GE Open Space


In what can only be described as the most retrograde and negative step this council has taken since the introduction of the notorious residential zones in 2013, we now have a further erosion of residential amenity. All thanks to the proposed C184 amendment. The main documents can be accessed via this link! https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/services/planning-and-building/planning-scheme-and-amendments/current-planning-scheme-amendments/c184glen

Whilst we still need to go through all the documents with a fine tooth comb, here are the main things we’ve noticed at this stage. Please note:

  • Properties zoned NRZ 2 (Neighbourhood Residential zone) will revert back to what was there in 2004. What this means is that instead of a requirement for a 50% site coverage this will now become the ResCode vision of 60%. Permeability will also go from 25% to 20%.
  • Here is the zoning map for Bentleigh. Please note the number of GRZ5 and NRZ2 dwellings to be rezoned. Also GRZ5, will no longer have to have the mandatory ‘garden requirement’ as recently introduced by Wynne. In other words, more room for development with less open space.
  • Carnegie will now have a RGZ4 where site coverage is 90% and permeability is 5%
  • Please also note that some of the above ‘thinking’ was never, ever made public. How typical of this council!!!!!!

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Council held its ‘information’ evening on the draft Glen Huntly structure plan this evening. There were over 40 residents plus only 2 councillors – Esakoff and Hyams. City Futures was represented by officers.

Sadly, the first 25 minutes was devoted to a powerpoint display pretending to explain the intricacies of the draft structure plan. Amazingly this officer did not once explain the most important aspect of the plan which was the fact that the proposed heights were currently designated as ‘discretionary’. The terms ‘discretionary’ and/or ‘mandatory’ did not pass her lips. Instead we got the usual platitudes, generalities and absolutely no justification for the suggested heights.

By the time this part of the meeting was completed, there was only about 25 minutes for resident questions and comments. Hardly enough we say! However, this did not stop tonight’s participants from presenting their views via their ongoing comments throughout the rest of the meeting which Zoom allows.

We feature these comments in full below. They certainly provide readers with a clear indication of what the community thinks of the draft structure plan. We have removed the names of the participants from the various questions/comments

Why Equinox sun, when the December Solstice is more important ???

06:57 PM

good question

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  06:57 PM

Verbatim question here everyone – I live 3 houses away from the proposed 6 story development on the Booran Reserve side of Booran road and Glen Huntly road. There seems to be a lack of transition from the existing tram route 3 story and 2 story side street height limit to what is proposed specifically in the opportunity site (West) corner Booran and GH street on the Booran Reserve side of the street. The proposed 6 story development will impact privacy and light to surrounding homes as well as parking, traffic, and the suburban character of the area as well as the general quality of life for residents. Why has the development been extended so far down GH road (to Emma and Heatherbrae) and not concentrated in the existing shopping and train district? Why is a 6 story development being considered- in a neighbourhood that has nothing higher than 2 stories. When was it decided that Glen Huntly was flagged as a high density major activity hub? My understanding was that is was not flagged as such- Caulfield and Els

06:58 PM

So is Ormand…. which has 6 lane road

06:58 PM

Is there going to be a heritage plan for Glen Huntly shopping strip, and wouldn’t it be better to have heritage protection in place before the structure plan

06:58 PM

Please explain your plans for car parking around the station. Thanks.

06:58 PM

Bentleigh is the other major activity centre which has shops spanning over 1km…

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  06:59 PM

Verbatim question here folks: Is the councils preference for the 3 railway lines to be lowered. If it is, will the pedestrian crossing at Macgowan / Wattle Avenues be retained.

06:59 PM

Will the bike path on Queens Ave be on the outside of the racecourse at ground level and if so how will the road / traffic be treated?

06:59 PM

yes please provide a further response

07:29 PM

totally agree with xxx  regarding Glenhuntly should not be a Major Activity Centre !

07:29 PM

Who is the proposed builder of these towers

07:29 PM

Great points xxx has made – still want to know where all the profits are going

07:29 PM

I think our area has been hijacked by developers,

07:29 PM

Yes xxxx- good on ya

GLen Huntly is much smaller and much more similar to Caulfield South and MicKinnon and Murrumbeena and Hughesdale which are all neighbourhood activity areas

06:59 PM

(statement) I think 10 stories is far to high

07:00 PM

Agreed

07:00 PM

Agreed

07:00 PM

Absolutely

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:00 PM

Verbatim question from Kate: Is the bike path / running track on Queens Ave inside or outside of the racecourse and how is it accessed from the trail bike path from Carnegie?

07:00 PM

AGreed

ie re 10 storeys being too high.

07:00 PM

No tall buildings should be built in a residential area – it’s certainly NOT consistent with the character and feel of the area

07:01 PM

Hi Glen Eira Council. Just wondering if any of the housing developments within the Glenhuntly redevelopment is planned for social housing?

