GE Governance


The following screen dump comes from Monash City Council’s agenda for their meeting tonight. Glen Eira councillors voted against such a register recently, arguing that processes were already in place and that all councillors act with integrity. It would appear that the Local Government Inspectorate doesn’t think that such assertions are enough and has urged all councils to introduce a public register of all councillor meetings with developers. Given the rate of major developments in Glen Eira, such a move must be supported by the new crop of councillors if they are truly committed to full transparency in their roles.

Below is the Monash resolution, plus the relevant Inspectorate comments:

Local Gov Inspectorate: July report.

Last week’s council meeting raises countless questions about governance in Glen Eira and the role of councillors and the community. What is becoming increasingly obvious is that it is unelected and unaccountable officers who are running the show, rather than councillors.  The data on the Carnegie structure plan decision making is irrefutable evidence of this administration’s continued side-lining of both councillors and the community.

The most striking example of how this is happening is when we compare the resolutions passed for the Carnegie structure plan last week, and the resolution passed for the previous versions of this structure plan.

The minutes of the 18th December 2018, show this ‘recommendation’ which was passed. We highlight the section regarding the seeking of Ministerial approval to advertise –

authorises the Manager City Futures to undertake minor changes to the Amendment, including changes requested by the Minister for Planning or the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in order to receive authorisation, where the changes do not affect the purpose or intent of the Amendment;

For last week’s council meeting, this became –

authorises the Manager City Futures to undertake all changes to the amendment documentation in accordance with Council’s resolution (or as required by the Minister for Planning) and to make any administrative changes required where changes do not affect the purpose or intent of the adopted amendment

The omission of ‘minor changes’ in this second recommendation is significant – as is the phrasing of ‘as required by the Minister for Planning’. What this in effect means is that once this has landed on the Minister’s desk, he has been granted council’s sign off to introduce any changes he likes – and without recourse back to councillors and the community apart from the formal submission process.

Questions abound!

Why has the recommendation changed? Why up until now, have all other major amendments seeking ministerial approval to advertise contained the phrasing of ‘minor changes’ and the Carnegie structure plan excludes this important phrase?

Did any councillor ask why this change? Were they alerted to this sleight of hand before the vote?

What discussions have already been held between officers and DWELP? Why aren’t councillors attending such meetings? Have they been provided with all documentation that has passed between the department and officers? If not, why not?

What happens if the Minister decides that 12 storeys is ‘insufficient’ and Carnegie is suddenly advertised as 15 storeys preferred? According to the above resolution, this is a possibility!

Last night’s zoom meeting on the Housing Strategy feedback was a marked improvement on the previous council effort. This time participants could see who was present (49 individuals at one point) and the chat function was also available so questions could be posted to all. Unfortunately, the responses to questions remained vague, jargon ridden, and merely repeated the practised council rhetoric. As for councillor attendance, there was Magee, Esakoff, Zyngier and Zhang.

Below we feature one question in particular given that it is acknowledged as encompassing the most contentious issue – ie the proposed removal of the GRZ mandatory garden requirement. The response is provided in the uploaded audio. It’s worth pointing out that council stated the recording of the evening will only be used for ‘internal’ purposes!

Question

How will removal of the minimum garden size result in better open space and tree canopy outcomes? Given that trees and landscaping was of most concern to your feedback responses, as new dwelling types do not guarantee improvement.

Response

COMMENT

Torres does not answer the crucial question of how things might be improved. Instead we are again privy to the nonsense about the legislated function of the mandatory garden requirement. The current legislation provides for the following according to land size –

If we assume an average 500 square metre property, this would then require 125 square metres of ‘garden area’.

Torres notes the ‘exclusions’ from this requirement such as land under ‘eaves’. We would posit that most GRZ 3 storey developments do not have eaves – instead they are predominantly flat roofed – whether this be in GRZ or even in NRZ sites.

As for pergolas, barbecues, etc. yes they are excluded from the garden area requirement. But these must have a roof in order to be excluded, and many do not. Furthermore, the following cannot be included in the calculation – driveways, car parking spots, sheds that are more than 10 square metres in size. Whilst tennis courts and swimming pools are exempt from the garden area calculation, we very much doubt that any new dwellings in GRZ zoned areas will have the space to include swimming pools or tennis courts!

