GE Council Meeting(s)

Our apologies for this incredibly long post, but its importance we believe justifies the length since it goes to the heart of what constitutes full transparency and accountability and council’s unwillingness to be completely up front with its residents.

In keeping with its recent practice of refusing to publish the full feedback on its consultations, council has released its ‘summary’ on the draft Elsternwick Structure Plan. In the report we find little that would convince us that the presented analyses reveals an accurate and complete picture of what respondents wrote. So why is council insisting on mere ‘summaries’ rather than publishing the full data as it has done on numerous previous occasions. Why is council fighting tooth and nail to refuse FOI access on its bogus claims that requested documents are ‘voluminous’ and meeting the application would entail a severe imposition on council resources? The refusal to allow residents to come to their own conclusions as to the feedback can only lead to the perception that there is much to hide.

The summary report listed in the current agenda consists of 25 pages. Within these pages we find the following frequency of terminology used to report on the outcomes. Words such as ‘several’, ‘many’ and ‘some’ in relation to respondent answers are used without any clear indication of what was actually stated or the nuances and variations between respondent comments. The frequency in relation to respondent comments is:

Several – used 8 times

Many – used 21 times

Some – used 18 times

Another telling example of the inadequacy of the report comes from page 4 –

Many respondents supported protection of the centre’s heritage and were often concerned that increased built form would deteriorate the centre’s heritage value and village feel. Some participants considered the general lowering of permitted building heights to be the appropriate response.

What is the numerical difference between ‘many’ and ‘some’?  Does the differentiation between the ‘many’ and ‘some’ indicate that the ‘many’ were not supportive of a decrease in height limits or that this was simply not mentioned? Did any of the responses really affirm or agree that Elsternwick has a ‘village feel’ or is this simply terminology assigned by the authors of the report?  And how should ‘increased built form’ be interpreted anyway? Does it refer to the paltry set backs? The heights? Their discretionary nature instead of mandatory, or their overshadowing potential? Ultimately such statements are meaningless and certainly open to a multitude of interpretations. Without access to the actual comments, there is no way of telling and according credibility and value to the summary report.

We also have to take issue with the manner that the so called topics are presented and their accompanying tables purporting to reveal the ensuing ‘themes’.  The survey questions focused on topics predetermined by council such as: vision and objectives; heritage; traffic; etc. Accompanying each topic, respondents had the choice of downloading what one can only assume to be information that would provide greater understanding of the topic. We repeat some of the comments we made in an earlier post (See: –

  • The draft structure plan proposes to allow up to 6 storeys for heritage listed sites along Glen Huntly Road. Not once is this mentioned throughout the document that is supposed to provide respondents with information on this important aspect of the structure plan.
  • Jargon predominates. What on earth does ‘rich materiality’ mean and how would respondents interpret this?
  • Why aren’t we told that the heritage listed church is likely to be surrounded by 12 storey towers? And yet, given the above, we are still meant to believe that council  takes great care to ensure the heritage fabric of Elsternwick is protected

As for the accompanying table on the vision and objective question we find this:

The above table reveals absolutely nothing about the views for or against – ie how many were opposed to the proposed building heights and how many were arguing for increased building heights or perhaps that the proposed heights were appropriate? Simply providing the number of times something was mentioned does nothing to convey what the community thought and how this was expressed in the feedback.

The value of any survey is 100% dependent on the quality of the questions asked. Are the questions open-ended and objective, or written with a specific end in mind? Are they free of ambiguity? Are they mere motherhood statements that would be hard to disagree with? Are respondents provided with enough specific detail to respond meaningfully, or do they have to plough through hundreds upon hundreds of pages in order to glean what is really proposed? How many respondents have actually bothered to do this if details are buried and does this potential lack of knowledge invalidate their answers? Council’s approach has always been to proffer questions that are nothing more than feel good statements, or rhetorical flourishes that no-one would or could disagree with. For example: the significance of heritage and the need for protection.  Yes, residents would agree with the importance of protecting heritage, but does this then lead to the ‘support’ of what is proposed – especially when the mechanisms for achieving this aim are so vague and ill defined.

