GE Governance


It hasn’t taken long for the purchaser of the Godfrey’s site in Hawthorn Road to get his application in. Another high rise proposal whilst Council sits on its backside and does nothing about its neighbourhood centres. Residents are already fighting a 9 storey proposal. Now they will have to address this new battle and fork out thousands upon thousands of dollars in fighting the proposal. We place the blame squarely on this council. It is unconscionable that residents must pay the financial price to safeguard their residential amenity all because of council’s incompetence and unwillingness to undertake work that other councils have been doing for well over a decade.

Remembering the past is always difficult when it comes to planning. That’s why it is important that residents understand why Glen Eira is in the state it currently is in now. The present has been shaped by the past and, most importantly in Glen Eira’s case, by council’s unwillingness to undertake work that has been second nature to every other council (namely, overlays, structure plans, parking precinct plans, developer levies, etc). We should also add that council’s current work on structure planning is only due to the fact that they were ordered to do it by Richard Wynne in December 2015.

The newly formed resident group, SAVE GLEN EIRA, has published a short history of what’s been happening in this municipality. It makes for very interesting reading. The standout features are without doubt:

  • continued inaction on the most important planning issues for nearly 18 years
  • resident views have never mattered, and
  • we are still a long, long way off before controls are introduced which will safeguard our neighbourhoods.

Please read this article carefully. It can be accessed via https://savegleneira.com.au/a-recent-history-of-planning-in-glen-eira-2001-2015/

 

Another mammoth agenda of 721 pages. We comment on some of the major items in this post.

LOCAL LAW SUBMISSIONS

Council’s agenda for Tuesday night features the submissions forwarded in response to council’s proposed Local Laws. We are mightily impressed with the effort that has gone into these 28 submissions (a record for Glen Eira we believe). Most submissions are far from complimentary to what council proposes. Submitters have provided lengthy and often extremely well researched and documented examples of how much Glen Eira is out of kilter with other councils.  What is stated time and time again is:

  • Poorly worded clauses
  • An overreaching of intended laws that either cannot be enforced or are covered by existing laws and organisations
  • Laws which potentially endanger human health (ie permitting of burning on private property).

What irks us more is the way in which these submissions have been summarised in the officer’s report. We quote:

The highest number of submissions received by Council, in relation to the proposed Community Local Law, concerned clauses 38 (Lighting Fires) and 23 (Model Aeroplanes in Public Reserves). Other issues raised include the keeping and feeding of pigeons, animal litter, derelict vehicle on a trailer, organised social and sporting activities and parking. There were also submissions concerning the proposed Council Meeting Procedure Local Law.

Either council officers are unable to count accurately, or their reporting is deliberately screwed! The above paragraph makes it sound as if council’s Meeting Procedures were in a minority. In fact, they weren’t. Of the 28 published submissions, eight made direct reference to either publishing of the agenda earlier; all public questions requiring entry into the minutes and the lack of a notice of motion. Meeting procedures were the most commented upon and not as implied above. 

We urge all residents to carefully read these submissions. To facilitate this, we’ve uploaded them HERE

WASTE 

Another agenda item features the proposal to implement a rubbish collection trial in the McKinnon Ormond area. This would involve changing current collection rates to the following: (1) weekly collection of green bins and (2) fortnightly collection of red bins.

We certainly support the reduction of refuse going to land fill. Our queries relate to some of the assertions and assumptions made in the officer’s report. For example:

  • We are told that the McKinnon Ormond area is the most ‘supportive’ of the change. Yet, when one considers the number of actual responses claimed for this area, then the percentages are far from conclusive. The graph reveals less than 50 residents supporting the trial in Ormond and even fewer in McKinnon. If we are working on support for the proposal then areas such as Carnegie would be streaks ahead. We’ve provided a screen dump of the responses below.

  • Councils ‘solutions’ to the various problems identified by residents also boggles the mind. For those households which use nappies, council suggests The option of discounted 240 litre bins will be extended to households with children/babies in nappies. Council is also prepared to trial this: Discount on a weekly washing service for cloth nappies. A preferred supplier will be selected following a competitive selection process. Does this mean that residents will subsidise the selected service and at what cost? Further, has council done any research to discover how many households actually still use cloth nappies or how many would be willing to change as a result of this discount offer? Or is it all pie in the sky stuff?
  • More importantly, council’s solution to the multitude of apartments that have private collection services is literally laughable , ie. Provide discount on worm farms for apartments that do not use green bins. A preferred supplier will be selected following a competitive selection process. Yes, we can really see this as a ‘goer’ for apartment blocks that have no open space, or garden and consist of BnB apartment dwellers, renters, etc. Worm farms will work a treat no doubt!

