GE Council Meeting(s)


The current 911 page agenda features a 117 page item that purports to be the ‘feedback’ on the Housing Strategy consultation. If only it were so! Once again this council is incapable of providing a valid, comprehensive, and convincing report on what was said, what occurred and how the responses influenced or did not influence any suggested changes. What we instead get is endless repetition, selective publication of material, and vague promises. The failures of this report can be summarised as follows:

  • All responses are not published so residents have no idea as to what was said by all respondents. The council ‘summaries’ as meant to be taken as gospel instead.
  • Pie charts are provided with percentages and not numbers of responses – making them pretty meaningless, especially when some questions had very few responses. Also no attempt to explain/analyse why certain questions received few reactions/responses.
  • As for the Town Hall Forum, all that is mentioned of this event was that 111 residents participated. What they said, and what occurred is totally ignored.
  • A handful of changes are proposed, but with no real rationale as to why they were included for increased heights in the first place, and why some of these changes have now been reversed (ie Wright Street in Bentleigh)
  • Mention is made twice that officers presented to the Youth Advisory Committee. All well and good – but why was no such process undertaken for the committee directly charged with advising on consultation – ie the Engagement committee?
  • No commentary whatsoever on the questions themselves or their efficacy
  • No ‘evidence’ provided as to the questions asked at the ‘drop-in-sessions’ and yet council concludes that all questioners were ‘generally satisfied’.

For the rest of this post we will go through some of the issues and expand on our criticisms.

Role of a Housing Strategy

As has been stated previously, what is remarkable here is that on the same agenda, council is recommending that the draft Carnegie Structure Plan and its DDO be endorsed by councillors and sent off to the Minister for approval to advertise. In other words, a decision on structure planning will come BEFORE the adoption of the Housing Strategy. Yet the following quotes taken directly from this item state:

The adoption of the Housing Strategy is fundamental to the strategic underpinning of the structure plans for the Major Activity Centres, and subsequent planning scheme amendments to introduce permanent controls into the planning scheme. It is a pre-condition. Without a Housing Strategy, the other strategic work will be extremely difficult to justify through the amendment process. (page 526)

The structure plans for the Major Activity Centres and subsequent planning scheme amendments to introduce permanent controls into the planning scheme rely on the adoption of the Housing Strategy as a key component of their strategic underpinning. Without a Housing Strategy, the other strategic work will be extremely difficult to justify through the amendment process. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is expecting an adopted Housing Strategy in considering authorisation to implement our structure plans. (page 529)

Appendix 1 of the report

Statement after statement in this report is not averse to bending the truth and camouflaging what is really proposed. For example:

Zone change: ­ The Housing Strategy only suggests changes to zoning (and building height) in a small number of areas. (page 2)

In response to a public question submitted on the 15 February 2022 which asked for the numbers of sites in both the NRZ and GRZ zones affected by the proposed changes the specific answer given was:

  • The draft Housing Strategy proposes that for sites in the General Residential Zone (GRZ), the “Garden Area requirement” is switched off. The General Residential Zone represents 11 per cent of all land in Glen Eira (and 13 per cent of all land that allows for residential use in Glen Eira). The overall number of sites in Substantial Change Area 1 (translating to GRZ) as shown in the proposed housing framework plan and therefore proposed to have the garden area requirement switched off is 7,624.
  • • The draft Housing Strategy aims to identify locations where we can have multi-unit / townhouse developments (up to two storeys), that are genuine medium density (units and smaller townhouses). The draft Housing Strategy includes an action to develop specifics requirements to give effect to these aims. 7 per cent of the existing NRZ is proposed to have controls that will allow for multi-dwelling development and better support front landscaping outcomes. This translates to 5 per cent of Glen Eira or 3,075 sites. (page 28 of the minutes)

How on earth we can then get the above statement that only a ‘small number of areas’ are impacted is both untrue and deliberately obtuse. Whilst it is true that ‘zoning’ will not change (ie the sites will still remain NRZ, but the schedules WILL CHANGE so that these proposed 3000+ sites will now have increased site coverage, reduced permeability requirements, and reduced rear setbacks). When the 7,624 sites currently zoned GRZ are taken into account, we are looking at a housing strategy that will affect over 10,000 properties – that is nearly a fifth of all Glen Eira sites!!!!!!!