07:01 PM

There is no development higher than 3 stories in the immediate area including the commercial site on the corner of Booran and GH road. A move to 6 stories bordering on residential houses is very high with no transition

07:01 PM

agreed re 10 storey limit being too high and need to clarify heritage streetscape first

07:01 PM

are the bulding adjacent to Glenhuntly station on royal ave demolished

07:01 PM

is there an option to reduce the 10 storey building to 4-6 storey

07:01 PM

what happens to Woolworths parking?

07:02 PM

Ormond rail station ended up being a real mess that stills hasn’t been resolve. We have to do better than this.

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:02 PM

Thanks for all these additional questions everyone – we will follow up on these and make sure we send answers around

07:02 PM

What planning is there re parking and traffic…none has been presented that I have seen…does any exist or is Council allowing massive over-development first and worrying about parking and traffic later?

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:02 PM

Verbatim question from xxxx I think it’s fair to say that locals in general are concerned about the significant changes proposed along Glen Huntly Road which will completely alter the character, feel and visual impact of the area – please advise what residents have to do to prevent these drastic and unwanted changes to the local area, and how councillors will assist in this process.

07:02 PM

Will the plan be looking at the potential impact of Covid-19 or (let’s hope not) future viruses.  Eg. if there is less usage of public transport

07:03 PM

Agreed

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:04 PM

Question from xxxx: Provide additional information on the potential to rezone residential areas from 3 storeys to higher mandatory height limits?

07:04 PM

For the high density development in the current Woolworths carpark you talked about shadows on Glen Huntly Rd, however you didn’t mention the shadows falling west onto Station Pl / Huntly St. Has this been considered if there is to be no setback against the railway line?

07:04 PM

xxxx  I wanted to discuss the opportunity site 4 bookend sites on huntly street and watson grove. Thanks

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:04 PM

High density housing (many blocks of units / apartments are being built around Glen Eira). Will this be the “new look” for Glen Huntly?

07:05 PM

I agree 10 storeys is too high for the woolworths area 😦

07:05 PM

Can we request a review of the Glen Huntly allocation as a Major Activity Centre? I think we see ourselves as a “neighbourhood activity centre”

07:05 PM

the council web site say that Glen Huntly is already 74.4% medium to high density,,why, wasn’t this stated in the plan, and how much is to much? 80%, 90% 100%?

07:05 PM

Growth can be accommodated without inappropriate high-rise.

07:05 PM

For the two carparks on Huntly St, wouldn’t open space fit better into the current feel of this part of the neighbourhood compared to 3 storey residential living? The surrounding streets all have low-medium density housing and a strong community feel

07:06 PM

Has this draft been voted on by council- if so has council approved this as it is. If that’s the case is this a done deal

07:06 PM

Well said xxx

07:06 PM

Can Council identify any level of support among local residents for 6-10 storey towers in what is already the densest population centre in Glen Eira?

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:06 PM

Question from xxx How the car parking on the two opportunity sites on Huntly street will be maintained if housing development is permitted on those sites

07:07 PM

Will all these questions be answered in an open forum?

07:07 PM

Looking map of interchange – what is proposed? Map shown crosses the railway tracks and opens the possibility of development (SkyTower?)occurring above the railway tracks.

Verbatim question from xxxx: Is there any community support whatsoever that Council can identify for allowing 6 + storey buildings turning large sections of the Glenhuntly Road shopping strip into a sunless canyon for much of the year, or for 10 storey apartment blocks in the area, or for residents one block from Glenhuntly Road to have 4-6 storey apartment blocks overshadowing and overlooking their houses and back yards?

City Plan cites max 5 storey max so why is anything higher than that even being mentioned in Glen Huntly

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:08 PM

Please provide details of Council’s intentions to re-zone residential  areas in Glenhuntly.

“Quite a lot of people opposed to increased building heights” – there’s your community feedback, Council!!!

I worry that residents voices won’t be heard

Is the idea of having all this development 10 storeys, 6 etc – is it to make money for the council? Who benefits financially from all this real estate developement?

What is the justification for 10 storey height behind Woolworths? What will it do to traffic flow? Light? setting a precedent for high rise? Insufficient green space in the area?  What are the plans to add green space in an area that has not nearly enough – despite wonderful Booran reserve that caters to kids primarily

car park next to woollies – who owns this land?

07:10 PM

For existing residential properties -what do you mean by a  housing assessment will take place- are there any plans to rezone current residential homes

The feedback here is that people are very concerned about the building heights. DOes this mean a new plan will be developed with residents input taken into consideration?>

Traffic movement in GH is already poor – how will the big increase be managed?

What does mixed housing mean- large buildings with mixed use is not enough detail.