For whatever reason, council is determined to trial this option in McKinnon Ormond. We are not against a trial but simply wish that for once council provided the evidence that would support their recommendations!

HERITAGE

Council has clearly been rocked by both the media and residents’ reactions to the demolition of 2 dwellings in Seymour Road that arguably deserved heritage protection but didn’t have any! Thus we find in the current agenda masses upon masses of information relating to Heritage Reviews and their proposed timelines. Thus far we have draft amendments for Bentleigh and Carnegie only. Other areas are still to be completed.

A few things to note:

In an admission of past folly, we now find this incredible paragraph regarding 80 Mitchell Street, Bentleigh. In response to submissions received following the pre-amendment consultation, it is  recommended that 80 Mitchell Street, Bentleigh not be included as part of the expanded HO69. The reason for this is that this property sits of the very edge of this large heritage precinct and it is the only new property within this expanded precinct that is located in the General Residential Zone which allows medium density development. Given the extent of redevelopment that has occurred around this site and trying to resolve the issue of having a property located with a zone that allows development and an overlay that restricts development, it is considered appropriate in this instance to not include this site in the proposed revised HO69. Logic in reverse here we suggest! If a property is worth protecting then removing it just compounds the incredible errors made in 2013 when the GRZ zoning was introduced. And god forbid that council should put any impediment in the way of a potential developer!

Another item on the agenda seeks to remedy council’s inaction by granting power to officers to seek interim heritage protection on sites that may be potentially demolished and would be worthy of protection. Whilst acting when the horse has bolted, residents need to be aware that granting this power means that there will be no consultation, no third party objection rights, and probably no notification that this is happening. In short, more power to our unelected officials. We would argue that the more appropriate methodology would be to accelerate immediately all necessary heritage work!

Given what has been happening in Seymour Road, Elsternwick with the destruction of two period homes, and council’s failure to have up to date heritage overlays, we thought it worthwhile to revisit a post we made in October 2018.

The significance of the ‘action plan’ of 2018, is that council has watered down most of the promises given to residents in 2016 at the time of the Planning Scheme Review. We repeat what we wrote at the time and urge residents to note how much of what was promised no longer exists in its entirety, or has morphed into meaningless, discretionary controls only. More to the point, most of these promises have now been pushed back years and years. Heritage is the perfect case in point.

We have created a table below which features the promises from 2016 and put them alongside what is the plan today. One major difference between 2016 and 2018 that should be highlighted is the disappearance of any intention to introduce a Neighbourhood Character Policy. In 2016 we got these statements:

A Neighbourhood Character Policy is recommended to clarify when protection of existing character is required, and clarity on neighbourhood character design outcomes for ‘change areas’

AND

The work plan also recommends that the residential zones support the neighbourhood character policy by including additional neighbourhood character objectives and increased schedule standards to protect and enhance character.

In 2018, this has gone and with no explanation, justification, or further reference, is replaced with this single sentence – The implementation of the Quality Design Guidelines addresses the Planning Scheme Review 2016 Work Plan action to implement a Neighbourhood Character Policy

There are several things to note about these proposed changes:

  • The Quality Design Guidelines only apply to the existing structure plans of Bentleigh, Elsternwick and Carnegie. They are not mandatory.
  • Its status in the Planning Scheme is nothing more than a ‘reference document’ and hence is basically useless. At least a full blown POLICY, whilst also not mandatory, would at least have more weight at VCAT than an appended ‘reference’ document.
  • The 2016 statements applied to ALL housing diversity, not just the 3 Activity Centres of Bentleigh, Carnegie & Elsternwick.  Yet even in these latter activity centres nothing has changed in terms of the schedules for permeability, site coverage, open space, etc.

There is much, much more which has been tossed out in the 2018 version -ie

  • The major heritage ‘review’ is now set down for the Major Activity Centres with no time line as to when the entire municipality review will be completed.
  • Tree registers and open space amendments are years down the track
  • And poor old neighbourhood/local centres such as Ormond, McKinnon, East Bentleigh, etc.will not have any protection for years and years. Council is only committing to ‘one or two’ urban design frameworks starting in 2021/22!!!! PLUS no longer any talk of ‘structure plans’ for these centres just Urban Design Frameworks!!!!.
  • Limiting the impact of car parking basements is also watered down so instead of definitive standards such as Bayside implemented years ago in its schedules to the zones (ie max of 75% site coverage) our council is happy with statements such as this in its so called QUALITY Design Guidelines – Buildings should minimise basement footprints within the front and rear setbacks to provide for deep planting. No ‘musts’, no numbers, no changes to the schedules throughout the municipality.

