GE Consultation/Communication


Caulfield Electorate Planning

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (09:51): This morning I tabled a petition with over 1700 signatures of support calling on the Andrews government to immediately review and reduce interim height limits for the Caulfield electorate, and I note the Minister for Planning is at the table today. Minister, the inconsistent and unfair height limits established by yourself as the Minister for Planning in amendment C157 to the Glen Eira planning scheme have encouraged a wave of inappropriate high-rise development proposals in Selwyn and Horne streets, Elsternwick, on what was the Daily Planet site and also the old ABC site. We are also seeing on South Road another development of up to 12 storeys with no height restrictions whatsoever.

These high-rise developments threaten to impinge upon the neighbourhood character, amenity and traffic flow, introducing overshadowing and privacy concerns for thousands of residents in my electorate. I have met with a number of residents, some of whom are in the gallery today, from Caulfield South and Elsternwick that are affected at these sites, where I have seen firsthand the effect of inappropriate overdevelopment in these areas on the community. I have written on behalf of residents to the mayor of Glen Eira City Council to seek assistance in reviewing and addressing the concerns of these residents. Minister, these residents would like to meet with you to talk about these issues and to see if we can get some consistency with the Oakleigh and Bentleigh electorates which have restricted height limits of six storeys while we have discretionary height limits of 12 storeys. If it is good enough for the goose, it is good enough for the gander. We should have consistency in our planning scheme.

Applause from gallery.

The SPEAKER: Order! Order in the gallery, please.

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Caulfield Electorate

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (11:47): (385) My constituency question is to the Minister for Planning. Minister, throughout the electorate of Caulfield we are seeing a number of overdevelopment proposals that are currently out of character with the local amenity and threaten residents’ way of life in the Caulfield community. In fact we tabled a petition today of that nature. Caulfield residents have seen these proposals from Horne Street, Elsternwick, the old ABC site, and of course now in Caulfield South. There is inconsistency when it comes to planning in the electorate of Caulfield. Of particular concern is the discrepancy in the interim height limits of Elsternwick, Bentleigh and Carnegie because of planning scheme amendment C157. Minister, we ask you why there is such an inconsistency in the planning scheme. In Glen Eira City Council on the Caulfield side there is a 12-storey discretion, and within Oakleigh and Bentleigh it is four to six storeys. Why is there that inconsistency, Minister?

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PETITION

Caulfield Electorate Planning

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly

We, the undersigned citizens of Victoria, call on the Legislative Assembly of Victoria to note:

The interim height limits established by the Minister for Planning, The Hon Richard Wynne MP in Amendment C157, are inconsistent, and unfairly impact Elsternwick and the broader Caulfield community.

The interim height limits have encouraged a wave of inappropriate high-rise development proposals in areas such as Selwyn and Horne Streets, Elsternwick and Hawthorn Road, South Caulfield, These proposed high-rise developments will impinge upon the surrounding neighbourhood character and traffic flow, introducing overshadowing and privacy concerns, without necessary community infrastructure upgrades.

The discrepancies between current interim height limits lack essential strategic justification, therefore the petitioners request that the Legislative Assembly of Victoria call on the State Government to immediately reduce the interim height limits for the Caulfield Electorate.

By Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (1747 signatures)

 

Tonight’s council meeting resembled a three ring circus and revealed once again to what extent decisions are made behind closed doors in Glen Eira. The ‘circus’ involved Item 9.1, on the 14 storey application for Horne Street, Elsternwick..

There was a significant pause before Delahunty put up her hand to move a motion for refusal of the application. This was seconded by Magee. What became obvious was:

  • The motion was entirely unexpected by all. Hence no grounds for refusal (as required) were as yet drafted.
  • Countless apologies to officers for this ‘surprise’ and not a word of criticism for their recommendation that went beyond the current Design & Development Overlay. Instead, we got comments as to how well they are interpreting the planning scheme.
  • Silver admitted his opposition to the application
  • Same old arguments from Hyams and Sztrajt such as ‘we could get worse outcome at VCAT’.
  • A 5 minute break in proceedings so councilors can again ‘decide’ what to do behind closed doors.
  • Magee’s ‘liking’ for 12 storeys, but only if it’s in the ‘right place’. That is along Nepean Highway.

On return, Delahunty’s motion was voted out. Only Delahunty and Magee voted in favour of refusal. All the rest voted against. Please note that Athanasopoulos and Esakoff were absent.

Davey had foreshadowed a new motion for a permit of 8 storeys. It was then decided that the issue would come back for decision once Torres had been given some time to draft the relevant motion and its conditions.

Silver moved motion for 8 storeys. Sztrajt seconded. Voted in 5 votes to 2. Interestingly, Davey who foreshadowed the 8 storey motion, voted against! Magee also voted against. Cade was silent throughout this item.

