GE Transport


To begin with, wishing all our readers a safe and healthy festive season, with thanks for your input throughout the year.

2018 has in many ways been pretty momentous. There have been some governance advances but overall majority resident views continue to be ignored. Here is a summary:

THE POSITIVES

  • Telecasting of council meetings and ‘public participation’ section a continued winner
  • Heritage action(s), whilst far from complete, has at least got off the ground
  • Reform of permit time extension applications and council’s admission that it stuffed up badly on one application

THE NEGATIVES

  • Structure planning ‘consultations’ that are ‘tokenistic’ given the continued changes that have not gone out for proper consultation and when no justification is provided for the changes – ie setbacks, heights.
  • Continued delays on the introduction of parking plans, heritage overlays, open space levies
  • Local Law review still well over a year away – ie removing the ridiculous clause that those asking public questions have to sit through up to 3 hours of items before their questions can be addressed. If not present then no record of the question or response exists in the minutes.
  • Tree register still belonging in some unspecified never-never land.
  • When the city is well and truly meeting its housing needs for population growth, no justification has been provided for why so much more development is required.
  • No firm commitment to introduce structure plans for neighbourhood centres – merely ‘urban design guidelines’ that are non-mandatory. Timelines also a mystery. Yet we have seen up to 8 storeys in these centres.
  • Officers granted more power via the recent delegation resolution – ie need now for over 15 objections to a planning permit in order for it to be considered as ‘suitable’ for a full council decision – otherwise decided by the Delegated Planning Committee which consists entirely of officers. One concession – councilors now have ‘call in’ rights. How often will this be used we wonder and no guidelines/policies have been published to inform residents as to how this will work.

There are plenty of other issues we might highlight. The take home message is that planning and traffic remain residents’ major concern and this council has done very little to ameliorate the continuing damage. When the vast majority of residents are opposed to 12 storeys in Carnegie & Elsternwick, and the majority were also in favour of only 4 storeys for Bentleigh, council has shown time and time again that it is intent on ramming its agenda through despite community opposition. Until we have a group of councilors determined to listen to its residents then nothing will change.

 

Elsternwick is quickly emerging as Glen Eira’s high rise capital with another 14 storey application for the former Daily Planet site. Adding salt to the wounds of residents, this application:

  • Abuts the 4 storey mandatory height limit of Ross Street – where many dwellings are single storey
  • The discretionary height limit is 12 storeys but developers regard this as nothing more than a ‘minimum’.

Possibly the biggest joke in this application is the developer’s claims to ‘community benefit’. Readers should remember that council decided that development could go from 8 to 12 storeys if there was ‘community benefit’. Of course there is very little definition of what this term actually means and certainly nothing worth a cracker in the eventual interim amendment. For those applications wishing to exceed the preferred height, all they have to show is (quote) – that the development includes the provision of significant community benefit. Not a single of word of definition exists; no decision criteria exist. Council should congratulate itself on producing the perfect example of waffle par excellence!

How does the developer respond to this clause then? Here’s what is claimed as ‘community benefit’ –

We get a paragraph on office space and ’employment’, then more of the same. Please note the reference to the former brothel!

And the result will look like this:

There’s another aspect to this application worth considering. As recently as the last council meeting a resolution was passed to grant this site a permit for a drug rehabilitation unit. It had apparently been operating for some time without a permit. The current application allegedly arrived at council on the 2nd November.  Discussions prior to this date would undoubtedly have taken place with council planners. Thus, given that developers operated without a permit, did council issue any fines, or merely turn a blind eye knowing this was in the works?

Many other aspects of the application are contentious – ie overshadowing; traffic, open space. What is becoming clearer and clearer is that Elsternwick has always been seen as Glen Eira’s high rise capital and every effort has been made to further this agenda by a council that steadfastly refuses to listen to its residents!

Woolworths Elsternwick: Supermarket giant resubmits plans for high rise tower

Emma-Jayne Schenk, Caulfield Glen Eira Leader

November 21, 2018 12:00am

The battle between Woolies and Elsternwick neighbours is back on, with Woolworths pinning its hopes on a new public facility in their planned Selwyn St complex, to help quell backlash against its plan for a towering high-rise.

The supermarket giant has finalised plans for the 13-storey complex, following more than 115 objections about height and scale, traffic congestion, parking, loss of heritage, and overshadowing on nearby houses.

The former ABC building on Selwyn St, which Woolies bought for $45 million in March 2017, is currently only two storeys high.

