GE Governance


Last evening’s zoom ‘information’ session on the draft Elsternwick Structure Plan was a small improvement on previous sessions held by council. At least participants could see who was present, could use the chat function, and could ask questions directly or via the chat component. It was also good to see 4 councillors present – Szmood, Zyngier, Pennicuik and Parasol. But, what hasn’t changed are the officer responses to residents’ queries and/or statements. Everything basically boiled down to the Urban Design Frameworks – which surprisingly are now up on the Have Your Say webpage together with the transport analysis.

This is surprising because previously in response to a public question the answer had been – They haven’t been put on the website because the amendment is yet to be authorised by the Minister for Planning. Once Ministerial authorisation is received, the full suite of reports and information will be made available as part of the formal amendment exhibition. So what has caused this change in ‘policy’? Perhaps the knowledge of resident opposition and continued criticism of how this council operates. However, we still have the situation where councillors vote on major strategic planning documents, and in all probability haven’t been provided with access to the foundational documents that are meant to justify the recommendations. In other words – they vote blindly and nothing approaches what we would regard as ‘evidence-based’ decision making.

Provided below are the questions/comments taken directly and verbatim from the chat function. Not a happy bunch of campers! Council stated that they would put up the audio on their website. We urge all residents to listen carefully to the responses provided to these queries/comments.

12 storeys is way to high for Elsternwick

The yellow section is not right. It is 12

You have also rezoned a heritage listed building – Caulfield Scout Hall, which is

I don’t believe the Council has a role in developing affordable housing, especially using precious open space. What precedent is there for that?

You 12 storey and 8 storey building heights opposite St Clements Church devalue Elsternwick. In this area you are creating a future ghetto that has not considered infrastructure support

St Clements Church is also heritage listed

Please explain your rationale for 1 and 8 storey building heights

The City Futures referral document 4th Jan 2019, (quote) ‘ in relation to housing need, the Elsternwick structure planning process population modelling found that housing targets for the area could be achieved with less intensive development 6-8 storeys with greater setbacks and fewer dwellings’. So why are you allowing higher, and mandatory or discretionary?

If bike paths are being installed which is a good thing, which streets will take the delivery trucks going for the new supermarket

You do realise what this building is – the scout hall? It is of high community value. your rationale for developing the scout hall is stupid. Do you value community space

allowing these enormous heights totally changes the landscape of Elsternwick and only result in over crowding and totally agree with above

Affordable housing should be the responsibility of all levels of government and society

Katie, you do realise that you are adding 8 and 12 storey building in a very small area. Where is the infrastructure. The step backs are also not right compared to other

Were there any homes in C239 now shown in this draft E’W structure Plan, this is a current request for heritage overlay to the Minister? Has this progressed, councillors voted on this to go to the minister for planning in Feb or March 2022

How much of this is depends on which government we have?

What can the Council do to actually protect or enhance the heritage value of the activity centre – which would protect it from overdevelopment? Many shops are in a poor state of repair, don’t remedy graffiti etc.

Katie, you may not be aware but there is signficant objection for 8-12 storey heights. You are not respecting the heritage of Elsternwick.

OBJECTIVE 5.1.3 of the Urban Design Guidelines for Victoria

OBJECTIVE 5.1.3

To ensure buildings in activity centres provide equitable access to daylight and sunlight

Locate and arrange the building to allow daylight and winter sun access to key public spaces and key pedestrian street spaces.

Question: what protection will there be to avoid blocking of winter sun from the southern footpath of Glen Huntly Road?

The new building on Glenhuntly rd across the street from Horne st is HUGE far too big for this area. I think its 13 storeys and has a huge footprint, one of the “exceptions” Katy mentioned.

One ideal for open space  in higher density urban development is 2 hectares per 1000 people or 25% of the development land – both primary and contributory – how does this structure plan allow for ideal open space provision?

i am told other nearby suburbs have restricted their heights why has Elsternwick done nothing and 5-6 storeys are far too high to retain the village concepts and we don’t want to be surrounded by forest of high rise buildings instead of trees

The rationale for 12 storey heights on the west of the railway line was stated as that “it could not be seen from the east side of the railway line:. This is not a valid reason for creating 12 storeys

Has the Council made any enquiry or planning to perhaps roof/cover the railway channel to either create open space or strategic parking? if not, why not?

