GE Governance


Consultations are literally coming out of our ears over the past few years. Council’s repeated mantra is that they want to hear from residents. That residents should provide meaningful comments so that their views may be taken into account in any subsequent decision making. Sounds wonderful. But the reality is vastly different.

Time and again we are presented with surveys that deliberately avoid the central issues or are framed in such a way as to elicit the desired response(s). This approach is anything but genuine consultation!

The latest example is the Have Your Say survey on the draft Built Form Frameworks for Bentleigh East, Caulfield South and Caulfield North. Each centre has its own survey, but the questions are identical.

Here are some examples of what is presented and why this cannot be viewed as a fair, unbiased, and revealing ‘consultation’ designed to elicit real community feedback.

EXAMPLE 1

The question asked was: Thinking about the Centre as a ‘vibrant’ place, how important are the following to you? Readers were then provided with the following:

We allege that not only are these options meaningless but that they have no relevance whatsoever to what is actually proposed in the draft document. Nor do any of these objectives come close to justifying what the actual recommendations are! For the above options, clearly 99% of respondents would say that buildings should be ‘visually interesting’ and ‘attractive’. And not too many people would object to catering to the wide range of housing needed for the elderly or the young. Nor would many be opposed to supporting local businesses.  Thus we get a series of questions that literally lead most respondents to answer  in the ‘very important’ to ‘important’ range.

But how are these questions related to what is recommended in the drafts, or even within council’s current planning scheme? Will the implementation of a 5 metre setback from the street be of great assistance in encouraging ‘attractive and visually interesting buildings’? Will a discretionary 6 storey height limit, also assist in this objective? Or is this nothing more than gobbledy-gook parading as if any of these objectives can be achieved with what is currently in the planning scheme and what is proposed.

More importantly there remains the question of how council will choose to ‘interpret’ the results of this survey. Will we get statements such as 95% of respondents answered ‘very important’ and thus they are endorsing the draft BFFs?

EXAMPLE 2

The focus then turns to ‘design objectives’ with the following options:

It should be pointed out that council’s definition of ‘mid-rise’ for Caulfield South is stated to be: A mid-rise character is about building height (between 4 and 7 storeys). This idea reflects the role of Caulfield South as a Neighbourhood Activity Centre, with a moderate role to play in meeting future housing needs as well as employment, transport and services. Unless readers have bothered to plough through all the verbage prior to this point, then they would have no idea of what is proposed for this centre. Furthermore, the language used here is questionable at best and at worst deliberately evasive. What does ‘cohesive’ really mean – especially since the order of the survey has not as yet clearly depicted the proposed height limits along the various streets. Do readers really have a grasp on the fact that according to the recommendations hundreds and hundreds of metres of buildings could all be at this maximum height – and that is called ‘cohesive’?   

Also amiss is that unless readers have gone through the full documents, they would have no idea that council is proposing that sunlight only matters on the most ‘active’ part of the day. This is then defined as 10-12pm for certain streets and 12-2pm for some other streets. The above image does not relay this information. Of course, residents would respond that sunlight is vital. But this certainly doesn’t mean that they are ‘happy’ with a meagre 2 hours of sunlight because of the proposed building heights!

EXAMPLE 3

The following example if the best of the lot –

Of course height, setbacks, street walls and public realm areas are ‘important’ and should be the most important element in any planning document of this nature. But does selecting ‘very important’ indicate that residents are accepting of the recommendations in the draft document? Do residents really believe that a 6 storey discretionary height limit is what they want? Or that 2 hours of sunlight is sufficient?

CONCLUSIONS

There is much more that could be said about this style of ‘consultation’ and in particular, this survey. Until council is prepared to ask the questions that must be asked; to provide succinct and accurate summaries; to justify every single planning recommendation, then we are engaging in another sham consultation. All that is happening is that council is fulfilling its legislative requirement to undertake ‘consultation’, but nothing more. Until such a time that genuine evaluation of such processes is undertaken and reported upon we will continue to waste tens of thousands of dollars on consultations that are reverse engineered and designed to achieve predetermined outcomes.