How many of these surveys are road tested prior to being inflicted on the community? Were there focus groups prior? Were their responses analysed? Did councillors have any say in the creation of these questions? What about the Community Consultation Committee? And who actually drafted the questions?  

And how well has council advertised its surveys and their significance and ramifications? What follow up has council undertaken to analyse what could be considered as poor response rates? Did council really attempt to engender a huge response or the reverse – ie downplay the significance of the consultation? For the Elsternwick Structure Plan we are told that there were articles in the Glen Eira News informing residents of the consultation. The claim is that information was present in the November and December editions. The first screen dump is what appeared in the November issue followed by the December insert that came in on page 9.

The above calls for participation leave a lot to be desired. Instead of ‘facts’ such as: proposed heights; rezoning of some properties; onsite car parking reductions and of course open space/environmental proposals, there is nothing in this first article that would provide residents with a clear vision of what the proposals entail. Nor does the December version elaborate on anything further. And is it sheer coincidence that the inserted photograph only features 2 storeys along Glen Huntly Road, instead of the monsters that are already in existence? Jargon, generalities, and platitudes epitomise the article instead of the transmission of real information. And when will council refrain from such nonsense as calling Elsternwick a ‘village’ when we already have 13 storey buildings going up!!!!

There are countless errors (falsehoods/deceptions?) in much of what council has presented in the accompanying ‘information’ sheets. For example the following image from the Buildings document showing the montage of what a 5 storey height might look like. Even if we accept the accuracy of this image (which we believe is highly suspect) it does not explain why council chose NOT TO DEPICT the opposite side of the street that has a 6 storey discretionary height limit as well as the neighbouring properties further up along this side of Glen Huntly Road that are also under heritage overlays.

Despite all this, council has been forced to reveal that on a ratio of close to 2:1 residents were opposed to most of what the draft structure plan envisioned. What happens now should be of utmost concern to all residents, especially in Elsternwick and Bentleigh. Will councillors insist that this draft goes back to the drawing board? Or will we merely have a minor tinkering around the edges and it is voted through? When something is so strongly opposed then the only solution should be that councillors listen and act in accordance with community sentiment!

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, residents gained further insight into the ills of Glen Eira Council. Please listen carefully to the following which occurred during item 8.3 on an application for a 4 storey development in a local centre.

Not for the first time are we informed that:

  • Councillors are not provided with enough time to thoroughly digest and analyse information fundamental to their decision making. Hardly surprising when some agendas are well over 1000 pages!
  • It’s also been made clear by some councillors that they have not been provided with important consultant documents prior to making major decisions. Or, if these documents are available, then they are provided at short notice. Hence we argue that this is anything but informed decision making.
  • When it is the CEO who sets the agenda with mayoral ‘consultation’ and there is no genuine notice of motion option in Glen Eira, then we are on a hiding to nothing.
  • The fact that councillors had to ask for all community consultation feedback on the housing strategy, rather than simply the ‘summary’, shows how little information is provided to them as a matter of course. And in response to a public question on Tuesday night, this practice of withholding the raw data is set to continue.

So what does all this mean? Put simply, we have a major problem in local government. Yes, some councillors have been found to be corrupt, and yes, some are bullies, or simply using local councils as stepping stones to far more lucrative careers in parliament. But what of bureaucrats? Who can pull them into line when every aspect of the Local Government Act practically empowers them to act with impunity? As managers and directors, all senior staff are beholden to the CEO for their (continued) contracts and ongoing employment. Councillors have no say in this and nor are they privy to their annual reviews or their Key Performance Indicators. That remains solely in the CEO’s domain. This breeds compliance and cow towing – especially when salaries are in the $230,000+ range.

Admittedly councillors have the right to sack CEO’s – but this can become a very expensive business and invite plenty of negative publicity and more investigations that could reveal other skeletons in the closet.