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:11 PM

Question from xxxx:What’s the height restriction for the car park on the corner of Watson Grove and Huntly Street? How is the impact assessed?

07:11 PM

I’m Interested in the justification for 10 storeys, which seems excessive.

Did you do any community consultation when you changed it from a neighbourhood centre to a major activity centre? or decided for the residents that it would be okay to add 10 storey height limits?

07:12 PM

The corner of James street and GH road is already a mess, how can this under sized corner cope with all this proposed development.

1)           Why has the Activity Centre’s core shopping strip been extended from Booran Road to Heatherbrae and Emma Streets ? What forms of commercial activity will be permitted in this area adjoining residential housing ?

07:12 PM

Will Council compensate residents whose solar panels are shaded by potentially 6 storey towers shading their rooves?

From Glen Eira City Futures to Everyone:  07:12 PM

2)           Why have the sites at the Cnr of Booran and Glenhuntly Roads been proposed with a building height of 6 stories adjoining a low density housing area ? What forms of commercial activity would be permitted at this location ?

3) What is proposed for the rail siding area north of the current Glen Huntly Road car park adjoining Nerrium Road ?

Was anyone on this call part of the consultation process changing our suburb from a neighbourhood zoning to a major hub zoning

I was at the planning meeting

what is the plan for building adjacent to Glenhuntly train station on royal ave.

07:13 PM

Was there support for the rezoning

07:13 PM

I came away with the understanding that the character and feel of the area would be retained. I don’t believe this plan is consistent with that intention.

What are your specific plans for the area around U3A and the car park near Glenhuntly Woolworths?

This plan appears to be Half baked- lots of  development but no thought as to how local residents are affected

07:15 PM

One of the stated reasons for allowing denser high rise development is to provide accomodation for the projected Melbourne population growth. In view of the recent abrupt change in the Australia – China relationship and growing opposition to population growth as a driver of economic growth surely the projected population growth (one of the inputs to the plan) has to be reduced ? When this is considered along with the devastating impact of the pandemic in dense high rise dwelling surely the proposed revision upwards of some of the areas to four and even six levels is both unwise and inappropriate given there are additional other major reasons for not changing current height limits (including traffic congestion and parking) ?

I agree- all of us support a beautification process for the existing shops in GH that has been neglected over the years, the height of proposed buildings is causing concern

07:15 PM

I agree – I don’t think GLen Huntly should be considered a Major Activity Centre. This will enable changes that are not consistent with it’s current character.

07:16 PM

I agree with you xxxx

Q What were the considerations that determined the height and density of developments in the Glenhuntly Road and Booran Road precinct and what effect will this have in the surrounding streets?

Q: What were the considerations that determined the height and density of developments in the Glenhuntly Road and Booran Road precinct and what effect will this have in the surrounding streets?

I agree with you

07:17 PM

Could you talk about the $$$ profit all this development will make and where it is going?

07:17 PM

There is no transition from 3 to 6,or more stories

will u3a  survive in its existing site?

Are these building heights to be mandatory or discretionary….will 4 stories turn into 5 or 6 stories if developers make noises in this direction?

Why do you not create mandatory maximum height limits for some of these commercial developments to stop the loss of amenity, loss of light, overshadowing issues and detrimental effect on surrounding green areas?

07:18 PM

The answers is getting very repetitive, more development and more development .

Why do you not create mandatory maximum height limits for some of these commercial developments to stop the loss of amenity, loss of light, overshadowing issues and detrimental effect on surrounding green areas?

Balance that’s a joke, I see no balance here

07:20 PM

What sort of community and cultural services and venues will be incorporated?

The 2 car parks in Huntly Street were paid for “by the Glen Huntly Traders and Landowners back in 1980’s, with a fifteen year levy paid.” How can you replace these carparks with high rise dwellings?

Could Council provide justification and details of the amendment to the Glen Eira Planning Scheme that is needed to accommodate the draft Glen Huntly Structure Plan?

8 stories storeys  is too high for  for a neighbourhood centre   It will change the atmosphere of the area.   It is not carnegie or elsternwick    Please explain?

Hi Matt we don’t have an answer to the height- you can see the level of concern. Can the heights be changed or are they a given

07:22 PM

City Plan may be high level, but residents are angry about the persistent applications for mega storey developments.  Council should be listening to residents and applying significant pressure on the state government in regards to planning.  Acid test is:  would you want to live next door to a mutli-story apartment block.

Mandatory max heights would stop the VCAT merry go round that Council currently face, wasting huge amounts of residents money on legal fees.

It seems that the stricture plan allows rampant development with discretionary height limits but mandatory heights are in the too hard basket

If this structure plan is rammed down local residents throats now….what more will we have to fear from the “Housing assessment” alluded to by the speaker…when will this assessment be and will it allow 4-5 storey buildings next to 1-2 residential houses?

