GE Council Meeting(s)


Apologies for this long post!

Council seems incapable of providing residents with clear, unequivocal answers to straight forward questions. Here is one taken from the last council meeting and concerns council’s plans for three of our neighbourhood centres/activity centres. 

Could Council categorically confirm or deny that none of our current neighbourhood centres will have structure plans? Could council also clarify whether the East Bentleigh, Caulfield South and Caulfield North proposed Urban Design Frameworks will also have Design and Development Overlays applied to them? If there are to be DDO’s, then will these contain discretionary or mandatory height limits? 

Response:

Thank you for your question. Typically, Structure Plans are undertaken only for Major Activity Centres, which in Glen Eira has included Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick. For smaller centres such as our Neighbourhood Activity Centres, Urban Design Frameworks provide the same function of planning guidance, but in a simpler, and relatively faster to develop process. Council is currently developing Urban Design Frameworks: Caulfield South, Caulfield North (at Caulfield Park), and Bentleigh East. 

A Design and Development Overlay (DDO) would be the most appropriate tool to guide building heights in these centres, given their size, complexity, and status under State and Local Policy. The Urban Design Frameworks will provide direction as to the most appropriate form of height and siting controls, be they mandatory or discretionary. No final decision has been made at this point. Consultation on the draft controls is scheduled for 2021.

In order to understand the significance of this response and its implications, readers need to be aware of what an Urban Design Framework (UDF) actually is and how it functions. The State Government’s Planning Practice Note No.17 states:

an Urban Design Framework should provide flexibility by identifying key principles rather than finite solutions. It is not a fixed view of the future nor is it a land-use report. It includes a design vision for how a place might develop and should include sufficient detail at key locations so that the vision can be tested for economic and functional viability. An Urban Design Framework should include sufficient information to allow continuous review of detailed actions within the strategic frame, and to enable councils to assess development proposals.

AND

The process for any particular framework study must be fine-tuned to accommodate local issues and objectives. Community involvement should be sought early in the process and at all relevant stages.

Most existing Urban Design Frameworks that other councils have are:

  • Instrinsically linked to Design and Development Overlays and/or specific structure plans
  • Most Urban Design Frameworks are nothing more than a Reference Document in the Planning Scheme. Hence, their ability to provide certitude and genuine ‘controls’ is limited.

Thus, unless the UDF also includes a Design & Development Overlay, or is coupled with the various schedules to the zones, and finally, but most importantly, is directly linked to the objectives of the Municipal Strategic Statement, it is practically useless. In Glen Eira, our MSS, is acknowledged as completely out of date. It needs to be relegated to the dustbin of history – as has been promised for years and years. We are still waiting!

Here is an explanation of what a UDF signifies by a VCAT member –

Strategic planning documents like a  UDF  often form part of the background material that has informed the creation of a DDO schedule and may therefore be a reference document in the planning scheme policies, so as to provide an explanation as to what has informed the creation of a DDO schedule that contains specific built form requirements

Source: Jabala Pty Ltd v Maribyrnong CC [2017] VCAT 1083 (20 July 2017)

Also worth pointing out is that other councils have decided that their neighbourhood centres are deserving of full blown structure plans. Bayside covered all its neighbourhood centres with one amendment and whilst they were not granted mandatory height limits, they are now providing further strategic justification in order to achieve this goal. Boroondara was also successful in gaining Wynne’s signature for mandatory height limits of three (3) storeys for 18 of its 21 centres.

Several other councils have also enunciated their policies on structure planning for their neighbourhood centres – as depicted below.

For a long time mandatory height controls have not been supported in the Victorian planning system. However, recent changes have provided some support for mandatory heights in Neighbourhood Centres, in particular the new State planning strategy –Plan Melbourne and the new residential zones. Therefore, there is an opportunity for Council to pursue mandatory height controls in Moreland’s Neighbourhood Centres, subject to ensuring that housing supply and diversity is provided for across Morelandto cater for forecast housing needs. On this basis the Strategy recommends mandatory heights of four storeys acrossthe majority of the ‘focus areas for change’ in Neighbourhood Centres (which includes the Commercial 1 Zone, Residential Growth Zone and Mixed Use Zone)and a mandatory three storey height in areas where the Residential Growth Zone or Mixed Use Zone is located directly oppositethe Neighbourhood Residential Zone. The approach is supported by testing of building types across the most common lot sizes and an analysis of housing capacity in Moreland

https://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/globalassets/areas/amendments/amendmentslib-7208/c159/moreland-c159-neighbourhood-centres-strategy-reference-document-march-2017-adopted.pdf

