GE Council Meeting(s)


The minutes from last Tuesday night’s council meeting on the sale of the aged care facilities make for very interesting reading. Please note the following:

  • The emphases throughout is on the ‘commercial’ aspect. Not a word ensures that the sale will be allowed only to another aged care provider.
  • Council is giving itself plenty of leeway it seems with the repetition of ‘all or some’ of the designated land. Given that Weeroona is a massive site of approximately 1.6 hectares, developers would perhaps be eyeing off such a sized property – and not necessarily for aged care but for residential development. How many apartments could be fitted onto 1.6 hectares we wonder?
  • Finally please note the outcome of this vote. Clearly, not every councillor was ‘happy’ with the motion. Whether this ‘unhappiness’ related to the publishing of the resolution, or against the proposed sale itself is anyone’s guess.
  • How many councilors voted ‘nay’ so that the motion was only ‘carried’ and not endorsed unanimously. On such an important decision surely one councillor at least had the guts to call for a division so that residents would know which councilors favoured sale and those opposed! No such luck in this happy group of campers.

Council has resolved to sell off its 3 aged care facilities. Whether or not this is the appropriate decision is not the point. What concerns us is the manner and process by which this decision was made. There has been:

  • No community consultation whatsoever
  • No warning to staff, residents of these homes, or volunteers
  • No public documentation indicating the reasons why such a decision was made
  • The decision was made behind closed doors
  • No financial report tabled in council on the parlous state of aged care
  • No upfront admission by council that for the past 4 years at least council has been in the red for between $1m and $2m per annum in this area.

We certainly acknowledge that recent federal legislation has impacted severely on councils’ ability to provide such services. This however does not obviate the need for full transparency and communication with ratepayers and those directly impacted by such a decision. Our view is that it should be up to residents to determine how their money is being spent. Are residents willing to have their rates subsidise aged care in the community? Or, do they believe that private companies are the best option? Such decisions can only be based on council providing the community with the full facts. That has never happened in this council. No document has ever been tabled to explain why aged care has been running at such a loss for year upon year. Nor has any document been tabled which outlines a business case for the sale. Residents have been kept in the dark. That is tragically the modus operandi of this council on so many issues!

The very fact that such a momentous decision can be made in secret and that 9 individuals are totally complicit in endorsing this veil of secrecy is frankly unconscionable.

Many more questions need answering. For instance:

  • Will council also be ‘outsourcing’ its home care assistance functions – ie cleaning, carers, etc?
  • What guarantee do employees have of future work?

What irks us even more is the tone of the public statements issued by Hyams and the CEO. As shown below the Hyams document is nothing more than spin taken to the nth degree. The fact that employees can ‘transfer’ if they wish to the new employer ignores completely the fact that this only applies to permanent staff and not long term casuals and is at the mercy of the new owners as the McKenzie document (uploaded here) makes clear.

To see the impact that such a decision has had we publish one of several emails we have received. This is the human cost – something that our 9 councillors have obviously ignored and refused to put out for public debate!

This is my first time to get in touch with you, although I read your work with great interest. 

I do need to stay anonymous, as I am an employee …. of one of the aged care residents. Do with this information what you will but please let me stay anonymous.  

….. the very first I heard of this was this morning, February 6, 8.38 am in an email from mayor Jamie Hymes. Next communication came from the union, at 1.38 pm as I am an in-home-support staff as well. At 2.08 pm another email arrived from CEO Rebecca McKenzie, addressed to all employees of council. 

All this without any inkling or whisper and with not much notice either.  

As a permanent part-time staff of xxx years , working as an in-home-support worker, I can’t help but feel this is our fate for next year and this is exactly how it is going to be handled as well.  

….. as an employee, what I find most offensive is 1. this was all done in secrecy, 2. no ifs and buts 3. Council is offering for residents and staff free “shrink” sessions.  

Regards, 

And finally, the Union reaction –

 

In a packed gallery last night, overflowing into the passageways, councillors voted unanimously to refuse the Selwyn Street application for the 10 and 14 storey towers. Hardly a surprise given the failings of the application itself and the strong opposition mounted by residents.

