council’s planning; their lack of action, and once again councillors who do not have the guts to do the right thing by their residents. On this last point we quote the decision:

We choose to observe that, if the Council had determined to refuse to grant a permit for the proposed development, rather than condition a reduction in height by six storeys, we would have readily supported that decision that no permit be granted.  We agree with the submissions of nearby residents, lead by Mr Jones and Ms Smith, that the proposed building results in a range of built form impacts, that will even be considerable with a reduction in height to 8 storeys.  Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a position where a permit has been granted, and we are left to determine particular contested conditions, which only influence particular elements of the overall proposal.  Having regard to the various considerations that we need to balance in our decision making task, we consider that the fairest outcome we can offer to all parties, is to support the Council’s position in relation to building height. 

At the council meeting of 19th March 2019, Delahunty & Magee moved the motion for refusal. This was defeated and an alternate motion granting a permit of 8 storeys was carried. The movers for this second motion were Silver & Sztrajt. So much for  Camden ward councillors protecting their ward! This was carried. Thus the developer got his 8 storeys. Yes, better than 14, but certainly something that could have been avoided.

But there’s far, far more to this decision that pin points exactly what is wrong with our council and by implication asks how on earth Wynne could have rubber stamped the interim amendment when there is absolutely no strategic justification for anything!

Here are some of the quotes from the decision and we’ve uploaded the full document HERE

…. by grouping the review site with the adjacent residential neighbourhood in Precinct 3, despite its commercial zoning, the policy at Clause 22.05 undersells the development potential of the review site.  …..One reason for this conservative policy position is the age of this policy, which we understand dates from 1999, and therefore does not take account of successive redrafting of State policy which increasingly raises the bar for the extent of redevelopment expected in higher order activity centres

While Clause 22.05 forms part of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme and must contribute to our decision making process, we choose to give it limited weight, given its inconsistency with the next two documents, and its failure to be revised in a manner consistent with the progress of State policy over time.

1           Under the ESP (Elsternwick Structure Plan), the review site is identified as having a height of between 8-12 storeys.  These heights are only expressed as storeys, and not as metres. (meaning that the developer has put in a height that is equivalent to approx 50 metres!) …..

2            It is fair to say that we have some concerns with the content and guidance contained in the ESP, which we summarise as follows:

  1. The ESP contains no urban design or built form analysis, and no meaningful strategic planning analysis, which explains how the recommended heights of 8-12 storeys are arrived at. The lack of any rigour or meaningful analysis in establishing these heights, lends us to give less weight to them.
  2. The ESP contains a series of eleven design principles, without explaining how these design principles are intended to interact with the recommended building heights. Relevant to the review site are the following two design principles.
  3. As we have already observed, the ESP is largely devoid of any urban design or strategic analysis that supports the heights set out in that structure plan, which appears to form the basis for the discretionary height limit set out in DDO10.
  4. The ESP identifies the need for more analysis and assessment to be undertaken to further refine building heights, as well as the treatment of interface locations and the likely shadows to impact residential properties. It appears that none of this work has been undertaken prior to the introduction of DDO10.
  5. DDO10 contains very little guidance to enable a decision maker to assess whether a building that is at or under the discretionary height limit, achieves an appropriate built form outcome for a particular site. We accept that a useful decision guideline exists for developments that seek to exceed the discretionary height limit.  Decision guidelines and requirements also apply that relate to particular elements of a built form, such as the use of materials and colours, the provision of entries, the placement and design of building services, the potential overlooking of nearby dwellings, the treatment of interfaces to heritage places, and the desired treatment of the lower levels of the building.  However, when one comes to assess the appropriateness of the overall height and scale of a building, the extent of guidance is very thin, and amounts to not much more than the following statements, some of which are only somewhat relevant to the issue of building height and scale.