Thus, even if we add up the areas for roofed barbecues, eaves, pergolas, etc. there is no way that these would amount to even half of the required mandatory open space in the GRZ. Inevitably, the proposed removal of this requirement will mean LESS open space, less area for canopy trees, and other vegetation. The only objective is to provide the capacity to ensure more development!

Finally, it is beyond belief that we are in the process of creating a housing strategy without first of all reviewing the current residential zoning. These have been in place since 2013. Given the rate of development in Glen Eira and its ‘capacity’ council should be asking – do we need 13% of the municipality to be zoned GRZ? Do we need to revert back to the conditions PRE 2004 for NRZ areas? None of this has been done!

We’ve uploaded the full audio of the meeting plus the submitted questions –

These are the submitted questions –

My interpretation of the feedback presented in these slides is that residents are worried about the future liveability of Glen Eira. While more people will likely move into Glen Eira whether or not the housing zoning laws are changed, how does the current housing strategy aim to improve the liveability of Glen Eira? Or is it more a question of managing an inevitable reduction in liveability as the city grows to house more people than infrastructure was ever intended to?

How will removal of the minimum garden size result in better open space and tree canopy outcomes? Given that trees and landscaping was of most concern to your feedback responses, as new dwelling types do not guarantee improvement

A 4-storey above ground, with 2 floors below ground apartment building has been approved on the corner of Wanda and Hawthorn roads. This is clearly higher than the mooted 3 storey limit for this area. Can approval for  this development be reversed?

Is there capacity for the Housing Strategy to include specific actions to support the around 500 people experiencing homelessness in Glen Eira?

Thank you for your time tonight. I see some areas in Bentleigh near the station have both a heritage overlay and also a residential overlay and a design and development overlay. Which of these for example will take precedence?

Can planning notes be updated in a future amendment to the planning scheme clauses about respecting land with SBO’s in minimal change areas of GRZ zones where inappropriate development proposals are lodged with council?

I see no justication for some of the areas identified for more medium density housing. I specifically questioned the selection of Redan Road and have yet to hear a response. Has anyone looked at this area? It already contains mainly small houses on small blocks plus a couple of houses that should be heritage. Please explain

Council’s stated objective is more ‘diverse housing’ – especially in the proposed new NRZ2 zones. Given that council has no control over what developers desire to build, there is  potential for simply more dwellings of 1 or 2 bedrooms instead of the anticipated smaller townhouses? Please comment.

Thanks for the answer. Just another question: both the Draft Housing Strategy and the Social and Affordable Housing Strategy don’t mention the issue of housing insecurity. Is there any capacity for the Housing Strategy to address this issue, particularly for groups that are most vulnerable (such as single older women, LGBTIQA+ people, etc)?

What about drain along Rothschild street Glen Huntly???We have no drain , but council continue to release permits to developers, despite that council aware , that we have flooding . How leak of infrastructure  will address and how council going to act , taki g into consideration, that nothing done regarding absent drain on a street till now?

Sorry but this is no closer to an activity centre than many others not included – and it’s just not a good candidate!!

One of the slides showed a timeline for various structure plan reviews. I think Carnegie was among those listed. I did not notice any timing indicated for a Murrumbeena sturcture plan. Is there no plan in the medium term to consider Murrumbeena, that could result in a review of the Zone interfaces? Council is aware of the difficulty at the interface of GRZ & NRZ near the Murrumbeena Primary School which involved Council ntat two VCAT hearings concerning a proposed develepment.

And what role does VCAT have, when it overturns what residents and council want?

Last night’s council meeting illustrated once again how this council is very good at attempting to  justify the unjustifiable. This was especially evident on the ‘discussion’ for the Carnegie Structure Plan. It was voted through 7 to 2 with the only objectors being Esakoff and Cade.

