GE Planning


This isn’t the first time that the issue of overshadowing of residential properties, especially during the winter months, has come up. Council’s Planning Scheme Review of 2016 acknowledged that this was a major concern for residents and is only exacerbated with council’s decision to seek approval for 12 storey apartment blocks in both Carnegie and Elsternwick.

One public question from last week’s council meeting, returned to this question of what council intends to do to ensure that adequate controls are implemented. Below is the query and the response.

In the above council claims to have “proposed winter shadow controls” for public open spaces. Not a word about residential sites! One must also wonder exactly how the following may be interpreted as ‘controls’.The only mention of overshadowing in the Design & Development Overlays that relate specifically to the 3 activity centres are:

Buildings should minimise overshadowing impacts on existing and future open spaces, commercial footpath-trading areas and existing residential sites. 

AND in the decision guidelines we get this ‘criterion’.

The impact of overshadowing to the public realm.

None of the above are ‘controls’ in any shape or form. Nor do they even mention the winter solstice. The emphases remains firmly on public open space.

Even in the adopted structure plans there are not ‘controls’ mere motherhood statements such as:

Ensure overshadowing from new buildings and works does not result in significant loss of sunlight to future and existing public open spaces.

Ensuring adequate sunlight provision and minimising overshadowing of future plaza space.

Consideration of Council’s Open Space Strategy in the design and function of the new park, including minimising any overshadowing.

The Elsternwick Structure Plan sets out clear key design principles, including:

Σ minimise overshadowing to existing residential sites

ensure no overshadowing of residential areas between 9am and 3pm at the September Equinox,

Minimise overshadowing to existing residential sites

The form and scale of new development must be guided by minimising overshadowing impacts on existing residential sites. Development must satisfy the overshadowing objectives and standards of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme and may need to step down in scale towards residential sites in order to minimise overshadowing impacts

Principles have also been included in the new Carnegie Structure Plan that address concerns such as overlooking, overshadowing and traffic impacts on existing residential areas.

Protect the future open space at Egan and Woorayl Streets, in accordance with Council’s Open Space Strategy, with no overshadowing for a minimum of 5 hours at the September Equinox (9am to 2pm achieved) and 3 hours at Winter Solstice (11am to 2pm achieved).

Ensure no overshadowing of residential areas between 9am and 3pm at the September Equinox.

As can be seen from the above quotes, the only time that the winter solstice is specifically mentioned relates to Egan & Woorayl Streets in Carnegie, and even this does nothing to extend the hours. Further, given that this section of Carnegie is now geared towards highrise, then why oh why wasn’t the same consideration given to Elsternwick?

Telling residents to go off and advocate to the State Government does not abrogate these councillors’ responsibility to do everything they can to implement adequate controls. Given the history of this issue, council has not even been able to come up with official support for Melbourne City Council’s proposed amendment that would extend the winter solstice hours for planning applications. Overshadowing of public open space is important. But equally as important is to ensure that council is doing everything it possibly can to halt the plunging into darkness of those residents who find themselves within the shadow range of 12 storey apartment blocks. This, council has steadfastly refused to do and the reason is obvious. If planning applications have to adhere to winter solstice controls then that means that permits for 12 storeys would be jeopardised and would undermine council’s prodevelopment agenda. Worthy of note is that even the commisioned Peer Review of the Urban Design Guidelines had this to say:

Mid-winter overshadowing controls limit development envelopes to the north of spaces severely with the need for setbacks that are equal to approximately 2.5 times the overall height of the building.
As an example this would require a 12 storey built form to be setback over 90 metres from the northern edge of a public open space.

Overshadowing impacts to Woorayl Street Park would likely to substantially decrease the
overall height and development yield of sites between Woorayl Street and Arawatta Street
(to 5-6 storeys) if June 22 shadows are adopted in Guidelines, while September 22
shadows are more easily reconciled with the maximum height (with community benefits) as
shown in Figure 20. This model has assumed an adoption of September 22 shadow.

Caulfield Electorate Planning

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (09:51): This morning I tabled a petition with over 1700 signatures of support calling on the Andrews government to immediately review and reduce interim height limits for the Caulfield electorate, and I note the Minister for Planning is at the table today. Minister, the inconsistent and unfair height limits established by yourself as the Minister for Planning in amendment C157 to the Glen Eira planning scheme have encouraged a wave of inappropriate high-rise development proposals in Selwyn and Horne streets, Elsternwick, on what was the Daily Planet site and also the old ABC site. We are also seeing on South Road another development of up to 12 storeys with no height restrictions whatsoever.