Firstly, we form that view having regard to the absence of any genuine urban design or strategic analysis that supports the 43 metre discretionary height limit currently set out in DDO10. Secondly, we are also concerned that the existing DDO10 is an interim control, and that the more permanent planning controls and built form guidance for this activity centre are still being created. In the absence of a considered, tested and permanent set of built form controls for this activity centre, we are loath to approve a 14 storey 59.8 metre tall building on the review site, that will have the effect of permanently transforming in a significant manner the built form language for this activity centre


We have been asking for years now for council to provide strategic justification for its planning decisions. These answers have not been forthcoming. This judgement makes it absolutely clear that:

  • There is NO STRATEGIC JUSTIFICATION for a 12 storey height limit
  • There is no strategic justification that covers this height and the overshadowing impacts
  • There is no adequate building design
  • We have a planning scheme that belongs in the museum of antiquities
  • We have councillors who do not have a clue and repeatedly betray their constituents


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.

Angry residents to rally against planned 14-storey Woolies development

By Rachael Houlihan

October 4, 2019 — 3.49pm

Angry residents say a proposal by supermarket giant Woolworths to turn ABC’s old Elsternwick studios into a development of twin towers, one 14 storeys high, will ruin the suburb’s “village feel”.

Protesters will pound the footpath on Saturday morning, rallying against Woolworths’ plan to build the 14- and 10-storey apartment complex, which will also include a supermarket, liquor store and retail spaces, on the corner of Selwyn and Sinclair streets.

Stop the Elsternwick Towers member and rally organiser Karen Boyd-Jones, who lives on nearby St Georges Road, said residents feared it would over-shadow streets and invade residents’ privacy. This is the second rally the group has organised.

She said the development would lead to thousands of extra cars a day “going down our leafy residential streets”. “We just think the amenity of the area will deteriorate significantly.” She said the suburb was a “pretty, heritage area” and the proposed development was adjacent to Victorian and Edwardian houses.

The site was the former home of an ABC studio but is not to be confused with the nearby Gordon Street “dream factory” where Countdown and SeaChange were filmed.

Sinclair Street resident Kathy Deacon said the proposed towers would “destroy the area with its related problems such as traffic, parking, noise, pollution, over-shadowing and loss of privacy”. “This is an inappropriate development with no regard for local residents or communities,” she said.

Glen Eira councillors voted against granting a planning permit for the development in February, after receiving more than 180 objections. Mayor Jamie Hyams said the height, form, scale and design of the proposed development was “excessive” and would “appear overly dominant” from surrounding streets.

Woolworths confirmed that, if the proposal was approved, it would sell a 1000 square metre allotment at a reduced rate to the Jewish Cultural and Arts Precinct to relocate the Jewish Museum, currently in St Kilda, to the Selwyn Street precinct.

“We have been engaging with key community stakeholders as part of the VCAT process and have made changes to our plans as a result of these discussions,” Woolworths head of property development Andrew Loveday said.

The Jewish Holocaust Centre is opposite the proposed towers and museum director Jayne Josem wants the area to become a “vibrant cultural hub”.

“I can understand why [objectors] have concerns but I think they have to be realistic about the growth and development of the neighbourhood,” she said. “Selwyn Street isn’t residential. The community is growing and with that comes towers.”



We’ve pinched a letter written by a resident to council’s CEO asking some very pertinent questions.

I live on Inkerman Rd, Caulfield North. I am very concerned that Glen Eira Council is undertaking a community feedback process on the above proposal which has failed to satisfactorily involve the community and is being undertaken with indecent haste, presumably to meet the Council’s self-imposed agenda of having a decision on the route made at the last Council meeting of 2019.

