GE Open Space


Council’s brilliant planning has provided another developer with a major bonus. This concerns 285 Neerim Road, Carnegie. A permit was granted by VCAT in 2015 for a 4 storey and 41 apartment block.

Residents will remember that in 2017 council produced its first version of its structure plan which was gazetted as an interim height amendment (C148) in 2017. The site was then designated as having a four storey mandatory height. With the latest version as of August 2018, the site suddenly became suitable for a 5 storey mandatory height limit. No explanation of course as to why within the space of a year council (and the minister) saw fit to increase the height in this area.

Now we have what has happened so often in our neighbourhood centres as this section of the application makes clear

The developer has decided that instead of 4 storeys, he wants 5 and instead of 41 units he is aiming for 46. Visitor car parking will go completely and there is even a further reduction in the requisite parking for retail/shops from 20 to 16. And of the 46 proposed apartments, 33 are two bedroom, 9 are one bedroom and the magnificent total of 4 as three bedroom. That makes it a total of over 91% as one and two bedroom dwellings. So much for ‘diversity’ as required in the planning scheme!

What irks us about this application is not the right of the developer to ask for more. He is perfectly entitled to. The concern resides with council’s failure to offer any justification for its decisions,  much less listen and act upon resident feedback. How any reasonable person can accept that in April 2017 council proposed and the Minister agreed that 7 storeys was needed to protect again ‘inappropriate development’ and then in just over a year to suddenly use the same argument and claim that 12 storeys is required to avert ‘inappropriate development’ is simply mind boggling. And yet our illustrious councilors did not bat an eye but voted this in! Thank you indeed councilors for your ineptitude and disregard for the community!

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has today released its latest figures on building approvals for the period of July 2018 until January 2019. That is 7 months worth of building approvals.

The following two graphs feature two specific periods.

The first is for the period from the 2016/17 financial year up until the present. This is the period that council keeps citing and the need for 16017 net new dwellings by 2036.

Readers should note the following in the above graph. Once building permits for single houses are removed then Glen Eira has had  permits for 4737net new dwellings in a 31 months period. That equates to roughly 1800 net new approvals per year.

The second graph features building approvals over the past 7 and a half years (ie from 2011/12 financial year to the present).

Whilst Monash would appear to have more building permits overall, their percentage of houses to apartments is double that of Glen Eira. From 2016 Monash has had 1313 building permits for houses compared to Glen Eira’s 770 permits. In the period from 2011 until the present, Monash single house number was 4503 whilst Glen Eira’s figure was 2250. In addition, Monash is 80 square km in size and Glen Eira a meagre 38.9sq.km.

The take home message continues to be that this municipality is far outstripping its required housing numbers to cater for projected population growth. Yet, council still insists on more and more high rise development. The above data of course, does not include the 3000 (minimum) that will become Virginia Estate, nor the potential for another 1600 at precinct 3 of Caulfield Village.

Surely it is time that this council answers questions asked again and again

Why do we need 12 storey apartment blocks?

Why do our activity centres have to double in size?

What is ‘capacity’?

What is the ideal density for Glen Eira?

Until such questions are fully answered then residents can have no faith that this council is truly working in the best interests of its residents!

In December 2017 (see: https://gleneira.blog/2017/12/03/beware-be-alarmed/)we first warned residents of council’s hidden agenda regarding the expansion of our activity centre borders. Thus far we have proven to be correct with the doubling in size of Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick (when it’s finally done).

A recent council document (below) shows clearly that 80% – 85% at least of Glen Eira will now be ‘activity centre’ land.

Questions abound:

  • Why double the size of these centres? We can only think of one reason why this would be done – to facilitate more and more development and the rezoning of countless properties to achieve this end.
  • Where is the strategic justification for this change? – especially since development is far outstripping population growth in this municipality?
  • What is the strategic justification for 12 storeys in Carnegie & Elsternwick? Why not 6 storeys? 8 storeys?
  • What is the strategic justification for the ‘upgrading’ of South Caulfield and East Bentleigh within the space of a few months to ‘large neighbourhood centres’? What does this mean for potential rezoning and height limits?

