GE Transport


A long, but critical post.

An article in today’s Age features two paragraphs which could also apply to Glen Eira City Council where ‘political expediency’ or bureaucratic expediency, usurps the ‘public interest’ time and time again. The paragraphs read:

Redlich last month delivered the John Barry Memorial Lecture at Melbourne University. Titled simply: “Governing with Integrity”, the lecture provides a disturbing summary of what Redlich has observed from his vantage point atop Victoria’s peak anti-corruption agency. He laments the way power is concentrated in the premier’s office in Victoria and other jurisdictions and how the unregulated influence of political advisers is circumventing important safeguards.

These are not arcane concerns about bureaucratic conventions. They go to the heart of whether the Andrews government – or indeed any government – is there to serve us or themselves. As the eminent jurist told The Age earlier this year, once governments start bypassing processes that are intended to protect the public interest, once political expediency becomes the driver of government decisions, “we’re on a slippery slope” to the latter.

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/ibac-probe-uncovers-a-troubling-picture-20221104-p5bvnb.html

As we’ve said countless times, residents and councillors are basically superfluous to the running of local government in Glen Eira. At best, compliant councillors become the rubber stamp for bureaucrats, or at worst they are viewed as impediments to achieving the bureaucratic vision. Residents simply don’t count unless there is massive negative publicity. All of this can be illustrated with one single example – the refusal to publish the complete set of responses to the Housing Strategy and the subsequent reliance on the most tenuous and laughable excuses for this decision.

We ask that you listen carefully to the following exchange which occurred at Wednesday night’s council meeting between a resident, the CEO and the Mayor and contemplate what this signifies in the context of the above Age paragraphs.

COMMENT

  • What kind of honesty do we have when the CEO can state –it isn’t our practice to release public submissions when this HAS BEEN a consistent practice until recently. A previous post listed examples (apart form Local Law, council plan submissions) where the complete set of responses were published and even included some Facebook comments. See: https://gleneira.blog/2022/10/18/will-the-bullshit-ever-stop-2/
  • She also says our response….was certainly consistent with council’s policy in terms of community engagement. Council’s Community Engagement Strategy (page 25) lists as one of its objectives to improve the way we report the outcomes of community engagement back to the community. There has certainly been no ‘improvement’ over the past few years as outlined above. Also as part of the ‘priority actions’ we have this promise – Increase transparency about what the community feedback was, how it was considered and how it has influenced the decision. There is a mighty chasm in the feedback report on how feedback was considered, and the precise outcomes that were influenced by this feedback. Basically, if we accept the feedback report, residents have absolutely no idea why things were changed as a result of feedback, and why things remained the same. This does not equate with increased ‘transparency’and certainly does not come close to the following ‘outcome’ listed in the strategy – The community will be able to see how their feedback has or has not influenced Council’s decisions.
  • McKenzie’s concern about identifying respondents is another lame excuse. The Have Your Say survey responses have ALWAYS BEEN and remain anonymous and published as responses with no names attached. Even published emails have had the writer’s name and email address redacted. This has not been a problem in the past. To suddenly turn it into a major concern is nothing more than a desperate scramble to hide the truth in our view.
  • No previous Have Your say surveys included the notation that responses would be made public. To suddenly claim that anonymous responses would ‘breach confidentiality’ is simply unbelievable. Furthermore, in order to cover up, council is now committed to spend more ratepayers’ money on sending out letters to all respondents asking for their permission to publish. This argument belongs in the world of Monty Python and illustrates the extent this administration is willing to go to in order to protect themselves, and hide the truth.
  • McKenzie also claims that council’s approach was ‘compliant with our policy’. No it wasn’t! Please refer to council’s ‘Transparency Policy’ for starters. (See:https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/media/7298/public-transparency-policy.pdf

MAGEE

  • Magee’s pathetic intervention shows how little he knows of council’s own policies, or how unwilling he is to adhere to the policy if the situation gets a little uncomfortable for the powers that be. There is NO REQUIREMENT that the public participation component be restricted to simply the asking of a question. Council’s own ‘guidelines’ (https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/media/5986/public-participation-covid-guidelines.pdf) make it clear that residents are free to either ask a question or make a statement –

Public participation at Ordinary Council Meetings is subject to the discretion of the Chairperson, available if you wish to ask a question or make a statement relating to Council’s role, functions or business.