We have said on numerous occasions that councillors in general are regarded as a necessary evil at worst and as unnecessary appendages at best. Their ideal role is to merely rubber stamp whatever the administrators put before them. In theory, they are supposed to provide oversight; to analyse, question, and be provided with enough information so that their decision making is beyond question. Most importantly, they are meant to work in the interests of the community and to listen to resident views. This is impossible when they are denied access to timely information, or when they are so overloaded that it becomes impossible to do their jobs satisfactorily. We would love to know how many of these councillors even bother to read the hundreds upon hundreds of pages each week or simply rely on the reports from officers.

One article in yesterday’s  Age has officers calling for more constraints to be placed on councillors. In turn, some councillors are seeing this as an attempt to further emasculate councillors and to ensure that all become nothing more than ‘lemmings’ following the lead of the bureaucracy. (See: ). Which ultimately leads to the question – do we need councillors and do we even need local government when real power is vested in officers and not our community representatives?

The following screen dump comes from the minutes of Wednesday’s council meeting. We are literally gobsmacked at the costings listed.

Several things need investigation:

  • Why has the projected construction cost gone from a budget figure of $53M to $62M? Why weren’t figures provided earlier about total costs? Given that the final figure also excludes GST, ratepayers are therefore looking at a forecast cost of just under $84M!!!!!! What is the rationale for a 25+% increase overall? Will residents now have gold plated taps?!!!!!!!! Has the design changed? Even accepting the rise in construction costs, we find this increase unjustified, unexplained, and unacceptable. We are not aware of any public documentation to justify this increase.
  • In terms of the published resolution (‘carried’) there are other questions that need to be answered. Why does ‘carried’ signify? Does this mean that some or at least one councillor was against publishing this resolution? Or does it mean that whoever voted against the resolution was also against the cost increase?
  • The Local Government Act now stipulates that ALL resolutions include information as to who voted for or against. This has not been done here! Is this simply another example of the failure of council to be totally transparent and accountable? When we are talking the mega millions listed here, residents should be informed fully about what is going on and the rationale behind all such decisions

PPS: Council has put out the following Media Release.

Published on 10 February 2023

We have been successful in securing $15 million of funding through the Australian Government as part of our advocacy efforts and we will continue to advocate to the Victorian Government as the project continues. 

Carnegie Memorial Swimming Pool underway

Construction is now underway on the new Carnegie Memorial Swimming Pool.

Council has awarded ADCO Group Pty Ltd the contract ($62 million) to deliver the project with a revised total project cost of $75 million.

The new year-round aquatic and leisure facility will be one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable centres in the world. It will be designed and constructed to a Six Star Green Star rating with climate resilience, low energy operations and maximum water efficiency, and will include:

  • indoor and outdoor pools;
  • an outdoor diving pool;
  • learn-to-swim programs, a therapeutic warmwater pool and numerous allied health services;
  • a café, barbecue, and shaded seating areas;
  • allied health treatment rooms;
  • program rooms for classes such as yoga and Pilates; and
  • retention of design references to the past such as the post-war style signage, the red brick and retaining the eastern hill.

Glen Eira Mayor Cr Jim Magee said we have been committed to delivering this much-needed facility to the Glen Eira community since 2019.

“We are excited to finally be moving ahead with this intergenerational project but there will be continued challenges that we face in relation to the increased cost of materials and labour that we will need to balance with all projects moving forward.”

To read more about the project, view the concept designs for the centre and to keep up-to-date with timelines and major milestones, please visit the Carnegie Memorial Swimming Pool redevelopment webpage.


Why is the project starting now?

Due to a Victorian Heritage Register nomination from a member of the community and the subsequent review undertaken by Heritage Victoria, the project was delayed by 12 months.

Why is the project cost higher than the contract value?

The $62 million contract value is the value of the construction contract. Other costs go into delivering projects of this scale, such as a contingency budget, authority fees, consultant fees and capitalisation costs. The total project budget is $75 million.


