GE Transport


For all the talk of a down turn in the construction industry, Glen Eira is well and truly maintaining its record rate of development. The table below is compiled from today’s ABS released figures on building approvals for the current financial year – up to and including May. That means 11 months worth of approvals. Again we note:

  • Glen Eira leading the pack
  • Victoria in Future predictions well and truly outstripped – ie 13,000 by 2031. At this rate, this figure will be reached by 2020/21
  • None of these figures take into account the additional 4,500 (‘preliminary’ numbers) set for Caulfield Village and Virginia Estate

There is absolutely no strategic justification for council’s current plans to double the size of activity centres and to impose 12 storey height limits, plus rezoning hundreds upon hundreds of sites that will be earmarked for higher height limits.

We’ve uploaded the latest ABS figures HERE

A new application has come in for Loranne Street, Bentleigh which signals another nail in the coffin for council’s structure plans. According to the proposed new zoning, the East side of Loranne will be reduced to a 2 storey height limit. The application is for 4 storeys in line with the current zoning of Residential Growth Zone and whilst the number of apartments is not revealed, we assume that this will be anywhere from 25 upwards. Given the current zoning the chances of the developer getting his 4 storeys is pretty good

What this means is that council’s calculations on housing numbers are basically works of fiction. Council has previously simply provided figures on how many sites will be ‘downgraded’ to lower heights and how many ‘upgraded’ to greater heights, with no accounting for how many of these former sites already contain dwellings that are at the maximum heights (and densities) introduced in 2013. And this will continue for at least another year, and even longer for our neighbourhood centres which are bereft of any decent controls and with no time lines set for the introduction of anything to ameliorate the continuing damage.

The VPA (and Council) has finally released its version of Stage 1 of ‘community consultation’ on the Caulfield Station structure planning with this neat little blurb and a ‘survey’. (See: https://vpa.vic.gov.au/caulfield-station-precinct-vision-survey/

It would seem that the norm now for government and council is to fall back on meaningless jargon (ie ‘Vision’) and surveys that are highly questionable. Our view is that surveys are fine – but only AFTER residents know exactly what they are dealing with. What are the parameters that have been set? What is the proposed land use? Before any ‘survey’ results can be truly meaningful then residents need to know exactly what are the options? We fear that this process will simply mirror what has already happened with Bentleigh, Carnegie & Elsternwick – albeit on a much grander scale!

Here’s part of the ‘survey’. We ask readers to consider its merit.

PS – FROM TODAY’S HANSARD

Caulfield electorate

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield)

(12:00)

My question is for the Minister for Planning. I raise an issue on behalf of 1300 local petition signatories who are outraged by the Elsternwick rezoning master plan, which will increase the local population by over 20 per cent with no consideration of the impacts on amenity, infrastructure and traffic congestion. Residents are also confused at the seemingly different rules for different electorates whereby the areas of Bentleigh and Carnegie are benefiting from interim height controls as low as four to five storeys whereas sections of  Elsternwick have no current height limits and could face up to 20 –storey apartments complexes.

The current Elsternwick rezoning plan is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the local area. Can the minister provide an answer to concerned Elsternwick residents as to why are there are these inconsistencies whereby one electorate, the marginal seat of Bentleigh, is being benefited in comparison with another electorate, my electorate of Caulfield?

If anyone needs further proof of what an unmitigated disaster planning is in Victoria the events of the past week prove this in spades. Wynne has certainly outdone himself this time in gazetting Amendment C143 on the 15th May, without any consultation, without any forewarning, and handing more and more advantage to developers and complicit councils which we label Glen Eira as.

Amendment C143 has basically diluted the much vaunted ‘garden requirement’ – especially for areas zoned as General Residential (GRZ). When this amendment was introduced in March 2017, garden areas were mandatory and proclaimed that dwellings in both NRZ and GRZ had to set aside, 25%, 30% and 35% of the site depending on their respective size. Each garden area was supposed to be at ground level, not to include any ‘covered’ areas, and there was no scope for councils to ignore this. On the 15th May all this changed. What we have now is depicted in the following image taken from the amendment

Please note the following:

  • Councils now have the option to include in their schedules an ‘exclusion’. That means that if they so desire then the garden requirement need not apply to any proposed development. Further, if the site is designated as ‘medium density’ then it may also be excluded. We note that according to council’s draft structure plans and the Urban Design guidelines Garden townhouses and Urban townhouses are defined as ‘medium density’ and given the ridiculous label of 2 to 3 storeys. That can only mean that all these areas will be rezoned to GRZ and hence may be excluded from the requirement to provide any ‘garden area’.
  • Land under the eaves is now to be included in any garden area calculation.
  • Garden areas now do not need to be at ground level – they can be calculated via balcony size and whatever is under a balcony that projects out from the building is also included in the garden area calculation.
  • Sheds of up to 10 square metres can now also be included in the required calculation. If the site happens to be 420 square metres, then 25% should be ‘garden area’. That means 105 square metres. Thus if a shed is built, it can occupy 10% of the previously designated garden area.
  • Pergolas are now also acceptable – even if they have louvred shutters that at various time could form an ‘enclosed’ area. And who will supervise that these louvres remain open all the time?
  • The most interesting aspect is again the possibility that everything included in an approved structure plan can also be excluded from having a mandatory garden area. In Glen Eira where we estimate 90% of the municipality will become ‘activity centres’ according to council’s published ‘study area’ borders, that could mean that only a small proportion of land will be required to meet the garden area clause.