Objectors asked several questions in the ‘community participation’ section of the meeting. One wanted a commitment that when the developer headed off to VCAT, that council would employ a top quality ‘silk’ to defend the refusal. The response was that council had already held discussions with lawyers and would provide a good ‘legal team’.  Hence, the question whether more than a (lowly) solicitor would be employed was never really answered. Readers will of course remember the Calvary/Bethlehem Hospital case in Kooyong Road where council’s ‘legal team’ consisted of one hired ‘solicitor’ (Mr Vorchheimer) and 2 expert witnesses – a traffic engineer and an urban designer. It was up to the residents themselves to hire a barrister and town planner.

As for the comments of councilors themselves, there was the usual grandstanding and claims of caring about community and what a wonderful job council has been doing with its structure planning and how it has been listening to resident aspirations.

Interspersed throughout the various comments there were blatant untruths and distortions of historical fact that are mind boggling. We highlight these below.

SILVER: Admitted that the structure plan is not as yet an accepted document in the planning scheme and that it would anyway be of the ‘lowest order’ – ie merely a ‘reference document’. He then goes on to state that the Urban Villages policy provides greater guidance and that …’we are in the unfortunate situation this site is about to accommodate, based on the planning scheme, more than many people would be comfortable with’. Thus council’s planning becomes dependent on a document that began its life in 1999 and was finally gazetted in the early 2000’s. If Silver and the other councillors therefore rely on the planning scheme it should be asked:

  • how can they suggest in their draft structure planning a height of 8 storeys for this site when residents’ throughout the ‘community consultation’ phase were vehemently opposed to such heights.
  • And if the planning scheme’s Uban Villages policy is the be all and end all as claimed by Silver, then how can they now support an 8 storey height that differs from what the planning scheme states – Development in Selwyn Street be of scale similar to surrounding buildings with buildings greater than two storey being located towards Glen Huntly Road, and buildings to the northern end of the street being sympathetic to the character of the surrounding streets due to its visibility.
  • There is also this gem – No retail activities occur along Selwyn Street.

DELAHUNTY: “that design and development overlay has been in place for some time’…’it was certainly no surprise to the applicant’ and we ‘rested upon it quite successfully for a number of years here in council’.

Absolute hogwash. The DDO10 was only gazetted by the Minister on 16th August 2018 – hardly a period of years as Delahunty goes on to claim. The first developer application made it into the public arena in February 2018. Discussions with council had clearly been on the cards well and truly before this time. The overall draft structure plan only made it onto the council agenda on 27th February 2018 when it was resolved to seek the Mnister’s intervention without further community consultation. And please remember that the first inkling that residents had that council was contemplating 12 storeys anywhere in Elsternwick or Carnegie came in July 2018.

SZTRAJT: claimed that council’s structure planning was to give the community ‘reassurance’ as to ‘where development should go and where it shouldn’t go’. Said he didn’t believe that the application ‘matches the community expectations’ that council ‘went out and sought’ when they developed the structure plans’.

The one consistent element of all council’s shoddy community consultation was that the overwhelming majority of responses did NOT WANT the ‘urban renewal’ heights that Council determined. None of the structure plans are in accordance with community expectations as to allowable maximum heights. Sztrajt concludes that the application ‘just doesn’t fit’. Perhaps residents should start asking whether council’s proposed 8 storey height limit would also ‘fit’ this site given its location abutting heritage areas, schools, etc. It would also be wonderful to see some real justification for even 8 storeys given these constraints!

ESAKOFF: was the only councillor that at least sounded some disquiet with council’s planning – ie ‘the whole aspect of community benefit itself troubles me’ and ‘allowing’ extra height for community benefit is ‘fraught with problems’. Another problem lies with ‘architectural excellence’ and how this will be adjudicated. Went onto dissect the compliance ratio of Clause 58 where she stated that 11 comply and 10 don’t comply and another 6 could comply with conditions.

ATHANASOPOLOUS: claimed that the application doesn’t ‘address’ how the ‘interface’ doesn’t address what is in the planning scheme. Said he also heard comments that council is destroying Glen Eira but that council was working very hard to ‘achieve some very important zoning changes’ which the site had before. Wanted residents to think about the ‘work’ that council is doing to ‘achieve the best possible outcomes that we can’.

So introducing a structure plan that has zoning changes of 8 storeys (or 10 storeys) abutting heritage is council’s idea of the ‘best possible outcome’!!!!!!!!

MAGEE: claimed he always looked at ‘transition’ and how a development ‘transitions’ from the ‘activity centre’ to the residential areas and that has to be ‘from highest to lowest’. Said that the application ‘goes the opposite’ – from lower to higher.