Sadly the above Media Release does nothing except repeat the notice in the minutes, plus adding plenty of more spin. Itfails to explain the reasons behind this decision, nor the lack of governance in providing residents with the complete information as to:

  • The full voting record
  • The exact nature of the various price increases and their justification
  • Nor has any tender documentation for this project been placed in the public domain – as has been the case with various other expensive tenders. We do not know for example: how many applicants there were; how many of these applications were compliant; what were the selection criteria;
  • Finally we repeat that even with major funding from government, residents will still be up for at least $70M. We will watch carefully to see which departments will have their budgets cut right back and which projects will be abandoned and/or delayed.


We continue to be appalled at the manner in which this council conducts its business and its total disregard for residents and their views. The latest example comes in the agenda for Tuesday night’s council meeting and involves the Inkerman Road ‘Safe cycling corridor’.

Some preliminary observations:

  • The item consists of 510 pages out of a 1309 page agenda
  • The agenda was published around 10am on Friday morning – literally 4 days before the council decision (and this includes a weekend) – hardly enough time to read, digest, analyse, and comment by residents. Some of the associated documents date from August 2022 whilst one is from April 2022. Why couldn’t these have been published earlier so that residents can get their heads around them? When were councillors themselves provided with access to these documents?
  • From a very brief scan of the associated documents, nothing is definitive and recommendation after recommendation includes the need for further research once the project is given the go ahead – despite the plethora of caveat after caveat stating how difficult it is to provide real data and projections for increased cycling numbers, etc.  Nor do we know how much all of these consultant reports cost!

What is the most staggering aspect of this item is the following recommendation:

That Council:

1. Adopts Option 2 (Attachment 3) as the preferred corridor design for the purpose of community consultation, once the following pre-conditions have been met:

a) Funding to deliver the project is confirmed through Council’s future budget allocation process.

b) The City of Port Phillip resolves to proceed to wider community engagement on its section of Inkerman Road / Street.

2. No further design work and/or community consultation is to commence until pre-condition a) and b) have been met.

3. Informs community and stakeholders of Council’s resolution.


  • Why on earth would you commit council to an estimated expenditure of $14M+ before you undertake further (and hopefully genuine) community consultation on the actual options provided?
  • If voted in, then what impact on other projects does the $14M have? What would be abandoned or delayed – especially if no state or federal funding was received?


  • Option 2 is preferred even though it means that only 47% of current car parking will be retained. How many car parking spots will thus be lost?
  • Currently the estimated average daily cycle numbers for the Glen Eira sections equals 163 cyclists. The claim is that the increase in cyclists would fall ‘somewhere’ between 84% – 207%. Hell of a range forecast upon which to spend $14+M!!!!!!! and we’re even told that estimating cycling demand is exceptionally difficult
  • In terms of cycling instead of using the car the result is likely to be only about 6-8%!

Even if the number of cyclists along this stretch of road increased to 800 per day, that is still an expenditure of $17,500 per cyclist!!!! Nor is there any guarantee that this is money well spent in terms of overall safety – ie

The Independent Safety Review found that for both design Option 1 and 2, due to the bi-directional bicycle lane, there are expected risks for cyclists given the high number of intersecting driveway crossovers on the south side of Inkerman Road, largely applicable to westbound cyclists as departing vehicles may not expect a cyclist to arrive from this direction.

To address this the design includes the provision of bicycle line markings and surface treatments at the crossovers which serves to advise the presence of bicycle lanes. With the report concluding, “nonetheless, the prevailing issue is the unexpected arrival of a bicycle in the eastbound direction. As a primarily residential area, it is anticipated long-term residents will quickly adapt to the proposed design, and the risk associated with this item will reduce over time”.

On a wing and a prayer the above quote, rather than any assurance that in the early stages cyclists and motorists will be ‘safer’!!!!!


Glen Eira City Council is clearly addicted to grandiose projects that cost the earth and will look good on certain CVs. Whether or not the projects represent real value for money, or even achieve the desired outcomes is seemingly immaterial. All that matters is that agendas are rammed through and virtue signalling becomes the modus operandi for all council decisions.

