GE Open Space


Residents really need to ask what is the point of having a planning scheme when council planners repeatedly chose to ignore its provisions and recommend approval of permits. The latest example concerns Item 9.1 in the current agenda.

Whether it is sheer incompetence, deviousness or simply the desire to advance the pro-development agenda is debatable. What is not debatable is the repeated ignoring of what the planning scheme actually states.

The application under consideration is 300 Glen Eira Road, Elsternwick. The proposal is for a 2 storey building contained 6 two bedroom apartments. The site is zoned Neighbourhood Residential and following Wynne’s C110 amendment, the mandatory number of 2 dwellings per lot is now removed. The officer recommendation states, with its usual waffle and imprecision – …the proposal is considered on balance to be generally in accordance with requirements of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme”.

Of significance is the following:

Proposed site coverage is 63%. Council’s schedule to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone requires a site coverage of 50%

Proposed permeability is 16%. Again, council’s schedule demands 25% – but officers believe that 20% is okay!

Here is the ‘justification’ for this largesse –

Several council meetings ago, we had Esakoff espousing the importance of adhering to site coverage in an application that had 63% coverage as opposed to the ‘standard’ of 60% (in housing diversity area). Now we have the situation where 13% over the standard is deemed ‘acceptable’ and instead of demanding the 25% for permeability, officers regard 20% as ‘satisfactory’. Compounding the issue even further is this sentence – Whilst the proposal does not meet some of the ResCode standards, the variations to the standards can be justified based on the immediate character of the neighbourhood. Permeability and site coverage have nothing whatsoever to do with Rescode. They are part of the schedules and hence should be adhered to in any recommendation.

We also have to query why council officers do not really know whether or not the plans meet the required garden area component of the planning scheme. If they did know, as they should prior to making any recommendation, then there would be no need for this paragraph in the imposed conditions

A survey plan prepared by a suitable qualified land surveyor demonstrating that the site has a minimum of 35% garden area in accordance with the definition of garden area within the Glen Eira Planning Scheme 

The site is 890 square metres. According to the legislation this requires 311.5 square metres of ‘garden area’. Surely it is not too hard to look at the plans and determine straight off whether this mandatory requirement has been met from the outset? Of course, the recommendations overall make a mockery of what is currently in council’s planning scheme when we find the following clauses and then consider the recommendations.

Ensure that site coverage is low to reflect the garden character of Glen Eira’s residential areas

To ensure that site coverage reflects the differences in character between housing diversity areas and minimal change areas

To maintain the open landscaped front yard which is a strong characteristic of Glen Eira.

Consider developments of more than two dwellings provided it is clearly demonstrated that the standards for site coverage, rear setback and private open space in the Schedule to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone have been met.

There are plenty of other things that could be said about this officer’s report and the recommendations – ie child care centres do not operate under the NRZ schedules. They have their own far more ‘liberal’ policy. Neighbouring dwellings (ie Garden Street) date back to 1996 and are hardly a feasible benchmark given the changes to planning since then. All in all, this report reveals what a disastrous state planning is in Glen Eira!

Alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear following council’s report in the current agenda on results of the significant tree register consultation. Yes, there is acknowledgement that the vast majority of the feedback supports tree protection on both private and public land. The problem lies in what council proposes to do with this feedback and how it will be implemented, overseen, and what results are likely to emerge. Of course, the next question is WHEN will anything be done and will it be worth a cracker?

The recommendations read as follows:

That Council:

  1. notes that community consultation indicates support for tree protection on both public and private land.
  2. commits to developing controls to protect trees on private land.
  3. notes that officers have formed a set of objectives in response to community feedback to protect trees.
  4. requests officers to present a report with options for controls that best protect trees in line with the set of objectives.

All well and good (perhaps), until we get to the ‘objectives’ that have been set.

OBJECTIVE 1

Seek to strongly protect significant native trees on both public and private land as a matter of priority. 

At no stage throughout this consultation was there any mention of protection FOR NATIVE TREES ONLY! Glen Eira abounds with a multiplicity of ‘foreign’, introduced species. Does this mean that they will be ignored? That any ensuing tree register will only accept ‘natives’? If this isn’t the intent, then why is this word so deftly and innocuously placed in this objective?