My concerns on the community consultation are as follows
1. The Council arranged community meeting at the Caulfield Pavilion in February 2019 was advertised to be 2 hours. When it became clear that there was community concern about the project, the meeting was shut down after one hour. That was the first attempt to prevent the community from speaking.
2. The community was advised that a Community Reference Group would be formed in May 2019 to assist the Council and provide community input into the proposal. Despite calling for nominations, no group has been formed. In effect, the Council has decided it does not want to hear anything from the community until a decision has already been made on the route, even if the community group is of the view that the project is unwanted or has no merit. That was the second attempt at preventing the community speaking. I refer you to Clause 6.5 of Council’s Community Engagement Policy – “Council will encourage those affected by a decision to be involved in the decision-making process”.
3. The Council approved the Pilot alternative routes report at its meeting on 3 September 2019 and has only allocated a period until 14 October to hear community views. That period takes place during school holidays, when many people are away, and during the most important period of the Jewish calendar, when many people are busy preparing for the celebrations. This period is insufficient and disadvantages members of the community who wish to make their voices heard.
4. Council’s Community Engagement Policy states at 6.3 “Council will ensure that community engagement activities are well planned, coordinated, accessible and inclusive and will provide reasonable timeframes for contribution to all engagement activities”. The restrictive 6-week period referred to above in my point 3 is not a “reasonable timeframe”, particularly given the time of year. The engagement activities have only been advertised online, which excludes people with no access to a computer or internet. The September GE News publication contained no information on its community engagement page.
5. The on-line survey is very limited in allowing a person to give their views and uses technical language. The community is unable to make comments about the proposal’s merits or otherwise. The survey is heavily weighted to give Council the opportunity to select a route without even “hearing” that the current bike routes are adequate and no change is wanted or necessary.
6. The on-line survey is open to abuse, particularly by the bicycle lobby. There is no request for verifiable information. Accordingly, no weight at all is given to people who will be significantly affected by this proposal, being Inkerman Rd, Alma Rd, Dandenong Rd, and nearby residents.

Accordingly, I would appreciate a response to the following questions:

1. Why is the community consultation period ending 14 October 2019?
2. Do you think this time period of consultation, 3 /9 – 14/10 is “reasonable” and in accordance with the Community Engagement Policy? If so, why?
3. Can the community consultation period be extended to the end of November 2019? If not, why not?
4. Why does a decision need to be made by the Council in December 2019? Please provide reasons.
5. When is the Community Reference Group going to be established? How will it be chosen? Who will be selecting the members? What is the criteria? How many members will it have? What are the terms of reference? How often will it meet? If the project goes ahead, will the group continue to be consulted?
6. How can the Council verify the location/residence of respondents to the survey? Is any increased weight being given to the views of survey respondents who live in Inkerman/Alma/Dandenong/Orrong Grove? Will the survey results be available to the community? Will they be audited by an independent party?
7. Is the survey response a numbers game, meaning is the route with the most preference the chosen one?
8. Is the Council prepared to develop with the Community Reference Group a fair survey which records the respondents’ identity/residence and which is mailed in hard copy to all residents in the affected geographical area, together with a reply paid envelope?

Yours sincerely,

Whilst the focus of the above is on the contentious bicycle route, its ‘message’ has far greater import and typifies much that is amiss with ALL of this council’s ‘consultations’. We remind readers of the following which can only be seen as deliberate:

  • The simultaneous release of thousands of pages of documents that would require a herculean effort by residents to read, absorb, and then comment (ie structure plans, local law review, East Village)
  • Forums, meetings held at inappropriate times (ie East Village: 9 to 11AM and then 4 to 6PM when people are at work, or picking up kids and preparing dinner, etc)
  • Creation of so called Community Reference Groups where identity of individuals is unknown so residents are unable to contact their ‘reps’ to offer views; the failure to publish agenda items and record the discussion topics in the minutes of council ordinary meetings (ie Elsternwick South Renewal and East Village).
  • Online surveys that are skewed to provide results that endorse predetermined decisions. Or, surveys where readers are unable to view previous comments. No rationale has ever been provided to explain why some online ‘consultations’ adopt certain methodologies and others don’t!
  • Indecent haste indeed when it comes to major development projects such as East Village. Surely it is farcical to have residents ‘formally’ address councilors THE DAY AFTER submissions close?!!!!!
  • How many more times will some councillors apologise to residents for poor consultation and yet nothing changes?