Of course this flies directly in the face of council’s structure plan and DDO – where they decided that up to 8 storeys would sit quite comfortably alongside one and 2 storeys!!!!! and in other areas of Elsternwick, that 12 storeys is a good fit against 4 storeys!!!!!

The most astounding thing to issue from Magee’s mouth was the plea to objectors to go to VCAT and fight the application on ’emotional grounds’ – how it affects them. After 11 years on council this is the most ridiculous statement and displays either one of two things – that Magee knows nothing about the workings of VCAT or that he simply enjoys more grandiose grandstanding. Even with the 2015 Objector’s Bill passed by Labor, the onus still remains on planning law and what is in the planning scheme. Magee should know this very well given his appearance at VCAT when the Claire Street debacle occurred and the member stated in this decision – The Tribunal’s role is to interpret and implement the Glen Eira Planning Scheme, in a manner that is separated from the emotional or political positions brought by all parties. A fundamental component of any assessment against the Glen Eira Planning Scheme is consideration of the policy intent, particularly the local policies drafted by the Glen Eira City Council.

HYAMS: stated that council had asked for 8 storeys mandatory but Wynne made it 10 storeys discretionary. However, ‘perhaps’ when the amendment for the structure plans comes in then the ‘protections’ might ‘vary one way or the other’. The government he said did provide interim protection once VCAT showed ‘it was no longer listening to our policies and you got 12 storeys going in other places’.

Hyams statements are lamentable. VCAT has NOT changed its position on council policies. Council simply had NO POLICY on height control in Mixed Use and Commercial and only in 2013 were height limits made mandatory for large swathes of residential land in Glen Eira – again without any community consultation. So concerned were council about ‘heritage’ in Elsternwick that they zoned huge areas as suitable for 4 storeys (RGZ). The sheer hypocrisy is unbelievable. Even when draft structure plans were produced for Bentleigh and Carnegie, Elsternwick was left out completely – giving free rein for more and more inappropriate development. As a designated Major Activity Centre why wasn’t Elsternwick included in the first set of drafts? As for the potential for council to now backtrack and reduce the height limits contained in the interim controls is a joke – even if council were willing which we doubt. No Minister will approve going backwards from 12 storeys to 6 or even 8 storeys.

CONCLUSION

We concur that this application is totally inappropriate and there are very many planning reasons for why it should be rejected. This however does not excuse councilors getting up on their hind legs and making statement after statement that lacks veracity, is misleading, or displays their total ignorance. We are left to wonder whether another decision might have been arrived at if there were not 187 formal objections, a petition of over 1700 and a packed gallery of angry and upset residents.

The bottom line is that council

  • HAS NOT LISTENED TO residents in its strategic planning
  • No justification has ever been provided as to why Glen Eira needs 12 storey buildings and thousands upon thousands more dwellings when the municipality is well and truly meeting its population growth demands

What residents want is a set of councillors who have the gumption to stand up and speak honestly instead of continually attempting to cover up this council’s woeful and continued shocking record in planning. Instead of congratulating themselves as to how well they get on with State Government (an item in last night’s agenda) residents would like council to stop being so compliant and to do their jobs – ie representing the wishes of residents above the wishes of developers!

 

The officer’s recommendation for the Woolies site in Elsternwick is available in the current agenda. The recommendation is for a refusal. The application is for:

  • Two towers – one of 10 storeys and one of 14 storeys
  • 181 apartments
  • Large supermarket and 3 ‘kiosks’

There were 187 objections and an opposing petition with 1787 signatures. One letter was in favour!

The recommendation for refusal is not a surprise given the vast community opposition. What is a surprise is some of the nonsense and misleading statements contained in the officer’s report.

Mention is made several times of council’s ‘preferred character’ for this activity centre, and especially this site – for example:

The height, form, scale and design detail of the building is not sufficiently resolved and therefore the proposal does not appropriately respond to the existing low rise heritage character of the area or the preferred character envisaged as part of Schedule 10 of the Design and Development Overlay.

Readers should note that THERE IS NO SPECIFIC PREFERRED CHARACTER STATEMENT in DDO10. Instead, we get vague generalities and motherhood statements that make up the ‘decision guidelines’ for increased height  –

Whether any building in Precinct 5 or 6 that exceeds the maximum preferred building height

Demonstrates that the development includes the provision of significant community benefit; and

Does not create unreasonable impacts on the amenity of sensitive interfaces as a result of additional height; and

Demonstrates architectural design excellence.