So what does all this mean? It is clear that council has much to hide. Otherwise why wouldn’t the complete set of responses be made available?  What is in the responses that could possibly cast doubt on council’s decision making? What does this say about integrity, transparency, and basic down to earth honesty of this administration and its lackeys? And surely when something as important as the adoption of a housing strategy that will set the scene for the next 2 decades is up for decision, this MUST BE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST! And please remember, even councillors were denied access to the complete feedback for quite some time.

It is abundantly clear to us that the warnings given by Redlich in the Age article apply in spades to Glen Eira City council!

Council has released its Have Your Say survey questions for the Elsternwick Structure Plan. True to form, what is asked and presented leaves us questioning the value of any responses and what interpretations could be drawn from these responses.

The questions are very basic. They ask residents to assess whether or not council’s proposals would meet the stated ‘vision’ or ‘objectives’ for the area. This is broken down into distinct categories such as ‘heritage and character’; ‘transport’. Most simply ask respondents to click on one of several options (ie agree, disagree, etc). Accompanying the question there are separate documents awaiting download so that respondents may read and then answer the query.

One would assume that these documents highlight the key elements of the proposal and provide enough detail so that respondents have a clear idea of what the issues are. Not so. Instead we find that most of these accompanying documents are bereft of detail and instead filled with jargon and meaningless waffle. Here’s just one example on Heritage and Character.

COMMENTS

  • The draft structure plan proposes to allow up to 6 storeys for heritage listed sites along Glen Huntly Road. Not once is this mentioned throughout the document that is supposed to provide respondents with information on this important aspect of the structure plan.
  • Jargon predominates. What on earth does ‘rich materiality’ mean and how would respondents interpret this?
  • Why aren’t we told that the heritage listed church is likely to be surrounded by 12 storey towers? And yet, given the above, we are still meant to believe that council  takes great care to ensure the heritage fabric of Elsternwick is protected

Given that this is the first question asked by the survey, residents are literally answering blindly – UNLESS THEY HAVE BOTHERED TO PLOUGH THROUGH the 70+ pages of the 2/11 agenda.

It appears that council is not interested in eliciting genuine feedback. It if were then surveys would ensure that:

  • There is a BRIEF listing of all major proposals up front
  • Jargon and waffle would be avoided
  • Questions would be open-ended

The crucial question then becomes, how will council ‘interpret’ responses when they are designed to be meaningless!

Last night’s council meeting reached a new low when the Housing Strategy was passed with a vote of 4 to 3. Had both Esakoff and Cade been present we have no doubt that the vote would have been 5 to 4 against given that both these councillors had previously voted against the draft document going out to another bogus ‘consultation’. Had they been there, we would now not be stuck with a strategy that will lay the foundations for continued overdevelopment and the continued destruction of residential amenity for decades to come. Perhaps this is why the suggestion by the three opposing councillors to delay decision for another three weeks went nowhere!

Magee, Zhang, Athanasopolous and Parasol voted in favour whilst Zyngier, Pennicuik and Szmood voted against. The change of heart by Parasol leaves countless questions since he previously voted against the draft that has basically remained identical. Why the change of heart, and what pressures or carrots, may have been applied, remains the $64 question!

Residents were assailed with the usual garbage from Magee, Athanasopolous and Zhang! Sadly all that the latter could come up with was a regurgitation of the black/white dichotomies so often used by Athanasopolous  – ie. we can’t have a ‘perfect’ strategy, so something is better than nothing! When the ‘something’ is so appallingly bad, lacks strategic justification, and fails to respond to community feedback, then the ‘something’ is worse than what currently exists. Besides, why the failure to ensure that what is produced is as close to ‘perfect’ right from the start? Get it right at the beginning and this solves so many issues that have to wait years and years for correction. The perfect example is the council admission of how badly they stuffed up in 2013 with zoning heritage precincts as suitable for 4 storey development!