We’ve taken the trouble to go through council’s list of current and past ‘consultations’. The list is presented below. It is clear from this list alone that residents are likely to be ‘consultation fatigued’ by the sheer volume that has in the past 18 months been thrown at them. Admittedly the various ‘consultations’ will not be responded to by everyone. People are interested in different issues. But the questions that need asking are:

  • Are all of these ‘consultations’ really top priority?
  • How much did it cost to produce the tons of paper/printing associated with all of these? Is it really value for money?
  • How many millions have been spent on upgrading playgrounds when no policy exists, and residents are screaming out for decent strategic planning, especially for our unprotected neighbourhood centres. Council’s ‘excuse’ for doing nothing is lack of ‘resources’. How many planners could be hired for the squillions wasted on some of these ‘consultations’?
  • How many of these consultations actually resulted in councilors adopting much of what residents said they wanted?
  • Why can’t residents have a say on budget priorities? If they did, then how many of the following list would be high priority?

Here are our suggestions as to how consultation should happen.

  • Relevant and accurate data is provided at the outset of major proposals, including costings and time lines for completion of projects
  • Discussion papers outlining pros and cons are distributed together with data at the start
  • Community rep involvement in all major projects that include open meetings to all interested; voting rights to reps; agendas and minutes published
  • Forums/meetings etc. are held at appropriate times

That’s enough for starters. Here is the list of the inundation from the past 18 months, excluding things like Budget and Community Plans.

Current consultations

Dog off leash areas

Keep Glen Eira Moving

Safe cycling corridor pilot

New Community Space for Carnegie

Glen Eira Community Voice

Bentleigh Eat Street

Pedestrian Safe Neighbourhood Pilot

East Village


Draft Social & Affordable Housing Policy

Local Law Review

Get Active: The Future of Recreation & Sport

Draft Hopetoun Gardens Masterplan

Local Park Proposal – Aileen Avenue, Caulfield South

Quality Design Principles

Integrated Transport Strategy

Community Gardening in Glen Eira

Spring Road Reserve Improvement Plans

Caulfield Wedge Dog Agility Park

Community Safety Plan

McKinnon Reserve Playground upgrade

Planning for Carnegie Swim centre

Rosanna Street Reserve open space upgrade

Bentleigh Hodgson Reserve

Draft Community Engagement Strategy

We need to talk about men’s sheds

Caulfield Park Masterplan refresh


At the June 11th 2019 Council Meeting, councillors adopted the Social & Affordability Housing Strategy. The figures for ‘housing stress’ in Glen Eira are well above the average according to the State Government’s Infrastructure Victoria report Economic, Social and Environmental Profile: Inner South East. (April 2019). ( On page xiii, we are told: City of Glen Eira had the greatest proportion of households in rental stress in 2011 and in 2016, with more than 25 per cent of households in rental stress.

The numbers in council’s recently adopted strategy differ from the above report, even though Council claims the same source! Page 12 of the newly adopted strategy states:

It is estimated that 7,800 renting households in Glen Eira are in housing stress. This includes 3,400 lone person households, 1300 couple families without children households and 1000 couple families with children households. Households in rental stress represent 13 per cent of all 60, 251 households (or one in seven) and 44 per cent of the 17,700 renter households (nearly one in two).

Regardless of which set of figures one chooses to believe, it is clear that rental stress and hence affordable/social housing should be an important issue for Glen Eira council and its councillors. But is it? What could council have done to ensure that social/affordable housing was made more (financially) accessible to those in need?

The Virginia Estate development plan includes the ‘condition’ that 5% of the initial 3000 dwelling proposal be earmarked as social/affordable housing. That makes it 150 dwellings for this category. What is not known is whether or not this figure remains a constant if, in the future, the developer submits an amendment and we are faced with say 4000 dwellings, as is likely based on the experience with the Melbourne Racing Club. Will 150 dwellings be the total, or will the 5% for TOTAL DWELLINGS be the ultimate standard?