A structure plan is a means to provide precinct-specific direction on the extent, form and location of land use and development. The preparation of structure plans for Maroondah’s Neighbourhood activity centres is designed to protect and enhance the role of the centres, help direct capital spending on public realm and infrastructure improvements, and protect residential areas from the encroachment of inappropriate commercial uses.

https://www.maroondah.vic.gov.au/Development/Planning/Planning-Framework/Structure-Plans/Heathmont-Activity-Centre-Structure-Plan

For council to therefore imply that a UDF (without associated DDO’S, MSS upgrades, structure plans or revised zone schedules) is sufficient to protect our Neighbourhood Centres is sheer bunkum.

Even more concerning is that reading between the lines, council intends to once again employ Section 20(4) of the Planning & Environment Act. That means no planning panel, no formal submissions  and the opportunity for residents to provide detailed input. The minister alone will be the final arbiter.

In the above quotes from the Planning Practice Notes, there is a strong emphases on the importance of community consultation. Council will no doubt claim that there has been plenty of ‘consultation’. Yet when we go back to the 2017 ‘consultations’ we find that the number of residents who bothered to contribute to the ‘survey’ on these three neighbourhood centres was minimal – ie

A total of 71 people contributed to the Bentleigh East survey

A total of 52 people contributed to the Caulfield Park survey

A total of 59 people contributed to the Caulfield South survey.

Hardly ‘comprehensive consultation’ and we remind readers that the survey was anything but a genuine attempt to discover what residents thought about development etc. when the terminology used was repeatedly ‘shopping strip’ and no question was directly querying matters of appropriate height, open space, etc.

There has not been any further ‘consultation’ on these three suburbs. Council will now produce its UDF, and residents will have the opportunity to provide feedback. Council will then presumably ignore this feedback and send this off to the minister as happened with the Elsternwick, Bentleigh & Carnegie interim structure plan process. That is how ‘democracy’ works in Glen Eira! Again, readers should remember the outcry over 12 storeys in Elsternwick & Carnegie. It mattered little to the subsequent decision making by this council. Our fear is that this ‘tradition’ will continue with our neighbourhood centres!

 

Up for decision next Tuesday night is an application for 7 storeys, 30 apartments, some office and retail space in Balaclava Road, Caulfield North. The site is directly opposite Caulfield park and practically on the corner of Hawthorn and Balaclava Road. The retail component is seeking a car parking waiver of 9 spots. The officer’s recommendation is to grant a permit.

As per usual we get pages and pages professing to quote the planning scheme. The conclusion is that the planning scheme supports the application. No mention is made of the fact that currently there are no height limits, nor that the so-called City Plan, calls for a maximum of 5 storeys.

These omissions are all minor compared to the following. On page 23 of the agenda we find that the report quotes Section 22.07 of the Housing Diversity Policy. What we are not told is that this is only PART of section 22.07. Completely missing from the officer’s report is the section on Commercial Zoning in Neighbourhood Centres which is the most relevant section of the planning scheme in relation to this application. We quote it below:

Ensure that where the new building is greater in height than the prevailing building height or where significant changes in building height are proposed for residential buildings:

  • There is a graduated transition in building height between the proposed building and adjoining buildings.
  • The resulting height, mass and scale of the building does not dominate or visually intrude on the streetscape and takes account of views from the wider neighbourhood and at a distance.
  • The upper storeys are recessive so that the visibility of upper storeys is reduced when viewed from the footpath opposite or residential properties to the rear.

If readers know the area, then they will know that a 7 storey building next to a 2 storey building cannot but help stick out like a sore thumb! So much for the ‘graduated transition in building height’, which the planning scheme states! There’s also the problem of how upper storeys can be truly ‘recessive’ when the setbacks of levels 4, 5 and 6 are deemed acceptable at only 2.65 metres. Readers should remember that council started off contemplating setbacks of 6 metres, then 5 metres, in its early documents/policies, so now it seems that 2.65 metres will do!

But there’s even more to query in this report. We quote directly from this report and then comment:

The area has undergone substantial change over recent years with a number of redevelopments of up to seven storeys in height extending along both Hawthorn Road and Balaclava Road.