Please listen to what was said (below) and consider the following:

  • Baseless claims by Magee and others that the structure plans were in line with community sentiment. All community feedback was strongly against the 8 to 12 storey heights.
  • No justification has ever been provided for such heights
  • Traffic and overshadowing documents that were to be done over a year ago are still to make it into the public domain. Has council actually done this work?
  • Why does this council continually blame the State Government and yet not one single formal public statement has been made that challenges anything. When other councils such as Boroondara, Mornington Peninsula, Stonnington can voice their disapproval of government decisions, why is our council silent and compliant? This is not advocacy. It is complicity!

Please listen carefully to the incredible waffle that epitomises these councillors decision making!

Finally, we also point out that in response to the 4 or 5 public questions council did not provide a single answer.

PS: FROM HANSARD 19/3

SOUTHERN METROPOLITAN REGION Mr HAYES(Southern Metropolitan) (18:01):My constituency question is to the Minister for Planning. I refer the minister to the case of my constituent Graham Huntly, who is helping the government meet its renewable energy target by putting solar panels on his home at Ross Street, Elsternwick. If Woolworths succeeds in building 10 and 14-storey towers in Elsternwick, Mr Huntly’s sunlight will be blocked and his solar panel investment—to say nothing of his quality of life—will be devalued.

What rules does the government have in place to stop developments overshadowing solar panels, and will the minister support Glen Eira council’s eight-storey height controls—and make them mandatory—and reject 10 and 14-storey towers in Elsternwick?

Council’s brilliant planning has provided another developer with a major bonus. This concerns 285 Neerim Road, Carnegie. A permit was granted by VCAT in 2015 for a 4 storey and 41 apartment block.

Residents will remember that in 2017 council produced its first version of its structure plan which was gazetted as an interim height amendment (C148) in 2017. The site was then designated as having a four storey mandatory height. With the latest version as of August 2018, the site suddenly became suitable for a 5 storey mandatory height limit. No explanation of course as to why within the space of a year council (and the minister) saw fit to increase the height in this area.

Now we have what has happened so often in our neighbourhood centres as this section of the application makes clear

The developer has decided that instead of 4 storeys, he wants 5 and instead of 41 units he is aiming for 46. Visitor car parking will go completely and there is even a further reduction in the requisite parking for retail/shops from 20 to 16. And of the 46 proposed apartments, 33 are two bedroom, 9 are one bedroom and the magnificent total of 4 as three bedroom. That makes it a total of over 91% as one and two bedroom dwellings. So much for ‘diversity’ as required in the planning scheme!

What irks us about this application is not the right of the developer to ask for more. He is perfectly entitled to. The concern resides with council’s failure to offer any justification for its decisions,  much less listen and act upon resident feedback. How any reasonable person can accept that in April 2017 council proposed and the Minister agreed that 7 storeys was needed to protect again ‘inappropriate development’ and then in just over a year to suddenly use the same argument and claim that 12 storeys is required to avert ‘inappropriate development’ is simply mind boggling. And yet our illustrious councilors did not bat an eye but voted this in! Thank you indeed councilors for your ineptitude and disregard for the community!

Residents addressed council tonight on the proposed sell off of our aged care facilities. All speakers performed wonderfully well =  articulate, informed, concerned, and passionate about preserving this service for the long term.

Some of the themes that were prominent included:

  • the lack of genuine consultation and council’s secrecy over this issue
  • the lack of justification
  • the permanent loss of a service and its impact on individuals

We present below one resident’s submission. Please listen to this carefully since it summarises beautifully how council has failed its community and the lack of transparency. We also note Hyams’ fumbling and disingenuous response to the issue of the lack of community consultation. When council makes this audio available it is worth listening to simply because of his pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible.

The agenda for next Tuesday night’s Special Council Meeting has been published. This focus of the upcoming meeting is to hear submissions on the sale of the three council owned and run aged care facilities. We remind readers that council has already made the decision to sell behind closed doors and without any warning to residents, employees, or the general community.

The accompanying officer’s report is nothing more than a regurgitation of ‘legalities’ – ie. which part of current legislation has been adhered to; where public notice was published etc. It contains not a single word of justification, or explanation, as to why the decision to sell was made. All that residents have to go on is the Q and A ‘work in progress’ on council’s website. This has been added to over the past few weeks in response, we believe, to public outcry. Yet the crucial questions remain unanswered.