Finally, we very much doubt that this important item is listed at the end of the obscenely long agenda by accident. What that means is that there will probably be very little time for ‘robust’ debate/discussion!!!!!

Below is another resident’s comments from last week’s council meeting. We again urge everyone to pay particular attention to the response provided by Torres.


Torres’ comments are inaccurate and completely misleading. His claim that what is ‘predominantly’ built in Glen Eira in relation to townhouses  are ‘four and five’ bedroom developments is false. The latest ABS census data (shown below) makes this abundantly clear.


According to the above table, the number of 4 bedroom dwellings in the ‘townhouse’ category is 1,761 out of a total of 13,778 dwellings. That equates to a percentage of 12.78%. If we look at the number of 5 bedroom dwellings then the percentage drops to 1.07%.  Not within coo-eee of being ‘predominant’ as claimed by Torres.

In terms of apartments, then the numbers are even more telling. There are a total of 256 four bedroom dwellings built in apartments for an overall percentage rate of 1.56%. For 5 bedroom apartments we get the magnificent ratio figure of 0.14%!!!!!

If we examine these figures even further, we find that HOUSES remain the largest building component that contain 3, 4 and 5 bedroom dwellings – and not townhouses or apartments.  And with the continued loss of detached housing in Glen Eira, we can only anticipate that the result will be more 1 and 2 bedroom apartments given that council has no control whatsoever over what developers wish to build.

If we even look at the breakdown of 3 bedroom places, then the percentage for apartment buildings with this number of bedrooms is 10.79% and for townhouses we get 42.61% – not even half. For Torres to therefore claim that what is being built in Glen Eira are ‘predominantly’ townhouses of 4 and 5 bedrooms is a total misrepresentation of the facts.

As the officer officially in charge of strategic planning in Glen Eira, it is surely not too much to ask that he is au fait with the current data (which has now been available for 5 months), and that public statements do actually mirror these facts instead of attempting to facilitate the pro-development agenda that constitutes the Housing Strategy.

A long, but critical post.

An article in today’s Age features two paragraphs which could also apply to Glen Eira City Council where ‘political expediency’ or bureaucratic expediency, usurps the ‘public interest’ time and time again. The paragraphs read:

Redlich last month delivered the John Barry Memorial Lecture at Melbourne University. Titled simply: “Governing with Integrity”, the lecture provides a disturbing summary of what Redlich has observed from his vantage point atop Victoria’s peak anti-corruption agency. He laments the way power is concentrated in the premier’s office in Victoria and other jurisdictions and how the unregulated influence of political advisers is circumventing important safeguards.

These are not arcane concerns about bureaucratic conventions. They go to the heart of whether the Andrews government – or indeed any government – is there to serve us or themselves. As the eminent jurist told The Age earlier this year, once governments start bypassing processes that are intended to protect the public interest, once political expediency becomes the driver of government decisions, “we’re on a slippery slope” to the latter.

As we’ve said countless times, residents and councillors are basically superfluous to the running of local government in Glen Eira. At best, compliant councillors become the rubber stamp for bureaucrats, or at worst they are viewed as impediments to achieving the bureaucratic vision. Residents simply don’t count unless there is massive negative publicity. All of this can be illustrated with one single example – the refusal to publish the complete set of responses to the Housing Strategy and the subsequent reliance on the most tenuous and laughable excuses for this decision.

We ask that you listen carefully to the following exchange which occurred at Wednesday night’s council meeting between a resident, the CEO and the Mayor and contemplate what this signifies in the context of the above Age paragraphs.