OBJECTIVE 2

Seek to provide a review mechanism for removal of large trees on private land which takes into consideration both value of tree and reason of removal. 

Does this objective only apply to ‘large’ trees? And what is a ‘large’ tree anyway? And who decides? Strange indeed, especially since we are told that there were 18 ‘tree attributes’ that might be considered for the register. This is now reduced to the one criterion of ‘large’!

Given other comments in the officer’s report, the language of ‘review mechanism’ is also cause for concern. On the potential appeal process we get this:

The second round of consultation signals strong support for some type of limited appeals process. However, careful reading of Community Voice survey questions and responses indicates the community feel strongly about having an opportunity to speak publicly about the removal of significant trees, particularly those on public land. This may be able to be achieved through an alternative to an appeals process. 

Other councils (Bayside, Stonnington, etc) have no problem with a straight forward appeal process. Yes, it would cost the owner and council some money. These councils work on the basis that (1) a permit is required to remove or lop a tree on private land. If refused by council an arborist’s report accompanies the refusal. The developer/owner can then appeal and provide his own arborist’s report. Council then makes the final decision in an open and transparent way at a full council meeting! Hardly rocket science!

OBJECTIVE 4

This objective is the acme of gobbledygook plus inserting all those necessary loopholes that would actually limit consultation. Further, the question needs to be asked – why do we even need community consultation on separate, individual tree issues? If the process is in place (as outlined above for appeal matters) then there should be no need for any more ‘consultation’!

Explore the possibility of a mechanism for the community to voice opinions about proposed tree removal, including who, when and why feedback can occur, noting certain controls may have limitations regarding community input.

OBJECTIVE 6

Define the relationship between tree protection and land development  

Readers are free to read as much, or little, into this sentence as they like. It is a catch all, meaningless statement – especially since the report confirms that the majority of responses deemed trees more important than (over)development! It also ignores the fact that once again other councils such as Monash, Whitehorse have as part of their Planning Scheme a Tree Conservation Policy that establishes clear parameters for when trees may be removed from development sites.

There are many other points that could be made about this report and what it suggests about council’s overall intent. Here are some further comments to consider:

  • The report states that 93% of respondents were in favour of a tree register and that “no alternatives to a tree register were suggested”. Since residents weren’t informed about possible alternatives, then it is not surprising that this is the result. You get what you ask for! If the consultation was intended to be ‘comprehensive’ and open-ended, then why weren’t residents informed that:
  1. Tree registers generally only include between 100-250 trees
  2. That tree registers can be included in the planning scheme itself, rather than remain as part of the less powerful Local Law.
  3. Will residents be given the opportunity to nominate those trees they wish to see on any list or will this be the exclusive domain of officers?

The report concludes with – The next step is to pursue options for tree protection controls in Glen Eira that meet the objectives. But if the objectives are so limiting and vague, then we can only conclude that tree protection in this municipality still has a million miles to go before residents get what they’ve been asking for since at least 2003!!!!!!!!

The latest ABS building approvals show Glen Eira still well ahead of all dwelling projections. These figures simply make a mockery of council’s claims that there is the need for doubling the size of activity centres and the newly introduced height limits of 12 storeys in Carnegie and preferred 12 storey height limits in Elsternwick.

We remind readers that Plan Melbourne Refresh includes projections from 2015 to 2051.

Council insists on using figures that ignore the 2015 projections and start from 2016. Even granted this sleight of hand, Glen Eira is well and truly meeting its obligations . Plan Melbourne Refresh sets an aspirational figure of 125,000 net new dwellings in the 4 municipalities (Bayside, Boroondara, Stonnington & Glen Eira). Even if Glen Eira is supposed to accommodate 30% (rather than 25%) of these new dwellings, that means 37,500 dwellings by 2051. Thus 2015 to 2051 equals 36 years and produces a requirement of 1041 net new dwellings per year.

The ABS building approvals reveal that Glen Eira is tracking on average at close to double those figures. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of these permits will have been enacted well before 2051!