07:26 PM

I have pushed raise hand button to ask a question – can’t see if it’s up. Would like to ask a question

Yay xxx we need Council to represent US, not developers

07:29 PM

agrred

07:29 PM

If GH is a neighbourhood centre in the GE planning scheme, how can Plan Melbourne just override this?

Council have ticked the box for consultation but seem to be deaf to residents not wanting high rise extremes in their neighbourhoods. Not good enough,

07:30 PM

I wonder if any of the Council speakers would like a 6 storey monstrosity overlooking their back yards???

07:30 PM

Has council votes on this plan

07:30 PM

No, it’s still a draft

07:30 PM

By the time we get there it will be too late to object

07:31 PM

Yes

Given the way Caulfield Village grew and grew way past the initial proposed development, I fear that GH will go the same way

07:31 PM

If council addresses the height issues a large percentage of public concern would disappear

07:31 PM

the council is to represent the rate payers and it looks like the council has not listened to its people

07:32 PM

To keep in touch, contact https://savegleneira.com.au/

07:32 PM

Re Height limits and justifying them using the sun’s position. I’m asking why they’ve used the  Equinox sun ‘s position and not the Winter Solstice position which is lower in the sky?

good point Helen

07:32 PM

I think this draft plan is a mess and it should be started again with more sympathy for the existing built form

07:32 PM

it’s a draft ok

07:32 PM

count me in

07:32 PM

Is Council “consulting” with developers too?

07:33 PM

Development is great. It just needs to be appropriate.

07:33 PM

agree

07:33 PM

count me in too

07:33 PM

yes it looks like they are

07:33 PM

How much money is this proposed development making and where is the money going?

07:33 PM

Can we simply develop to Neighbourhood levels then?

07:34 PM

Scrap this plan , consult with residents, and start again please. If not, maybe we can elect councillors who are willing to do so.

07:35 PM

Why propose 6 to 10 storeys, knowing the minister will like this – can’t Council propose what the community wants, and take it from there?

07:35 PM

Is GH now a designated Major Activity Centre due to the cost of level crossing removals?

I am keen to further challenge our Major Activity Centre – can you please guide me?

disappointing meeting not enough time allocated for questions

07:36 PM

the level crossings were the numbers 3 and 4 in priority – why so long?

surely as a collective group you can challenge the Planning minister?

07:36 PM

This is a sham consultation.

thanks

07:37 PM

why are they still smiling about it all despite everyone’s concerns?

Maybe they know the final outcome and this is a charade?

Let Council know what you think of this by attending their zoom session tonight at 6.30pm. The link is: https://www.haveyoursaygleneira.com.au/GlenHuntly

With each step in this process it is becoming clearer and clearer that the Virginia Estate project is Council’s gift to the developers with very little consideration to local residents and the wider community.

Admittedly the Panel report largely supports everything that the developers wanted. This however does not obviate councillors’ responsibility to their constituents in fighting tooth and nail for a far more equitable outcome. The officer’s recommendations fail to do so and we certainly have little confidence that these 9 councillors will have the gumption to oppose the final recommendations!

Here’s a brief summary of council’s proposed concessions:

  • Prior to the Planning Panel councillors voted to insist on mandatory height provisions for all areas. This has now become ‘discretionary’. Thus 8 storeys could quite conceivably become 10 or even higher for the majority of the site.
  • Council also decided prior to the Planning Panel that 3000 dwellings be seen as a ‘hard cap’ (ie mandatory). This has now been changed to a ‘soft cap’ meaning that there is the real possibility that by project’s end we could have over 4000+ dwellings. A replica of what has happened with Caulfield Village where that incorporated plan states a figure of 1100-1200 dwellings. By the time this is completed, the total number will exceed 2200. Literally double the amount agreed upon.
  • Council also wanted mandatory overshadowing protection for all the site’s proposed parks including Virginia and Marlborough Parks. This has now become nothing more than a ‘guideline’ for the latter two. Given that there has also been an increase from 3 to 4 storeys abutting one of these parks, then the probability of greater overshadowing increases.
  • Council has also agreed to the narrowing of the originally decided upon road widths within the project site. Since flooding is a major issue and the width of the roadways were originally supposed to be necessary to cater for the overflow and drainage capacity, this could end up being a disastrous decision. With narrower roads we also have to ponder whether this means more land for the owners to develop?
  • Another major concession agreed to by council is the removal of several traffic infrastructure items that were initially deemed essential by both the VPA, and council. The developers are surely laughing all the way to the bank given that their contribution has now become $48+ million instead of the original sum of $64+ million. On top of this windfall we must not forget to include the State Government’s purchase of 1.2 hectares of land for the new McKinnon High campus. No detail has been provided by the government as to how much this purchase cost. We can only guess that it would certainly be well over $4m – and that is a conservative figure no doubt.
  • Adding insult to injury is the fact that the calculations provided still state that the site is 24+ hectares in size. Why isn’t the 1.2 hectare site removed from this calculation? Especially since the traffic estimates DO NOT INCLUDE the traffic generated by the school in any of its final numbers.
  • When one looks at the open space calculations we find that only 8.33% is considered as ‘open space’ and that includes a calculation based on 24+ hectares. Only when the neat sleight of hand is applied to calculate percentages according to Net Developable Area,(instead of total site area) do we come anywhere near a 10% return.
  • Council also is in agreement with the loss of parking for residents along East Boundary Road to accommodate the installation of traffic lights not where originally deemed necessary.