  • What kind of honesty do we have when the CEO can state –it isn’t our practice to release public submissions when this HAS BEEN a consistent practice until recently. A previous post listed examples (apart form Local Law, council plan submissions) where the complete set of responses were published and even included some Facebook comments. See:
  • She also says our response….was certainly consistent with council’s policy in terms of community engagement. Council’s Community Engagement Strategy (page 25) lists as one of its objectives to improve the way we report the outcomes of community engagement back to the community. There has certainly been no ‘improvement’ over the past few years as outlined above. Also as part of the ‘priority actions’ we have this promise – Increase transparency about what the community feedback was, how it was considered and how it has influenced the decision. There is a mighty chasm in the feedback report on how feedback was considered, and the precise outcomes that were influenced by this feedback. Basically, if we accept the feedback report, residents have absolutely no idea why things were changed as a result of feedback, and why things remained the same. This does not equate with increased ‘transparency’and certainly does not come close to the following ‘outcome’ listed in the strategy – The community will be able to see how their feedback has or has not influenced Council’s decisions.
  • McKenzie’s concern about identifying respondents is another lame excuse. The Have Your Say survey responses have ALWAYS BEEN and remain anonymous and published as responses with no names attached. Even published emails have had the writer’s name and email address redacted. This has not been a problem in the past. To suddenly turn it into a major concern is nothing more than a desperate scramble to hide the truth in our view.
  • No previous Have Your say surveys included the notation that responses would be made public. To suddenly claim that anonymous responses would ‘breach confidentiality’ is simply unbelievable. Furthermore, in order to cover up, council is now committed to spend more ratepayers’ money on sending out letters to all respondents asking for their permission to publish. This argument belongs in the world of Monty Python and illustrates the extent this administration is willing to go to in order to protect themselves, and hide the truth.
  • McKenzie also claims that council’s approach was ‘compliant with our policy’. No it wasn’t! Please refer to council’s ‘Transparency Policy’ for starters. (See:


  • Magee’s pathetic intervention shows how little he knows of council’s own policies, or how unwilling he is to adhere to the policy if the situation gets a little uncomfortable for the powers that be. There is NO REQUIREMENT that the public participation component be restricted to simply the asking of a question. Council’s own ‘guidelines’ ( make it clear that residents are free to either ask a question or make a statement –

Public participation at Ordinary Council Meetings is subject to the discretion of the Chairperson, available if you wish to ask a question or make a statement relating to Council’s role, functions or business.

So what does all this mean? It is clear that council has much to hide. Otherwise why wouldn’t the complete set of responses be made available?  What is in the responses that could possibly cast doubt on council’s decision making? What does this say about integrity, transparency, and basic down to earth honesty of this administration and its lackeys? And surely when something as important as the adoption of a housing strategy that will set the scene for the next 2 decades is up for decision, this MUST BE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST! And please remember, even councillors were denied access to the complete feedback for quite some time.

It is abundantly clear to us that the warnings given by Redlich in the Age article apply in spades to Glen Eira City council!

Last night’s council meeting reached a new low when the Housing Strategy was passed with a vote of 4 to 3. Had both Esakoff and Cade been present we have no doubt that the vote would have been 5 to 4 against given that both these councillors had previously voted against the draft document going out to another bogus ‘consultation’. Had they been there, we would now not be stuck with a strategy that will lay the foundations for continued overdevelopment and the continued destruction of residential amenity for decades to come. Perhaps this is why the suggestion by the three opposing councillors to delay decision for another three weeks went nowhere!

Magee, Zhang, Athanasopolous and Parasol voted in favour whilst Zyngier, Pennicuik and Szmood voted against. The change of heart by Parasol leaves countless questions since he previously voted against the draft that has basically remained identical. Why the change of heart, and what pressures or carrots, may have been applied, remains the $64 question!

Residents were assailed with the usual garbage from Magee, Athanasopolous and Zhang! Sadly all that the latter could come up with was a regurgitation of the black/white dichotomies so often used by Athanasopolous  – ie. we can’t have a ‘perfect’ strategy, so something is better than nothing! When the ‘something’ is so appallingly bad, lacks strategic justification, and fails to respond to community feedback, then the ‘something’ is worse than what currently exists. Besides, why the failure to ensure that what is produced is as close to ‘perfect’ right from the start? Get it right at the beginning and this solves so many issues that have to wait years and years for correction. The perfect example is the council admission of how badly they stuffed up in 2013 with zoning heritage precincts as suitable for 4 storey development!