Woolworths resubmitted plans to Glen Eira Council for the mammoth building earlier this month, which will be released to the public for feedback next week. If approved by Glen Eira councillors next year, the 80-unit complex would include a two-storey, 1000 sq m community facility on the corner of Sinclair and Selwyn streets with a small cafe, meeting and discussion spaces, and a multimedia space available for hire. The Kadimah Jewish Cultural Centre will also be relocated within the centre.

Other changes include increased setbacks and the glass exterior being replaced with brick.

But a Woolworths spokesman said the height and the scale — which is what most residents objected to — remained “very similar”.

Elsternwick resident Rosemary Scott-Thompson, who owns an apartment on Selwyn St, said while the community centre was a “nice idea”, the changes did not ease her concerns.Woolworths is hoping its new design, shown here, will quell community concern.

She said the “monstrosity” would block any direct sunlight she gets in her home, and the only opening window would be facing the underground carpark, which would “stick fumes into her apartment”.

“Unless they step the building back on Selwyn St … it’s not something I’ll ever be happy about,” Ms Scott-Thompson said.

“They stepped the building back on the other side but (because we’re in a commercial zone), it’s like they don’t care.

“From my own personal point of view, it’s just not a good idea.”The old plans, seen here, for 10-16 Selwyn St have been scrapped by Woolies.

Woolworths senior development manager Don Foulds said the revised plans came in response to community needs. “We’re confident we can deliver a development that becomes a vibrant cultural and entertainment hub for local residents and look forward to discussing our revised proposal with the council and community members,” he said.

Source: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/inner-south/woolworths-elsternwick-supermarket-giant-resubmits-plans-for-high-rise-tower/news-story/089d1b38e00c44720eda19f883684576?utm_source=HeraldSun&utm_content=SocialFlow&utm_campaign=EditorialSF&utm_medium=Twitter

We’ve received an email requesting that we publicise the following YouTube videos. The link to them is:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCygK9eItmUBU2aoDhnB7gGg

More videos will be posted soon we are assured.

Glen Eira features in 3 for Bentleigh, Carnegie & McKinnon. Here’s the Carnegie one.

 

This is what council is recommending for a planning permit at 9-13 Derby Road, Caulfield East. Instead of 15 storeys we are supposed to swallow 12 storeys in a heritage precinct surrounded by 1 and 2 storey significant heritage buildings. This is the second application by this developer. The first was for 18 storeys and 158 student accommodation cubby holes. It was rejected by both council and VCAT. So we now have this new attempt for 15 storeys and 49 short term accommodation units. Council’s ‘solution’ is to lop off 3 storeys and reduce the number of units.

What is particularly disturbing about the accompanying officer’s report is the failure to fully acknowledge the comments made in the original VCAT decision PLUS the fact that council’s own urban planning advice together with the Planning Scheme requirements of the Phoenix Precinct are totally ignored. The only detail we get for the proposed southern setbacks is this vague sentence –

Setbacks have also been provided from the southern boundary to allow for future development of the adjoining site to the south. 

The report also relies heavily on a throwaway line in the 2017 VCAT judgement that a 10-14 storey development MIGHT be appropriate for the western site. This of course raises the issue of why council is determining applications on the basis of what VCAT MIGHT SAY, or what it has stated in the past. Planning decisions are meant to be determined on an individual case basis and NOT what might happen at VCAT!

More infuriating is that readers are not told that the member repeatedly stated that heritage and the low rise surrounding buildings should be the focal point of any proposal. More importantly we are not told that when council attended the 2017 VCAT hearing, their position at that time was (and we quote from the judgement) – The council felt something in the order of ten to twelve storeys would be acceptable provided that the tallest part of a new building above the existing level is located towards the rear of the site. (para.58) 

Thus over a year ago, council was prepared to accept a 12 storey building in its heritage area. Nothing has changed then. We are simply provided with a fait accompli.

Readers might be interested in the following statements from the 2017 VCAT decision. The full decision is available at – http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2017/1768.html 

A predominantly Edwardian shopping centre associated with the Caulfield Racecourse and having a distinctive urban form determined by its short length and accentuated by a double line of electric tramway. Its architectural significance is established by the diversity of its street architecture and railway station and is enhanced by their substantially intact state.

Council’s Planning Scheme/Phoenix Precinct states:

Encourage development no higher than the predominant existing height in Derby Road  and retain the scale and form of places in the Derby Road heritage overlay area

Encourage the design of new buildings in a contemporary style that respects the height, scale, rhythm of and proportions of the heritage buildings when adjoining buildings are located in a HO (Clause 22.06)

Member’s comments:

Paragraph 78 – While the building complies with the broad objectives of the State Planning Policy Framework and the Phoenix Precinct, we have decided that the building fails because of its height and detailed design execution. We are not persuaded that 18 storeys (or 19 storeys to the rear lane) is the appropriate height. We think that while the heritage fabric along  Derby Road  is of local heritage significance it is sufficiently intact and significant to temper the design response.