What was most disheartening was that both Greens (Zyngier and Pennicuik) who have repeatedly commented on the importance of ‘sustainability’, trees, climate change, the urban forest strategy and in this case overshadowing, could claim that they have seen the report and are ‘satisfied’ that both sides of Koornang Road will not be impacted by the increase of height from 4 to 5 storeys. They maintained that sunlight to these streets are assured. This most important report was not included in the agenda, so we cannot comment on its validity. The Built Form Frameworks, were also unavailable. So all we have to go on is what the actual Design and Development Overlay (DDO) states in terms of protecting sunlight to Koornang Road. This is presented below:

CLICK TO ENLARGE

To be clear as to what is proposed in the above DDO, one needs to understand the difference between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The winter solstice is ‘measured’ at June 22 and the equinox at September 22nd. The DDO makes it clear that ensuring sunlight reaches the footpaths along Koornang Road will only be assessed according to the spring data AND NOT THE WINTER data. Furthermore, the fact that the word ‘at’ is used is completely contrary to what most planning schemes state. Usually there is a time span included –ie from 10am to 3pm. In this instance, are we to assume that if there is a fraction of sunlight AT 10am, then all is well for the Western side of Koornang Road, and if it happens to be 2pm then the eastern side this is also okay? What about the intervening time spread? How much sunlight is hitting the western side at say 12pm? Or the eastern side at 1pm? How much of the entire street remains in shadow for times other than 10am or 12pm? The very fact that the DDO has been written in this fashion is cause for concern. No councillor of course even mentioned this – nor the impacts on other increased height limits throughout the centre.

The only councillor willing to speak fully about her reservations was Esakoff and to a lesser extent Cade. We present her comments in full below:

The ongoing UNCRITICAL acceptance by most councillors of vital strategic planning documents is unacceptable. They are charged with oversight. They are supposed to represent their constituents and not some allegiance to political parties. It is councillors who are charged with making decisions in the best interests of the community.Thus far this election term, they have been dismal failures for the most part. Instead they are mere rubber stamps for a bureaucracy that is not held to account and is not elected by residents. When will we have councillors with the balls to challenge incompetent reports, biased analyses, and anti-community decision making?

The current 911 page agenda features a 117 page item that purports to be the ‘feedback’ on the Housing Strategy consultation. If only it were so! Once again this council is incapable of providing a valid, comprehensive, and convincing report on what was said, what occurred and how the responses influenced or did not influence any suggested changes. What we instead get is endless repetition, selective publication of material, and vague promises. The failures of this report can be summarised as follows:

  • All responses are not published so residents have no idea as to what was said by all respondents. The council ‘summaries’ as meant to be taken as gospel instead.
  • Pie charts are provided with percentages and not numbers of responses – making them pretty meaningless, especially when some questions had very few responses. Also no attempt to explain/analyse why certain questions received few reactions/responses.
  • As for the Town Hall Forum, all that is mentioned of this event was that 111 residents participated. What they said, and what occurred is totally ignored.
  • A handful of changes are proposed, but with no real rationale as to why they were included for increased heights in the first place, and why some of these changes have now been reversed (ie Wright Street in Bentleigh)
  • Mention is made twice that officers presented to the Youth Advisory Committee. All well and good – but why was no such process undertaken for the committee directly charged with advising on consultation – ie the Engagement committee?
  • No commentary whatsoever on the questions themselves or their efficacy
  • No ‘evidence’ provided as to the questions asked at the ‘drop-in-sessions’ and yet council concludes that all questioners were ‘generally satisfied’.

For the rest of this post we will go through some of the issues and expand on our criticisms.

Role of a Housing Strategy

As has been stated previously, what is remarkable here is that on the same agenda, council is recommending that the draft Carnegie Structure Plan and its DDO be endorsed by councillors and sent off to the Minister for approval to advertise. In other words, a decision on structure planning will come BEFORE the adoption of the Housing Strategy. Yet the following quotes taken directly from this item state:

The adoption of the Housing Strategy is fundamental to the strategic underpinning of the structure plans for the Major Activity Centres, and subsequent planning scheme amendments to introduce permanent controls into the planning scheme. It is a pre-condition. Without a Housing Strategy, the other strategic work will be extremely difficult to justify through the amendment process. (page 526)