Right from the start of this entire process residents have been led up the garden path. ‘Study areas’ have morphed into permanent activity centre borders. Promises of ‘neighbourhood character’ statements have gone out the window. Promised changes to the schedules (ie. Increase permeability standards, site coverage, etc.) have not materialized. Neighbourhood centres have been abandoned. Heritage review, parking precinct plans, developer levies, open space levy, winter solstice overshadowing – all of these have been put back years and years.  Instead we’ve had thousands of pages of documents released that reveal bugger all and certainly don’t provide one iota of valid justification for anything that has thus far been done! In our view, this has been deliberate, with the intention of ensuring that further development is the chief priority. Everything else has been window dressing and public relations bullshit. When residents aren’t provided with real information, or asked the correct questions in order to ascertain their views, then council is guilty of lying by omission.

Just on three years down the track from the planning scheme review, residents are still to be told the truth about council’s plans!

It is almost impossible to get a straight answer from Glen Eira City Council. Tonight’s council meeting illustrates this fully. One answer was provided to a resident in the public participation section of the meeting. Another version of council’s plans came via an Esakoff statement. The third version came with a response to a public question. Having said all this, there was at least an inkling of council’s plans. And it’s pathetic news for the majority of Glen Eira residents in that those living in neighbourhood centres should expect that council will not be doing anything for at least 2 years to halt development after development in its commercial (and mixed use)areas where the proposed heights outstrip the mandatory height limits in its major activity centres – particularly Bentleigh which has a 5 storey height limit.

The first version of council’s plans emerged as a response to a question from a resident in the ‘public participation’ section of tonight’s council meeting. What we now know as ‘confirmed’ is that

  • Neighbourhood centres will NOT HAVE STRUCTURE PLANS
  • Neighbourhood centres will have to be satisfied with mere Quality Design Guidelines. We remind readers that such ‘controls’ are often nothing more than ‘reference’ documents in a planning scheme and that they are NOT mandatory.
  • The larger neighbourhood centres will get the nod first – ie South Caulfield and Bentleigh East.
  • According to version one and version 3 residents will have to hang on and wait until 2021 for this marvelous silver bullet to even commence. Esakoff’s version was in 3 to 4 months!
  • We also learnt that the Caulfield Station planning will probably now also include Glen Huntly!

Here is the question and the response to Version 1:

Here is the Esakoff version of ‘reality’ –

And here is the response to the public question on the same issue:

What a joke! Don’t we already have ‘guidelines’ that were promulgated as the universal panacea for ALL OF GLEN EIRA? Will work on these new ‘guidelines’ start in 2021 or in 2019?

These councilors should hang their heads in shame when they are literally abandoning the vast majority of the municipality. By the time anything is done our neighbourhood centres will become high rise centres far outstripping our major activity centres. Finally, perhaps crying lack of resources could easily be remedied if instead of investing millions in redeveloping  parks that the majority don’t want ‘redeveloped’ (ie Harleston, Aileen Avenue), or spending hundreds of thousands on ‘consultants’ who produce documents lacking detail and substantiation, more money could be available to do what should be done –some decent and honest strategic planning!!!!!

Below is an email that was sent by council to all Trade Associations in Glen Eira. Nothing wrong with this except:

1. Why aren’t residents included since the blurb below speaks of the ‘community’s views’?

2. Why is this the first we hear of council’s plans for A Place Making Action Plan?

We do not wish to diminish the importance of local business. However, we do not believe that traders should get precedence over the general community on something as important as planning and residential amenity. Furthermore, very little reporting of such meetings ever makes it into the public domain. It would appear that traders very definitely are at an ‘advantage’ in Glen Eira compared to the ordinary run of the mill resident!

+++++++++++

Local Economy and Place Making Action Plan – Traders Associations Consultation

Glen Eira City Council warmly invites you to participate in a discussion to help shape the development of a new Local Economy and Place Making Action Plan for our municipality.

As with Greater Melbourne, Glen Eira is currently experiencing a time of significant change, with transport upgrades, population expansion, shifting land use and changes to the way people work and do business. These significant, externally driven changes present both challenges and opportunities with regards to the economic and social viability of our municipality.

As a Traders Association you play a vital role in capturing and representing the views of the traders in your centre. We would like your input into what would make Glen Eira an even better place to work and do business, and how this could be achieved.

This is an exciting opportunity for you to help us ensure the Action Plan is informed by the community’s views and vision regarding developing our local economy. (our emphases). We really hope you are able to make it and contribute to this important conversation. 