These high-rise developments threaten to impinge upon the neighbourhood character, amenity and traffic flow, introducing overshadowing and privacy concerns for thousands of residents in my electorate. I have met with a number of residents, some of whom are in the gallery today, from Caulfield South and Elsternwick that are affected at these sites, where I have seen firsthand the effect of inappropriate overdevelopment in these areas on the community. I have written on behalf of residents to the mayor of Glen Eira City Council to seek assistance in reviewing and addressing the concerns of these residents. Minister, these residents would like to meet with you to talk about these issues and to see if we can get some consistency with the Oakleigh and Bentleigh electorates which have restricted height limits of six storeys while we have discretionary height limits of 12 storeys. If it is good enough for the goose, it is good enough for the gander. We should have consistency in our planning scheme.

Applause from gallery.

The SPEAKER: Order! Order in the gallery, please.

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Caulfield Electorate

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (11:47): (385) My constituency question is to the Minister for Planning. Minister, throughout the electorate of Caulfield we are seeing a number of overdevelopment proposals that are currently out of character with the local amenity and threaten residents’ way of life in the Caulfield community. In fact we tabled a petition today of that nature. Caulfield residents have seen these proposals from Horne Street, Elsternwick, the old ABC site, and of course now in Caulfield South. There is inconsistency when it comes to planning in the electorate of Caulfield. Of particular concern is the discrepancy in the interim height limits of Elsternwick, Bentleigh and Carnegie because of planning scheme amendment C157. Minister, we ask you why there is such an inconsistency in the planning scheme. In Glen Eira City Council on the Caulfield side there is a 12-storey discretion, and within Oakleigh and Bentleigh it is four to six storeys. Why is there that inconsistency, Minister?

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PETITION

Caulfield Electorate Planning

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly

We, the undersigned citizens of Victoria, call on the Legislative Assembly of Victoria to note:

The interim height limits established by the Minister for Planning, The Hon Richard Wynne MP in Amendment C157, are inconsistent, and unfairly impact Elsternwick and the broader Caulfield community.

The interim height limits have encouraged a wave of inappropriate high-rise development proposals in areas such as Selwyn and Horne Streets, Elsternwick and Hawthorn Road, South Caulfield, These proposed high-rise developments will impinge upon the surrounding neighbourhood character and traffic flow, introducing overshadowing and privacy concerns, without necessary community infrastructure upgrades.

The discrepancies between current interim height limits lack essential strategic justification, therefore the petitioners request that the Legislative Assembly of Victoria call on the State Government to immediately reduce the interim height limits for the Caulfield Electorate.

By Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (1747 signatures)

 

Tonight’s council meeting resembled a three ring circus and revealed once again to what extent decisions are made behind closed doors in Glen Eira. The ‘circus’ involved Item 9.1, on the 14 storey application for Horne Street, Elsternwick..

There was a significant pause before Delahunty put up her hand to move a motion for refusal of the application. This was seconded by Magee. What became obvious was:

  • The motion was entirely unexpected by all. Hence no grounds for refusal (as required) were as yet drafted.
  • Countless apologies to officers for this ‘surprise’ and not a word of criticism for their recommendation that went beyond the current Design & Development Overlay. Instead, we got comments as to how well they are interpreting the planning scheme.
  • Silver admitted his opposition to the application
  • Same old arguments from Hyams and Sztrajt such as ‘we could get worse outcome at VCAT’.
  • A 5 minute break in proceedings so councilors can again ‘decide’ what to do behind closed doors.
  • Magee’s ‘liking’ for 12 storeys, but only if it’s in the ‘right place’. That is along Nepean Highway.

On return, Delahunty’s motion was voted out. Only Delahunty and Magee voted in favour of refusal. All the rest voted against. Please note that Athanasopoulos and Esakoff were absent.

Davey had foreshadowed a new motion for a permit of 8 storeys. It was then decided that the issue would come back for decision once Torres had been given some time to draft the relevant motion and its conditions.

Silver moved motion for 8 storeys. Sztrajt seconded. Voted in 5 votes to 2. Interestingly, Davey who foreshadowed the 8 storey motion, voted against! Magee also voted against. Cade was silent throughout this item.

Please listen to what was said (below) and consider the following:

  • Baseless claims by Magee and others that the structure plans were in line with community sentiment. All community feedback was strongly against the 8 to 12 storey heights.
  • No justification has ever been provided for such heights
  • Traffic and overshadowing documents that were to be done over a year ago are still to make it into the public domain. Has council actually done this work?
  • Why does this council continually blame the State Government and yet not one single formal public statement has been made that challenges anything. When other councils such as Boroondara, Mornington Peninsula, Stonnington can voice their disapproval of government decisions, why is our council silent and compliant? This is not advocacy. It is complicity!

Please listen carefully to the incredible waffle that epitomises these councillors decision making!

Finally, we also point out that in response to the 4 or 5 public questions council did not provide a single answer.