Here is the table which quotes verbatim the August 2016 report and the current 2018 report. We have only highlighted some of the most important issues. The dates in parenthesis for 2018 merely indicate the STARTING TIME AND NOT COMPLETION TIME.

Please read carefully and consider the consequences.­­­

This is anything BUT a Planning Scheme Review. Yes we acknowledge that after 15 years of doing nothing Glen Eira Council is certainly behind the eight ball. But this should not be the excuse for watering down what was promised in 2016 without consultation and most importantly, without any strategic justification. It is merely another example of why this council cannot be trusted!

In June 2018 and then again in March 2019 a resident asked Council whether Glen Eira would support the Melbourne City Council’s amendment that proposed to ensure no additional overshadowing of public open space at the winter solstice. Melbourne also wanted the extension to 5 hours on June 22 rather than the current 3 hours. In the 2018 response council didn’t even have the guts to state they would support the Melbourne City Council initiative. Instead we got weasel words and utter bull dust from Torres (See: https://gleneira.blog/2018/06/13/the-art-of-half-truths-weasel-words/). Then again in March this year the issue of overshadowing in winter came up again. Once more residents were told this is a State Government responsibility and that we, as residents, should ‘advocate’ to our MPs. (See: https://gleneira.blog/2019/03/25/questions-but-no-answers/). Buck passing as always!

Well today (August 1st) the Melbourne city Council draft amendment HAS received the Minister’s approval for exhibition. Except for the Docklands area and a few other parks right in the city, Melbourne is wanting ‘no additional shadow’ for 5 hours at the Winter Solstice for all its parks. That is, from 10am to 3pm. (We have uploaded their Design & Development Schedule HERE).

The point that should be made is that councils can achieve plenty if they have the will and the persistence and if they care about their municipalities. That does not seem to be the case in Glen Eira.

On another issue of significance, there is also released for exhibition today, the Moonee Valley intended Developer Contributions Levy and Infrastructure Levy. Glen Eira DOES NOT HAVE any such levy. In 2010 it was removed from the Glen Eira planning scheme with the claim that it cost too much to administer in return for the revenue collected! That means that for the past 8 years residents have been subsidising developers with millions upon millions of dollars! Thankfully, other councils do not believe that this should occur (aka Moonee Valley and countless others). Moonee Valley has different rates for commercial, industrial and residential. We’ve taken a screen dump of their residential charges noting that they have analysed their municipality and broken the costings down according to various precincts.

CONCLUSION

  • Council excuses for doing bugger all can no longer be tolerated.
  • Residents should not be subsidising developers at every single turn
  • Concentrate on the essentials (ie neighbourhood centres structure plans, levies, open space purchases, etc) and not on creating documents full of spin and pretty pictures!
  • Challenge governments like other councils instead of cowtowing time and time again!
  • Work for residents not developers!

A fabulous turnout at last night’s Save Glen Eira inaugural meeting with an audience of over 100 concerned residents. And, their concern, anger and distrust of Council was palpable.

The evening began with several presentations from 5 residents. Four of the presentations honed in on current planning applications, their impacts especially on neighbouring sites and how little Council has done to ensure that such outrageous applications are doomed to fail at VCAT. The final presenter queried council’s prognostications as to the required housing needed to cater for the expected population growth and showed that at current rates Glen Eira’s building boom is close to double what is needed. The question thus was: why double the size of activity centres? Why insist on 12 storeys across the board? Where is there any strategic justification for such a ‘vision’?

The evening was then thrown open to the audience for a Q & A session. The questions and statements covered a range of topics, including:

  • Lack of genuine consultation and help from council
  • The need for sustainable development (and please remember that Glen Eira has no tree protection on private land)
  • The power of lobbying and lobbyists
  • Unifying community voices everywhere
  • Electing councilors who will truly represent the community

Much, much more was said. The overall feeling was that Save Glen Eira had taken a very positive step in uniting residents across all areas of Glen Eira. Planning incompetence touches everyone, especially when we have a council that refuses to listen to its residents. This was the real take home point from last night.

Also present were David Southwick and Kelvin Thompson.

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