There are a myriad of questions that residents should be asking of their councillors, namely:

  • Why can Hobson’s Bay have 3000 dwellings on a site that is 67 hectares and Glen Eira thought that 3000 dwellings on a site of 24 hectares should also accommodate this same number?
  • Why can Hobson’s Bay have a density quotient for each hectare and this isn’t even considered by our council?
  • Why should nearly 3 potential hectares of this site (ie along North Road) only be charged the minimal 5.7% open space levy?

As stated previously, we do not expect that our  very compliant councillors will reject the officer’s recommendations. We will undoubtedly get more scape goating about government, about population growth, about ‘consensus’, whilst the missing ingredient in all of this discussion will be the tremendous impact on East Bentleigh residents and the municipality as a whole.

In another jam packed agenda for Tuesday night, the council tradition of ignoring resident views continues. Here is a brief overview of the important items.

THE BUDGET & SRP

Given the number of submissions put forward by residents on the budget and the Strategic Resource Plan (SRP) it is unbelievable that the budget does not include one single word in response to these submissions. The only acknowledgement of what residents said comes in the SRP in a paragraph that typically says nothing. We quote:

While there were three formal submissions received for the Strategic Resource Plan 2020-2021 to 2029-2030, twenty submissions received for the 2020-21 Draft Annual Budget also made reference to a number of matters in the Strategic Resource Plan. These included level of proposed borrowings and strategic projects contained within the long term capital works program. No formal submissions were received for the Draft Community Plan Commitments 2020-2021.

Once again we have a council that refuses to alter any aspect of its budget in response to resident feedback. Several submitters urged council to increase its allocated spending given the declaration of a climate emergency. Totally ignored! But this has not stopped council from:

  • Increasing the rate in the dollar (marginally) despite the fact that there is now an additional 200 rateable properties that will be paying rates.
  • A mere $3 reduction in the 240/120L wastage charge, despite the fact that there is a large reduction in the estimated State Government land fill levy.
  • The continued determination to borrow $60m over the next five years, most of which will probably go to funding the $51M Carnegie mini Gesac pool redevelopment! This is assigning future generations to huge debt repayments.

When residents have taken the time and trouble to sift through volumes of pages and figures, the least any council should be prepared to do is respond directly to these comments and provide solid justification as to why the suggestions have been ignored, adapted, or even incorporated into the final budget! In Glen Eira, there is no such thing as changing what has already been determined as a result of community feedback. The legal requirements are met and that is it!

CARNEGIE POOL DESIGN

Despite the fact that the vast majority of feedback on the initial concept designs repeatedly stated that a de facto GESAC was not wanted, Council has again ignored these views. The ‘promise’ is that the size presented in the plans: Remains within the footprint, size and structure as the existing pool

We certainly query the veracity of this statement as depicted in the following images. How on earth council can claim that the ‘footprint’ will be identical to what currently exists is simply mind boggling when the following is compared:

There are many other questionable statements. For example:

In terms of a Business Case we find this comment: The findings of this review will be presented in full to Councillors in July. Does this mean that councillors have not as yet even clapped eyes on the business justification to spend at least $51M? Will this business case ever make it into the public domain? And how on earth can any design be progressed when the financial evidence is not available? Another example of putting the cart before the horse!

There’s also this:

The traffic and parking report includes future scenarios which have been modelled around the proposed closure of Moira Avenue. Councillors have not made a final decision on closing Moira Avenue yet and an additional community consultation will be conducted in relation to the proposed road closure at a separate time next financial year 

Surely the question regarding the possible closure of Moira Avenue should come before any designs are put out for consultation? This smacks of the Inkerman Road bicyle path fiasco where decisions are made to plough ahead prior to a full, objective assessment of all the data.

We are simply reminded of what happened at GESAC with its abysmal planning that required the expenditure of several more millions to turn open space into more car parks (3 times). The Mile End traffic report and its claims for sufficient car parking down the track warrants very careful scrutiny.

All in all, it would appear to be more of the same in Glen Eira City Council. Namely, pretend you are really consulting in order to ‘prove’ all the decisions that have already been made!