The structure plans for the Major Activity Centres and subsequent planning scheme amendments to introduce permanent controls into the planning scheme rely on the adoption of the Housing Strategy as a key component of their strategic underpinning. Without a Housing Strategy, the other strategic work will be extremely difficult to justify through the amendment process. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is expecting an adopted Housing Strategy in considering authorisation to implement our structure plans. (page 529)

Appendix 1 of the report

Statement after statement in this report is not averse to bending the truth and camouflaging what is really proposed. For example:

Zone change: ­ The Housing Strategy only suggests changes to zoning (and building height) in a small number of areas. (page 2)

In response to a public question submitted on the 15 February 2022 which asked for the numbers of sites in both the NRZ and GRZ zones affected by the proposed changes the specific answer given was:

  • The draft Housing Strategy proposes that for sites in the General Residential Zone (GRZ), the “Garden Area requirement” is switched off. The General Residential Zone represents 11 per cent of all land in Glen Eira (and 13 per cent of all land that allows for residential use in Glen Eira). The overall number of sites in Substantial Change Area 1 (translating to GRZ) as shown in the proposed housing framework plan and therefore proposed to have the garden area requirement switched off is 7,624.
  • • The draft Housing Strategy aims to identify locations where we can have multi-unit / townhouse developments (up to two storeys), that are genuine medium density (units and smaller townhouses). The draft Housing Strategy includes an action to develop specifics requirements to give effect to these aims. 7 per cent of the existing NRZ is proposed to have controls that will allow for multi-dwelling development and better support front landscaping outcomes. This translates to 5 per cent of Glen Eira or 3,075 sites. (page 28 of the minutes)

How on earth we can then get the above statement that only a ‘small number of areas’ are impacted is both untrue and deliberately obtuse. Whilst it is true that ‘zoning’ will not change (ie the sites will still remain NRZ, but the schedules WILL CHANGE so that these proposed 3000+ sites will now have increased site coverage, reduced permeability requirements, and reduced rear setbacks). When the 7,624 sites currently zoned GRZ are taken into account, we are looking at a housing strategy that will affect over 10,000 properties – that is nearly a fifth of all Glen Eira sites!!!!!!!

Garden Area Requirement

Repeated ad nauseam throughout the report and the appendices is the following:

Garden Area Requirement: The Housing Strategy proposes the removal of the Garden Area Requirement so it can be replaced with measures that generate better landscape outcomes. The minimum garden area requirement simply requires a ‘space’ to be set aside on a lot. It has to have a minimum width of one metre, but it can be in permanent darkness or have an impractical or unusable shape. It could have a shed, a patio, or a basement completely underneath it. Essentially, there’s no guidance around what this space can or should be, and therefore does not guarantee good landscaping and permeability outcomes.(page 4)

How removing the requirement for anything from 25% to 35% of a site set aside for ‘garden area’ (depending on size) can assist in generating ‘better landscape outcomes’ is anyone’s guess. This is especially true when all that council is proposing at this stage is landscape ‘guidelines’ – meaning these are non-mandatory and practically useless. What will appear in the actual schedules remains a mystery.

There is much much more that could be said about this bogus ‘feedback’ report. Perhaps the best example of how deficient and totally misleading it is, comes from the following two screen dumps.

We ask that readers pay particular attention to the actual data in the pie charts and then council’s ‘interpretation’ of what these are supposed to represent.

Finally and by way of contrast, it is really illuminating to see how Bayside for example approached its consultation for preferred character statements. In Glen Eira, residents had to plough through reams and reams of pages in order to understand anything that was proposed. Furthermore, in Glen Eira the entire municipality was included and reduced to under 20 distinct areas. In Bayside, they divided the GRZ zones only into 29 different areas and their processes for gleaning what the community thought and wanted was explained, analysed and basically acted upon. See these links for further information on Bayside’s approach –

https://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/news/defining-character-growth-areas

https://yoursay.bayside.vic.gov.au/GRZcharacter

The only conclusion we can draw from all of the above is that the culture in Glen Eira remains pro-development at any cost and that resident views are merely impediments to this agenda. Until we have massive cultural change and major change in personnel, we hold out very little hope that things will improve. It is therefore incumbent on our councillors to ensure that the community voice is not only engaged, but listened to, acted upon, and given the full respect it deserves. If this report goes unchallenged then councillors should resign in shame!

