GE Governance


We’ve received the following::

At the June 11th 2019 Council Meeting, councillors adopted the Social & Affordability Housing Strategy. The figures for ‘housing stress’ in Glen Eira are well above the average according to the State Government’s Infrastructure Victoria report Economic, Social and Environmental Profile: Inner South East. (April 2019). (https://www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SGS-Economic-social-and-environmental-profile-Inner-South-East-Region-April-2019.pdf) On page xiii, we are told: City of Glen Eira had the greatest proportion of households in rental stress in 2011 and in 2016, with more than 25 per cent of households in rental stress.

The numbers in council’s recently adopted strategy differ from the above report, even though Council claims the same source! Page 12 of the newly adopted strategy states:

It is estimated that 7,800 renting households in Glen Eira are in housing stress. This includes 3,400 lone person households, 1300 couple families without children households and 1000 couple families with children households. Households in rental stress represent 13 per cent of all 60, 251 households (or one in seven) and 44 per cent of the 17,700 renter households (nearly one in two).

Regardless of which set of figures one chooses to believe, it is clear that rental stress and hence affordable/social housing should be an important issue for Glen Eira council and its councillors. But is it? What could council have done to ensure that social/affordable housing was made more (financially) accessible to those in need?

The Virginia Estate development plan includes the ‘condition’ that 5% of the initial 3000 dwelling proposal be earmarked as social/affordable housing. That makes it 150 dwellings for this category. What is not known is whether or not this figure remains a constant if, in the future, the developer submits an amendment and we are faced with say 4000 dwellings, as is likely based on the experience with the Melbourne Racing Club. Will 150 dwellings be the total, or will the 5% for TOTAL DWELLINGS be the ultimate standard?

Furthermore, Council could have, and should have done heaps better when we discover that buried in the fine print there is this sentence:

Specified Consideration means 90% of the market value of the improvements constructed in respect of the Affordable Housing dwellings as at the date of the exercise of the right of transfer pursuant to the terms of this Agreement

What this means is that ‘affordable/social housing’ only gets a 10% discount on the market value at the time of hand over. Surely a windfall for the developer when we compare what other major developments and agreements have taken place. As an example we cite the Hobson’s Bay C88 amendment. This was also done under the auspices of the VPA. It involved a huge site of 40 hectares, 3000 dwellings and also a 5% quota for social/affordable housing. The difference however lies in this section of the Schedule and the Section 173 Agreement between the developers and Hobson’s Bay Council:

The price at which the Affordable Housing Dwellings are to be made available for purchase to the Council or a Housing Agency must not exceed an amount that is 25% less than the current 12-month median unit price for a two-bedroom unit in Altona North as published by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria as at the date the agreement is made (Offer Price).

Adding further salt to the wounds is that Hobson’s Bay was able to include this sentence in its schedule which augurs well in case the developer decides to go for more than 3000 apartments.

A number of dwellings equal to 5% of the total dwellings that are constructed on the land rounded down to the nearest whole number  

Hence we again have Glen Eira City Council caving in and exacting far less than it should from the Gillon Group. Why can Hobson’s Bay extract a better deal for its affordable housing component? How hard did our illustrious officers and councillors try? Or were they prepared to talk the talk about the need for social housing but when it comes to it, the developer gets away very cheaply indeed. If Hobson’s Bay can achieve so much more, then questions need to be asked about the intent of Glen Eira and its prowess in ‘negotiations’. Also if the VPA is involved in both projects, then why are the results so vastly different? Does it all boil down to our council refusing to undertake hard bargaining, or is it more cow towing to the State Government and its development arm the VPA, in exchange for some future benefit? If so, then residents should be told what the backroom wheeling and dealing has been about!

We urge all residents to read the documents and to ensure that they enter their submissions to this proposed rezoning. Once rezoned then all cards are in the developers’ hands, especially since there are no third party objection rights to any planning applications that will ensue.

The City of Melbourne has now received permission to advertise its long awaited amendment that seeks to protect its public parks and open spaces from overshadowing. See this article from today’s Age https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/rule-revision-aims-to-keep-the-winter-gloom-out-of-melbourne-s-parks-20190909-p52plw.html

Readers should also remember that when one resident asked if Glen Eira City Council would support Melbourne City Council in its endeavour she was met with a bullshit answer about the review of the Open Space Strategy. No support was offered to Melbourne.

The reason why is clear when we compare what Melbourne is proposing and what Glen Eira is prepared to sanction at the mega development at Virginia Estate: we refuse to call this a ‘village’!!!!!!!!!!