Garden Area Requirement

Repeated ad nauseam throughout the report and the appendices is the following:

Garden Area Requirement: The Housing Strategy proposes the removal of the Garden Area Requirement so it can be replaced with measures that generate better landscape outcomes. The minimum garden area requirement simply requires a ‘space’ to be set aside on a lot. It has to have a minimum width of one metre, but it can be in permanent darkness or have an impractical or unusable shape. It could have a shed, a patio, or a basement completely underneath it. Essentially, there’s no guidance around what this space can or should be, and therefore does not guarantee good landscaping and permeability outcomes.(page 4)

How removing the requirement for anything from 25% to 35% of a site set aside for ‘garden area’ (depending on size) can assist in generating ‘better landscape outcomes’ is anyone’s guess. This is especially true when all that council is proposing at this stage is landscape ‘guidelines’ – meaning these are non-mandatory and practically useless. What will appear in the actual schedules remains a mystery.

There is much much more that could be said about this bogus ‘feedback’ report. Perhaps the best example of how deficient and totally misleading it is, comes from the following two screen dumps.

We ask that readers pay particular attention to the actual data in the pie charts and then council’s ‘interpretation’ of what these are supposed to represent.

Finally and by way of contrast, it is really illuminating to see how Bayside for example approached its consultation for preferred character statements. In Glen Eira, residents had to plough through reams and reams of pages in order to understand anything that was proposed. Furthermore, in Glen Eira the entire municipality was included and reduced to under 20 distinct areas. In Bayside, they divided the GRZ zones only into 29 different areas and their processes for gleaning what the community thought and wanted was explained, analysed and basically acted upon. See these links for further information on Bayside’s approach –

https://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/news/defining-character-growth-areas

https://yoursay.bayside.vic.gov.au/GRZcharacter

The only conclusion we can draw from all of the above is that the culture in Glen Eira remains pro-development at any cost and that resident views are merely impediments to this agenda. Until we have massive cultural change and major change in personnel, we hold out very little hope that things will improve. It is therefore incumbent on our councillors to ensure that the community voice is not only engaged, but listened to, acted upon, and given the full respect it deserves. If this report goes unchallenged then councillors should resign in shame!

Readers would remember that at the last council meeting, the MRC landscaping plan for the Caulfield Racecourse was voted down by councillors – only 7 were present and the vote was 4 to 3 to reject the application. It has not taken the MRC long to come back with their revised plans.

All we can glean in terms of proposed changes from the officer’s report is contained in the following quotes –

Replacing 6 Magnolia Grandiflora with 6 Tristaniopsis Laurina (Water Gums).

It is noted that the majority of the Southern Magnolias and Water Gums will be planted in above ground planter boxes, rather than in deep soil. There is sufficient soil depth to enable growth. (page 27)

Interestingly, the submitted plans refer to the magnolia variety as a ‘large tree’ with a mature height of 8 metres. We freely admit that our botanical knowledge is very limited. However a quick Google search tells us that this variety of tree can grow to well above the 8 metres. More significant is the Moreland City council information (presented below) which clearly states that planters should not be used for this type of tree. The link is available at: https://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/living-in-moreland/environment/trees/tree-finder/magnolia-grandiflora/

The second variety listed is water gums. Again we get quoted growth sizes of 5 to 15 metres in well drained soil. See: https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp10/tristaniopsis-laurina.html as one example.

All of the above raises these questions:

  1. Why the substitution?
  2. Why planters instead of in ground? Will these trees survive and flourish in planters?
  3. Why are the associated plans not clearly listing trees to be removed? All we can spot are 5 trees labelled as to be ‘reused’ – whatever that means?
  4. Hundreds of plantings will be nothing more than tiny shrubs at best

It will be interesting to observe what happens Tuesday night. If council is serious about tree preservation, the urban forest strategy then these plans do not add anything to the existing policies.

Only 3 councillors (Zyngier, Szmood, & Pennicuik), refused the MRC application for work on the Caulfield Racecourse. This continues the sad history of this council in repeatedly caving in to whatever the Melbourne Racing Club and its political backers want. Whilst the vote last night would in all probability not have changed anything, except as public ‘protest’ vote, at the very least it would send a message to Wynne and the racing industry that councils and the community must be considered first and foremost. Sadly, the majority of councillors decided to grant a permit.