What is becoming an almost constant refrain from various councillors over the past year or so is the expressed disappointment at the lack of resident responses to the numerous community consultation projects. We agree that for some projects feedback has been underwhelming. One could therefore argue that Glen Eira residents are generally apathetic, disinterested, or as has been the case in the past from certain councillors, the majority are ‘satisfied’ and quite happy with council and their plans. None of these conclusions are warranted in our view.

Glen Eira residents have literally been inundated with consultation after consultation. We have been swamped! In the last 18 months we believe that there have been at least 24 consultations and we’ve undoubtedly missed many others. Even with this figure of 24, that’s more than 1 a month on average. Some of these are:

Housing strategy

Integrated Water management Plan

Elsternwick Cultural Precinct

Aged Care service

Budget

Toilet Strategy

Mackie Road Reserve Masterplan

Community Engagement Strategy

Assett Management Plan

Caulfield Park Entrances

Placemaking

Packer Park Playground Upgrade

Caulfield Station Structure Plan

Smart City Roadmap

Open Space strategy

Open Space Levy

Built Form Frameworks

Glen Huntly Structure Plan

Multi-deck Car parking

Smoke Free Zones

Road Management Plan

Community Safety Plan

Domestic Animal Management Plan

Climate Emergency

MSS rewrite

Yes, it’s great that ‘consultation’ is occurring. And yes again – not everyone is interested in the same issue so there will invariably be differences in public responses to various consultations. But overall, is it any wonder that feedback has been ‘slow’ given this onslaught?

What has never been done, or certainly not made public, is an analysis and subsequent reporting of how well each consultation actually performed.  All we get are generalised summaries of how many downloads, how many submitters. What we don’t get is a critical overview of ‘success’, ‘problems’, ‘failures’, and what is being done to improve the processes and formats.

Basically each major ‘consultation’ follows the same format:

  1. A ‘face to face’ with officers for Q and A – usually during the day when people work
  2. A survey with dubious questions and statements
  3. Images of planned ‘upgrades/projects’ but without basic information such as projected costs, site coverage, etc.
  4. Changes as a result of feedback and reasons why
  5. The absence of basic ‘discussion papers’ that summarise the pros and cons for most consultations

What needs to happen is the close monitoring of each consultation and analyses done on the following:

  • Were the survey questions open ended? Did they have direct relevance to the proposed policy/strategy? Have the questions been trialled with either a focus group, councillors, or the community consultation committee? What lessons has this analyses provided in order to improve any future surveys? What kind of comments did residents provide and how have they been incorporated into the final decision making? How much emphases has been given to the qualitative as opposed to the simple quantitative counting of individual responses? Which questions were not answered and what might be the reason for this? Was the language used appropriate – ie jargon/motherhood statements or clearly explained? Were respondents provided with the complete data to facilitate a sound understanding of the issue and hence valid responses?
  • How many Q and A questions could not be ‘answered’ by officers? What were these questions? What areas were covered by resident questions? Does the focus on one area reveal that council’s information was not understood, and hence requires further analyses and information provision? What was the general tone of resident questions – were they really questions or comments that revealed agreement or dissent?
  • How can various design images be improved? Do residents need to know cost, open space dimensions, site coverage of proposed buildings, tree removal numbers, prior to proffering any comment?

There are many other points we could make. Suffice to say, that until this council truly believes that ‘consultation’ is more than a tick the box exercise, nothing will change. Perhaps it is also worth considering that the generally poor rate of feedback has got nothing to do with apathy, but perhaps the simple fact that residents do not believe that anything they might say will change council’s proposals. If this is the case, then it is incumbent on council to determine how prevalent this view is. Have residents come to the belief that council has already made up its mind as to what will happen and that ‘consultations’ are nothing more than fulfilling various legal requirements, or merely another public relations exercise where council can claim – we consulted! Until this final question is answered and resolved, progress will be impossible.