For the last 3 years alone (ie 2015-July 2018) Glen Eira has had 6424 building permits issued. When we remove the ‘houses’ numbers (ie no net increase) then the figure for this period is 5430. That’s an average of roughly 1750 for this entire period and Plan Melbourne Refresh data requires only a tad over 1000 net new dwellings per year.

We’ve uploaded the ABS data HERE and ask that residents pay careful attention to the following tables that capture the long-term dwelling increases.

The figures that council produces simply don’t add up. And, as we have repeatedly stated, if the figures are awry, then all that follows is also awry. Council is yet to produce one single scrap of hard evidence that supports 12 storeys nor the doubling of activity centre sizes.

The agenda set down for tonight’s council meeting illustrates once again how little has been achieved in a decade and how governance continues to fail miserably.

First off, we have the recommendation to create a heritage overlay on the former ABC studio site in Elsternwick. It currently has no heritage coverage. Originally zoned Neighbourhood Residential council decided to rezone it as Residential Growth Zone in 2013 and according to its draft structure plan, this became 8 storeys. Wynne’s recent intervention will make it 10 storeys.

Given all of the above, and considering that council knew in 2013 that the site was being sold, why has it taken 5 years at least to even start considering a heritage overlay? The property has now been sold and plans are surely on the drawing board for major residential development. This is made absolutely clear by council’s archaic planning scheme itself and their report into the studios in 2013 where it was stated – Given the size of the land (8000m2) and Residential zoning, it is likely that the site will be sold to developers for residential purposes.(Minutes of July 23rd, 2013). Why couldn’t council get off its backside in 2013 and initiate some positive action?

For more info, see our past posts –

https://gleneira.blog/2013/06/18/abc-studios/

https://gleneira.blog/2016/11/14/is-this-why-no-structure-plan-for-elsternwick/

The second issue, concerns the use of school grounds. Nothing new here since the minutes of 26th February, 2008 contained this resolution –

Crs Esakoff/Whiteside

That a report be prepared into any opportunities that may exist for Council in the provision of additional/improved areas of open space that could be used for both passive and active recreation within Glen Eira’s existing school network.

The resulting officer’s report was tabled on 20th May, 2008 and basically concentrated on all the ‘problems’ associated with sharing school grounds. The councillor resolution was watered down to ‘let’s write a letter’ – 

Crs Esakoff/Spaulding

That Council write to all primary and secondary schools in Glen Eira along the lines of Attachment A and send a copy to the Victoria Department of Education The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

The issue popped up again 8 years later when there was another Request for A Report –

CRS HYAMS/MAGEE 

That Officers prepare a report into the potential for Council to collaborate with schools in Glen Eira to utilise their open space and grounds for use by sporting clubs and the wider community.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY. (Minutes of 19th July, 2016) 

Thus history repeats itself. Motion after motion and nothing is done or reported back on. In fact this 2016 request for a report WAS NEVER TABLED AT ANY COUNCIL MEETING. The ghost of Newton is well and truly still alive in Glen Eira it would seem!

We therefore have 2 issues that have been on the cards for at least 5 and 10 years respectively and council has been satisfied to sit back, be reactive and achieve a big fat zero during this time.

Finally, we turn to planning and ask readers to consider the following officer’s comments for the planning application for Pearce St., South Caulfield. Is it really too much to ask that when plans come in, that council insists that they are accurate, and if it is impossible to ascertain whether they are, that they be referred back to the developer?

The plans will be required to demonstrate that the proposal provides at least 20% permeability across the site, as this is unclear when looking at the provided landscape plans. 

In regards to site coverage, the proposal appears to come in above the required maximum percentage. To further assist the development to integrate better with the neighbourhood character it is recommended that the proposal does not exceed this maximum percentage of site coverage.

Incompetence, laziness, indifference? You make up your mind!

Glen Eira planning scheme

 

Mr DIMOPOULOS (Oakleigh)

— On Monday the Minister for Planning visited Carnegie to make a pretty big announcement for both Carnegie and neighbouring Bentleigh. My community in Carnegie specifically are acutely aware of the devastation caused by the former government and the then planning minister, now the Leader of the Opposition — I think they called him Mr Skyscraper — changing the rules to allow developers to take over Carnegie, and people have paid the price since then.