Even more alarming are the claims made by this administration and its pro-development lackeys like Magee and his cohort. We were informed that:

  • If the Housing Strategy did not get up, that this would be the ‘end’ of strategic planning in Glen Eira and that there would be no further work on structure planning.

What this ruse does is to put unprecedented and we maintain illegal pressure on councillors. Here’s why:

  • Planning Practice Notes 90 makes it absolutely clear that the role of a council is to produce a Housing Strategy as an integral part of its land use planning.
  • Section 16 of all council planning schemes directs councils to “Manage the supply of new housing to meet population growth”. Without the cornerstone of a housing strategy, councils would fail to meet this objective.   Refusing to carry on such work is not only a dereliction of duty by this administration, but a thinly veiled threat!
  • We also heard last night that the chance(s) of planning controls being introduced and formally gazetted PRIOR to the end of June 2023, when the interim DDO’s expire, was highly unlikely. This therefore means that the voting last night was basically meaningless.

Magee’s summation of the situation deserves special comment. Here is what he said in his closing remarks having moved the motion in the first place and seconded by Athanasopolous. Interestingly, he resorted to a script and read his prepared remarks. No doubt written by the likes of the planning department! –

COMMENT

Magee conveniently neglects to mention the most salient point. The current interim controls for Bentleigh, Elsternwick and Carnegie do NOT for the most part impact on our ‘local residential streets’ as claimed here. The existing DDO’s (Amendment C228) apply ONLY to the commercial and mixed use sites. THEY DO NOT COVER SURROUNDING RESIDENTIAL AREAS. Our streets do have MANDATORY PERMANENT CONTROLS as a result of the zoning introduced in 2013. These are now back in play as a result of this latest C228 amendment. All that is at stake here are the commercial and mixed use sites.  The assertion that ‘more growth will occur’ in local streets as a result of refusing the housing strategy is untrue. Growth will occur regardless of the existence of this Housing Strategy thanks to Wynne’s directive that all NRZ zones will now be able to accommodate more than 2 dwellings. What the Housing Strategy achieves is to guarantee development that is unnecessary and destructive to thousands upon thousands of residents.

We already have 13 storeys in Carnegie and Elsternwick and 7 to 8 storeys in Bentleigh – all ‘discretionary’. If a developer decides to put in an application for 16 or 20 storeys his chances of success are limited given that in most instances such heights would impact on surrounding residential properties. Regardless of what council would decide in such instances, the application would end up at VCAT meaning a time lag, huge costs, and a planning scheme that currently provides MANDATORY height limits in residential areas. These are not perfect of course, but they are now in play and do protect our ‘local streets’ – contrary to what Magee has stated. Besides, most of the currently zoned RGZ areas are already built out to a maximum. The emphases should be on protecting the 13% of sites zoned GRZ. The Housing Strategy fails to do this.

So the question needs to be asked: how much does it matter if the commercial and mixed use sites do not have discretionary permanent heights assigned to them? What is the real possibility of 20 storeys in Bentleigh or Elsternwick given that both Glen Huntly Road and Centre Road abut heritage precincts and RGZ/GRZ areas. No VCAT hearing would allow a 20 storey building alongside a 4 storey building we believe in Glen Eira. We have already seen evidence of this with the first VCAT hearing for Selwyn Street, and a 16 storey application for Derby Road. Both refused by VCAT. We also have the VCAT decision on Horne street where the VCAT member criticised council for granting a permit of 8 storeys. He also stated he would have refused the application had council previously refused it. VCAT is far from perfect, but it MUST adhere to the existing planning scheme and currently our planning scheme has MANDATORY HEIGHT CONTROLS for all residential areas.

To scare monger as Magee and this administration has done is in our view unconscionable and potentially illegal.

Council’s rhetoric and unabashed hope, is that by facilitating more dwellings on a single site, this will have an impact on ‘affordability’. We are supposedly lacking smaller townhouses so changing the zoning schedules in 10,000 sites, especially in the NRZ, will permit more of these multiple dwellings to be built and the price to come down.