We have not seen the urban design document. However the peer review of the earlier version (circa 2017) (quality design guidelines) stated: Mid-winter overshadowing controls limit

development envelopes to the north of spaces

severely with the need for setbacks that are equal to

approximately 2.5 times the overall height of the

building.

As an example this would require a 12 storey built

form to be setback over 90 metres from the northern

edge of a public open space.

My question relating to the above is therefore: has council chosen by introducing 12 storey height limits (discretionary) to ignore the previous findings and to ensure that development can proceed with no consideration for overshadowing at both the summer equinox and winter solstice?

Has the Council made any enquiry or planning to perhaps roof/cover the railway channel to either create open space or strategic parking? if not, why not?

The focus on removing cars from Carre St lacks logic and rationale – the access the street provides for residents south of the shops to G’huntly Rd is essential to ease load on Riddell Pde & Orrong Rd traffic. Also the 2 disabled parking spots are absolutely critical for disabled residents to easily access the shops, doctors, gyms, post office etc. The disabled spots in Stanley St carpark are too far away and its not possible to put disabled spots on G’huntly Rd. As a pedestrian area Carre St is unattractive as it is over-shadowed for much of the day & year – the parklet outside the café there is virtually unused as a result and is a waste of space.

the practical issues are not being considered  that these huge buildings will house large increase in people causing congestion and in my opinion we are already at capacity . We should focus on improving the current building and preserving open space and car parking

Why so much “discretion” in the Plan?  Developers will seek the maximum and beyond, and ratepayers – either personally or via Council – end up financially burdened by the VCAT process

The doc I referred to is City Futures referral, application # GE/PP-31572/2018 04.01.2019.

Has anyone studies the effect on the Trees

Its not a village any more, its a “hub”. All we have is village shops, one supermarket and a station..

Why should we think this plan will achieve anything given that the Elsternwick South plan which consumed huge amounts of time and no doubt money – and caused a lot of grief for residents at the time – is now apparently in the bin. Any hope of that plan helping with the imposition of height limits – which was a big part of the justification for it at the time – has proven to be fanciful given what has happened  in last few years.

and old trams! We need new trams. Council needs to demand it from Yarra Trams if we are getting ‘000s of people here

Please take the community feedback on reducing building heights seriously.  Innovative town planning would be able to find a way to achieve your objective without having to allow this. I am particularly concerned about your plans for St Clements Church and the Caulfield Scout Hall but also for Elsternwick as a whole.

totally agree our council representatives should be fighting for us to retain the village concept and avoid overcrowding and totally unreasonable to have 12 storeys

The advisers probably don’t live in wonderful Elsternwick , nicely put tracey

planning panel report for Melbourne city council c278 included this comment/recommendation for winter solstice standards for public open space – The Panel supports the shift to winter based controls. Winter sun access plays an important role in

providing high amenity in Melbourne’s parks year round, and in ensuring park health. The move

to winter sunlight protection is supported by high level policy, as well as community sentiment.

The Panel supports the proposed hours of protection. They reflect a more holistic understanding

of how people use parks for diverse reasons and through the day. People who wish to access

sunlight in parks and the amenity and warmth it provides should be able to do so when it is

convenient for them, provided it does not result in an unreasonable impact on development

potential. The shortened hours of protection for Type 3 parks are a reasonable and sensible

response to the existing shadow conditions in those parks.

Higher density residential development Guidelines-for-Higher-Density-Residential-Development-2.pdf (planning.vic.gov.au) – which was a subset of the Urban Design Guidelines states: local policy : where a shopping centre currently enjoys sun at mid winter there would usually be  a reasonable presumption that sun access will be preserved” (note this is now replaced by the words: provide winter sun – within State Govt Guidelines.  I will be documented this within a separate submission – we need the sun shine access on the south side for the trees (in a high priority Heat response area) and also for retail activity.)

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.

COMMENT

  • 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?

WHAT WE ARE TOLD

  • 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’!!!!!

CONCLUSION

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!!!!!

Council has stated that its intention is to create a new zone – NRZ2. The stated criteria for earmarking these areas are supposed to be sites along major roads/transport and that they are at a minimum 600 square metres in size. We have previously highlighted that there are countless streets that are not within coo-ee of such measurements. Here is another example – Sycamore Street in Caulfield.