Even more alarming are the claims made by this administration and its pro-development lackeys like Magee and his cohort. We were informed that:

  • If the Housing Strategy did not get up, that this would be the ‘end’ of strategic planning in Glen Eira and that there would be no further work on structure planning.

What this ruse does is to put unprecedented and we maintain illegal pressure on councillors. Here’s why:

  • Planning Practice Notes 90 makes it absolutely clear that the role of a council is to produce a Housing Strategy as an integral part of its land use planning.
  • Section 16 of all council planning schemes directs councils to “Manage the supply of new housing to meet population growth”. Without the cornerstone of a housing strategy, councils would fail to meet this objective.   Refusing to carry on such work is not only a dereliction of duty by this administration, but a thinly veiled threat!
  • We also heard last night that the chance(s) of planning controls being introduced and formally gazetted PRIOR to the end of June 2023, when the interim DDO’s expire, was highly unlikely. This therefore means that the voting last night was basically meaningless.

Magee’s summation of the situation deserves special comment. Here is what he said in his closing remarks having moved the motion in the first place and seconded by Athanasopolous. Interestingly, he resorted to a script and read his prepared remarks. No doubt written by the likes of the planning department! –


Magee conveniently neglects to mention the most salient point. The current interim controls for Bentleigh, Elsternwick and Carnegie do NOT for the most part impact on our ‘local residential streets’ as claimed here. The existing DDO’s (Amendment C228) apply ONLY to the commercial and mixed use sites. THEY DO NOT COVER SURROUNDING RESIDENTIAL AREAS. Our streets do have MANDATORY PERMANENT CONTROLS as a result of the zoning introduced in 2013. These are now back in play as a result of this latest C228 amendment. All that is at stake here are the commercial and mixed use sites.  The assertion that ‘more growth will occur’ in local streets as a result of refusing the housing strategy is untrue. Growth will occur regardless of the existence of this Housing Strategy thanks to Wynne’s directive that all NRZ zones will now be able to accommodate more than 2 dwellings. What the Housing Strategy achieves is to guarantee development that is unnecessary and destructive to thousands upon thousands of residents.

We already have 13 storeys in Carnegie and Elsternwick and 7 to 8 storeys in Bentleigh – all ‘discretionary’. If a developer decides to put in an application for 16 or 20 storeys his chances of success are limited given that in most instances such heights would impact on surrounding residential properties. Regardless of what council would decide in such instances, the application would end up at VCAT meaning a time lag, huge costs, and a planning scheme that currently provides MANDATORY height limits in residential areas. These are not perfect of course, but they are now in play and do protect our ‘local streets’ – contrary to what Magee has stated. Besides, most of the currently zoned RGZ areas are already built out to a maximum. The emphases should be on protecting the 13% of sites zoned GRZ. The Housing Strategy fails to do this.

So the question needs to be asked: how much does it matter if the commercial and mixed use sites do not have discretionary permanent heights assigned to them? What is the real possibility of 20 storeys in Bentleigh or Elsternwick given that both Glen Huntly Road and Centre Road abut heritage precincts and RGZ/GRZ areas. No VCAT hearing would allow a 20 storey building alongside a 4 storey building we believe in Glen Eira. We have already seen evidence of this with the first VCAT hearing for Selwyn Street, and a 16 storey application for Derby Road. Both refused by VCAT. We also have the VCAT decision on Horne street where the VCAT member criticised council for granting a permit of 8 storeys. He also stated he would have refused the application had council previously refused it. VCAT is far from perfect, but it MUST adhere to the existing planning scheme and currently our planning scheme has MANDATORY HEIGHT CONTROLS for all residential areas.

To scare monger as Magee and this administration has done is in our view unconscionable and potentially illegal.