The published draft budget contains some very interesting proposals. Below is a summary of the main ones that residents should pay attention to:

  • Proposed borrowings go from last year’s figure of $60M to the current goal of $65M and that still leaves the GESAC loan of just under $8m to be paid off.
  • The Carnegie Pool redevelopment has miraculously jumped from $51M last year to $53M this coming financial year
  • Pensioner rebates continue to decline. We are now down to the underwhelming subsidy of $23
  • The Elsternwick community Hub and park has now been further delayed to 2030 instead of the previous estimate of 2017.
  • $7M is proposed for the acquisition of open space. That is out of the current reserve sitting at about $25M. Hence whilst this proposed expenditure is a step in the right direction, we have to ask – is this enough given the long standing deficit of open space in Glen Eira? Also how much land will $7M actually buy?
  • The Murrumbeena Community Hub is fast tracked ahead of the Elsternwick Community Hub when the latter is in a major activity centre and has population forecasts that far exceed that of Murrumbeena.

There is also plenty missing in this year’s proposed budget. No clear and easily identified detail is provided on which projects have been abandoned or deferred and where the resulting allocated money has gone. For example: what is the status of the proposed multi-storey car parks in Bentleigh and Elsternwick? Have they been put on the back burner or simply gone into the dustbin of history?

Other councils do not appear to have any problem in providing their residents with tables that are easy for any lay person to comprehend. Just one example comes from the current Kingston budget where carried forward works are depicted. Nothing like this is to be found in the Glen Eira budget papers.

The budget is also replete with jargon and statements that are misleading or totally uninformative. For example, on page 16 we find this paragraph:

The City is substantially developed and while it is experiencing an increase in property numbers, these mainly arise from higher density developments. The budget implications arise in Council having to cope with replacement of infrastructure such as drains which cannot cope with the higher density. These costs cannot be passed on to the developer and are paid for from rates. The rates received from new dwellings do not offset the significant infrastructure costs.

COMMENT: At the moment the costs ‘cannot be passed on to the developer’ because council does not have a CDP, or a community infrastructure levy. This income source was removed from the planning scheme years ago. The impression that the above creates is that it is not legally possible for councils to recoup some of the costs from developers and this is totally untrue. Also the 2016 planning scheme review highlighted council’s need for a CDP, So 5 years down the track we are still waiting for these amendments to surface! Developers can (and should) pay for infrastructure, but it all depends on a council that is willing to progress the necessary amendments to ensure this happens.

Next on page 16 we have two incredible sentences:

Continued investment of resources in the Council’s Transformation Program will enable further efficiencies and enhance customer outcomes.

When millions upon millions are spent each year on such programs and technology, surely residents deserve more than some glib pronouncements about ‘efficiencies’. What is the total required? What ‘efficiencies’ are achieved? And who are the ‘customers’ that will benefit and in what manner?  

Another sentence on this page also needs detail and explanation – Council declared a Climate Emergency on Tuesday 5 May 2020. Responding to this declaration through our work program will require a substantial increase in investment.

Again, we get no detail, no projections of required investment and no timelines.

We urge all readers to take the time to assess this budget and what is proposed. Do we really need these mega projects (and without any published business cases) that will put this council into hock for decades, and what services are not receiving the required funding. What are OUR PRIORITIES as opposed to those enumerated by bureaucrats?

Council’s Urban Forest Strategy made its first appearance in August 2020. On page 12 of the financial plan we find this commitment:

Urban Forest Strategy Implementation – $3.9M

This is supposed to be over a ten year time frame starting in 2021/2, so an average spend of $390,000 per annum. Whether or not such funding is sufficient begs the question of how much is required in order to ensure the goals of increasing our tree canopy.  Nor are residents provided with any indication for the coming years as to what exactly this money will be spent on. By way of contrast, the Moonee Valley budget has set aside $900,000 for the planting of trees this coming financial year! In the Glen Eira budget, trees do not even rate a mention! Instead we have the totally underwhelming allocation of $200,000 for the planting of ‘shrubs’ in already existing garden beds in our public parks!!!!! This is euphemistically labelled as ‘densification’!!!!!

Thus a year on, one could reasonably expect that if council was to live up to its promises for decisive action we would see this reflected in the draft budget and the financial plan. Nothing is further from the truth – sadly.