Making matters worse is that VCAT has finally started hearing cases post the introduction of Amendment C110. In two recent decisions, labeled as ‘red dot’, one respective member had this to say:

The Tribunal’s finding regarding the MGAR (minimum garden area requirement) is that the areas underneath the eaves and extended roofline of the proposal are excluded from the calculation of the ‘garden area’ because they are not ‘uncovered outdoor areas’; and because they are ‘roofed areas’ within the ordinary meaning of those terms.  (Source: http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2018/646.html)

Both decisions came to the same conclusion on MGAR. But not a week later, Wynne gazetted his Amendment C143 which contradicted these decisions! Where does that leave us? What are the legal ramifications? How much further will Wynne go to accommodate developers and reduce residential amenity for communities? And the $64 question?– which way will council jump? Will they introduce some nifty clause into their amendments which remove the need for garden areas in the GRZ? Will they continue to plough on in their unjustified endeavours to expand activity centres and facilitate more and more development – in the face of huge community opposition? How many more attempts to bypass the community via applying under section 20(4) of the Planning & Environment Act will we have to endure? When will this group of 9 councillors have the guts to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’?

To what extent is council’s planning department in cahoots with developers? A recent application renders this question very, very relevant. The application is for an 8 storey student accommodation building  in Dudley Street, Caulfield East. The proposal is to house 104 students, a shop at ground level and a car parking waiver of 31 spaces. The application is currently being advertised.

All well and good – perhaps. Except that:

  • The site is zoned as Neighbourhood Residential – ie a MANDATORY HEIGHT LIMIT OF 9 METRES OR 2 STOREYS
  • The site is NOT PART of the Phoenix precinct which is (partly) geared towards accommodating student housing.

Yet, this application is now being advertised. Why? Why hasn’t it been refused outright given the above? Secondly, why when the developer admits to ‘pre-application’ meetings with the planning department has council allowed this application to reach this stage of advertising instead of refusing it outright under delegation? Doesn’t the planning department know its own zoning or its own planning scheme?

Regardless of whether Dudley street should have been rezoned eons ago given that there is now 5 storey buildings in this street, the fact remains that it hasn’t been rezoned. So what conclusions can we draw from this? It is clear that council and the VPA intends to expand the Phoenix Precinct. That residents of the area can expect more and more high rise development. This however does not excuse the planning department’s failure to enforce the current planning scheme or to insist that the ‘errors’ contained in the application are removed. For instance: we are repeatedly told that the site is in ‘housing diversity’ area. It is NOT. We are also repeatedly told that the site is part of the Phoenix precinct. It is NOT. Time and again council’s officer reports tell us that it is the current planning scheme that matters and that council’s draft structure plans therefore play no part in the decision making since they are not approved parts of the planning scheme. Surely the same should apply to this application? The fact that it hasn’t, that the developer has been allowed to get away with blue murder, raises fundamental questions about governance, ‘favouritism’, the sheer competence of the planning department and of course, council’s hidden agendas!

We’ve uploaded the current zoning (below)  that clearly shows the NRZ status of the land –

It will be fascinating to see the officer’s report (if we get one) and the rationalising that will undoubtedly attempt to excuse the inexcusable. What is at stake here is the community’s faith in the integrity and objectivity of planning in Glen Eira.

The two tables presented below are from the latest ABS building approvals. (uploaded HERE) The first table features the total number of building permits granted per year for the past 6 years and 9 months – ie until March 2018. Glen Eira is still ahead of the pack in unit development, plus the fact that Stonnington is a special example – ie three times the commercial zoning that Glen Eira has, whilst Port Phillip is in a league of its own with over 15% of its land mass designated as ‘capital city zone’ plus its large quotient of commercial zoning plus tourism. Monash is double the size of Glen Eira and has double the number of houses built compared to Glen Eira. Boroondara is also well ahead of Glen Eira in the number of houses versus apartments erected in that municipality.

So, once you add in the following, then the ‘damage’ done to Glen Eira is evident:

  • Small size of municipality
  • Least amount of open space
  • High population density and increasing
  • Dwellings per hectare
  • Lack of any traffic plans
  • No developer contributions for drainage, community infrastructure, parking waivers
  • Small commercial zoning which means development is occurring in local streets (approx 3% compared to Stonnington’s 8%)
  • Money squandered on open space ‘improvements’ instead of the purchase of more and more open space
  • No local environmental or water policy in the planning scheme
  • No local policy regarding tree protection in the planning scheme – and a mooted ‘significant tree register’ which will probably total only about 150 trees. This won’t go far enough by a long shot to halt the rampant moonscaping that has been plaguing Glen Eira for decades.
  • Most importantly, these figures make a mockery of council’s prognostications. Our supposed 13000 net new dwellings by 2031 will be here within the next few years – especially with a mooted 4500 net new dwellings for East Village and precinct 3 for Caulfield Village. Thus, why are hundreds upon hundreds of properties being rezoned? Why are activity centres being doubled in size? And why oh why does council refuse to address and answer these fundamental questions?

Some enlightened councils have set up ‘citizen juries’ in order to work on budget priorities each year. In Glen Eira there is no such thing. Residents get no say in how they would like their money spent. Thus year after year we find the lion’s share of expenditure going the same way – more fancy ‘redevelopment’ of open space instead of the purchase of additional open space. More and more staff (from 810 EFT last year to 829 EFT for 2018/19). More and more money going to ‘consultants’ and ‘contractors’, etc.

We provide the following table which lists the proposed expenditure on various items for the last 3 years. Readers should note:

  • The consistent decline in expenditure for traffic management
  • With development at an all time high, drainage funding has basically remained constant
  • The consistent reduction in council’s contribution to the pensioner rebate. By way of contrast we note that the following councils all provide a far greater rebate:
  • Port Phillip – A pensioner rebate that will increase by 3.1 per cent to $165 in 2018/19.
  • Monash – $50
  • Manningham – $50
  • Darebin – $150
  • Kingston – $100

Readers should ask themselves if this table is in line with their thinking on how our money should be spent –

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