GE Transport


The article presented below comes from Sunday’s Age. We feature this for several reasons:

  • At least some Kingston councillors are not averse to saying enough is enough. Contrast this with our councillors where not a single word has been said about the rate of (over)development in Glen Eira.
  • Density has never been mentioned in Glen Eira. Yet we are already the most dense municipality behind Melbourne, Port Phillip, and Stonnington. And these three councils of course have got special circumstances that account for their densities ie zoning of Capital City, tourist areas, and much larger commercial zones than Glen Eira. Exacerbating the issue is that Glen Eira has the least amount of public open space per population in the state! Another reason why density becomes even more important.
  • If council’s stated population growth target of approx 180,000 residents by 2036 eventuates, then our density will climb to well over 4,600 residents per square km. That figure rivals, and surpasses many other major world cities. Unsustainable of course given our aged infrastructure.

The take home message for residents is that it is high time that our councillors stopped being lap dogs to the Department and Government and actually stood up for residents and said ‘enough is enough’ as Kingston has done!

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It hasn’t taken long for the purchaser of the Godfrey’s site in Hawthorn Road to get his application in. Another high rise proposal whilst Council sits on its backside and does nothing about its neighbourhood centres. Residents are already fighting a 9 storey proposal. Now they will have to address this new battle and fork out thousands upon thousands of dollars in fighting the proposal. We place the blame squarely on this council. It is unconscionable that residents must pay the financial price to safeguard their residential amenity all because of council’s incompetence and unwillingness to undertake work that other councils have been doing for well over a decade.

Remembering the past is always difficult when it comes to planning. That’s why it is important that residents understand why Glen Eira is in the state it currently is in now. The present has been shaped by the past and, most importantly in Glen Eira’s case, by council’s unwillingness to undertake work that has been second nature to every other council (namely, overlays, structure plans, parking precinct plans, developer levies, etc). We should also add that council’s current work on structure planning is only due to the fact that they were ordered to do it by Richard Wynne in December 2015.

The newly formed resident group, SAVE GLEN EIRA, has published a short history of what’s been happening in this municipality. It makes for very interesting reading. The standout features are without doubt:

  • continued inaction on the most important planning issues for nearly 18 years
  • resident views have never mattered, and
  • we are still a long, long way off before controls are introduced which will safeguard our neighbourhoods.

Please read this article carefully. It can be accessed via https://savegleneira.com.au/a-recent-history-of-planning-in-glen-eira-2001-2015/

 

Given what has been happening in Seymour Road, Elsternwick with the destruction of two period homes, and council’s failure to have up to date heritage overlays, we thought it worthwhile to revisit a post we made in October 2018.

The significance of the ‘action plan’ of 2018, is that council has watered down most of the promises given to residents in 2016 at the time of the Planning Scheme Review. We repeat what we wrote at the time and urge residents to note how much of what was promised no longer exists in its entirety, or has morphed into meaningless, discretionary controls only. More to the point, most of these promises have now been pushed back years and years. Heritage is the perfect case in point.

We have created a table below which features the promises from 2016 and put them alongside what is the plan today. One major difference between 2016 and 2018 that should be highlighted is the disappearance of any intention to introduce a Neighbourhood Character Policy. In 2016 we got these statements:

A Neighbourhood Character Policy is recommended to clarify when protection of existing character is required, and clarity on neighbourhood character design outcomes for ‘change areas’

AND

The work plan also recommends that the residential zones support the neighbourhood character policy by including additional neighbourhood character objectives and increased schedule standards to protect and enhance character.

In 2018, this has gone and with no explanation, justification, or further reference, is replaced with this single sentence – The implementation of the Quality Design Guidelines addresses the Planning Scheme Review 2016 Work Plan action to implement a Neighbourhood Character Policy

There are several things to note about these proposed changes:

  • The Quality Design Guidelines only apply to the existing structure plans of Bentleigh, Elsternwick and Carnegie. They are not mandatory.
  • Its status in the Planning Scheme is nothing more than a ‘reference document’ and hence is basically useless. At least a full blown POLICY, whilst also not mandatory, would at least have more weight at VCAT than an appended ‘reference’ document.
  • The 2016 statements applied to ALL housing diversity, not just the 3 Activity Centres of Bentleigh, Carnegie & Elsternwick.  Yet even in these latter activity centres nothing has changed in terms of the schedules for permeability, site coverage, open space, etc.