A quick report on last night’s council meeting:

  • Many of the submitted public questions merely ‘responded’ to rather than ‘answered’
  • By a vote of 5 to 4 committing $300,000 to $350,000 to proceed with the ‘design’ for the Inkerman Road bike path – in spite of the massive community opposition.
  • No attempt to change the public question format – current status accepted unanimously
  • The ‘revised’ Built Form Frameworks to go out for a 6 week ‘consultation’ period. Voted in unanimously with not a single word from any councillor as to why version 2 included some changes. The officer’s report for this latest version is still to make an appearance. We doubt it ever will.

We will comment in greater detail in the days ahead.

For the second time, councillors through their voting have sent a clear message to officers,  that the latter’s work is clearly not up to community expectations or standards. Last night’s motion on the Urban Design Frameworks was deferred until next month – the rationale being that councillors needed additional time to discuss and to be provided with far more detail and justification. This resolution follows the abandonment of Amendment C184 on the Bentleigh & Carnegie structure plans.

What does this mean and what are the ramifications long term? We can only speculate, but it is becoming apparent that the planning department is being put under increasing pressure and that many of these new councillors will not automatically be rubber stamping whatever is put in front of them. That is all to the good for residents.

The only ‘negative’ from the debate on this issue was provided by Magee and his vote against deferment. His comments were insulting – ie claiming that as an old councillor he understood perfectly what the Urban Design Frameworks were all about and that there was heaps of ‘detail’. Given that this is the first time that UDF’s have been introduced in well over a decade, we can only wonder as to Magee’s ‘familiarity’ with this planning tool. Secondly, his comments came directly after Zyngier stated that he had received a letter from council and that he had difficulty in comprehending what was proposed. His argument was that when council decides to communicate with residents they need to ensure that the ‘message’ is clear, and in everyday language. This followed on from Zmood’s points that Urban Design Frameworks should not be seen in isolation but that they are the result of looking at the municipality as a whole – ie via a Housing Strategy and that data must constitute the first step.

Magee also covered himself in glory with his views on Heritage. Suddenly he has become the saviour of properties with a heritage overlay on them – or so he would like us to believe. Put simply, he stated there is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Could he then perhaps explain to residents if heritage is that important, why he seconded and voted in favour of the demolition of a contributory building and the erection of a 12 storey monstrosity on top of the heritage building next door in Derby Road, Caulfield East? For those interested we invite you to listen to his diametrically opposed comments below –

Item 8.1 last night –

AND

From November 2018 –

Consistency has never been Magee’s strong point on development and other issues. What residents must by now realise is that every ‘speech’ must be taken with a huge dollop of salt when Magee opens his mouth!

Council never fails to disappoint with its latest planning effort – the release of the Urban Design Frameworks/Guidelines for Caulfield Park, Caulfield South, and Bentleigh East.

Once again we have 3 documents short on detail, statistics, and images that are barely legible or comprehensible.

As per usual, we find adopted policies such as the City Plan being completely ignored when it comes to the latest recommendations. The City Plan specified a 5 storey height limit for its neighbourhood centres. The latest documents recommend a discretionary maximum height of 6 storeys for vast stretches within all of these centres. Why the inconsistency and how is this height increase justified when not one single piece of data is presented to account for this divergence?

Even more disappointing is the inclusion of currently designated ‘local centres’ into some of these frameworks and the recommendation that they can also reach for the skies.

We have already commented on the consistent failure of this council to conduct its consultations in an appropriate and meaningful manner. We ask:

  • Why is there no mention of this ‘consultation’ in the April edition of the Glen Eira News?
  • Why is there no Discussion Paper listing all the relevant concerns, and the potential pros and cons?
  • Why is there this insistence on a top-down approach to consultation instead of first asking residents what they want and then producing the draft documents?
  • Why is the consultation period a short 4 weeks, in contrast to some other councils that instituted an 8 week period?
  • We have not as yet seen the ‘Have Your Say’ version of the consultation, but aren’t holding our breath that the questions will elicit too many decent responses.

For all those residents living in, or near, these neighbourhood centres, we invite you to peruse these maps so that you know what this council is planning for your area and its likely impact on your neighbourhood. Needless to say, there is barely a single word about how this council will deal with: open space, infrastructure, parking, traffic congestion, etc. In conclusion, another set of documents that do nothing to instill any confidence in this planning department and an administration that is not prepared to listen and genuinely consult with its residents.