Evidence keeps piling up as to the machinations that this council undertakes in the name of ‘community consultation’ – especially in relation to structure planning. The latest example is the draft Glen Huntly Structure Plan.

Tuesday night’s ‘debate’ on whether or not to accept the draft was stage managed to perfection. With Silver absent this created the potential for a tied 4-4 vote on whether to proceed with consultation or to reject the draft plan. The final vote was 5 to 3 to exhibit with Hyams, Esakoff and Sztrajt voting against exhibition and Magee, Athanasopolous, Cade, Delahunty and Davey voting to go ahead.

Not for the first time Magee outdid himself. Anyone listening to his comments would surely have come away with the view that he was opposed to exhibition. But no! He VOTED FOR, in spite of all such comments as: Council has to be ‘very very careful’; Glen Huntly is ‘charming’; there already are ‘lot of flats a lot of units’; to grow futher  ‘ would be detrimental to that strip if the structure plan was implemented the way it is currently written’ and finally ‘let’s make sure we save Glen Huntly so that in 10 or 15 years time Glen Huntly looks like Glen Huntly’. Had Magee voted against, as his comments implied, then Esakoff would have had the deciding vote and the draft would have been knocked back. As we said, stage managed to perfection!

But that’s not all. Consultation is now going ahead and the questions asked of residents could not be any more vague and useless. Here are the pertinent questions after the usual demographic options such as sex, age, connection with Glen Huntly. Direct questions on the draft structure plans itself are:

What do you like about the draft Plan?

Are there opportunities for change?

Do you have any other feedback?

How did you hear about the draft Structure Plan and the opportunity to provide feedback? Please select all that apply.

Not once in the opening blurb are residents told:

  • 10 storeys is proposed in one spot and between 6 and 8 for others
  • How many properties will be rezoned from 2 or 3 storeys to 4 storeys
  • Which height limits are discretionary and which are mandatory
  • That Glen Huntly is already the most dense suburb in Glen Eira

By way of contrast we provide the following example from a current consultation by Kingston. Whilst not brilliant, residents are at least provided with options that they can prioritise and comment upon. Also worth noting is that residents are specifically given the option of development density and scale plus the question: Please describe what need to be protected most when planning for the future of Chelsea! Questions that Glen Eira would not dare to ask because they know that the majority of residents are opposed to 10 storeys!

Countless other processes are missing whenever this council pretends to undertake community consultation. For instance:

  • No Discussion Papers outlining the pros and cons are presented
  • No background studies on traffic, parking, business, etc are done to accompany and inform the consultation

This approach is consistent in all council’s ‘consultations’ and stands in stark contrast to the way that  other councils go about involving their communities. Glen Eira does not have consultation worthy of that name. What we have is a carefully managed show where decisions are made behind closed doors and then the data or questions are skewed to find the ‘evidence’ that supports the predetermined decisions.

The following table taken directly from council’s latest version of the Open Space Strategy (OSS) says it all in terms of performance and how important this council views open space.

There are several things to note about this table:

  1. Of the fourteen suburbs listed 7 have less than 10 square metres per individual
  2. Only three suburbs have maintained the amount of public open space available to each individual, and these are the suburbs with the LEAST amount of public open space per capita (ie 3 metres).
  3. Thus Glen Eira has seen a REDUCTION of available public open space per individual over the past 6 years. Given the projected population growth, this will only get worse.

Over the past 6 years council has ‘achieved’ the following:

  • Placing a public acquisition overlay on 2 properties in Mile End Road/Mimosa Road, Carnegie. Houses still stand.
  • Purchase of old furniture store in Carnegie for $3+M in order to cater for market
  • Purchase of fully renovated property in Aileen Avenue for $2.16 and then rented out for 4 years. Also a stone’s throw from Princes Park
  • Several pocket parks. No report/evaluation as to how well used these are – ie unnamed road between Eskdale and Fitzgibbon Crescent and 500 metres from Caulfield Park

Over the past ten and a half years, council has accumulated $52m in open space levies. It has spent just over $8M on acquiring properties as NEW open space. That is basically 15%. The rest has gone into ‘improvement’ of existing open space, despite the fact that this council has identified for the past 30 odd years the need for additional open space!

Here’s the table that documents council’s accrued levy contributions. The figures are taken directly from the 2014 and 2020 open space strategies, together with data from the monthly financial reports.

FINANCIAL YEAR

REVENUE

2009/10 $1,663,000
2010/11 $1,629,000
2011/12 $2,230,000
2012/13 $1,900,000
2013/14 $2,581,000
2014/15 $3,667,000
2015/16 $5,865,000
2016/17 $7,811,000
2017/18 $10,348,000
2018/19 $7,851,000
2019/20 (Jul-April) $6,856,815
TOTAL $52,401,815

The central question for residents is: how much more development should a suburb like Glen Huntly have when it is already the most overdeveloped area in the municipality? Council uses profile.id. Here is what they conclude about Glen Huntly based on census figures. With Council’s proposed structure plan it can only get worse!