As some of the above councillors stated, this whole issue was gazetted and hence made public, on Christmas Eve 2021. There had been no warning, no consultation with the community or council, and most of the relevant documents still remain hidden from public view. In the meantime, bulldozers and chain saws have been very active in destroying countless trees. This has only been temporarily halted via the imposed interim Heritage Council’s order. There is no guarantee that this order will remain and prevent further destruction. In the meantime we are seeing planning applications like last night’s one basically continuing along its merry way of turning the racecourse into the MRC vision that will include:

  • Night racing
  • Another inside track
  • Massive light towers to accommodate night racing
  • The removal of the second lake
  • Synthetic grass surfaces over much of the inside tracks
  • Plus the recent announcement that the racecourse will be closed for ONE YEAR to allow these works to be carried out.

There are quite a few governance and transparency issues at play here that say a lot about the MRC, Wynne, and also council. Whilst the MRC is legally entitled to approach the Minister directly, and the Minister also has the legal power to ‘adjudicate’ on such applications, we have to condemn the timing, and the secrecy that has taken place. As far as council goes, we believe they also have to be held to account in this whole dismal affair. Here is why –

  • Why did it take residents to initiate the heritage order instead of council?
  • Has council even written to the Minister outlining their concerns? If so, why isn’t this missive public?
  • Why, when council voted to pay over $200,000 to sit in on the trustees for the Land Management Plan, did we get the plan we did? What was council’s contribution? Where was there any specific report back to the community on council’s involvement?
  • Why, when Cr Zyngier last night asked how the application was in accord with Council’s various environmental policies, he was told that the report did exist but wasn’t included in the agenda papers. So once again we are in the situation where councillors are supposed to vote on an important issue, but the information facilitating informed decision making has been with-held. In a follow up question by Cr Zmood asking whether this report will be made public, Torres took the question on notice and said he would have to confirm this. Simply not good enough and not the first time this has happened. The current VCAT hearing on 10-16 Selwyn Street, also did not include council’s heritage advisors report. This was fundamental given that council had twice previously refused the Woolworth’s application and that the VCAT refusal was also largely based on heritage! Our conclusion is that decision making in Glen Eira remains a joke. When councillors, who are tasked with the role of representing the community, are not presented with vital and relevant information to inform their decision making, then any subsequent decision making can only be adjudged as totally suspect.
  • There is much, much more that could be said about this item. Magee has not covered himself in glory once again, by objecting to Zyngier’s comments that council has been treated as ‘children’ or that the current crop of trustees represent an improvement on the past.

What is at stake here is quite simple. When will council stop being the complicit, and cowering bunch of sycophants that fail to fight for their residents, or fail to proffer any public criticism of government. And when will councillors be provided with information that is fundamental to their decision making?

The current agenda includes an item that purports to be a response to resident views on the draft budget. Yet, readers would have no inkling whatsoever, whether their views have had any impact on the final version of the budget. This says heaps for transparency, accountability, and adhering to the adopted IAPP2 principles of reporting back to the community on how their views influenced the final decision.  Yes, council did go through the legislated requirements of ‘deliberative engagement’ but in this officer report very little detail is provided. Nor do we get the complete record of the various survey responses.

What we do have is short summaries that highlight some resident priorities such as:

Stage 1 consultation:  The overall allocation of spending by the participants was very similar to our 2021-22 Budget proportions. The main differences were to decrease spending on Capital Works and increase spending on Sustainability. (page 21)

Online survey: The survey group would like to see more spending on Sustainability and Climate Change, Parks and Recreation, and Economic recovery from the pandemic.

Have your say survey: ▪ This survey group would like to see more spending on Sustainability and Climate Change, Parks and Recreation, Open Space and Waste and Recycling.

Deliberative engagement: priority – Sustainability measures, including increasing open space and tree canopy, funding the Urban Forest Strategy and implementing energy efficiency measures. (page 22)

There is no definitive response to the above views. What we do get is:

or

Does this mean that council has acted on these concerns and increased its spending on the Urban Forest Strategy, climate, sustainability? We simply do not know given that the final budget that councillors are expected to vote on is NOT INCLUDED in the report. The result? – your guess is as good as ours!

What we do however know, if that what is included in the above screen dump is identical to what was contained in the first draft of the budget – meaning that nothing has changed.

Conclusion? For all the talk about listening to the community, being transparent, and keeping residents informed, we are still looking at a council that simply goes through the required legal motions and resident views continue to be ignored.  