COMMENT: Yes, it is true that Hawthorn Road has several seven storey developments approved. To the best of our knowledge, Balaclava Road, DOES NOT!

Caulfield Park is a neighbourhood centre which has a role to support increased density and to provide greater diversity of housing. …. It is an area where substantial change is anticipated. 

COMMENT: Nowhere in the current planning scheme can we find any reference to the need for ‘substantial change’ – whatever that term may mean. It is also worth pointing out that the ‘reference’ documents to the Housing Diversity Policy (Clause 22.07) date back to 2002 and 1996!!!!!! This is after ‘strategic work’ on reviewing policies was promised in 2004, 2016. Thus far we are stuck with 20 year old data and promises!

Empirical assessment confirms that the retail parking allocation is sufficient for staff parking and that car parking occupancy survey indicates that there is available car parking spaces in the surrounding streets to accommodate the customer car parking demand. 

COMMENT: The above is in relation to a 9 car parking waiver. In previous applications for 7 storeys, much was made of the LACK of street parking in this area. Delahunty in particular, commented several times on the difficulty of finding a car parking spot. We would also like to query the ‘empirical assessment’. Did council verify the developer’s data, or have they simply taken it as gospel?

There are plenty of other issues with this report and its assessment. Currently one rear laneway serves the other two 7 storey developments. Now we will have another development that in part at least will also be utilising this laneway. How much traffic can one rear laneway take? How much backing up and manoeuvring will be required since there certainly is not enough room for two cars to pass each other?

Finally, we wish to remind readers of what happens when precedent after precedent is set in an area that council has done nothing about. When the first 7 storey application came in, the officer report stated:

The proposal is inconsistent with the intent and objectives of clause 22.07 (Housing Diversity policy) as:the density, mass and scale of the development is not appropriate to the scale, character and physical size of the Caulfield Park Neighbourhood Centre 

Two years down the track when the second 7 storey application arrived, we had this: suitable for an intensive form of development that would complement the well-established mixed-use role of the Caulfield Park Neighbourhood Centre

Given that not a word had changed in the planning scheme Clause 22.07 how can we reconcile these two contradictory statements?

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of deliberative democracy or citizen juries/panels, we invite you to watch the following video created by Darebin Council quite some time ago. When most governments, organisations, and yes, local councils, are now embracing this concept which has gained popularity since the 1980’s, it is still astounding that we have troglodytes who promulgate the myth that citizen juries are ‘undemocratic’.  The Darebin experience proves the exact opposite.

If this council is truly about an open, transparent, and accountable council, determined to work with the community, then establishing such a panel is the only way to go.

It literally staggers belief how often public questions remain unanswered and unchallenged by our group of councillors. Last week’s council meeting was the perfect example of a council determined to deflect, dissemble, and refuse point blank to respond accurately and transparently to resident concerns. It remains one of the most shameful incidents of recent times.

There were quite a number of questions at this meeting. We will highlight only one of the responses  in this post – (they certainly do not merit being called  ‘answers’).

QUESTION: Can Council advise what is the number of additional dwellings that are possible under the current Planning Scheme and the total dwelling capacity of Glen Eira? 

RESPONSE: There is no prescribed limit to the number of dwellings that can be provided under the provisions of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme. The Victorian Planning System is performance based, which means that every application requires analysis of its context and the application of policies and established planning principles. The planning system is designed to enable development while protecting amenity. 

As such, the total dwelling capacity of the municipality is not fixed. 

Council however monitors the number of new dwellings that have been constructed against State Government housing targets identified in Victoria in Future. Council has previously informed you that Glen Eira is on track to meet the State Government housing targets. 

COMMENT: The question was very straight forward – ie asking for the number of ‘possible’ additional dwellings given the current Planning Scheme. The response was a deft deflection through the use of the word ‘prescribed’. Yes, nothing much is ‘prescribed’ in the Planning Scheme, and ‘yes’ it is “performance based’ where each application is evaluated individually. Having said all that, what council has refused to acknowledge is that every single version of its structure planning is based on a ‘capacity’ or ‘opportunity’ analysis of the municipality’s housing.

In 2017 we got 2 versions of such documents as the  Analysis of housing consumption and opportunities. On top of this we also have: Planning Strategy Impacts on Housing Opportunity. This latter document included the sentence: Council should seek to demonstrate adequate Housing Opportunity to ensure that expected housing targets will be met. Thus available land, population, and residents per dwellings are crunched to envisage some kind of ‘capacity’ under different zonings.