I am really pleased that on Monday the Minister for Planning came to Carnegie and announced everything that the Glen Eira City Council had asked for in relation to height controls — that is, maximum mandatory height controls in Carnegie, which will help protect the remaining character of that wonderful suburb. I am really pleased that the minister visited. I think it was his third visit to Carnegie, and I appreciate his support. He understands the need to balance development with community expectations, and that is exactly what he delivered on Monday.

Council’s Media Release –

Please pay careful attention to our highlighted sections given that:

  • No mention is made of the fact that hundreds upon hundreds of current properties will be upgraded from 2 to 3 or 4 storeys when the final amendment sees the light of day
  • ‘Discretionary’ height limits basically mean nothing when challenged at VCAT
  • Exactly what are the ‘positive outcomes’ and what is the data to justify 12 storeys?
  • Amenity is defined in the dictionary as – “any feature that provides comfort, convenience, or pleasure”. We doubt very much whether increased traffic, increased shadowing, decreased open space per resident qualifies as providing ‘comfort, convenience or pleasure’ for the vast majority of residents.
  • As for the ‘shared vision’ bullshit we suggest that councillors go back and read residents’ comments about what they wanted for their activity centres! These documents are anything but a ‘shared vision’ – they are the vision of a council determined to progress its pro-development agenda at the expense of ‘amenity’ and community representation!

Elsternwick and Carnegie development height limits: Residents blast plan

Emma-Jayne Schenk, Caulfield Glen Eira Leader

August 7, 2018 11:30am

NEW height limits for Elsternwick and Carnegie have been blasted by residents who claim they’ve been cheated because they don’t live in a marginal seat.

The interim State Government planning rules approved this week outline discretionary heights of two to 12 storeys in Elsternwick and eight to 12 storeys for the commercial area on Dandenong Road in Carnegie.

Lower limits of two to five storeys were approved for Bentleigh — a marginal seat — and two to four storeys in Carnegie’s Koornang Rd commercial area and surrounding residential zones.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the limits respected the area’s low-scale shopping strips, residential heritage and gardens, and “would provide certainty for developers and residents”.

Woolworths’ development proposal for 10-16 Selwyn St, Elsternwick.

But key campaigner and Caulfield South resident Sandy Togias questioned how such high-density living respected the area and said politics and the upcoming election had clearly come into play.

“It’s interesting that a marginal seat like Bentleigh gets two to five storeys but a safe seat like Elsternwick gets 12,” she said.

The measures will be in place until Glen Eira Council develops permanent controls, including the Elsternwick Structure Plan, which details 12-storey limits and opposed by more than 100 residents.

Ms Togias said much of the community staunchly opposed high-rise development in Glen Eira, especially Elsternwick, but had not been listened to.

“Once 12 storeys is applied for, the chances of reducing this to six, eight or 10 are very difficult,” she said.

“This now gives about a year’s grace for developers to build whatever the hell they like.”

It comes as residents fight against Woolworths’ plans for a 13-storey, 180-apartment complex at the former ABC studios on Selwyn St. Under new guidelines, it’s believed the maximum height allowed would be 10-storeys.

Opposition planning spokesman David Davis said a Liberal government would review the 12-storey height limit in Elsternwick with an intention to lower it, if elected in November.

He said the Liberals would also restore Neighbourhood Residential Zone protections.

“The caps in Bentleigh and Carnegie are too little too late and allow an absolute open season in the surrounding streets of these areas where the neighbourhood zone protections have been stripped away by Daniel Andrews,” Mr Davis said.

“These small residential streets will now become the target.”

He said Labor’s recent scrapping of visitor parking requirements in large side-street developments would cause further chaos and compromise residential amenity and parking.

In 2017, the government approved height limits up to five storeys in Bentleigh and seven storeys within Carnegie.

Source: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/inner-south/elsternwick-and-carnegie-development-height-limits-residents-blast-plan/news-story/cec31084fd3339cf5216f31dbed3aee9

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