Please note that there is only ONE SITE in the following image that is over 400 square metres. All of the rest are 300+ square metres – half of the size ‘recommended’ in the housing strategy. This leads to some basic questions:

  1. What on earth is this planning department doing? Have they actually bothered to investigate the sizes of the various streets earmarked for increased intensity? Or have they merely sat at a computer and drawn lines around various streets and properties?
  2. How can they produce criteria and then simply ignore them?
  3. Is this simply incompetence, or a total indifference to the basic rules of planning?

PS: here’s some more – Beech Street, Caulfield South.

All of the sites in this image are barely over 300 square metres, yet they are designated to become NRZ2 which means increased site coverage, reduced permeability, etc. In the attempt to make the measurements clearer, we’ve left off some sites, but their width and length is similar to those depicted. They will also be just over 300 square metres.

PPS – and Filbert Street, Caulfield South. Please note: not one site over 500 square metres and the vast majority just over 300 square metres.

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.

COMMENT

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.

CLICK TO ENLARGE THE TABLE

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.

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/ibac-probe-uncovers-a-troubling-picture-20221104-p5bvnb.html

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.

COMMENT

  • 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: https://gleneira.blog/2022/10/18/will-the-bullshit-ever-stop-2/
  • 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:https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/media/7298/public-transparency-policy.pdf

MAGEE

  • 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’ (https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/media/5986/public-participation-covid-guidelines.pdf) 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!

Council has released its Have Your Say survey questions for the Elsternwick Structure Plan. True to form, what is asked and presented leaves us questioning the value of any responses and what interpretations could be drawn from these responses.

The questions are very basic. They ask residents to assess whether or not council’s proposals would meet the stated ‘vision’ or ‘objectives’ for the area. This is broken down into distinct categories such as ‘heritage and character’; ‘transport’. Most simply ask respondents to click on one of several options (ie agree, disagree, etc). Accompanying the question there are separate documents awaiting download so that respondents may read and then answer the query.

One would assume that these documents highlight the key elements of the proposal and provide enough detail so that respondents have a clear idea of what the issues are. Not so. Instead we find that most of these accompanying documents are bereft of detail and instead filled with jargon and meaningless waffle. Here’s just one example on Heritage and Character.

COMMENTS

  • 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

Given that this is the first question asked by the survey, residents are literally answering blindly – UNLESS THEY HAVE BOTHERED TO PLOUGH THROUGH the 70+ pages of the 2/11 agenda.

It appears that council is not interested in eliciting genuine feedback. It if were then surveys would ensure that:

  • There is a BRIEF listing of all major proposals up front
  • Jargon and waffle would be avoided
  • Questions would be open-ended

The crucial question then becomes, how will council ‘interpret’ responses when they are designed to be meaningless!

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! –

COMMENT

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.

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.

Emails have gone out to various resident groups urging folks to attend the upcoming council meeting on the 2nd November at 7.30pm at the Town Hall. This is the meeting where the contentious Housing Strategy will be voted upon, and perhaps even the Elsternwick Structure Plan.

If this Housing Strategy is voted through then the ramifications for residential amenity, density, traffic congestion, open space, and tree protection, will be major.

Here is one of these emails which we have received. Please read and tell your friends to attend.

Dear residents,

Below is a summary of the Glen Eira draft Housing Strategy and meeting.  This will affect all residents if it is passed in its current form. We would like as many people to attend this meeting if you are concerned with the possibility of 4 storeys of apartments etc being built next to your home!  

Given that the current Council declared a Climate Emergency it doesn’t seem to make sense to decrease the amount of green space required per block of land and increasing the built form on it.  The more apartments / homes on a block the more paving and less greenery there is. Hypocrisy at its finest

If you could come to this meeting to just demonstrate that this is not an acceptable proposal, especially given we have the lowest amount of green open space of any municipality and Elsternwick has the lowest of anywhere.

Most residents are unaware of the proposed changes. 

The future of Glen Eira is at stake if council adopts the draft Housing Strategy on November 2nd. You will be affected because council is proposing to:

  • Rezone scores of residential streets from two to three and four storeys
  • To remove the mandatory garden requirement in over 7,600 properties and onsite car parking
  • To increase site coverage, reduce permeability, and remove rear setbacks in over 3,000 properties

Yet we are told that Glen Eira has capacity for another 50,000 dwellings. All we need out to 2036 is capacity for 13,000 new dwellings. 

This council is hell bent on more and more development at any cost, regardless of the impact on residential amenity, traffic congestion, climate change, density. Your voice needs to be heard.