Despite all the spin, there is absolutely no guarantee that:

  • Instead of townhouses/units developers will abide by this aspiration instead of building apartment blocks where they can cram more apartments into the site. Council has already admitted that it has no control over WHAT IS BUILT.
  • We are also highly skeptical of the claim that ‘smaller’ apartments will have a major impact on pricing and therefore become more affordable.

East Bentleigh over the past few years has had an enormous amount of 3 or more dwellings on a single site. All one has to do is take a walk along many of the streets running off Centre Road to see what the results are. But even more telling is that we have done a search on the sold prices for some of these medium density dwellings and find that they remain far from ‘affordable’ even when compared to dual occupancy prices.

Here are some examples and they show recent results –

  • The first sale features one two storey townhouse in Agnes Street, East Bentleigh. There are 6 units on this combined site (nos – 8-10 Agnes Street). The property was sold on March 31st, 2022 for $1.200,000. Its size is 194 square metres!

See: https://www.realestate.com.au/sold/property-townhouse-vic-bentleigh+east-138824343

  • Another example is 3/3 Heather Street, Bentleigh East. There are 3 units on this site. Unit no.3 has a land area of 77 square metres and sold on the 4th December 2019 for $975,000 – well before property prices hit their peak. Even with the current drop in prices it is still estimated to go for about a conservative $900,000

See: https://www.propertyvalue.com.au/property/3/3-heather-street-bentleigh-east-vic-3165/46018891

Admittedly, this is a very tiny sample of what is happening in East Bentleigh. But it should also be borne in mind that this suburb is ‘cheaper’ than properties in Caulfield North, Elsternwick, McKinnon and Bentleigh. We therefore do not believe that simply facilitating denser development on individual sites throughout all of Glen Eira will impact greatly on price. Council has no control over this anyway. What the most likely scenario will become is that we will still not have smaller townhouses, but more and more apartment blocks. Why? Because it is cheaper to built a two storey apartment block with 5 or 6 units, rather than 3 town houses. This has already occurred in Hudson Street, Caulfield North as just one example.

If the housing strategy is adopted as stands, then this is the future writ large in our view. A denser but not cheaper Glen Eira and a hell of a lot more apartments!

This is a relatively short post despite the fact that two of the most important items are up for decision this coming Wednesday – ie. the Housing Strategy and the Elsternwick Structure Plan. Both are nothing short of offensive to residents in their failure to adopt and change things according to previous community feedback. The pro-development at any cost agenda reigns supreme in both documents and neither appears to give a damn about residential amenity, the environment, overshadowing, open space, car parking, etc. etc. Nor is there any strategic justification for what is presented – it remains a series of promises, leaps of faith, and spin plus more spin.

Very, very little has changed – apart from removing heritage areas from the 4 storey zoning (which never should have happened in the first place and in many cases is already too late to repair the damage done) and the decision not to upgrade a handful of 2 storey streets into the proposed 3 storeys. Why this change is made contradicts what was stated in the first version! The end result is still thousands of properties that will be impacted by this strategy and more and more density everywhere in Glen Eira.

What we find the most offensive and disrespectful comes in the table presented below that is supposed to highlight the changes and provide some commentary.

According to the above residents are ‘confused’ and guilty of ‘misunderstanding’. Even if this is true, then surely the blame lies with council in not enunciating clearly enough what they proposed in the first place. Of course the other possibility could be that  not only were residents not ‘confused’ or misunderstood, they criticised the proposals. Without having access to the full feedback, we can only surmise what was said and written. As for council’s responses, they merely regurgitate what has been said numerous times previously. No further information is provided to ensure that residents are relieved of their ‘confusion’.

We will only feature one image from the Elsternwick Structure Plan given that a picture does indeed speak a 1000 words. It portrays the future vision for part of Glen Huntly Road.

Your attendance next Wednesday is necessary is you are concerned about the future of your home and the future of Glen Eira as a whole.