Here is the relevant part of the Melbourne draft amendment:

Please note:

  • the hours (ie 5 for June 21) for the majority of parks
  • 4 hours for the outer lying parks

Glen Eira in turn proposes the following in its schedule for the Comprehensive Development Scheme

Thus, Glen Eira is quite prepared to allow high rise development to overshadow open space at the winter solstice. Instead of 5 hours, the residents of Glen Eira will only be assured of 3 hours of sunlight in 75% of the park. What happens at 10am? How much of the parks are in shadow at this time? What about 3pm, 4 pm? Are we still talking 25% or is it more likely to be 80% late afternoon? and what does ‘unreasonable shadow’ really mean when there are no specific controls to define, assess, and evaluate this meaningless phrase?

We again have to ask: what on earth are our councillors doing? Who are they working for? Surely not residents when we are presented with proposals that grant everything to the developer and with very little to residents! Well done council. The tradition of pro development and sabotaging residential amenity continues!

The trend continues with this council in that it fulfills the legal requirements on notification/advertising of proposed amendments, but these announcements are anything but informative. Nor do they help to provide an accurate picture of what is proposed. For those residents who really want to know something, they are forced to plough through literally thousands of pages of documents in order to get anywhere close to an true picture of intent.

Council’s latest example of providing residents with the truth comes with this from the September issue of the Glen Eira News.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? It’s what residents aren’t told that could influence whether or not they bother to put in a formal submission, and of course, whether they have the time to read the documents.

Completely missing in the above is:

  • Any mention of the number of proposed dwellings (ie 3000 at this stage)
  • Any mention of the proposed (discretionary) heights of up to 8 storeys
  • Any mention of parking/traffic?
  • Any mention of the paltry proposed open space levy, etc. etc.

Whilst other councils go to great lengths to provide some decent information when amendments are on the table, Glen Eira insists on using the planning jargon so that it becomes incomprehensible to most residents. For example: what is a CDZ? what is Clause 21.03 etc.?Where is there any ‘fact sheet’ that residents can look at and immediately see the import of what is proposed?

Here are some examples of how other councils go about informing residents. Please note: we do not endorse anything that these councils are proposing to implement. We are simply focusing on how much time and effort they put into their dissemination of relevant and clear information.

Yarra is our first example. Please check out this link and view the modelling provided. At the very least, residents can get some idea of heights, impacts, overshadowing, etc. https://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/the-area/planning-for-yarras-future/yarra-planning-scheme-and-amendments/current-amendments/amendment-c231-queens-parade

 

Next example is from Greater Dandenong. Here is part of their ‘facts’ brochure (can be accessed in full here https://cgdresources.mmgsolutions.net/Resources/Website/SiteDocuments/Amendment%20C213%20Fact%20Sheet%20and%20FAQs%20Exhibition.pdf ).

All in plain, simple language understandable by all.

There are plenty of other examples we could have included in this post. We have refrained!

Until residents are seen as having a real voice in determining outcomes in Glen Eira, this agenda of keeping us ‘ignorant’ and irrelevant will continue.

Please listen very carefully to this short extract from last night’s public participation segment from the council meeting.

Hyams’ admission says everything one needs to know about Glen Eira’s so called ‘consultation’ processes. Here is what his admission signifies:

  • First we make the decision and then send it out for our mock ‘consultation’. If it were otherwise, then Community Reference Groups would be in right at the beginning and not when the route has already been decided!
  • Regardless of what residents say they want we will ignore it if it is not in line with our preconceived decisions
  • We always operate on the basis of providing ‘options’ that no one wants so that residents are placed between a rock and a hard place
  • We can then tell the world that we have ‘consulted’.
  • We don’t care about the money that we waste on useless propaganda. We don’t pay for it anyway. Residents are nothing but cash cows.
  • It goes against our principles to be open, transparent and to give a damn as to what residents want

The ongoing Inkerman Road bicycle issue is just the latest in a long line of useless consultations that has been inflicted on residents. The modus operandi is always to put the cart before the horse. In other words, make decisions and then look for anything that might justify that decision. Only then when unpalatable options are presented do residents get any opportunity to ‘have your say’. What a joke. What arrogance, and what lack of integrity!

If this council was really interested in what residents’ views might be, then they would actually ask. We have been inundated with ‘consultation’ after ‘consultation’ this past year. Thousands upon thousands of pages have been produced. All saying practically nothing. Yet the most vital and informative questions have never been asked. For example:

  • What height do you think is appropriate for our activity centres?
  • Which roads do you think are appropriate for separated bike lanes?
  • What parking restrictions should apply near railway stations, or local streets?
  • Where should council concentrate on seeking to purchase open space?
  • What should be our budget priorities?

These are the base questions that should be asked first off. They never are of course. That’s why this council does not dare engage in genuine consultation because the likely answers do not fit in with their prodevelopment agenda!