We urge residents to attend this council meeting at 7.30pm on November 2nd.

If you have any friends who could come as well this would demonstrate to Council that they need to listen to the voice and concerns of residents.  Something they seem to forget. 

Council has stated that the draft Housing Strategy will be up for decision on November 2nd (a Wednesday instead of Tuesday since this is Cup Day). Residents need to bear in mind that on the first  appearance of this draft strategy 4 councillors were opposed to its adoption. Sadly, 5 voted in favour so the document went out for a bogus ‘consultation’.

The most startling component of this first draft is the admission that Glen Eira has capacity for 50,000 new dwellings on current planning scheme zonings out to 2036 and beyond. All we actually need according to State Government projections are 13,000. Yet council is determined to pack more and more development into Glen Eira regardless of whether or not it is needed, whether the infrastructure will cope, and whether our tree canopy will diminish even more rapidly with the removal of the mandatory garden requirement in ALL sites zoned GRZ and the 3000+ NRZ sites that will have increased site capacity, reduced permeability, and removal of rear setbacks.

No other council operates in the manner that Glen Eira does. What follows are quotes from recent Housing Strategies from these neighbouring councils. When these comments are contrasted with what Glen Eira proposes, then serious questions require answering. We will get to these later. Here is what others state:

BAYSIDE

The Housing Strategy Review 2019 found that Bayside’s growth locations have sufficient housing capacity to meet anticipated population increases over the next 15 years to 2036 as required by State planning policy. (PAGE 4)

The Housing Strategy identifies locations where housing growth can occur. These locations have sufficient housing capacity to meet the anticipated increases in population to 2036. (PAGE 6)

Should further housing capacity be required in the future, a future review of the Housing Strategy can consider other locations that may be suitable for increased housing density in addition to those already identified in the Housing Strategy. This approach allows Council to direct and manage growth in the short to medium term. (PAGE 7)

HOBSON’S BAY

The housing capacity assessment conservatively estimates that Hobsons Bay has development sites/opportunities to provide a net gain of approximately 16,281 dwellings. Based on estimated housing demand of 443 new dwellings per annum (over the next 20 years), this represents around 37 years of supply (PAGE  4)

Based on the housing capacity assessment identified in this report, there is enough capacity/housing opportunities in Hobsons Bay to comfortably meet expected housing demand over the next 20 years )PAGE  140)

It is expected that the strategic redevelopment sites alone could accommodate more than half (52 per cent) the total forecasted dwelling demand by 2036 (PAGE 140)

YARRA RANGES

At the current development rate, approximately 560 dwellings per year, this tells us about 31 years of land supply is available in the existing residentially zoned land. The figure also shows land capacity will easily meet the State Government’s target of 10,700 new dwellings in Yarra Ranges over the next 15 years or approximately 700 dwellings per year. Even if development rates increased, there is still capacity within the existing residentially zoned land to accommodate development. (discussion paper 2022 – page 39)

YARRA

The housing capacity analysis indicates there is enough capacity within Yarra’s activity centres to accommodate sufficient housing growth. The analysis confirms that, while Yarra’s established residential neighbourhoods will continue to accommodate some housing growth, Yarra does not need to rely on these areas to supply projected housing growth (page 65)

THE QUESTIONS

  • Incompetence and/or complicity? All planning should stem from a Housing Strategy. Council knew it had to develop a Housing Strategy as far back as 2019. Instead this council has instead introduced structure plans BEFORE a housing strategy. That amounts to incompetence. As for the ‘complicity’ aspect, it appears that whatever the department (DWELP) says is accepted. No public outcry to speak of; no media releases criticising government; no support for residents. It also doesn’t help when we have the likes of Athanasopolous, Magee and Zhang blindly following government policy instead of representing their constituents – which is the first priority of a councillor.
  • Consultation Feedback in Full. The refusal to publish ALL feedback achieves nothing except greater skepticism and mistrust of council. It also flies in the face of council’s ‘transparency’ policy.
  • Why is Glen Eira so radically different to our neighbouring councils?  Historically, this council has been the odd-man out on so many strategic planning  occasions – the last to have a Housing Strategy; the last to complete structure plans; the last to have a significant tree register; the last to have a fair-dinkum notice of motion. The list goes on and on. Until councillors fulfill their obligations as representatives of the community, the culture will not change. The onus is on councillors to reject this Housing Strategy and order that it goes back to the drawing board!

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