The officer’s report also cites just one VCAT decision to reject a Monash application for a 7 storey building in a 4 storey preferred height limit. Hardly the same as a 14 storey building in a 10 storey limit! The argument presented in the officer’s report is that

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has also issued decisions, stating that departures from the preferred height limit should not be treated as expected, but rather only in exceptional circumstances such as those outlined above (Boneng (Portman) Pty Ltd v Monash CC [2017] VCAT 797).

Furthermore, the Monash DDO contains far more ‘guidance’ than anything in the Glen Eira DDO10. In place of the above ‘permission’ for applications to exceed the preferred height limit, Monash includes this paragraph –

A building should not exceed the Preferred Building Height (in metres and storeys) specified in the built form precinct provisions of this Schedule unless particular site conditions warrant an alternative design response and that design response demonstrates a respect for, and significantly contributes to, the preferred character of the Oakleigh Major Activity Centre. (refer Figure 2 in this schedule

AND the ‘objectives’ for this precinct state:

To retain and enhance the pattern of urban development in the core centre that is characterised by small lot frontages, two storey federation and inter-war buildings, steeply pitched roofs and architecturally detailed upper storeys

Glen Eira’s ‘objectives’ for this precinct is simply – To encourage developments in urban renewal areas and on strategic sites that provide a significant benefit for the Elsternwick community.

There are also countless VCAT decisions that would fly in the face of this ‘exceptional circumanstances’ view including a centre road Bentleigh application – http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCAT//2017/1656.html

As well as these –

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2016/2104.html

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2016/1833.html

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2016/1477.html

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2016/1088.html

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2016/254.html

More worrying is the implicit acceptance in the officer’s report that a 12 storey building would be okay! –

The applicant’s own Urban Design Strategy prepared by MGS Architects does not support a building height of 14 storeys. Rather, it identifies that a 12 storey height limit should be adopted. This is more towards what is suggested as being the appropriate height for this strategic site and recognises the community benefit contribution included as part of the proposal.

What is not acknowledged here is that council’s resolution of February 2018 designated this area as suitable for a 6-8 storey building. Wynne gazetted 10 storeys. There is no excuse therefore for the comment that at even 12 storeys this is ‘more towards what is suggested as appropriate’.

When this goes to VCAT will council cave in on 12 storeys or will they fight this tooth and nail?

There are plenty of other issues such as traffic, heritage, overshadowing, setbacks that we will refrain from commenting upon. All in all this application was doomed to failure and will certainly test council’s commitment to the community once this ends up at VCAT.

The rise of resident action groups across Melbourne

Allison Worrall Jan 21, 2019

 

The genteel streets of Elsternwick are not usually the scenes of a protest but on Saturday, more than 150 disgruntled residents, many with children in tow, marched with placards.

The rally was to highlight the community’s opposition to two apartment towers of 10 and 14 storeys proposed after supermarket giant Woolworths bought the site of the former ABC studios.

The resident action group behind the march is in its infancy; members banded together just weeks ago. “I’m a complete novice,” said organiser and veterinarian Karen Boyd-Jones. “I didn’t realise it was going to be all day, every day – lucky I’ve just retired.”

While resident action groups are not new, their prevalence, profile and role in Melbourne has grown as the city’s population has boomed. Social media has been harnessed to raise awareness, attract new members, co-ordinate campaigns and share information.

In Brunswick in the inner north, an established and well-organised action group with more than 1000 members is gearing up for the eighth day of hearings at the state’s planning tribunal.

Protect Park Street Precinct formed two years ago in response to the proposed 13-storey development of 333 apartments overlooking Princes Park. The application has since been revised to 14 storeys, 255 apartments and 12 townhouses.

To date, the group has raised more than $100,000 to mount a comprehensive legal case against the large legal team hired by developer JW Land Group, which paid $32 million for the site.

Members include former La Trobe University chancellor Professor Adrienne E Clarke, who said the group wanted to see “an appropriate building, respectful of heritage values” on the site.

The rise of resident groups has seen thousands of Melburnians, many with little or no experience in politics or lobbying, become resolute activists in recent years.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that the way the planning scheme operates at the moment tends to be quite pro-development and favours the big end of town,” says Glen McCallum, the president of Protect Fitzroy North, a powerful group that campaigned against a sprawling 16-storey apartment complex on Queens Parade proposed by developer Tim Gurner.