It is time that this council was called to account for its continued facilitation of more and more development. The latest example of what this means for residents is the draft Glen Huntly structure plan. This is far from a typical ‘structure plan’ in that:

  • Borders are yet to be identified
  • Rezoning of residential areas is yet to be itemised (ie from 2 to 3 or 4 storeys)
  • Potential heritage impacts unidentified

What we do know is that council’s much vaunted Quality Design Guidelines is not worth the paper it is written on and the latest City Plan  isn’t much better. Whilst the Guidelines stated that the preferred heights for the commercial areas be 5 storeys, we now have council officers advocating for 6 storeys. What was 8 storeys now becomes 10 storeys. The following screen dumps reveal what is proposed (most are discretionary height limits too):

The final insult comes with the discretionary setbacks. Whilst the Bentleigh & Carnegie upper floor setbacks were reduced from 6 to 5 metres, we now have council recommendations for a majority of only 4 metre setbacks and in one precinct a front wall of up to 15 metres.

This is not ‘urban design’ – it is urban destruction in a suburb that is currently the most densely populated in the municipality. With this ‘structure plan’ it will only get worse.

Several things are very clear.

  • The entire Caulfield North/East and Glen Huntly/Murrumbeena/Carnegie will meld into one hodge podge of high rise.
  • Glen Huntly currently does not have any sites zoned Residential Growth Zone (ie 4 storeys). This is the first step in changing this!
  • Developers, once COVID is over and the economy recuperates, will have a field day with practically everything being ‘discretionary’.

The tragedy of all this is that our councillors are failing spectacularly in fulfilling their roles – that is primarily to be COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVES. Listening to the community is one thing. Acting on community wishes is another thing completely.

The vast majority of Glen Eira residents live in our neighbourhood centres. Yet it is these very centres which have no protection against overdevelopment in the commercial and mixed use areas. Making matters even worse, it is these areas which are now being exploited since the major activity centres are basically already built out and land is far more expensive. So, if any reader should happen to live in Ormond, McKinnon, East Bentleigh, South Caulfield, North Caulfield, Patterson, Alma ‘village’, Caulfield, Gardenvale etc. then they had better get used to having high rise dominate their landscapes.

Thus far we already have either applications or permits granted for the following:

  • Multiple 7 s in Caulfield North
  • Multiple 7 storeys and 9 storeys in Caulfield South
  • Six and the potential for 10 storeys in Ormond
  • 6 storeys in McKinnon
  • 7 storeys in Bentleigh East
  • 9 storeys in Gardenvale
  • 12 storeys in Caulfield East heritage zone

Our neighbouring councils such as Bayside, Kingston, and even Boroondara have nothing of this for their neighbourhood centres.  Our council however sees fit to delay and delay so that by the time anything of value is produced it is far too late to put a stop to such development. If these suburbs already contain 7, 8, or 9 storey buildings it becomes impossible to then argue that the height limit should be 3 or 4 storeys.

Making matters even worse is that residents have been lead up the garden path again by our councillors and administrators. The 2016 Planning Scheme Review consultation produced results which were unequivocal and which this administration acknowledged at the meeting in the auditorium. Our notes from this meeting included the following comments:

MCKENZIE: because we can’t do everything at once we want you to tell us where you think the relative priorities are….the order we should be tackling some of this’

TORRES: ‘key messages’ and ‘themes’…today we believe there is a strong need to develop structure plans for our activity centres…..’there is a growing call from the community in this environment to better manage development in our activity centres….. It’s not one size fits all….not every shopping centres is the same.….strong representation from residents from the Bentleigh area….there are calls for height limits in our other shopping centres…., SO WE BELIEVE THAT STRUCTURE PLANS CAN DELIVER THAT SHARED VISION

SMITH: structure plans mentioned at every workshop; 3 structure plans in the municipality within the next 5 years; we envisage that these will continue throughout our activity centres after that initial 5 years …….; preferred character statements will allow us to set out (what we want) for a precinct…..decvelopment controbutions scheme…..’a lot of that work has already been done’

FACILITATOR: opportunity to prioritise urban villages and your neighbourhood centres

 Structure planning for ALL ACTIVITY CENTRES was the message that came through loud and clear. That is no longer the case and hasn’t been since the 2018 Planning Scheme Review work plan. Instead of structure planning, our neighbourhood centres and local centres will only have ‘guidelines’ and possibly ‘urban design frameworks’.