Only 3 councillors (Zyngier, Szmood, & Pennicuik), refused the MRC application for work on the Caulfield Racecourse. This continues the sad history of this council in repeatedly caving in to whatever the Melbourne Racing Club and its political backers want. Whilst the vote last night would in all probability not have changed anything, except as public ‘protest’ vote, at the very least it would send a message to Wynne and the racing industry that councils and the community must be considered first and foremost. Sadly, the majority of councillors decided to grant a permit.

As some of the above councillors stated, this whole issue was gazetted and hence made public, on Christmas Eve 2021. There had been no warning, no consultation with the community or council, and most of the relevant documents still remain hidden from public view. In the meantime, bulldozers and chain saws have been very active in destroying countless trees. This has only been temporarily halted via the imposed interim Heritage Council’s order. There is no guarantee that this order will remain and prevent further destruction. In the meantime we are seeing planning applications like last night’s one basically continuing along its merry way of turning the racecourse into the MRC vision that will include:

  • Night racing
  • Another inside track
  • Massive light towers to accommodate night racing
  • The removal of the second lake
  • Synthetic grass surfaces over much of the inside tracks
  • Plus the recent announcement that the racecourse will be closed for ONE YEAR to allow these works to be carried out.

There are quite a few governance and transparency issues at play here that say a lot about the MRC, Wynne, and also council. Whilst the MRC is legally entitled to approach the Minister directly, and the Minister also has the legal power to ‘adjudicate’ on such applications, we have to condemn the timing, and the secrecy that has taken place. As far as council goes, we believe they also have to be held to account in this whole dismal affair. Here is why –

  • Why did it take residents to initiate the heritage order instead of council?
  • Has council even written to the Minister outlining their concerns? If so, why isn’t this missive public?
  • Why, when council voted to pay over $200,000 to sit in on the trustees for the Land Management Plan, did we get the plan we did? What was council’s contribution? Where was there any specific report back to the community on council’s involvement?
  • Why, when Cr Zyngier last night asked how the application was in accord with Council’s various environmental policies, he was told that the report did exist but wasn’t included in the agenda papers. So once again we are in the situation where councillors are supposed to vote on an important issue, but the information facilitating informed decision making has been with-held. In a follow up question by Cr Zmood asking whether this report will be made public, Torres took the question on notice and said he would have to confirm this. Simply not good enough and not the first time this has happened. The current VCAT hearing on 10-16 Selwyn Street, also did not include council’s heritage advisors report. This was fundamental given that council had twice previously refused the Woolworth’s application and that the VCAT refusal was also largely based on heritage! Our conclusion is that decision making in Glen Eira remains a joke. When councillors, who are tasked with the role of representing the community, are not presented with vital and relevant information to inform their decision making, then any subsequent decision making can only be adjudged as totally suspect.
  • There is much, much more that could be said about this item. Magee has not covered himself in glory once again, by objecting to Zyngier’s comments that council has been treated as ‘children’ or that the current crop of trustees represent an improvement on the past.

What is at stake here is quite simple. When will council stop being the complicit, and cowering bunch of sycophants that fail to fight for their residents, or fail to proffer any public criticism of government. And when will councillors be provided with information that is fundamental to their decision making?

The current agenda includes an item that purports to be a response to resident views on the draft budget. Yet, readers would have no inkling whatsoever, whether their views have had any impact on the final version of the budget. This says heaps for transparency, accountability, and adhering to the adopted IAPP2 principles of reporting back to the community on how their views influenced the final decision.  Yes, council did go through the legislated requirements of ‘deliberative engagement’ but in this officer report very little detail is provided. Nor do we get the complete record of the various survey responses.

What we do have is short summaries that highlight some resident priorities such as:

Stage 1 consultation:  The overall allocation of spending by the participants was very similar to our 2021-22 Budget proportions. The main differences were to decrease spending on Capital Works and increase spending on Sustainability. (page 21)

Online survey: The survey group would like to see more spending on Sustainability and Climate Change, Parks and Recreation, and Economic recovery from the pandemic.