Submissions are an opportunity for residents to express their views, dissect the arguments and to assess whether or not they are valid. With nothing to go on in terms of real ‘facts’, what we will hear on Tuesday night is likely to be highly emotional/personal and with references to ‘social responsibility’. Nothing wrong with this. However, in order to dissuade council from progressing the sale, residents need far more than mere assertions such as:

  • Private companies are better suited to deliver complex aged care
  • Monies from the sale will be redirected to the most ‘vulnerable’ in our community

How about some real facts and figures, such as:

  • How much has council been subsidizing aged care over the past 5 years? What role has this played in the decision to sell?
  • How many staff are affected? If only 40% of current staff are offered ongoing employment is council prepared to accept this?
  • What evidence can council provide that private companies are more suited to carry out the demands of aged care in the current climate, and especially with a Royal Commission to go through?
  • What percentage of the monies garnered from the sale will be redirected to the ‘vulnerable’ in our society and how much will go into general ‘revenue’?
  • Will council be seeking a guarantee that after the current residents’ term of tenure has expired, that the purchaser will not sell the land or seek to develop a residential estate?
  • Has council already sought a valuation of the land and will this be made public?
  • Does council intend to also outsource its home help? If so why?

We wish all submitters the best of luck next Tuesday night and reiterate that submissions can only be as good as the information that is provided. Once again, this council has shown itself to be far more comfortable working in secret and keeping its populace ignorant!

In December 2017 (see: https://gleneira.blog/2017/12/03/beware-be-alarmed/)we first warned residents of council’s hidden agenda regarding the expansion of our activity centre borders. Thus far we have proven to be correct with the doubling in size of Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick (when it’s finally done).

A recent council document (below) shows clearly that 80% – 85% at least of Glen Eira will now be ‘activity centre’ land.

Questions abound:

  • Why double the size of these centres? We can only think of one reason why this would be done – to facilitate more and more development and the rezoning of countless properties to achieve this end.
  • Where is the strategic justification for this change? – especially since development is far outstripping population growth in this municipality?
  • What is the strategic justification for 12 storeys in Carnegie & Elsternwick? Why not 6 storeys? 8 storeys?
  • What is the strategic justification for the ‘upgrading’ of South Caulfield and East Bentleigh within the space of a few months to ‘large neighbourhood centres’? What does this mean for potential rezoning and height limits?

Right from the start of this entire process residents have been led up the garden path. ‘Study areas’ have morphed into permanent activity centre borders. Promises of ‘neighbourhood character’ statements have gone out the window. Promised changes to the schedules (ie. Increase permeability standards, site coverage, etc.) have not materialized. Neighbourhood centres have been abandoned. Heritage review, parking precinct plans, developer levies, open space levy, winter solstice overshadowing – all of these have been put back years and years.  Instead we’ve had thousands of pages of documents released that reveal bugger all and certainly don’t provide one iota of valid justification for anything that has thus far been done! In our view, this has been deliberate, with the intention of ensuring that further development is the chief priority. Everything else has been window dressing and public relations bullshit. When residents aren’t provided with real information, or asked the correct questions in order to ascertain their views, then council is guilty of lying by omission.

Just on three years down the track from the planning scheme review, residents are still to be told the truth about council’s plans!

It is almost impossible to get a straight answer from Glen Eira City Council. Tonight’s council meeting illustrates this fully. One answer was provided to a resident in the public participation section of the meeting. Another version of council’s plans came via an Esakoff statement. The third version came with a response to a public question. Having said all this, there was at least an inkling of council’s plans. And it’s pathetic news for the majority of Glen Eira residents in that those living in neighbourhood centres should expect that council will not be doing anything for at least 2 years to halt development after development in its commercial (and mixed use)areas where the proposed heights outstrip the mandatory height limits in its major activity centres – particularly Bentleigh which has a 5 storey height limit.

The first version of council’s plans emerged as a response to a question from a resident in the ‘public participation’ section of tonight’s council meeting. What we now know as ‘confirmed’ is that

  • Neighbourhood centres will NOT HAVE STRUCTURE PLANS
  • Neighbourhood centres will have to be satisfied with mere Quality Design Guidelines. We remind readers that such ‘controls’ are often nothing more than ‘reference’ documents in a planning scheme and that they are NOT mandatory.
  • The larger neighbourhood centres will get the nod first – ie South Caulfield and Bentleigh East.
  • According to version one and version 3 residents will have to hang on and wait until 2021 for this marvelous silver bullet to even commence. Esakoff’s version was in 3 to 4 months!
  • We also learnt that the Caulfield Station planning will probably now also include Glen Huntly!

Here is the question and the response to Version 1:

Here is the Esakoff version of ‘reality’ –

And here is the response to the public question on the same issue:

What a joke! Don’t we already have ‘guidelines’ that were promulgated as the universal panacea for ALL OF GLEN EIRA? Will work on these new ‘guidelines’ start in 2021 or in 2019?

These councilors should hang their heads in shame when they are literally abandoning the vast majority of the municipality. By the time anything is done our neighbourhood centres will become high rise centres far outstripping our major activity centres. Finally, perhaps crying lack of resources could easily be remedied if instead of investing millions in redeveloping  parks that the majority don’t want ‘redeveloped’ (ie Harleston, Aileen Avenue), or spending hundreds of thousands on ‘consultants’ who produce documents lacking detail and substantiation, more money could be available to do what should be done –some decent and honest strategic planning!!!!!

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