Furthermore, Council could have, and should have done heaps better when we discover that buried in the fine print there is this sentence:

Specified Consideration means 90% of the market value of the improvements constructed in respect of the Affordable Housing dwellings as at the date of the exercise of the right of transfer pursuant to the terms of this Agreement

What this means is that ‘affordable/social housing’ only gets a 10% discount on the market value at the time of hand over. Surely a windfall for the developer when we compare what other major developments and agreements have taken place. As an example we cite the Hobson’s Bay C88 amendment. This was also done under the auspices of the VPA. It involved a huge site of 40 hectares, 3000 dwellings and also a 5% quota for social/affordable housing. The difference however lies in this section of the Schedule and the Section 173 Agreement between the developers and Hobson’s Bay Council:

The price at which the Affordable Housing Dwellings are to be made available for purchase to the Council or a Housing Agency must not exceed an amount that is 25% less than the current 12-month median unit price for a two-bedroom unit in Altona North as published by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria as at the date the agreement is made (Offer Price).

Adding further salt to the wounds is that Hobson’s Bay was able to include this sentence in its schedule which augurs well in case the developer decides to go for more than 3000 apartments.

A number of dwellings equal to 5% of the total dwellings that are constructed on the land rounded down to the nearest whole number  

Hence we again have Glen Eira City Council caving in and exacting far less than it should from the Gillon Group. Why can Hobson’s Bay extract a better deal for its affordable housing component? How hard did our illustrious officers and councillors try? Or were they prepared to talk the talk about the need for social housing but when it comes to it, the developer gets away very cheaply indeed. If Hobson’s Bay can achieve so much more, then questions need to be asked about the intent of Glen Eira and its prowess in ‘negotiations’. Also if the VPA is involved in both projects, then why are the results so vastly different? Does it all boil down to our council refusing to undertake hard bargaining, or is it more cow towing to the State Government and its development arm the VPA, in exchange for some future benefit? If so, then residents should be told what the backroom wheeling and dealing has been about!

We urge all residents to read the documents and to ensure that they enter their submissions to this proposed rezoning. Once rezoned then all cards are in the developers’ hands, especially since there are no third party objection rights to any planning applications that will ensue.

The City of Melbourne has now received permission to advertise its long awaited amendment that seeks to protect its public parks and open spaces from overshadowing. See this article from today’s Age

Readers should also remember that when one resident asked if Glen Eira City Council would support Melbourne City Council in its endeavour she was met with a bullshit answer about the review of the Open Space Strategy. No support was offered to Melbourne.

The reason why is clear when we compare what Melbourne is proposing and what Glen Eira is prepared to sanction at the mega development at Virginia Estate: we refuse to call this a ‘village’!!!!!!!!!!

Here is the relevant part of the Melbourne draft amendment:

Please note:

  • the hours (ie 5 for June 21) for the majority of parks
  • 4 hours for the outer lying parks

Glen Eira in turn proposes the following in its schedule for the Comprehensive Development Scheme

Thus, Glen Eira is quite prepared to allow high rise development to overshadow open space at the winter solstice. Instead of 5 hours, the residents of Glen Eira will only be assured of 3 hours of sunlight in 75% of the park. What happens at 10am? How much of the parks are in shadow at this time? What about 3pm, 4 pm? Are we still talking 25% or is it more likely to be 80% late afternoon? and what does ‘unreasonable shadow’ really mean when there are no specific controls to define, assess, and evaluate this meaningless phrase?

We again have to ask: what on earth are our councillors doing? Who are they working for? Surely not residents when we are presented with proposals that grant everything to the developer and with very little to residents! Well done council. The tradition of pro development and sabotaging residential amenity continues!

« Previous PageNext Page »