The draft Neighbourhood Character Assessment Volume1 tells us that the criteria for deciding which sites are ‘suitable’ for 3 or more dwellings and hence their zoning or schedules will be changed, is based on these sites being:

  • Within 200 metres of a tram stop
  • Within 400 metres of a train station
  • Within 800 metres of an activity centre
  • In an area with a decent number of sites over 600 square metres
  • Not strata titled
  • Not affected by precinct heritage or Neighbourhood Character Overlays (page 14 of this document)

Of course, no mention is made of Special Building Overlays (SBO) (flood management) which according to the Planning Practice Notes, should exclude areas from inclusion in activity centres and their surrounds.

Here is part of the existing/current SBO which covers the area around Patterson Road in Bentleigh.

We have decided to concentrate on this area since it basically fails to meet more than half of the above stated criteria for rezoning or altering the existing schedules. There is no tram stop. Many of the streets primed for greater site coverage, etc. are certainly further than 400 metres from a train station. But most importantly, the majority of sites earmarked for change are not even close to being ‘over 600 square metres’. So what on earth is this planning department doing? What is their real criteria for selecting properties for change? How justified are these proposed changes? Or is it simply a bunch of bureaucrats sitting at a computer and drawing stupid lines on a map? There is absolutely no justification for what is being proposed!

Please look at the following carefully. According to council’s map of proposed changes, several areas along Patterson Road will change from 2 storeys to 3 storeys (marked in red). Those areas highlighted in green will become NRZ2 and hence have increased site coverage, reduced permeability requirements, and reduced rear setbacks. Here is part of this map.

When we investigate even further, we find that the vast majority of these sites are not a minimum of 600 square metres and many are sitting in the SBO overlays.

This is pathetic planning with no strategic justification whatsoever – and this is occurring in countless places throughout the municipality. Adherence to the stated criteria is frequently non-existent and so is this council’s transparency.

Your attendance is required next Wednesday (2nd November) in order to tell this council exactly what you think of their planning!

PS: HERE’S ANOTHER EXAMPLE FROM THIS AREA – UONGA ROAD

Emails have gone out to various resident groups urging folks to attend the upcoming council meeting on the 2nd November at 7.30pm at the Town Hall. This is the meeting where the contentious Housing Strategy will be voted upon, and perhaps even the Elsternwick Structure Plan.

If this Housing Strategy is voted through then the ramifications for residential amenity, density, traffic congestion, open space, and tree protection, will be major.

Here is one of these emails which we have received. Please read and tell your friends to attend.

Dear residents,

Below is a summary of the Glen Eira draft Housing Strategy and meeting.  This will affect all residents if it is passed in its current form. We would like as many people to attend this meeting if you are concerned with the possibility of 4 storeys of apartments etc being built next to your home!  

Given that the current Council declared a Climate Emergency it doesn’t seem to make sense to decrease the amount of green space required per block of land and increasing the built form on it.  The more apartments / homes on a block the more paving and less greenery there is. Hypocrisy at its finest

If you could come to this meeting to just demonstrate that this is not an acceptable proposal, especially given we have the lowest amount of green open space of any municipality and Elsternwick has the lowest of anywhere.

Most residents are unaware of the proposed changes. 

The future of Glen Eira is at stake if council adopts the draft Housing Strategy on November 2nd. You will be affected because council is proposing to:

  • Rezone scores of residential streets from two to three and four storeys
  • To remove the mandatory garden requirement in over 7,600 properties and onsite car parking
  • To increase site coverage, reduce permeability, and remove rear setbacks in over 3,000 properties

Yet we are told that Glen Eira has capacity for another 50,000 dwellings. All we need out to 2036 is capacity for 13,000 new dwellings. 

This council is hell bent on more and more development at any cost, regardless of the impact on residential amenity, traffic congestion, climate change, density. Your voice needs to be heard.

We urge residents to attend this council meeting at 7.30pm on November 2nd.

If you have any friends who could come as well this would demonstrate to Council that they need to listen to the voice and concerns of residents.  Something they seem to forget. 

Council has stated that the draft Housing Strategy will be up for decision on November 2nd (a Wednesday instead of Tuesday since this is Cup Day). Residents need to bear in mind that on the first  appearance of this draft strategy 4 councillors were opposed to its adoption. Sadly, 5 voted in favour so the document went out for a bogus ‘consultation’.