We will comment in greater detail in the days ahead.

Amendment c155 (East Village) has now been gazetted. The result is another slap in the face for residents and highlights once again council’s pathetic ‘advocacy’. Readers will remember that the main areas of contention were:

  • Whether the number of proposed dwellings be a mandatory 3000, or whether they would be regarded as a ‘soft cap’ meaning that the developer can exceed this number
  • Whether the 8 storey height limit for the majority of dwellings be mandatory or discretionary
  • Whether there would be the removal (entirely) of third party objection rights

Each of the above has been decided in favour of the developer by the Department and/or the Minister. So, there will be more than 3000 dwellings and there will be buildings that are higher than 8 storeys and all without the possibility that residents can object to any development plan that comes in for the various sectors.

In what has too often become the typical council grandstanding, in July 2020 we had Hyams and Cade moving a motion that included accepting the Panel report but asking for mandatory heights and dwelling numbers, plus 3rd party objection rights. Too little too late we say and again, what a convenient scape goat to blame government now. Readers must remember that it was council who introduced a structure plan that allowed 8 storeys and 3000 dwellings. Why was this structure plan accepted in the first place after plenty of community opposition? Why was there the decision to send off to a panel, knowing full well that panels tend to support developers? Why didn’t council fight tooth and nail for the above 3 factors when the Comprehensive Development Plan was first mooted? Pretending that council cares after all of these processes have been gone through is not advocacy. It amounts to pulling the wool over residents’ eyes in our view! And adding further salt to the wounds is that this entire structure planning process cost ratepayers over $400,000!

In our view, the amendment should never have gone to a panel and should have been abandoned as happened with the Bentleigh & Carnegie structure plans. Yes, the developer would have gone to the Minister and he might have intervened. At the very least, council would have emerged with some integrity and the perception that it does indeed care about its neighbourhoods and residents.

For years now, council has been losing millions of dollars annually on its aged care provision. Ratepayers have therefore been subsidising this program. There is nothing wrong with this. Even if council is the only municipality to still provide aged care, that is no reason to get rid of the facilities or the various programs. And besides, ratepayers have been subsidising developers for eons now because this council does not have a development contributions levy, or a community infrastructure levy which countless other councils have.

Before any decision is made regarding the future of aged care in Glen Eira, we believe that there simply has to be a full, comprehensive and genuine consultation with the entire community. This is not a decision solely for bureaucrats or 9 elected councillors. The community has got every right to determine where and how their money is spent. If the majority of residents are opposed to council run facilities, then so be it. If the majority prefer that the $3m or so each year is spent elsewhere, then again, so be it. But if the majority still want council to continue to care for our frail and elderly, then that is a decision that must be respected. That is democracy!

As for the consultation itself, and before any decision is made, residents need to know the full facts, such as:

  • What is the full cost to council (including staff, upgrade of facilities, cleaning, etc?)
  • What is the likely current and future demand for beds based on demographics?
  • Are there waiting lists?
  • Are the current facilities in the right areas, given demographic change?
  • What areas are deficient in aged care?
  • How many jobs are currently associated with aged care? What is the future job projection(s)?
  • How many (if any) Spurway residents were moved against their will or their families wishes?
  • How many private facilities are currently in the municipality and where?
  • What is the entry and weekly costs for residents associated with each of these private facilities?
  • What are the potential financial impacts of the recommendations likely to be made by the Royal Commission?

Once all of these facts are presented in a clear and concise manner to residents, the consultation should be straight forward, and include such questions as:

  • Should Glen Eira City council continue to provide aged care facilities?
  • Do you believe that private aged care can provide a better service? Why?
  • Is anyone in your family likely to require aged care in the next 10 years?

The other ramifications if council does decide to close Spurway, and potentially the others in time, is what happens to the land, the buildings, the staff? Additional questions that residents must have a say on, would focus on these areas:

  • Are you in favour of council land being sold off for private development?
  • How would you like the Spurway 2500 square metres of land used in the future?
  • Would you support the Spurway facilities being turned into social housing? Open Space?

Until this council learns to be upfront and honest with its ratepayers, we will continue to have the turmoil of 2019. In camera decisions are the antithesis of open, transparent government on issues such as this and what happened previously.