In that case, planning minister Richard Wynne controversially intervened to place a 10-storey limit on the site, which ultimately led to the project being greatly scaled back. Mr Gurner defended the project at the state’s planning tribunal and welcomed the approval when it was granted.

Since then, Mr McCallum’s organisation has offered assistance and fielded enquiries from resident groups in Collingwood, Alphington, Ivanhoe, Heidelberg and Brunswick.

“The pace of development has stepped up,” Mr McCallum says, “and the regime the councils operate under hasn’t changed since way back in the ’90s.”

With or without the support of councils – many of which have been inundated with development applications and are simultaneously juggling dozens of proposals and appeals – resident action groups are regularly taking on multi-millionaire developers in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

When a case reaches the tribunal, developers will often hire high-flying legal teams consisting of a QC, a junior barrister, several solicitors and a stream of other consultants and experts.

Meanwhile, residents may not have any legal representation or, if they have successfully fundraised, may hire a planning barrister like Daniel Epstein, who charges community groups a reduced fee.

“It’s absolutely a David and Goliath battle,” Mr Epstein admitted but added that resident groups had repeatedly proven effective. “It might be that the development goes through but is much more considered and restricted because of what the community did.”

Most resident groups vehemently reject the NIMBY label, and Mr Epstein agreed it was not the right description. He stressed that the dozen groups he had worked with were not anti-development, but against developments that were ill-considered or too large.

Those involved in planning disputes say it is arduous work entailing countless hours of research.  “Our little structure plan for Elsternwick had approximately 19 documents, over 1000 pages,” said research scientist Jacinta Smith, who attended Saturday’s march.

“How do people cope with that? Only ridiculous people like me think ‘I’m going to read this with my highlighter’.”

Ms Smith said she had never stepped foot inside a council meeting until 18 months ago when her land was rezoned. “I, like many people, was ignorant and apathetic on local council issues,” she said. “We assume the professionals and experts will handle this for us.”

Glen Eira council will hand down its decision regarding the Woolworths development next month.

Source: https://www.domain.com.au/news/the-rise-of-resident-action-groups-across-melbourne/?utm_campaign=strap-masthead&utm_source=the-age&utm_medium=link&utm_content=pos2&ref=pos1

PS – From today’s Caulfield Leader

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To begin with, wishing all our readers a safe and healthy festive season, with thanks for your input throughout the year.

2018 has in many ways been pretty momentous. There have been some governance advances but overall majority resident views continue to be ignored. Here is a summary:

THE POSITIVES

  • Telecasting of council meetings and ‘public participation’ section a continued winner
  • Heritage action(s), whilst far from complete, has at least got off the ground
  • Reform of permit time extension applications and council’s admission that it stuffed up badly on one application

THE NEGATIVES

  • Structure planning ‘consultations’ that are ‘tokenistic’ given the continued changes that have not gone out for proper consultation and when no justification is provided for the changes – ie setbacks, heights.
  • Continued delays on the introduction of parking plans, heritage overlays, open space levies
  • Local Law review still well over a year away – ie removing the ridiculous clause that those asking public questions have to sit through up to 3 hours of items before their questions can be addressed. If not present then no record of the question or response exists in the minutes.
  • Tree register still belonging in some unspecified never-never land.
  • When the city is well and truly meeting its housing needs for population growth, no justification has been provided for why so much more development is required.
  • No firm commitment to introduce structure plans for neighbourhood centres – merely ‘urban design guidelines’ that are non-mandatory. Timelines also a mystery. Yet we have seen up to 8 storeys in these centres.
  • Officers granted more power via the recent delegation resolution – ie need now for over 15 objections to a planning permit in order for it to be considered as ‘suitable’ for a full council decision – otherwise decided by the Delegated Planning Committee which consists entirely of officers. One concession – councilors now have ‘call in’ rights. How often will this be used we wonder and no guidelines/policies have been published to inform residents as to how this will work.

There are plenty of other issues we might highlight. The take home message is that planning and traffic remain residents’ major concern and this council has done very little to ameliorate the continuing damage. When the vast majority of residents are opposed to 12 storeys in Carnegie & Elsternwick, and the majority were also in favour of only 4 storeys for Bentleigh, council has shown time and time again that it is intent on ramming its agenda through despite community opposition. Until we have a group of councilors determined to listen to its residents then nothing will change.