The most startling component of this first draft is the admission that Glen Eira has capacity for 50,000 new dwellings on current planning scheme zonings out to 2036 and beyond. All we actually need according to State Government projections are 13,000. Yet council is determined to pack more and more development into Glen Eira regardless of whether or not it is needed, whether the infrastructure will cope, and whether our tree canopy will diminish even more rapidly with the removal of the mandatory garden requirement in ALL sites zoned GRZ and the 3000+ NRZ sites that will have increased site capacity, reduced permeability, and removal of rear setbacks.

No other council operates in the manner that Glen Eira does. What follows are quotes from recent Housing Strategies from these neighbouring councils. When these comments are contrasted with what Glen Eira proposes, then serious questions require answering. We will get to these later. Here is what others state:

BAYSIDE

The Housing Strategy Review 2019 found that Bayside’s growth locations have sufficient housing capacity to meet anticipated population increases over the next 15 years to 2036 as required by State planning policy. (PAGE 4)

The Housing Strategy identifies locations where housing growth can occur. These locations have sufficient housing capacity to meet the anticipated increases in population to 2036. (PAGE 6)

Should further housing capacity be required in the future, a future review of the Housing Strategy can consider other locations that may be suitable for increased housing density in addition to those already identified in the Housing Strategy. This approach allows Council to direct and manage growth in the short to medium term. (PAGE 7)

HOBSON’S BAY

The housing capacity assessment conservatively estimates that Hobsons Bay has development sites/opportunities to provide a net gain of approximately 16,281 dwellings. Based on estimated housing demand of 443 new dwellings per annum (over the next 20 years), this represents around 37 years of supply (PAGE  4)

Based on the housing capacity assessment identified in this report, there is enough capacity/housing opportunities in Hobsons Bay to comfortably meet expected housing demand over the next 20 years )PAGE  140)

It is expected that the strategic redevelopment sites alone could accommodate more than half (52 per cent) the total forecasted dwelling demand by 2036 (PAGE 140)

YARRA RANGES

At the current development rate, approximately 560 dwellings per year, this tells us about 31 years of land supply is available in the existing residentially zoned land. The figure also shows land capacity will easily meet the State Government’s target of 10,700 new dwellings in Yarra Ranges over the next 15 years or approximately 700 dwellings per year. Even if development rates increased, there is still capacity within the existing residentially zoned land to accommodate development. (discussion paper 2022 – page 39)

YARRA

The housing capacity analysis indicates there is enough capacity within Yarra’s activity centres to accommodate sufficient housing growth. The analysis confirms that, while Yarra’s established residential neighbourhoods will continue to accommodate some housing growth, Yarra does not need to rely on these areas to supply projected housing growth (page 65)

THE QUESTIONS

  • Incompetence and/or complicity? All planning should stem from a Housing Strategy. Council knew it had to develop a Housing Strategy as far back as 2019. Instead this council has instead introduced structure plans BEFORE a housing strategy. That amounts to incompetence. As for the ‘complicity’ aspect, it appears that whatever the department (DWELP) says is accepted. No public outcry to speak of; no media releases criticising government; no support for residents. It also doesn’t help when we have the likes of Athanasopolous, Magee and Zhang blindly following government policy instead of representing their constituents – which is the first priority of a councillor.
  • Consultation Feedback in Full. The refusal to publish ALL feedback achieves nothing except greater skepticism and mistrust of council. It also flies in the face of council’s ‘transparency’ policy.
  • Why is Glen Eira so radically different to our neighbouring councils?  Historically, this council has been the odd-man out on so many strategic planning  occasions – the last to have a Housing Strategy; the last to complete structure plans; the last to have a significant tree register; the last to have a fair-dinkum notice of motion. The list goes on and on. Until councillors fulfill their obligations as representatives of the community, the culture will not change. The onus is on councillors to reject this Housing Strategy and order that it goes back to the drawing board!

Council’s 2021/22 Annual Report claims to have held 27 community consultations. Of these only ONE in 2021 and ONE in 2022 published IN FULL all of the community feedback. Budget and financial plans are excluded from this calculation since they are required by law to be available.