About two weeks ago, VCAT held a compulsory conference for the proposed development at 7 Selwyn Street, Elsternwick. Readers should remember the following:

  • The proposed height of 9 storeys is the equivalent of the 14 storeys that the Woolies application (directly opposite 7 Selwyn Street) stipulated. The Woolworth’s application was refused by both council and VCAT.
  • Council last year granted a permit for the 9 storeys with a vote of 6 to 3 in the face of stern opposition from residents.

Apparently at the compulsory conference the applicant made no concessions in terms of reducing the proposed height. What did come out at this conference however was that council is quite prepared to spend tens of thousands of ratepayer funds to ‘defend’ its decision to grant a permit.

So the stage is set for a major hearing lasting at least 8 days. Interestingly, the developer will be requiring 3 days to present evidence and expert witnesses, whilst council is asking for 4 days to present their 2 lawyers and 4 expert witnesses! So we have the ludicrous situation where council is actively fighting its own residents, spending their/our money, and doing more than the applicant himself in attempting to justify his application!

As far as money goes, we can only speculate how much this will end up costing ratepayers. Most expert witnesses charge at least (conservatively) $4000-$5000 per day. Barristers can charge around $6000 per day and some charge even more. Lawyers are another cost. Our reckoning comes out to at least $60-$70,000 that council is prepared to spend on defending its decision to grant a permit!

Whilst it is reasonable to argue that councils have every right to defend their decisions, and to use ratepayer funds in undertaking this defence, we maintain that it is NOT okay when a permit has already been granted, and certainly not to the extent of 4 expert witnesses plus a bevy of lawyers. Councils do front up at VCAT and argue their case, but this is when they have refused a permit and not when one has already been granted as is the case here.

We also need to take a look at what Glen Eira has been doing at VCAT in the past. The following list of hearings and attendances clearly shows that what council is about to do has NOT occurred previously – especially when permits have been granted. Most of the time a council planner attends and that is the end of the story. Where urban designers have been called, these are the selected consultants on contracts to council.

There are however two cases listed below where lawyers and one expert witness was called when council had granted a permit. Both cases represent different circumstances. In the Horne Street development readers will remember that the application was for 14 storeys and council granted a permit for 8 storeys. The VCAT member severely criticised council for its decision making and lack of strategic justification. The other case involved 411-415 Glen Huntly Road, and this was an appeal against council’s failure to issue a secondary consent within the prescribed time limits regarding amending the planning permit for 8 storeys and demolition of heritage buildings. Much of the hearing centred around what is called ‘accrued rights’ and the introduction of the DDO10. Hence it became an important question of ‘law’.

We have not found any other case at VCAT, where council has gone to the lengths it is doing here to defend a decision to grant a permit. So why is this happening now? What pressures are being applied and by whom? How on earth can council justify spending all this money in fighting its own residents?

In order to support our claims, we present the following list of VCAT hearings for the past few years and those who attended on behalf of council (as listed in the respective decisions). They are under two headings – council refusals of permits, and council’s granting of permits.

DECISIONS WHERE COUNCIL REFUSED PERMIT

348-354 Hawthorn Road, = Mr Kristian Cook, town planner (council).

679-683 Glen Huntly Road, = Mr P O’Leary, town planner, Polplan.

6-8 Bevis Street, Bentleigh East = Mr P O’Leary, Town Planner of PolPlan Pty Ltd

51 Hawthorn Road, = Mr Michael Dowel, town planner (council)

39 Lilac Street, Bentleigh East = Mr Stuart Taylor, town planner.(council)

6-8 Bevis Street, Bentleigh East = Mr P O’Leary, Town Planner of PolPlan Pty Ltd (1ST HEARING)

103 Gardenvale Road,GARDENVALE = Mr M Dowel (Day 1) and Mr K Cook, Coordinator Urban Planning (Practice Day Hearing).(council)

31 Weeroona Road, MURRUMBEENA = Mr P O’Leary, PolPlan Pty Ltd.

371-377 Hawthorn Road and 3 Olive Street, Caulfield South = Ms K Piskuric, solicitor of Harwood Andrews

9A and 9B Muntz Street, = Mr Stuart Taylor, planner of  Glen Eira  City Council.