There is much, much more which has been tossed out in the 2018 version -ie

  • The major heritage ‘review’ is now set down for the Major Activity Centres with no time line as to when the entire municipality review will be completed.
  • Tree registers and open space amendments are years down the track
  • And poor old neighbourhood/local centres such as Ormond, McKinnon, East Bentleigh, etc.will not have any protection for years and years. Council is only committing to ‘one or two’ urban design frameworks starting in 2021/22!!!! PLUS no longer any talk of ‘structure plans’ for these centres just Urban Design Frameworks!!!!.
  • Limiting the impact of car parking basements is also watered down so instead of definitive standards such as Bayside implemented years ago in its schedules to the zones (ie max of 75% site coverage) our council is happy with statements such as this in its so called QUALITY Design Guidelines – Buildings should minimise basement footprints within the front and rear setbacks to provide for deep planting. No ‘musts’, no numbers, no changes to the schedules throughout the municipality.

Here is the table which quotes verbatim the August 2016 report and the current 2018 report. We have only highlighted some of the most important issues. The dates in parenthesis for 2018 merely indicate the STARTING TIME AND NOT COMPLETION TIME.

Please read carefully and consider the consequences.­­­

This is anything BUT a Planning Scheme Review. Yes we acknowledge that after 15 years of doing nothing Glen Eira Council is certainly behind the eight ball. But this should not be the excuse for watering down what was promised in 2016 without consultation and most importantly, without any strategic justification. It is merely another example of why this council cannot be trusted!

A fabulous turnout at last night’s Save Glen Eira inaugural meeting with an audience of over 100 concerned residents. And, their concern, anger and distrust of Council was palpable.

The evening began with several presentations from 5 residents. Four of the presentations honed in on current planning applications, their impacts especially on neighbouring sites and how little Council has done to ensure that such outrageous applications are doomed to fail at VCAT. The final presenter queried council’s prognostications as to the required housing needed to cater for the expected population growth and showed that at current rates Glen Eira’s building boom is close to double what is needed. The question thus was: why double the size of activity centres? Why insist on 12 storeys across the board? Where is there any strategic justification for such a ‘vision’?

The evening was then thrown open to the audience for a Q & A session. The questions and statements covered a range of topics, including:

  • Lack of genuine consultation and help from council
  • The need for sustainable development (and please remember that Glen Eira has no tree protection on private land)
  • The power of lobbying and lobbyists
  • Unifying community voices everywhere
  • Electing councilors who will truly represent the community

Much, much more was said. The overall feeling was that Save Glen Eira had taken a very positive step in uniting residents across all areas of Glen Eira. Planning incompetence touches everyone, especially when we have a council that refuses to listen to its residents. This was the real take home point from last night.

Also present were David Southwick and Kelvin Thompson.

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The above screen dump is from Thursday’s Age newspaper and as stated is in response to a previous article written by the CEO of the Victorian Planning Authority. Please remember that the VPA is all about ‘development’. They are the government’s (of both persuasions) agency designed to achieve more and more development.

Putting this aside, it is a great pity that Tim Smith is more concerned with the simplistic solution of ‘decentralisation’ and pushing the Liberal agenda, than in really attacking the Mosely (VPA) argument. There is so much more he might have written. For starters, how about:

  • Reforming the planning system from a ‘performance based’ formula to one that contains prescriptive controls and parameters?
  • Reining in the powers of VCAT and councils?
  • Ensuring that residents do not subsidise developers, as in Glen Eira when we have no Development Contributions Levy and no Infrastructure Levy and this council is happy to exact pittance from its major developments for open space (ie Caulfield and East Villages)?
  • Ensuring that delegations at compulsory conferences are accountable to residents and councillors and do not simply cave in to developers.
  • Ensuring that the planning system is far more transparent and accountable to residents
  • That the ministerial intervention powers also be tightened and that full disclosure of department recommendations become public.

There is much that needs to happen before we have a planning system that works for residents and not developers. It’s just a pity that both sides of politics are so entrenched in their views that Mosely may just be right ie things will get worse and developers will continue to rule.

Here’s another example of what happens when a council refuses to address the immediate planning issues of our local centres. Another 8 storey application in a Commercial zone. No mention of how many student dog boxes and car parking waivers of course. By the time this council gets around to doing anything, Glen Eira will definitely be the high rise capitol of the middle ring municipalities. Well done Council!

PS: readers may also be interested in a VCAT decision published today re 285/7 Koornang Road, Carnegie. This site was granted a permit for 4 storeys and 40 apartments a while back when we had the first version of council’s structure plan. In the second version, the 4 storey height limit suddenly became 5 storeys. So now we have the permit holder applying for an extra level plus an additional 6 dwellings. Councillors voted unanimously to grant the application for amendment and this was supported at VCAT. Another ‘well done’ to our councillors who without explanation, without consultation decided that four storeys was too low, so let’s make it 5 here and 12 elsewhere. Not for the first time are we finding that developers are going higher and higher after they’ve got their initial permit. And what does council say? bugger all it would seem!

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