We are not persuaded that inclusion of the site within the Phoenix Precinct and its proximity to Caulfield train station are sufficient reasons to entirely disregard the local policy. The Phoenix Precinct is very large and has considerable development capacity. Not every site has to be maximised.

Paragraph 82 – We also think that at the height proposed, the tower will be visually dominant from important vantage points, including the station entry and the rail line itself. We think the building will be very prominent from the station entrance and from vantage points along Sir John Monash Drive, to a much greater extent than envisaged by planning policy.

Paragraph 93 – We are persuaded that the tower is too tall, and would result in an excessively bulky appearance that would be out of balance with the scale of  Derby Road . We are satisfied that with a significant setback from  Derby Road  and subject to an appropriate architectural expression, a tower higher than the existing form should be acceptable but scaled so as to reduce its visual impact from key vantage points.

Paragraph 101& 2 –  We encourage the council to complete the necessary strategic planning/urban design work to provide a coherent framework for decisions on new developments in this area.

  • Until that work is completed, we think a preferred approach to this site is to retain the two storey built form along the Derby road  frontage, a four to five storey podium with the setback to Derby Street increasing with height, and significantly more than the five metres proposed in this application. We think the tallest built form at the western end of the site could be in the order of ten to fourteen storeys, depending on architectural expression.

PS: An explanation is also required as to the following:

1. Council’s online register states that it received the above application on the 30th May, 2018.

2. The Urbis planning report is dated August 2018 AND IT IS FOR A 13 STOREY DEVELOPMENT AND NOT A 15 STOREY DEVELOPMENT AS PRESENTED.

3. Thus why the difference and how much faith can be placed in council’s online register? Or is it simply that there has been an amended permit put in? If so, then this should be highlighted? If not, is it council playing funny buggers with the facts?

We’ve uploaded the following from the August 2018 Urbis report –

13

 

Councillors’ performance tonight in unanimously accepting the East Virginia structure plan signals how little these individuals are willing to stand up for residents and for common sense.

Magee’s grandstanding has become habitual plus lacking all logic when he can begin his statements with –‘I will be speaking against the motion but voting for it’!!!!

Hyams continues with the old arguments that this is only the first step in the process blah, blah, blah and then spending 9 minutes on regurgitating what the documents contain but in a totally uncritical way.

The only ‘news’ that came out of Hyams’ mouth was the naming of the individuals involved in the Community Reference Group – for the very first time. How on earth a COMMUNITY REFERENCE GROUP can function without anyone knowing who they are is beyond belief. If their role was to represent the community, then it is incumbent upon council to ensure that the wider community knows who these individuals are so that they may be contacted and ideas exchanged. But that is not the way this council functions. No agendas or minutes of these meetings have ever been published. We don’t even know how many meetings occurred. As for the individuals named what is their background? How many are associated with the development industry? How many were tapped on the shoulder and asked to apply? We note, and with no intent to cast aspersions on these individuals, that the vast majority have never asked a public question, have probably never attended a council meeting and certainly are not active on social media. Thus on what basis was this community reference group selected? For all the talk about transparency and accountability the way these Community Reference Groups have been set up and function is anything but transparent and accountable. The $64 question of course remains – how many suggestions made by OUR community reference group saw its way into this final structure plan? We would hazard a guess that very little produced the desired outcomes.

As a further example of council’s failure to address the gaping holes in this structure plan we present one speaker’s question (and statements) to council from this meeting. It is significant we believe that she received not a single word from anyone in response to her comments! So much for ‘public participation’. The only saving grace of tonight’s meeting was that it only lasted about an hour!!!!!!!

Council has released the proposed structure plan for Virginia Estate. The above map indicates the (indicative/preferred) height limits for the various precincts.

There is much in this set of documents that require comment. However, due to the paucity of detail, we can only surmise what will eventuate. One thing however is abundantly clear – once this structure plan and its accompanying Comprehensive Development Plan is passed by council, sent off to a Planning Panel, and it enters the Planning Scheme via its associated Amendment then community involvement and input will NOT EXIST. There will not be any objector review rights in exactly the same way that occurred with the Caulfield Village projects. Council is not even bound, according to the Schedule for this Comprehensive Development zone, to notify any resident. Hence, there are no guarantees that what is presented in these documents will be the final outcome.

Below we feature some points from the various documents which reveal the ‘wriggle room’ allowed to the developer.

COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN

  • Building heights are NOT MANDATORY! They are ‘preferred maximum heights’.
  • ‘SHOULD’ instead of ‘MUST’ dominates throughout all of the built form specifications. And we all know what ‘should’ means!!!!!!
  • For all the talk about rehashing the Open Space Strategy and considering overshadowing at the winter solstice, we still get the following – – Development must not cast any shadow on more than 75% of the area of any public open space described in Plan 2 of the incorporated CDP between 11am and 2pm on 21 June the winter solstice.
  • What is totally and deliberately misleading is the following breakdown of residential versus commercial/retail components of the site. The only areas specified as NON residential are the buildings to go along North Road, and East Boundary Road. All the rest will have residential dwellings built above the shops/offices located on the ground or several floors above. To therefore claim that only 4.92 hectares of the entire site is set aside for ‘residential’ is inaccurate and unacceptable.

THE SCHEDULE 

  • Exemption from notice and review

An application for the use of land is exempt from the notice requirements of Section 52(1)(a), (b) and (d), the decision requirements of Section 64(1), (2) and (3) and the review rights of Section 82(1) of the Act if it is generally consistent with the incorporated CDP. 

  • An assessment of the likely traffic impacts associated with the proposed development, including the ability of the Cobar Street / North Road / Crosbie Road to function effectively without signalisation. This is to include an assessment of the precinct’s existing and the proposed development traffic generation during peak AM and PM period. Where the traffic generation is expected to exceed 2,000 vehicles accessing the site in the PM peak, the Cobar Street site access intersection should be implemented. What this means is that the developer does not have to do anything UNTIL they determine that Cobar Street has 2000 cars travelling along it each day. Thus first get the permit, build and then worry about traffic and safety!

DEVELOPMENT CONTRIBUTIONS PLAN 

According to the figures provided in this document we are supposed to accept that the developer will fork out $60 million in infrastructure improvements to the site of which $16m will be for community improvements. What we query is given the flooding and drainage issues, plus contamination, that $1,199,835 comes anywhere near what the cost will be to ameliorate the potential for flooding and ensure contamination is eliminated.

On the positive side, council will get a ‘community hub’, a sports pavilion, and some open space. These will only come into operation however when ‘population growth is deemed to require the infrastructure’. So once again it is build first and then worry about the necessary infrastructure after the fact.

Even more concerning is the community infrastructure levy assigned to each dwelling of $831.65. Legislation allows a maximum of $1,150. Thus Gillon is getting a discount of $318.35 per dwelling. In total that amounts to just under a million dollars. Other councils have successfully exacted this full cost for major developments. Not so in Glen Eira!

SOME GENERAL COMMENTS 

  • Residents are presented with a 58 page Structure Plan that is so bereft of detail that it beggars belief. Of these 58 pages there are 22 that are frontispieces or pages with pretty pictures. The rest is primarily nothing more than vague motherhood statements such as this nonsense for ‘Transport’ – Explore innovative approaches to car parking and traffic management
  • No indication is provided as to how traffic and parking will be handled. Will we have subterranean car parks 3 levels down in a flooding area? Or will we have high rise car parks? Why is current traffic analysis focusing almost exclusively on PM peak periods?
  • If the proposed school is next door to 3 storey building then how high will this school be? – 3 storeys, 4 storeys, 5 storeys? And will the 1.2 hectares be sufficient to provide open space for up to 1150 students – or will they be expected to utilise fully existing open space next door?
  • The Section 173 agreement between developers and council will remain ‘secret’ according to the officer report recommendation – ie Direct officers to not commence exhibition unless the appropriate Section 173 Agreements are signed and executed by all parties and a summary of the purpose of the document is exhibited along with the planning controls. In other words, residents will not get to see the nitty gritty of this agreement we presume!
  • Affordable housing is another questionable aspect when so much of the officer’s report contains the following caveats:

One of the main difficulties with seeking an agreement at this stage, is that it needs to be ‘clear of outcome’ to enable the detail to be resolved later, while also being ‘tight enough’ to ensure it can be suitably enforced 

Past experience has demonstrated that the more restrictions placed by Council, the more difficult it is to make a project feasible. 

However, it is understood that this is an ambitious outcome to achieve, with many factors that are outside the landowners’ control. It is important that the agreement is written in a way that gives the landowners flexibility and the greatest chance to achieve this outcome.

As such it is recommended that the agreement is primarily focused on this outcome, with appropriate detailing of the mechanism only where required.

Finally, the VPA has today released another 10 updated ‘background’ documents from its 2017 versions. We will comment on these once we have had time to digest them fully. In total these documents amount to well over a 1000 pages. Yet councillors are expected to vote on these matters next Tuesday night. How many of them we wonder will have read even some of the documentation? What questions, if any, will this documentation bring to the fore from councillors?

 

 

 

 

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