 

UPDATE ON DECISIONS: Councillors voted unanimously to reject the Egan Street application last night. (Davey was absent and Taylor has resigned). The Snowden Avenue application was another rejection! Both will undoubtedly end up at VCAT and we envisage permits for both.

Once again we have two applications up for decision where the officer recommendations appear to have no correlation with the current planning scheme. The applications are:

  • 8 Egan Street, Carnegie for an 8 storey mixed use development containing 84 apartments of 40 one bedroom. 38 two bedroom and 6 one bedroom plus study. Parking shortfall is 8 spaces. A permit is recommended.
  • 57 Snowden Avenue, Caulfield for a two storey building containing 4 dwellings of three bedrooms each in a Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ). The site is 857 square metres. Officer recommendation is a refusal of permit.

The first application received one objection whilst the Snowden Avenue one had 12 objections.

What is staggering about the officer recommendations plus the overall assessment of these two applications is the inconsistency, plus the complete disavowal of council’s planning scheme.

EGAN STREET APPLICATION

The site has a long history of applications. Initially there was a 16 storey attempt which both council and VCAT refused. This current application is an amendment to what was originally a 12 storey plan and as a result of the interim height amendment of August 2018, the developer has opted for an 8 storey version. In this instance the introduction of the DDO has resulted in a reduction of height. That’s a positive outcome. What is not so ‘positive’ is the evaluation by the planning department of this current attempt and the explicit acknowledgement how council has stuffed up in the past.

An important element in the decision is the interpretation of ‘community benefit’. Council admits that currently there is no clear definition or criteria to adjudicate on what ‘community benefit’ means. This does not stop the report however from claiming that pedestrian access from Egan Street to the rear of 1062-1064 Dandenong Road  equates to ‘community benefit’!!!!!! This is further endorsed with the following  –

The proposal also contains a diverse mix of housing, as one (some with study’s) and two bedroom dwellings with various layouts and sizes are proposed. While this, in the context of community benefit is low, it does add to the broader community benefit that is achieved through the securing of a publicly accessible laneway 

Thus, housing diversity is satisfied by a 8 storey building containing primarily single and two bedroom apartments! That is seen as a ‘community benefit’!

We then have the biggest backflip of all time when it comes to overshadowing of public open space. Council admits that the degree of overshadowing is excessive and inappropriate’, but this is okay since the language of the amendment is so poorly constructed  –

When considering the wording of the DDO control being to minimise overshadowing impacts on existing and future open spaces … , it is considered that the Urban Design advice in this instance goes beyond what the control seeks to achieve. In this respect, Council must be satisfied that the proposal has minimised overshadowing impacts. It is considered that the extent of shadow is limited to the northern section of the park directly opposite the site. The shadow largely avoids the walking and cycling path and the building’s side setback will also provide filtered light through to the open space when shadow is cast by the building. Overall, the proposal is considered to have minimised the impact of overshadowing onto this new park. 

There are plenty of other issues with this application that have basically been ignored in the report, or failed to be addressed with clear and irrefutable ‘evidence’. In the end, a narrow laneway becomes a ‘community benefit’ and dubious employment potential another benefit. Overshadowing is okay because the authors of the amendment got it so wrong!

SNOWDEN AVENUE APPLICATION 

This application well and truly meets all requirements of the planning scheme in terms of height, site coverage, permeability, garden area, setbacks etc. Yet it is refused on the most tenuous and ‘subjective’ reasons. The major reason for the refusal is that the application is for an ‘apartment’ style building in the NRZ, rather than detached housing/townhouses. The hypocrisy of such a stance is unbelievable given that:

  • Council is now proposing to allow 3 storey townhouses/apartments in NRZ areas as per its latest structure planning proposals
  • Council has already granted permits for apartment style buildings in its NRZ – ie Hudson Street (below)

The planning scheme verbage has not changed in the intervening period. Why this current application which meets all criteria is refused when council previously issued a permit for exactly the same kind of structure is bewildering to say the least. Does the answer lie in the number of objections perhaps?

The greatest blooper in this officer’s report however is the questioning of why the applicant chose to provide on site car parking that goes beyond what is required!

It is unclear as to why a total of 10 resident spaces are proposed along with an additional visitor space (total – 11 spaces) have been proposed for a 4-dwelling development which would generate a requirement of 8 spaces.

We are not endorsing the granting of a permit. What we are questioning is the consistency and validity of council’s decision making and the ‘influences’ that might be at work. When the planning scheme is ignored then planning is indeed in an almighty mess. That is Glen Eira!

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