Date:     Wednesday 27 February 2019

Time:     6:30pm for 7pm start. Concludes at 8.30pm (includes light refreshments on arrival)

Where: Glen Eira Town Hall, Caulfield Cup Room

RSVP:    cityfutures@gleneira.vic.gov.au by Wednesday 20 February

Background information

Regards

 

Alex Francis-Yu
Place Making – Business Support

City Futures

PO Box 42 Caulfield South VIC 3162
T 9524 3464 M 0466 027 490
E afrancis@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Moonee Valley council a global finalist for plan to grow urban forest

Peter Barrett Feb 10, 2019

An ambitious plan to create an urban forest and plant 30 per cent more trees by 2040 has the City of Moonee Valley shortlisted for a major new international prize.

A panel of judges including entrepreneur Arianna Huffington and architect Daniel Libeskind recently gave the nod to the Melbourne municipality, which takes in Airport West, Essendon, Moonee Ponds and Flemington.

The prize, known as the Wellbeing City Awards, is divided into four categories: Community, Economy & Opportunity, Public Health, and Sustainable Environment. The birthplace of Dame Edna remains the only Australian city left in a field of 16 heavy-hitters that includes Milan, Lisbon, Vancouver and Los Angeles.

“We’re very excited to be part of this award, particularly as we are the only nomination from Australia,” says Moonee Valley mayor Narelle Sharpe. “It certainly makes it a bit more special, considering there were 100 applications.”

With a population of 126,700, the municipality is competing directly with Lisbon (Portugal), Avia (Spain) and Curridabat (Costa Rica) in the Sustainable Environment category, which promotes the idea of recognising city-led action on “urban wellbeing”. Lisbon is adopting an EU Sustainable Development Strategy, Avia is focusing on reducing emissions and Curriddabat is banking on a holistic approach.

Cr Sharpe says their plan to significantly grow Moonee Valley’s tree canopy came after two years of community consultation and was endorsed before the award nomination. “The main area that kept cropping up was ‘a healthy city’,” says Cr Sharpe of the resident feedback, adding that by greening the streets by 30 per cent the urban environment will benefit from cooling due to shade and provide a more pleasant place for people to live, shop and socialise.

To date, the council has planted trees at Aberfeldie Park, Afton Street Conservation Reserve, Boeing Reserve, Thompson Reserve and Travancore. While the mayor would like to see increased tree canopies across the whole municipality, she says areas along the Maribyrnong River will see a particular focus.

As well as plantings the council has endorsed moves to protect existing large and significant trees using mechanisms similar to heritage overlay. Local residents have also been encouraged to nominate trees they think are worthy of protection. “People are really getting behind it,” says Cr Sharpe. “[We] had one gentleman who was upset that his tree hadn’t been nominated and it was on his property.”

Last October the Byron Shire Council in NSW declared a state of climate emergency and several Victorian councils including Yarra, Darebin Moreland and Port Melbourne have been taking action on reducing fossil fuel use in a bid to address climate change. But Cr Sharpe says her municipality’s urban forest plan is not politically motivated.

“In the grand scheme of things it’s all inter-related but our focus is on building a healthy city for our future generations,” she says. “I’ve lived here for my whole entire life and I certainly hope my children do, as well. We’re just planning for our future and making sure our kids see the great work that we’re starting now.”

Winners of the Wellbeing City Awards will be announced in April at an event in Montreal, Canada.

Source: https://www.domain.com.au/news/moonee-valley-council-a-global-finalist-for-plan-to-grow-urban-forest/

COMMENT

We’ve recently reported on Moonee Valley’s tree register process where not only was the register included in the planning scheme, but each tree (over 500) was also given the added protection of an overlay – again included in the planning scheme. No such luck in Glen Eira since all that is currently under discussion is a Local Law!

We also remind readers that Glen Eira’s attempts at an Urban Forest include the locking up of a sizeable piece of land at the $13m Booran Reserve. How long the public will be locked out is anyone’s guess – yet this is still counted as public ‘open space’!!!!

Data from council’s Annual Reports also makes for interesting reading in terms of tree plantings and loss of trees. According to council’s own figures we have –

2017/18 – 2038 trees planted of which 913 were replacement.

2016/17 – 2090 (STREET TREES PLANTED) –no indication of replacement numbers

2015/16 – “1,050 replacement and 950 additional street trees”

The 2012/13 Annual Report claimed that the city had 46,000 street trees. No figure was provided for park trees, or those on private property. No study has even been undertaken by council to determine the overall loss of tree canopy in the municipality, nor where the greatest loss is occurring and how this should be rectified. Nor do we know how many permits for additional crossovers in developments result in the removal of trees.

If council is really serious about ensuring that Glen Eira remains ‘green’, then far more attention must be given to protecting and expanding what we already have.  That has to come with proper planning initiatives plus far better maintenance.

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