Council’s rhetoric and unabashed hope, is that by facilitating more dwellings on a single site, this will have an impact on ‘affordability’. We are supposedly lacking smaller townhouses so changing the zoning schedules in 10,000 sites, especially in the NRZ, will permit more of these multiple dwellings to be built and the price to come down.

Despite all the spin, there is absolutely no guarantee that:

  • Instead of townhouses/units developers will abide by this aspiration instead of building apartment blocks where they can cram more apartments into the site. Council has already admitted that it has no control over WHAT IS BUILT.
  • We are also highly skeptical of the claim that ‘smaller’ apartments will have a major impact on pricing and therefore become more affordable.

East Bentleigh over the past few years has had an enormous amount of 3 or more dwellings on a single site. All one has to do is take a walk along many of the streets running off Centre Road to see what the results are. But even more telling is that we have done a search on the sold prices for some of these medium density dwellings and find that they remain far from ‘affordable’ even when compared to dual occupancy prices.

Here are some examples and they show recent results –

  • The first sale features one two storey townhouse in Agnes Street, East Bentleigh. There are 6 units on this combined site (nos – 8-10 Agnes Street). The property was sold on March 31st, 2022 for $1.200,000. Its size is 194 square metres!


  • Another example is 3/3 Heather Street, Bentleigh East. There are 3 units on this site. Unit no.3 has a land area of 77 square metres and sold on the 4th December 2019 for $975,000 – well before property prices hit their peak. Even with the current drop in prices it is still estimated to go for about a conservative $900,000


Admittedly, this is a very tiny sample of what is happening in East Bentleigh. But it should also be borne in mind that this suburb is ‘cheaper’ than properties in Caulfield North, Elsternwick, McKinnon and Bentleigh. We therefore do not believe that simply facilitating denser development on individual sites throughout all of Glen Eira will impact greatly on price. Council has no control over this anyway. What the most likely scenario will become is that we will still not have smaller townhouses, but more and more apartment blocks. Why? Because it is cheaper to built a two storey apartment block with 5 or 6 units, rather than 3 town houses. This has already occurred in Hudson Street, Caulfield North as just one example.

If the housing strategy is adopted as stands, then this is the future writ large in our view. A denser but not cheaper Glen Eira and a hell of a lot more apartments!

This is a relatively short post despite the fact that two of the most important items are up for decision this coming Wednesday – ie. the Housing Strategy and the Elsternwick Structure Plan. Both are nothing short of offensive to residents in their failure to adopt and change things according to previous community feedback. The pro-development at any cost agenda reigns supreme in both documents and neither appears to give a damn about residential amenity, the environment, overshadowing, open space, car parking, etc. etc. Nor is there any strategic justification for what is presented – it remains a series of promises, leaps of faith, and spin plus more spin.

Very, very little has changed – apart from removing heritage areas from the 4 storey zoning (which never should have happened in the first place and in many cases is already too late to repair the damage done) and the decision not to upgrade a handful of 2 storey streets into the proposed 3 storeys. Why this change is made contradicts what was stated in the first version! The end result is still thousands of properties that will be impacted by this strategy and more and more density everywhere in Glen Eira.

What we find the most offensive and disrespectful comes in the table presented below that is supposed to highlight the changes and provide some commentary.

According to the above residents are ‘confused’ and guilty of ‘misunderstanding’. Even if this is true, then surely the blame lies with council in not enunciating clearly enough what they proposed in the first place. Of course the other possibility could be that  not only were residents not ‘confused’ or misunderstood, they criticised the proposals. Without having access to the full feedback, we can only surmise what was said and written. As for council’s responses, they merely regurgitate what has been said numerous times previously. No further information is provided to ensure that residents are relieved of their ‘confusion’.

We will only feature one image from the Elsternwick Structure Plan given that a picture does indeed speak a 1000 words. It portrays the future vision for part of Glen Huntly Road.

Your attendance next Wednesday is necessary is you are concerned about the future of your home and the future of Glen Eira as a whole.

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