Council’s current agenda includes the Design & Development Overlay (DDO) for Caulfield North. This follows the previous ‘consultation’ on the Built Form Frameworks for Caulfield North, Caulfield South and Bentleigh East. We have previously commented on the value of the ‘consultation’ and its drawbacks.  (See: https://gleneira.blog/2021/05/12/is-this-fair-dinkum-consultation/)

There are very few changes from the originally advertised documents. So much for ‘listening’ to residents. Worth noting that the officer’s report, as is typical, fails to even make mention of the feedback, and how this has ‘influenced’ or not, council’s current version.

In summary, the DDO will:

  • NOT have mandatory height limits except for the sites in a heritage overlay. The majority of the precinct will have 6 storeys discretionary. The City Plan has 5 storeys. No explanation provided in anything we’ve seen as to why these Neighbourhood Centres should be 6 AND NOT THE 5 STOREYS recommended in the City Plan.
  • Overshadowing to the public domain relies only on the summer solstice – no consideration given for the winter solstice. Plus, overshadowing is said to be avoided for the most ‘active’ parts of the day. For one area this is equated to 10am to 12 pm!!!!!
  • Rear laneways of 3m are deemed appropriate for egress and ingress! This means that two cars travelling in opposite directions cannot pass each other.

We’ve highlighted some of the paragraphs from the officer’s report and ask readers to consider them carefully – as this, presumably, is supposed to be the rationale and justification for the proposed DDO.

Proposed DDO12 will apply to all commercially zoned land within the centre. The introduction of these planning controls will ensure Council can regulate growth and change at an appropriate rate and manage the competing priorities of the community, and the development industry. The proposed controls are not seeking to increase the rate of development within the centre, rather they introduce standards to manage development when it does occur.

COMMENT: What does ‘appropriate rate’ mean? 100 new apartments per annum? Or 200 per annum? The use of the word ‘rate’ is a neat sleight of hand designed to avoid the conclusion that once you raise the allowable height of a building, then it becomes more tempting and profitable for a developer. It has very little to do with the ‘rate’ or presumably ‘speed’ of development which council has no control over anyway.

Mandatory controls are not considered necessary for street walls along this section of Balaclava Road and may even be to the detriment of good development outcomes (for example, preventing on-site outdoor dining terrace areas at the front of cafés). No heritage or character overlay controls affect this section of Balaclava Road and the mandatory requirement has therefore been changed to a preferred setback requirement. This will make it consistent with the Caulfield South Activity Centre DDO.

COMMENT: Since when does a mandatory street wall height prevent ‘outdoor dining terrace areas’? and how will a discretionary height which could allow a four storey wall height contribute to ‘good development outcomes’? Here are some quotes from the original Urban Design doc:

A two to three storey building height at the street is recommended for the Caulfield Park NAC, which will maintain a scale that is both compatible with existing heritage and non heritage shopfronts, and does not overwhelm the streetscape. This has been evidenced with recent developments in the NAC that provide a three storey street wall.

As for the proposition that this is fine given it is ‘consistent’ with what has already been approved for Caulfield South is not a justification. Each Neighbourhood Centre is unique, as admitted even by council. There is no demand for ‘consistency’. Instead each area should be evaluated for what it is, rather than how it can fit into the ‘one size fits all’ model so preferred by this council.

The proposed planning controls only focus on the commercial zones within the centre, a key growth area which places less pressure on our residential areas where tree retention/planting and maintaining site permeability is important.

COMMENT:  if the objective is to protect the surrounding residential environment as claimed above, then perhaps council needs to explain why the Housing Strategy is advocating the removal of the mandatory garden requirement, reducing permeability, and doing nothing specific about tree retention.  The entire area surrounding the commercial land is zoned GRZ, where all of the above changes will impact directly on these properties. Coupled with the impacts of these changes, we will now have a minimum of 6 storeys abutting a mandatory 3 storey zone. And that’s okay for this council.

Here’s a map of the current zoning. Please note the extent of GRZ (3 storeys) and their connection to the commercial sites.

CONCLUSION

Once again we find that council has failed to live up to its so called ‘engagement strategy’. We do not know:

  • How and where community feedback influenced the final decision
  • Why the heights are increased despite the approved council City Plan
  • And finally, ‘consultation’ in name only given the pathetic survey questions

We have to continually scratch our heads and ponder exactly what this administration is doing in terms of open space purchases. Are they simply wasting the monies set aside for open space, or are their purchases really adding anything to the municipality’s desperate need for more usable and effective open space?

We ask, because in the latest agenda we are told that Council has purchased the commercial property at 751 Centre Road, East Bentleigh. Sounds great, but once people delve into this purchase, there appears to be no valid and cost benefit justification for this purchase.  