31 Weeroona Road, MURRUMBEENA (1st hearing) = Mr P O’Leary, PolPlan Pty Ltd.

9 Marlborough Street, Bentleigh East = Ms Alison Orwin, Senior Urban Planner

12 Wheeler Street, ORMOND = Mr Peter O’Leary, town planner of Polplan Pty Ltd

2 Pearce Street, Caulfield South = Peter English, town planner.

342-346 Centre Road, (time extension) = Ms M Marcus, Solicitor, Maddocks, Mr R McGauran, Urban Design

11 Caleb Street, BENTLEIGH EAST = Mr Andrew Crack, town planner of Crack & Assoc.

45 Hoddle Street, = Mr A Crack, Andrew Crack & Associates Pty Ltd.

81 Dalny Road, Murrumbeena = Mr Andrew Crack, town planner of Andrew Crack

2 Wattle Grove, McKinnon = Mr Andrew Crack, town planning consultant.

24-26 Vickery Street, (time extension) = Ms Sarah Porrit, Barrister, instructed by Ms Jacqueline Simpkin, Solicitor, of Maddocks.

277-279 Centre Road, Bentleigh (time extension) = Ms Mimi Marcus of Maddocks Lawyers

43-45 Kokaribb Road, Carnegie = Mr P O’Leary, Polplan Pty Ltd.

4 Clarinda Street = lucy Bond (council)

430-434 Neerim Road – Ms Mimi Marcus, Solicitor, Marcus Lane

388-394 Hawthorn Road – Mr Zac Van Grondelle, town planner (council)

64-68 Lumeah Road, Caulfield North – Mr Anthony Adams, Principal Urban Planner (council)

42 George Street – Mr Michael Dowel, town planner, from Glen Eira  City Council

679-683 Glen Huntly Road – Mr P O’Leary, town planner, Polplan.

348-354 Hawthorn Road – Mr Kristian Cook, town planner.(council)

6-8 Bevis Street, – Mr P O’Leary, Town Planner of PolPlan Pty Ltd

10-16 Selwyn Street – Ms Susan Brennan SC and Ms Jane Sharp, both of Counsel, instructed by Marcus Lane lawyers; Ms Anita Brady (heritage); Mr Tim Biles (urban design);Ms Leanne Hodyl (urban design);Mr Jim Antonopoulos (acoustic);Mr Damien Iles (planning);Valentine Gnanakone (traffic).

51 Hawthorn Road – Mr Michael Dowel, town planner (council)

103 Gardenvale Road = Mr M Dowel (Day 1) and Mr K Cook, Coordinator Urban Planning (Practice Day Hearing). (council)

 

DECISIONS WHERE COUNCIL GRANTED A PERMIT

 

9 Faulkner Street, BENTLEIGH = Mr Julian Berzins, Town Planner (council)

Lot S4, PS448063B, 441 Inkerman Road, = Mr K Cook, Coordinator Urban Planning.(council)

10 Quinns Road, = Mr P O’Leary, town planner (council)

335 Chesterville Road, Bentleigh East = Mimi Nuciforo, town planner (council)

1 Portland Street, = Ms Alison Orwin, town planner of Council.

7-15 Horne Street, Elsternwick = Terry Montebello, Solicitor of Maddocks, Robert McGauran (architect) of MGS Architects

506 Hawthorn Road CAULFIELD SOUTH = Mr Alistair Dunlop, development planner (council)

122 Grange Road, Carnegie = Michael Dowel, town planner City of  Glen Eira

285-287 Neerim Road, = Mr A Dunlop, Town Planner (council)

51 College Street,  = Mr Alistair Dunlop, Town Planner (council)

1207 Glen Huntly Road, = Mr Peter O’Leary, town planner of PolPlan Pty Ltd.

38 Eddys Grove Bentleigh = Ms Mimi Nuciforo, town planner (council)

679 South Road, = Phoebe Hanna, town planner (council)

3 Ripon Grove, = Alistair Dunlop, town planner (council)

411-415 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick = Ms Mimi Marcus, Maddocks Lawyers (December 2018)

9 Faulkner Street = Mr Julian Berzins, Town Planner (council)

441 Inkerman Road – Mr K Cook, Coordinator Urban Planning. (council)

39 Lilac Street, – Mr Stuart Taylor, town planner. (Council)

The agenda for Tuesday night’s council meeting again features Amendment C184 for Bentleigh and Carnegie. Once again the recommendation is to abandon the amendment and to start on a Housing Strategy, plus individual amendments for both of these major activity centres.