PS: Council has sent out letters and flyers to businesses and residences in the area. Letter dated 2nd September. The outstanding characteristic of these missives is the indecent haste that is now about to take place. For example, we are told:

1.Amendment will be ‘available’ from Thursday 5th September to Wednesday 9th October

2. Planning conference held at KINGSTON CITY HALL FUNCTION ROOMS on Thursday 10th October from 6.30 to 8.30 ‘to provide an opportunity for Councillors to hear those who have made formal submissions”.

3. Amendment to go to council meeting 23rd October

4. Directions Hearing 31st October

5. Panel hearing Monday 2nd December to Friday 13th December.

To the best of our knowledge, no other council’s planning scheme amendments have been pushed through at this rapid rate (ie it often takes months before planning panel hearings are set down). December is not an ideal time for residents either with school holidays, etc. How deliberate is this we have to ask?

 

Today’s Caulfield Leader features council’s advertisement for its East Village amendment (see below). Residents should note:

  • The lack of mention of any heights in the announcement
  • The similarity to the originally released documentation (ie ostensibly identical to first ‘vision’)
  • The fact that the Inkerman Road debacle will have a 6 week further consultation period but this, the biggest development in Glen Eira’s history, will have only 5 week ‘consultation’ period.
  • The insistence on a Comprehensive Development Plan (aka Caulfield Village) which means no third party objection rights once applications start coming in.
  • Nothing up on council’s website at the time of writing
  • Placing an advertisement in the Leader meant that this was ‘booked’ earlier on. Why wasn’t this included in the agenda for tonight’s meeting?
  • The VPA website includes a statement that the ‘amendment’ was handed over to council in October 2018. Hence, has council been sitting on this for nearly a year?
  • We will comment far more comprehensively once the various documents become available. However, we warn that this has all the makings of another Caulfield Village where the originally proposed development numbers of 1100 have now become closer to 2500!

CLICK TO ENLARGE

At the time of writing (3.15pm) council’s agenda papers have NOT as yet been posted online! Pathetic we say!

The hard copy version is once again mind boggling in its length and verbage piled upon verbage. It is 736 pages long and weighs a ton!

Included are:

  • The long awaited Inkerman Road Safe Bicycle Corridor ‘data’
  • A draft policy on Parking Precinct Plans
  • A sustainability draft policy
  • Plus numerous other bits and pieces.

Expecting councillors who will be voting on these recommendations, to plough through these 700 plus pages and come up with reasoned and informed decisions is asking a lot. It is asking even more of residents.

Here is our take on some of the above items.

INKERMAN ROAD CYCLING

  • We are not even close to a decision. More consultation (for 6 weeks) to occur
  • Not a word about costs for actual construction, nor how much has been spent thus far
  • Time limits are unknown. Years if not decades down the track.
  • Dandenong Road is out according to Department of Transport
  • Some of the data is highly dubious, nor explained fully. For example: travel time on the various routes comes from Google. Yet Google informs us that: The average time you see when you plug a route into the Google Maps interface is one calculated using that specific data, but since travel speeds vary, it’s not always the most accurate estimate.
  • We urge residents to read this report, that is, if they have the time and stomach to plough through all the repetition and pretty pictures!

PARKING POLICY

  • What is absolutely clear is that council will be DECREASING its parking requirements for developments in its Major Activity Centres
  • All activity centres will be faced with most of their streets in the GRZ and RGZ having one side of their streets designated as 2 hour parking and the opposite side as unlimited parking. This flies in the face of some recent resident appeals that BOTH sides of a street impose restricted, timed parking.
  • Council is also quite willing it appears to hand another financial bonus to developers with their latest ‘innovation’ called unbridled parking. Their definition and explanation of this is: Unbridled parking is where parking spaces are rented or sold separately, rather than automatically included with the rent or purchase price of a residential or commercial property. Council will consider unbundled parking proposals in new developments on a case by case basis, where the applicant has provided expert traffic analysis and advice. This will take into consideration relevant data such as car ownership rates and access to alternative modes of transport.
  • The introducion of hefty charges for residential parking permits to the value of $100 in some cases

SUSTAINABILITY POLICY

  • After years upon years of doing nothing and stating that it is all a government responsibility, Council is finally admitting that it might be time to take the initiative, since nothing is happening at State level. However this is not without the following caveat: Drafting ESD provision will be part of the Planning Schem Rewrite project or earlier if the opportunity arises to join with other Councils. Fast tracking an ESD policy by developing a policy on our own would not be possible with current resource capacity. Hence we wait and wait and wait!

One final matter worth a mention is the reappointment of the CEO. This is listed as an in camera item. Given that council has already released its intention to reappoint the CEO, we can only speculate as to why this formal resolution should be conducted away from public scrutiny? Is it perhaps because the decision may not be unanimous?

« Previous PageNext Page »