Here are the details:

Site Area – 237 square metres

Sold – 27th October, 2021

PRICE – $2,227,500

Surely this is a massive overspend on a property of this size? Will we again learn that this property will be leased out for another 2 to 3 years before anything happens? Why this position anyway? When we look at the map (below), surely there is already existing open space well and truly within 400 -500 metres of this site.

Other questions come to mind. Since the 1988 Open Space review, council has known that the areas of open space deficiency are in Camden Ward, as well as in the major activity centres of Carnegie, Bentleigh and Elsternwick. Glen Huntly and Gardenvale are also fairing very badly. So why on earth spend this amount of money for a site that doesn’t add to already existing major deficiencies?

Council will no doubt argue that this is in one of the gap areas identified in the latest Open Space Strategy (OSS). This still doesn’t justify the purchase and the neglect of the areas which need it most. The OSS even has this comment on page 48 –

This table highlights the difference that urban density can make to overall provision of open space. For example, Bentleigh East has less open space relative to the overall suburb area (3.8 per cent) but a higher proportion of open space relative to population density than Carnegie and Caulfield South

So, in terms of ‘need’, East Bentleigh is behind other suburbs.

Next on page 135 we find this recommendation: Provide a new Local Open Space close to, but not facing Centre Road. The purchased property faces Centre Road!!!!!! In addition the OSS’s definition of Local Open Space is: from 0.26 hectares to 1 hectare (page 34). This purchase doesn’t even come close to the recommended size! More illuminating are the examples provided for the purchase of Local Open Space. We quote: Examples include Gardenvale Park, Memorial Park Caulfield North and Springthorpe Gardens Murrumbeena. Each of these examples are triple the size of what has been purchased.

Summing it all up, we seriously question how this council is spending money on open space. Why aren’t they targeting the areas that are continually identified as having shortages or have the highest population density? If the OSS is the gospel, then why ignore its major recommendations? Why spend a fortune on a block of land that you couldn’t swing a cat on? Who makes these decisions?

Council has decided to cave in on the 10-16 Selwyn Street application for two 10 storey towers, and a major supermarket. All done in secret at the last council meeting. The minutes did not record the vote. This decision flies in the face of what has been determined over the past few years. Please note:

  1. 2 unanimous councillor decisions to refuse the permit
  2. VCAT refusing the first permit
  3. Council’s refusal to employ anything ‘higher’ than a solicitor for this second VCAT hearing
  4. May street status still left uncertain and council unwilling to share their legal advice on this issue
  5. For all the talk about the Jewish Cultural Centre, and access to this ‘pedestrian’ mall, council has (deliberately?) dragged its feet in its stated objective of closing off part of the street. Two years down the track, we still have the same traffic conditions.

As far as we know, the only ‘concessions’ made by the applicant are to remove one storey from the proposed 10 storey tower, and to increase setbacks for this tower. At best this is likely to be nothing more than a 3 metre reduction. Nothing has been stated on traffic, the objective of pedestrianising Selwyn Street when there is an admitted potential for 5,000 additional cars in the street, the loading bay directly opposite a primary school level crossing, etc. etc. etc.

The end result is that objectors will be fighting both council and the applicant at the upcoming VCAT hearing. Why these new plans were agreed to by council remains secret. We can only conjecture what occurred last Tuesday night, but it is worth remembering that:

  • Only 7 councillors were in attendance – Zhang and Pilling were absent
  • We very much doubt that the decision was unanimous. Hence a minority of Glen Eira councillors decided council’s position on this application.
  • What arguments were used by the pro permit lobby – ie costs involved for council? Heritage can be ‘sacrificed’ as has happened plenty of times before? Some secret deals involving May Street – maybe a section 173 agreement where council is paid off?

Whatever the reasons and the arguments, we maintain that the lack of transparency and accountability by this council is unconscionable – as is their responsibility to ensure that ‘net community benefit’ is the result of all major planning decisions. This cave in benefits no-one except the developer and those parties who were provided with a so-called ‘discount’ of millions by supporting the application.