Even in the documentation accompanying  the draft C184 Amendment for Bentleigh & Carnegie we also have the 2020 version from SGS entitled: Addendum: Updated Housing Assessment for Bentleigh and Carnegie Activity Centres. In short, every application for interim heights and/or structure plans has included data on the potential number of additional dwellings that can be crammed into the municipality.

Here’s a breakdown of the published data:

In October 2017, we were told that housing ‘opportunity’ was – Using various methodologies outlined previously, this report has identified opportunities within the City of Glen Eira to provide a net gain of 25,970 dwellings. At 2011-2016 rates of development, this represents approximately 36 years of supply. This figure was repeated by the authors in the December 2017 version.

What needs to be remembered is that this data was the ‘backbone’ for the introduction of the interim height amendments C147 and C148 that had discretionary 6 and 7 storeys for Carnegie and 4 mandatory and 5 discretionary for Bentleigh. With Amendment C157 (August 2018) this suddenly became 12 storeys mandatory for Carnegie. And now through proposed Amendment C184, these mandatory heights are to become discretionary, plus the removal of the mandatory garden requirement for properties proposed to be zoned GRZ5. NRZ2 will revert to pre 2004 site coverage of 60%.

What’s important is that the so called experts were telling us that with the first versions of structure planning we would achieve the potential of 25,970 net new dwellings – nearly 8000 more than required by Victoria in Future 2019. Hence, why is council prepared to accept even more and more rezoning and greater heights that destroy our neighbourhoods?

And why can’t council quote these very figures in response to a public question? Is it because they do not want residents to suddenly put one and one together and start questioning the very basis of all planning in Glen Eira? If in 2017 we had capacity for over 25000 net new dwellings, then surely we don’t need structure plans that allow developers to reach for the sky? Or is this simply another example of council’s pro-development agenda?

The refusal to provide a straight forward response to a public question, when all the data has previously been published, is inexcusable.

Council’s penchant for secrecy and burying important news in its voluminous documentation continues with the release of the July 2020 financial report contained in the agenda for the upcoming Special council meeting (8th September).

We learn that $150,000 has been spent on the purchase of 66 and 66a Mackie Road, Bentleigh East. This is a 937 square metre property, that directly abuts Mackie Reserve. The property was sold on the 20th July 2020 for $1.605M. We can only assume the $150,000 is only the deposit and that settlement had not as yet occurred to warrant entry in the July financial report.

Why is there no open and transparent statement from council as to this purchase? Why is something as important as open space buried deep with two throwaway lines in a financial report that we doubt many people would bother ploughing through? Why the secrecy once the purchase has been made?

There are many queries regarding this purchase:

  • Does this constitute a wise decision given its 500 metre proximity to Bailey Reserve and the fact that at the back of this property sits Mackie Reserve? The following map illustrates other open space areas within walking distance.

  • Is it ‘beneficial’ to simply increase the size of existing open space when countless other areas are severely open space deficient – ie major activity centres?
  • Why was this land purchased when the Open space Refresh only graded its ‘importance’ as ‘medium’. And why was the land bought prior to the recommendations of the OSS, that a master plan be created for this reserve? As far as we know, no ‘consultation’ on Mackie Reserve has been done. Here are the ‘recommendations’ of the Open Space Refresh –

The following image from Google Earth shows why we have major concerns about this purchase and whether it is really ‘value for money’. Nothing however can excuse this council’s refusal to be open and transparent with its ratepayers.

 

This is a very, very brief report on last night’s council meeting. It represents in our view one of the most shameful performances in living memory. Inconsistencies in argument abounded, as did the continuation of council policy in NEVER, but NEVER answering residents’ questions that are deemed ‘embarrassing’ to council. And God forbid that any councillor actually has the balls to criticise or even question such responses or the substandard officer reports that are continually tabled in chamber.

The true highlight is Athanasopolous’ comment that councillors should not appear to be in the ‘pockets of residents’. Esakoff and her cohort were guilty of this very thing – but only when it suited. On the one hand they supported the 9 storey development in Selwyn Street in the face of massive opposition, and then when it came to the Glen Huntly Structure Plan, the argument suddenly changed to we ‘have to listen to our residents’.