PS: FROM HANSARD 19/3

SOUTHERN METROPOLITAN REGION Mr HAYES(Southern Metropolitan) (18:01):My constituency question is to the Minister for Planning. I refer the minister to the case of my constituent Graham Huntly, who is helping the government meet its renewable energy target by putting solar panels on his home at Ross Street, Elsternwick. If Woolworths succeeds in building 10 and 14-storey towers in Elsternwick, Mr Huntly’s sunlight will be blocked and his solar panel investment—to say nothing of his quality of life—will be devalued.

What rules does the government have in place to stop developments overshadowing solar panels, and will the minister support Glen Eira council’s eight-storey height controls—and make them mandatory—and reject 10 and 14-storey towers in Elsternwick?

Council continues on its merry way of destroying Elsternwick by recommending a 12 storey permit for Horne Street (Daily Planet site). We remind readers that this area sits alongside single and double storey dwellings, even though the latter (Ross Street) is zoned RGZ (four storeys). Council therefore sees no problems with a 12 storey building backing onto dwellings of this size.

The application was for 14 storeys and true to form we get a recommendation to lop off a couple of storeys. There is much in this officer’s report that is highly questionable if not straight out farcical.

In this post we will simply concentrate on the draft permit and what the recommendations allow. We quote from the report. 

The building height to be reduced to not more than 46.30m above natural ground level comprising not more than 12 storeys, with no architectural features,services, stairs, lift overruns or masts higher than 50.30m above natural ground level.

COMMENT: Amendment C157 has as the ‘maximum building height43.0 metres (discretionary). Thus, even though council might be reducing the number of storeys, the overall height of the building itself will be even greater than the structure plan suggests. Plus with masts up to 50.30 metres the building will definitely reach for the skies. The adopted C157 Amendment only allows a 4 metre extra height for masts, telecommunications, lift overruns, etc. So now we have the absolutely ludicrous situation where council first wanted 8 storeys and with ‘community benefit’ maybe 12. Now they are okaying extra height for both building and its masts, both in opposition to its own planning scheme!

The owner will maintain the shared space side laneway for not less than 5 years after the date of its completion to the satisfaction of Glen Eira City Council. 

COMMENT: This is the only time that the phrase ‘not less than 5 years’ is included in the officer’s report. It is only to be found in the pages upon pages of the ‘conditions’ and not in the body of the report itself. Instead we find this contradictory statement in the rest of the report

A Section 173 Agreement should be entered into for the permit holder to provide and maintain the shared space side laneway for the life of the building and to secure the office floor space for the life of the building.  

Which is it? Or is the above comment intended to camouflage what the Section 173 agreement will state? Surely the ‘life of the building’ is more than the 5 years stipulated in the conditions for the permit? Secondly, why only 5 years? Does this mean that in the 6th year the costs of maintenance will now fall upon council and hence ratepayers?

The front (north-eastern) setback of the tower element (third floor and above) to Horne Street increased to a minimum of 4.0m. 

COMMENT: We have to ask, what’s the point of having a structure plan if it ends up being ignored. The recommended setbacks are the perfect example of this. Amendment C157 included a requirement (preferred) of a 5 metre setback. The original urban designs for our activity centres had featured a 6 metre setback but council changed this to 5 without any real explanation. Even so, how on earth is it now considered appropriate that this be even further reduced? Why bother with structure plans at all when council itself decides it can ignore what it so loudly championed? 

As to what constitutes ‘community benefit’ we get the rubbish of widening a laneway by a few metres as proof of this, plus the creation of ‘passing areas’ because otherwise cars won’t get through.Creation of offices is nothing more than pie in the sky at this stage as well.

 

We have also had a good laugh at this sentence  Over time, the character of Elsternwick will change as buildings, consistent with the planning controls are constructed. One must question how many of these past high rises and now this one can be seen to be ‘consistent with the planning controls’?

We can only speculate as to why council would recommend a permit of this height? Our suspicion is that it is merely another nail in the coffin for low rise along Nepean Highway. Council is determined that Elsternwick becomes the high rise capitol of Glen Eira. Granting a permit for one more eyesore makes it a lot easier to have 12 storeys along all of Nepean Highway, regardless of whether this is needed or not!

Well done council. At least you are consistent in your appalling planning decisions!

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!

Residents addressed council tonight on the proposed sell off of our aged care facilities. All speakers performed wonderfully well =  articulate, informed, concerned, and passionate about preserving this service for the long term.

Some of the themes that were prominent included:

  • the lack of genuine consultation and council’s secrecy over this issue
  • the lack of justification
  • the permanent loss of a service and its impact on individuals

We present below one resident’s submission. Please listen to this carefully since it summarises beautifully how council has failed its community and the lack of transparency. We also note Hyams’ fumbling and disingenuous response to the issue of the lack of community consultation. When council makes this audio available it is worth listening to simply because of his pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible.

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!

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