The following audio is from last night’s council meeting where one resident addressed council basically telling them how inadequate strategic planning has been and the consistent refusal to incorporate years of community feedback into the draft housing strategy. Please listen carefully:

Residents must really wonder what is the point of council creating and endorsing policy and strategy documents, when these are all ignored when it comes to development. Either we have policy or we don’t! The latest example of this is an application for 93-101 Poath Road, Murrumbeena. The applicant wants 8 storeys, 77 apartments, and a reduction in onsite car parking as well as some upper level setbacks of a miniscule 3 metres. There will be 6 shops, and the apartments are designated as: 29 one bedroom; 40 two bedroom and 8 three bedroom. That’s a ratio of 90% one and two bedroom apartments and the majority of these apartments will be less than 60 square metres in size.

More disturbing is the fact that in the past we have been told ad nauseum that if a policy is not enshrined in the planning scheme, then it bears little or no weight in the final recommendation. Whilst this officer report does repeat this mantra in reference to the proposed Planning Scheme Rewrite (C220) by stating: Council can have regard to the amendment as part of the assessment of this application but can only give it limited weight –   we then have a full 2 pages and a bit, itemising what this amendment proposes as justification for recommending a permit! We repeat: this proposed Amendment is yet to go through a planning panel. It is yet to be independently assessed and reported on. Yet, we have an officer’s report which bases much of the argument for a permit on something which does not as yet exist in the planning scheme.

There is much to challenge in this report. Some examples:

Neighbourhood centres are areas where substantial built form change is anticipated. Really? That’s not what the various versions of City Plan state, nor the Urban Design Guidelines!!!!

The subject site and broader commercial areas of the Hughesdale activity centre are not subject to specific building height controls within the Scheme, nor are there any proposed by way of overlay controls such as a Design and Development Overlay as can be seen in other centres across the municipality.

Thus the truth (inadvertently, we suspect) comes out. Council has absolutely no intention of ensuring that all commercial centres have appropriate height limits assigned to them. What does this augur for Ormond, McKinnon, Patterson, Gardenvale, etc. just to name a few neighbourhood centres currently without any controls in the commercial areas?

And since when does any report include such garbage as found in the Urban Design report:

Try to redesign the top edge of the building…….

Try to design the western side of the building…..

Try to prevent overlooking…..

Try to ensure that no additional service cabinets…..

Why ‘try’? Either the recommendation is that something doesn’t comply with current planning controls or it does, or whether these aspects of non-compliance may be addressed by conditions. Yet, none of this has occurred. Who is to ‘try’? and what if they don’t?

The bottom line, as we read things, is that council will bend over backwards, to ensure that developers get their permits – regardless of existing council policy, and what the current planning scheme states.

If you happen to live in any of the sites highlighted in the light blue, then beware! Council has earmarked these sites as Substantial Change Area 1. This means:

  • You will go from a 2 storey mandatory height to 3 storeys
  • The mandatory garden requirement ranging from 25% to 35% of land size will be removed
  • Rear setbacks will in all likelihood also be removed.
  • Retention of trees will only be ‘encouraged’ where ‘practical’

As for the commercial sites themselves, these will also be changed to greater heights if the following, taken from the Housing Capacity Analysis (page 52) is any guide –

Bentleigh is thus in the firing line for major changes that in our view will do nothing except impact incredibly on residential amenity, on the environment, and on issues such as parking and traffic. We repeat ourselves, but given that we have capacity for 50,000 dwellings and only require 13,000 until 2036, it is simply unconscionable for this council to even contemplate further ruin of our suburbs.

Readers may also remember that over the past few years council conceded that the Residential Zones introduced in 2013 were inadequate on several levels – ie heritage properties were included in the Residential Growth Zone (4 storeys) and many streets had multiple zonings which simply didn’t make sense. Well, given the above mooted zonings, it doesn’t appear as if council has learnt from its past mistakes. Take Whitmuir Street for example. Only half of this street is to be rezoned. Why? Especially when this proposed rezoning includes about 24 houses on both sides of the street and all are either single or double storey. There are 2 blocks of flats (one of 9 apartments and two storey) and another contains villa units. The street itself is narrow making it impossible to pass if there are parked cars.

We have visited this street and taken the photographs at the end of this post. Many are beautiful Californian bungalows that if anything, should be under a heritage overlay, and not offered as fodder to developers. Even more disheartening is that we have not been provided with any valid justification as to why streets like Whitmuir are on the chopping block. Remember Bent Street that is now a canyon of apartment blocks? The same could happen to Whitmuir!

We urge all residents, and especially those who reside in these targeted sites, to write to councillors with their views as well as commenting on the so-called ‘consultation’ from the Have Your Say website. Things will only change with massive community opposition. Make your voices heard!

Here is what most of Whitmuir Street looks like!

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