Each and every one of these councillors has failed the community time and time again. It is definitely time for change.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council will consider an application for a 9 storey building opposite the Woolworths application for a 14 and 10 storey apartment/supermarket complex. The VCAT decision on the latter is imminent.

In regards to the current application the officer recommended a permit. Please note the following:

  • The application includes provision for a maximum of 600 people attending the building at the same time. Hours will be up to 10pm on most days
  • The parking shortfall is 231 and this is considered ‘acceptable’ given the availability of public transport. There will be NO ONSITE PARKING available.
  • The height of the proposed building is equivalent to what the Woolworth’s proposal is
  • Overshadowing and overlooking is ‘acceptable’ according to the report because this is an ‘activity centre’ and hence can’t have the same safeguards

The one sentence in this entire unbelievable report which is completely insulting and dismissive to residents and objectors reads:  Each of these matters (ie objections) have been considered in this report and there are no outstanding objector concerns to consider.

Our take on this report is that resident objections have NOT BEEN considered in any meaningful way. The entire report is designed to justify the unjustifiable. We do not deny the importance of a Jewish cultural precinct, nor the fact that both state and federal governments have provided millions to ensure this happens. What we do object to strongly is the failure to assess this application on pure planning matters and current council policies.

For starters the actual permit conditions concentrate almost exclusively on what most residents would regard as ‘minor’ compared to size, bulk, and traffic management issues. We get pages and pages about preserving the Kuldig stained glass windows and the bass relief. Pages and pages about ‘updated’ traffic and acoustic reports – but only after development has already been done! Of course there is the usual Construction Management conditions but hardly a word about setbacks, heights, etc. All of the latter remain ‘acceptable’ in this report.

Much is made of the current interim structure plan and the Design and Development Overlay No.10. Yet in this report basic features are easily pushed aside. For example: on street wall height the DDO requires 13 metres and upper level setbacks of 5 metres. The application is for A four storey, 17.39m high street wall is proposed along the Selwyn Street frontage. In determining that this is okay, we get this gem:

Whilst this is higher than that envisaged by the DDO, it is consistent with the recently approved street wall height of the Holocaust Centre immediately to the north at number 13-15 Selwyn Street. 

In the first place council granted the 13-15 Selwyn Street permit in June 2018. Amendment C157 was gazetted in 16th August 2018. That is two months after council granted the permit. Hence there was no DDO at the time of this decision. Also worthy of noting is that council’s structure plan had already been accepted with a three storey street wall height in February of 2018. Council’s incompetence at that time in ignoring its own structure plan and Quality Design Guidelines therefore paves the way for this application to get the nod and the pathetic argument is that because one building has a four storey street front it is okay for the entire street to look like this – ie. the podium is acceptable and will provide a consistent street wall character. 

We next come to the issue of overall height and again the variance with the current DDO –

The roof height complies with the DDO, whilst the architectural feature that serves to screen and integrate the plant equipment extends more than 4m above that the preferred height. It is important to recognise that the architectural feature is curved, so its encroachment is softened. It is considered that the curved design of this feature is an important design element as it not only serves to screen the plant equipment, but also adds visual interest and a more sculpture look to the tower 

Does this mean that anything that is of ‘visual interest’ or ‘curved’ can attain any height the developer wants – in spite of what planning law states?

One of the most questionable ‘conditions’ comes with the issue of overlooking. Instead of requiring the developer to alter his plans, council comes up with the following ‘solution’ –

To limit overlooking impacts from these areas, expanded metal mesh cladding is proposed to cover the entire windows of these areas. The cladding will only be 23 per cent visually permeable. This affords a higher degree of protection than if the Clause 55 overlooking standard was applied. 

So we get to the ludicrous situation that where ‘convenient’ for the developer, Clause 55 does come into play and is ‘improved’ upon – even though it carried no real weight given the proposed height.

The best part is the finding that a car parking waiver of 231 spots is just fine! Why? –

The proposal generates a requirement for 231 car parking spaces and 17 bicycle parking spaces based on the Scheme requirements. No car parking is provided as this is not achievable on this land due to both the shape and size of the lot, however 40 bicycle parking spaces are provided.  

And

It is recognized that there are no options for providing any on-site parking and this must be balanced with the broader benefit of the building. 

Really? So local residents are nothing more than ‘collateral damage’????!!!!!!! And since when are there ‘no options’. There are no ‘options’ only when it doesn’t suit council and the developer and the objective is to have a 9 storey building! 