Whilst we support this recommendation, we still do not have any real answers as to why there has been this monumental stuff up and who is responsible. Nor are we told in this latest report what extra external ‘expert’ advice was relied on. Were they lawyers – if so, who, and how much did this cost? If planners, again who were they? But the real question remains – why weren’t all these drawbacks picked up years ago?

At last the current officer’s report goes some way to enunciating the significance of a housing strategy. Up until today, this has been entirely ignored. What is clear, is that housing strategies are vital not just for the resulting built form of major activity centres, but for any Municipal Strategic Strategy rewrite, and its purpose is not only to look at individual centres, but the entire municipality. What we have instead is a concocted City Plan that is anything but a housing strategy. We also have the residential zones that have now been acknowledged to be not up to standard in regards to heritage and other constraints.

THE ROLE OF A HOUSING STRATEGY & GLEN EIRA COUNCIL

In July 2014 there was introduced what is called a ‘ministerial directive’ number 16. It specified several important points that councils had to do, namely:

  • use a housing strategy to inform the balanced application of the three residentialzones
  • evaluate and monitor the implications of the application of any of the three residential zones within two years of their gazettal into the planning scheme 

Glen Eira introduced its zones in August 2013. There certainly has not been any ‘evaluation’ and monitoring of the efficacy of these zones and certainly not done in accordance with this directive at the time. In fact the MRDAC committee concluded that the manner in which Glen Eira introduced their zones (by stealth!) was far from acceptable. We quote:

The zones were implemented in Glen Eira without public consultation, and without an independent review process. The Reasons for Decision to Exercise Power of Intervention deemed that further consultation through the formal statutory process unnecessary, stating: Consultation has been conducted during the development of the Housing and Residential Development Strategy and in relation to Amendment C25.
The Committee notes the Council’s Housing and Residential Strategy was adopted in 2002, 11 years before the gazettal of Amendment C110. The Committee questions the currency of the policy itself as well as the currency of the community consultation in relation to this policy.
(page 176 of Advisory committee Report: Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee Residential Zone Review).

Thus as far back as 2014, Council were, or should have been aware of the need for an up-to-date Housing Strategy.To therefore imply, that this bit of news has only now come to council’s notice via the Minister’s letter of 2019 is pure bunkum. Interestingly, other councils took real notice of this directive. In Glen Eira it did not rate a mention!The following screen dump comes from Boroondara’s council meeting of 14/12/2015.

Whilst this directive was rescinded several years later, the demand for a housing strategy still exists. How any council can pretend to plan for the entire municipality without an up to date strategy beggars belief. In Glen Eira, such acknowledgement always comes years and years too late when many of our streets and suburbs are already beyond redemption.

For all readers’ information here is what other councils have been doing for years and years and which our lot have stubbornly refused to do. Again the perennial questions: why have all these councils got Housing Strategies and Glen Eira does not? How ‘genuine’ will the proposed community consultation on the upcoming strategy be? Or will it remain a simple tick the box sham as with the current City Plan?

Here is the work that other councils have done and the dates of their strategies:

Kingston – adopted in 2020a nd awaiting ministerial approval to advertise

Bayside 2012 and 2019

Hobson’s Bay – 2017

Maribyrnong – 2011 and updated 2018

Darebin – 2012 and is currently out for consultation review

Stonnington – 2020 revision of existing housing strategy

Boroondara – 2015

Casey – 2019

Banyule – 2009 and currently being updated

Bendigo – 2018 updated strategy

Frankston – 2018

Mornington 2020 is updated strategy

Darebin – 2013 and being updated

Brimbank – 2012 updated 2020

Yarra Ranges – 2009

Wodonga – 2018

Yarra – 2018

Latrobe – 2019

Knox 2015

Whitehorse 2014 and being reviewed in part

Surf Coast 2006

Nillumbik – 2020 and ongoing

Maroondah – 2016

Port Phillip – 2007 and updated for specific precincts regularly

Moorabool – 2016

Warnambool – 2013

« Previous PageNext Page »