Have your say survey: ▪ This survey group would like to see more spending on Sustainability and Climate Change, Parks and Recreation, Open Space and Waste and Recycling.

Deliberative engagement: priority – Sustainability measures, including increasing open space and tree canopy, funding the Urban Forest Strategy and implementing energy efficiency measures. (page 22)

There is no definitive response to the above views. What we do get is:

or

Does this mean that council has acted on these concerns and increased its spending on the Urban Forest Strategy, climate, sustainability? We simply do not know given that the final budget that councillors are expected to vote on is NOT INCLUDED in the report. The result? – your guess is as good as ours!

What we do however know, if that what is included in the above screen dump is identical to what was contained in the first draft of the budget – meaning that nothing has changed.

Conclusion? For all the talk about listening to the community, being transparent, and keeping residents informed, we are still looking at a council that simply goes through the required legal motions and resident views continue to be ignored.  

Well over 120 residents came out last night to partake in the Housing Strategy forum at the town hall. Our over-riding impressions of the evening are:

  • Spin remains the modus operandi of officers
  • Resident dissatisfaction and anger was palpable

On the first bullet point above, the audience was again assailed with the sheer nonsense of some of the statements made by the planners – the same individuals who featured in the previous disastrous zoom session.  We were, for example, told that the aim of the housing strategy was NOT to encourage more development! How such a statement tallies with the fact that the proposals include new zoning for street after street to go from 2 storeys, to three or four storeys is laughable. And how more development won’t be the outcome of aiming for 3 or more dwellings on sites currently carrying  2 dwellings is even more laughable.

Slides were shown, and once again the ‘explanation’ of what was being proposed was through a very selective rose coloured glasses view. For example: much was made of the fact that the sites selected for increased dwellings per site were primarily along main roads. No mention of all those areas that would now have to cope with 3 or 4 storeys instead of their current zoning allowing only 2 storey heights. Nor at any stage was there any precise detail provided as to what might change. We were told that there was consideration to revert to RESCODE standards, but explaining precisely what this would mean was not done.  

Arguably, the most revealing admission of the evening was the announcement that the officers’ presentations would be audio taped and presumably published on council’s website, but that the ‘audience participation’ would not be taped and made public. One resident responded to this by stating that such a decision goes against all tenets of transparency. We agree and as a result we  invite all residents to listen to what the community had to say via the audio presented below.

In the May edition of the Glen Eira News  we find the following announcement on page 4 –

CLICK TO ENLARGE

For the first time, there is a vague mention of proposed changes. Without real detail of course and still requiring residents to plough through voluminous amounts of verbage in order to have an idea as to the actual proposals and how these might impact on them individually. Simply not good enough. We have repeatedly stated that if council is genuine in its attempts to hear from residents then what is required is:

  • a short one page list of proposed changes
  • a survey that includes open ended questions and asks for direct feedback on these proposed changes

Nothing like this has been provided to residents. Even the letters sent out to allegedly impacted homes contained no specific information that residents could really understand and refer back to their individual situations.

We also take strong issue with the Magee comments.  He states in the above screen dump:

While most properties will retain their current zoning, for some, changes could include a change of zone, a change of controls, or replacement of garden area requirements to deliver improved tree planting and landscaping’.

COMMENTS

  • Most properties might retain their current zoning, but this doesn’t prevent council from actually reviewing what was introduced in 2013 and assessing whether these zones are still appropriate. Furthermore, council has admitted that 10,699 properties will be affected. That is 20% of current numbers.
  • The comments also assume that most residents actually know what zone they live in. Our guess would be that only a minority are familiar with council’s zoning and the accompanying schedules.
  • Nor would most residents know what the ‘controls’ currently state, or what the housing strategy intends to alter and what this means in reality.
  • Last, but certainly not least, there will NOT BE A REPLACEMENT of the garden area requirement. It will simply be REMOVED! How on earth this can then be equated with improved ‘tree planting and landscaping’ is beyond belief.

We maintain that it is unconscionable for this kind of spin to be put out to residents. It is surely time for some honest consultation processes in Glen Eira!

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