Apart from this nonsense we also have to take the word of transport assessments that state:

Car parking surveys of the area demonstrate that throughout the day there are at least 100 spaces available with typical occupancy rates of approximately 20% at the busiest times which increases to approximately 50% outside of peak times. 

Even if this were true, it does not include the resultant traffic and parking issues created by the Woolworths development and the potential supermarket traffic and that of 173 apartments in the complex. More importantly, since this application wants attendances until 10pm at night then the argument about other developments wanting ‘long term car parking’ spots goes out the window. How many visitors attending a function until 10pm that starts at say 7pm will want to travel home by public transport – especially the elderly?

Basic questions have simply not been addressed or brushed under the carpet. The so called developer’s answer to traffic and parking includes a majority of ‘promote’ options with no empirical evidence provided that these have a chance in hell to be successful.

All in all, this is a deplorable officer’s report and should be condemned for what it really is – an excuse to give the developer everything he wants. This council is simply going from bad to worse in order to facilitate its pro development agenda!

The following video comes from the August 5th Kingston Council Meeting. We suggest that this video be mandatory viewing for all residents and especially our Glen Eira councillors. Why? Because it reveals in full glorious technicolour a group of councillors who are prepared to support their community and not shake their heads and say it is the government’s fault.

The video features the debate on a vital planning document – Kingston’s Housing Strategy and how they want their city zoned. Time and again we hear the majority of councillors stating clearly that they have to listen to their community; that they want the time lines extended past the election period, and that they want 78% of their municipality zoned as neighbourhood residential (2 storeys).

You can view the entire council meeting VIA THIS LINK: http://stream.kingston.vic.gov.au/archive/video20-0805.php

In case residents do not have the time, here are some quotes from what each councillor did state:

WEST: ‘no one who is currently in a 2 storey area would find themselves pushed into a 3 storey area’…..99.6% (of submissions) opposed the council strategy….if we want to preserve the neighbourhood character of those areas (ie 2 storeys and gardens)….

GLEDHILL: I have had problems for some time where we are going with this…..this comes down to what do the people that I represent , what do they want…..overwhelmingly they have told me …that there are aspects of this plan that they do not want…..

HUA: No three storeys in our suburban streets…..

STAIKOS: We are saying tonight that Kingston council is going to put forward a plan that is in line with community expectations…..

BROWNLEES: community expectations and the view of the department…..I know we would always like to agree with what residents want….we have virtually ignored what experts have said…..we will get advice back that it’s unreasonable, unworkable, unpractical…..

OXLEY: we all know this may be a bit of a gamble and we may not get approval from the department, but we’ve got to try…..we’ve got to listen to our residents….

WEST: this is clearly what our people want…..we have the opportunity to put out something wonderful, something that our community actually wants….what we have seen tonight is people power at its best in action….and that the government will respect us with speaking in this strong voice.

VOTE: 8 IN FAVOUR; ONE AGAINST AND ONE ABSTAINED

Contrast this with what Glen Eira residents repeatedly hear – “it is the government’s fault’.

Amendment C184 is an abomination because:

  • It totally ignores community views
  • It provides no justification for the changes
  • Council is already exceeding its projected housing needs
  • And something as important as this should not be rammed through by this council

Until our 9 councillors understand that their job is to represent the community first and foremost, then Glen Eira will continue to have poor governance, poor accountability, and lousy planning decisions.

The agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting contains the draft Urban Forest Strategy. Whilst it does have an abundance of useful information, such as the economic, social, and environmental impacts of doing nothing, and the subsequent further loss of our tree canopy, the same cannot be said for its ‘Action Plan’.

Here are the most important points to consider:

TARGETS

These targets are well below what is required. A comparison with some other councils illustrates once again how late and token this council’s proposed actions really are:

These recommendations raise numerous issues that residents should consider –

  • If the stated objective is to increase the municipality’s overall tree canopy and to mitigate as much as possible against urban island heat effect, climate change, etc., then why has council REMOVED THE MANDATORY GARDEN REQUIREMENTS from those areas proposed to be zoned GRZ5 in Amendment C184 for Bentleigh & Carnegie?
  • Why is council even contemplating a zone that allows 90% site coverage and 5% permeability?
  • Why has council allowed the NRZ2 zoning in this amendment to revert back to a site coverage of 60% (from 50%)and a reduction in permeability requirements from 25% to 20%?
  • Why are we still waiting for a Water Sensitive Urban Design policy to make it into the planning scheme when this was announced 4 years ago?
  • Why do we only have a proposed Significant Tree Register that will in all likelihood only include about 150 trees (maximum) instead of far more stringent and powerful controls incorporated into the Planning Scheme as other councils have done?
  • Why, when council has declared a climate emergency do we have a budget that only provides an additional $150,000 to an already paltry sum.
  • Why does a strategy such as this nominate ‘low’ priority for monitoring and evaluation? Surely council should keep and publish all data such as tree removals as a result of development on a regular bases?

CONCLUSION

Several conclusions are possible given this draft strategy. Most importantly until we have a planning department that is in sync with other departments then no environmental strategy will come within cooee of achieving its targets. It is quite ludicrous that a strategy ostensibly devoted to increasing our tree canopy, is faced with a planning department that consistently fails to introduce controls that would facilitate this endeavour. What is happening is the reverse.

Then again, we have to wonder whether this strategy is nothing more than another public relations exercise, a ‘feel good’ document that whilst very belated, council can point to as ‘look we’re up to date’ and ‘concerned’. If council was really ‘concerned’ then perhaps we would have proper budgetary funding, and a planning scheme that contributes rather than hinders to mitigating all the environmental issues we currently face.

 

Our apologies for this long post. It is however a very important one. Our objective is to inform the community why Amendment C184 represents another cave in by our councillors and why residents should object strongly to the continued erosion of their amenity.

The image presented below represents the zoning changes that Amendment C184 is seeking to introduce. In summary:

  • Areas marked as red are supposed to represent a REDUCTION in height of 2 storeys
  • Areas marked as yellow/orange are supposed to represent a REDUCTION in height of 1 storey
  • Areas marked as green are supposed to represent an INCREASE in height of 1 storey, and
  • Areas marked as blue are supposed to represent an INCREASE in height of 2 storeys.

The most important aspect of the above image is the number of INCREASED property zonings. If one were to calculate how many untouched properties had their heights reduced and how many of the green and blue labelled properties had their heights INCREASED, then the increase far outweighs the effective reductions. Even more important is the fact that what will now be zoned as GRZ5 has had the ‘mandatory’ garden requirements removed and that those properties zoned NRZ2 will have an increase in site coverage permitted and a decrease in the permeability requirements currently tagged as belonging to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone.

Whilst it sounds wonderful that Heritage is now reduced from 4 to 2 storeys, and that previously zoned 3 and 4 storeys will also be reduced, we maintain that the horse has well and truly bolted given council’s abject failure to introduce sensible and judicious zoning in 2013. Mavho and Loranne in particular are now gone and no amount of rezoning can remove the 3 and 4 storeys already in existence. The following image reveals exactly what has happened in these two streets whilst council sat on its backside and welcomed such development. Mitchell street, with its Heritage Overlay is also another victim of four storey developments.

Finally, we wish to illustrate our previous allegation that the zoning which was introduced secretly and by stealth in 2013 has been an absolute disaster and is now explicitly acknowledged as a failure. The architects of this zoning are still there – namely, Hyams, Magee, Delahunty and Esakoff. They are part of the problem – not its solution!

The following screen dump taken from one of Council’s exhibited documents makes it absolutely clear how illogical the 2013 zoning was/is. Heritage areas were zoned RGZ (4 storeys) and some were even under a Special Building Overlay. This was done in spite of the fact that the Planning Practice Notes stated clearly that Heritage Areas were to be excluded from Activity Centre borders. Yet the Libs and Guy rubber stamped the ineptitude of Akehurst and his complicit councillors. Residents have been paying the price ever since. And remember, Wynne had to order this council to undertake structure planning. It was not something that our woeful council wanted to do!

CLICK TO ENLARGE

So 5 years down the track we have another abomination to contend with. Gone are mandatory height limits for all areas as was the case in 2018. Not once, in any document produced by this council has there been clear and unassailable evidence that the municipality needs more and more growth to meet its projected housing ‘quota’. What we have been presented with is more scapegoating onto State Government. Opposition, public commentary and fight to oppose more and more development has been deafening by its absence. Conclusion? This council has always been and remains a pro development rather than a residents first council. It is definitely time for a change in October!

Next Page »