At last council meeting a public question was asked about these neighbourhood centres and how work will be progressed. The language council used in response confirms once again what their intentions are. What is unacceptable of course is that this council refuses to come out in an open and transparent fashion and tell its ratepayers that THERE WILL NOT BE STRUCTURE PLANS for these areas. Instead it becomes a game of semantics, obfuscation, and deliberate deceit.  Here’s the question and response.

What is even more disconcerting about council’s intentions is that:

  • Guidelines and/or urban design frameworks, or even Neighbourhood Centres Policies are NOT mandatory
  • These documents are generally viewed as ‘Reference documents’ at best and hence have very little statutory weight in any decision making by both council and VCAT
  • The starting date is 2021 for Caulfield South. Add on another couple of years before anything materialises and the suburb could well and truly be gone. How long for the other suburbs is the $64 question – perhaps never?
  • The ‘one size fits all’ that was decried by officers in 2016 is now firmly in place with the so called objectives of the city plan.

CONCLUSION

What we therefore have is a council determined to ignore public feedback and to allow our neighbourhood centres to become quasi major activity centres. Even worse is that this council refuses to be up front and commit to a clear statement that is truthful, accurate, and details exactly what is intended!

All councillors deserve an academy award for their performances last night. There was ‘passion’ with a capital P, so much in fact that at times it became cringe worthy. Residents really need to ask themselves – ‘what was actually achieved last night’ and did we witness anything other than another exercise in smoke and mirrors?

CLIMATE EMERGENCY

Davey did manage to get her most important motion up. This was to work on the Environmental Sustainable Policy (ESS) and to set a goal of cutting corporate emissions by 2025 and community emissions by 2030.

Sounds wonderful! But is it simply more of the same since nothing will happen for at least another 18 months given that there is no funding for anything new in the current budget! We are going to have to wait for the 2021/2 budget to see anything materialise and even then it could take months and months before any project is up and running. We did not get one single word about how much anything would cost nor which priority actions that will be pursued first down the track. It will all depend on the new ESS strategy and putting some money into the NEXT BUDGET!

Put simply, words and actions are miles apart. If we are indeed facing an ‘emergency’ then action is required NOW as it has been for years and years. We reiterate the following:

  • Why has it taken 4 years of doing nothing regarding a WSUD or ESD policy to emerge in our planning scheme?
  • Why haven’t the schedules to the zones been revamped so that permeability requirements are increased?
  • Why has nothing been done regarding basement sizes in our GRZ areas and the conditions for planting canopy trees?
  • Why are we still delaying any controls on tree removal on private land?

We also had the spectacle last night of Silver stating that he wasn’t happy with some of the wording of the recommendation(s) in the officer report. Fair enough! Then why didn’t he outline his misgivings and move a motion to amend the wording? Why pretend that abstaining (which was the flavour of last night) was not a vote against when the legislation clearly states: for the purpose of determining the result of a vote, a Councillor present at the meeting who does not vote is to be taken to have voted against the question [Local Government Act, 2020: Section 61:5(e)]

We also take issue with Sztrajt and his ‘passion’ on the importance of declaring a ‘climate emergency’. This will ‘send a message’ to all levels of government; it will inform the public, it will show how serious the community is and that Glen Eira is not the odd man out. Wonderful, except why isn’t this same passion applied to over-development and the ruin of our suburbs, especially the neighbourhood centres? Why can’t this same public statement be made on behalf of a community who don’t want our streets turned into high rise wind tunnels. Instead we get silence from the council lot!

The Budget

The spin doctors were really out in force on this item. Esakoff read out her version of the budget/SRP that contained no details whatsoever as to the plan to borrow $60 million. She merely used the term ‘borrowings’ once; nor did we get any summary of which services would be cut back. (For instance the massive reduction in library collection funding).

Not a single word from any councillor was directed to HOW MUCH our charges had increased. Yes, we were told 2% but that does not tally with what the actual numbers in the budget state – ie an average increase of between 12 and 15% on some major items.

And then there’s the rush to pass the budget, when councils have been given until August 31st to set their finances. How is it possible that council can state that it is currently unsure of the full financial impact of COVID and with the same breath draw up a budget that is so open to change? Or is this merely another tactic that council can later use when they delay project after project?

CONCLUSION

There is much, much more that needs to be said regarding last night’s meeting. What is very clear is that this council has no intention of changing its goals, its modus operandi, and its insistence on being as vague, and as uninformative as it possibly can be – both via the written and spoken word.

Yes, the legal requirements are met, but that is all that happens. Remember that this council has NEVER adopted any recommendations made by residents to its draft budgets. Once published everything is set in concrete unlike so many other councils who are now really seeking community responses to their planned projects and priorities.

For all the talk about ‘community’, Glen Eira councillors do not know the meaning of the word in our view. If they did, then the manner in which this council operates would be entirely different and far more transparent and accountable!

 

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