What is clear is that over the past few years, on all the important issues such as structure planning, urban design frameworks, quality design guidelines, etc. this council has deliberately with-held the complete feedback that residents submitted. Instead the community has been provided with ‘summaries’ that we allege are far from representative of what residents stated. If it were otherwise, then why is access to these submissions denied?

We have had a litany of excuses – that the issue is ‘operational’ and therefore beyond councillors’ domain; that privacy and confidentiality are important; that the Engagement Strategy mandates that privacy be protected, etc. All of these are spurious and last ditch attempts to hide the truth. Even more galling is the fact that planning issues that will establish what happens in Glen Eira for the next 20 years are seen as needing only the ‘consult’ level of participation rather than ‘involve’ or ‘collaborate’ which other councils have implemented.

The past two years have seen some incredibly important decisions being made and residents being denied the full results of the accompanying consultations. We have mickey-mouse reporting instead. All of the following decision included mere ‘summaries’:

Glen Huntly Structure Plan

Carnegie Structure Plan

Housing Strategy (Stage 1 and Stage 2 Consultation)

Caulfield Station Structure Plan

Amendment C184 for Bentleigh and Carnegie structure plans

When 110 people show up in the middle of winter and in the midst of covid, and voice their views as they did at the Town Hall Forum, and this doesn’t even warrant a single word of feedback in the consultation summary, then we are in deep trouble. Readers might be interested to know that our recording of this evening has been downloaded 1,596 times already. Other recordings of important planning issues have also been downloaded hundreds and hundreds of times. Planning is definitely on people’s minds and there are certainly more than 150 people (according to Magee) who have concerns with what is happening. Check out these figures –

Finally, it beggars belief, as to why feedback on less important issues have in the past been published but not on the above list of issues. We maintain that this administration is determined to bulldoze through its plans regardless of what residents say they want. If it were otherwise, and consultation was indeed a genuine attempt to gather feedback and where possible act on this feedback then all results would be published. Instead we have an administration determined to censor contrary views, and determined to limit the role of residents and councillors. That is unconscionable.

By way of comparison, we gone through all the agendas from 2016-22 (the start of the McKenzie reign) and listed all those consultation feedbacks which were published in full. We’ve omitted budget, local law, etc reports. Please compare the importance of the following to the significance of these later planning issues.

One caveat to the above. When council first began their work on the various structure plans in 2017, and held their misleading online surveys such as ‘what do you like about your shopping strip’, the full results were published – including facebook comments. But this was well before residents were made aware of the repercussions of these ‘consultations’ and what it would mean for the final draft structure plans. Interestingly, privacy, confidentiality was not an issue back then and neither was this regarded as strictly ‘operational’. You can access these reports via this link –

https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/our-city/planning-for-the-future/the-future-of-bentleigh/bentleigh-community-consultation

PROPOSED NEW PARK, FOSBERY AVENUE AND ST AUBINS AVENUE, CAULFIELD

NORTH – 19th September 2016. Feedback – Emails, Phone and Letters; 2 Have Your Say – Forum Comments;3 Traffic Volume Analysis

JOYCE PARK – OPEN SPACE CONVERSION  – 13th June 2017 – Attachment 3: Feedback Received – Email Attachment 4: Feedback Received – Have Your Say Forum

ACTIVITY CENTRE, HOUSING AND LOCAL ECONOMY STRATEGY 25th July 2017 – all online survey responses and formal submissions

HARLESTON PARK OPEN SPACE AND PLAY SPACE UPGRADE CONSULTATION – 5th September 2017 – 2. Feedback – Email, mail and phone

3. Feedback – ‘Have Your Say’ Forum comments

EE GUNN RESERVE LANDSCAPE MASTERPLAN –5th September 2017 – . Feedback – Email and Phone; 3. Feedback – ‘Have Your Say’ Online Comments

TRANSFORMING MURRUMBEENA CONSULTATION REPORT – 17th October 2017 – Comments in full from “Have your say” discussion board

3 – Feedback received by email, phone and other channels

4 – Summary written feedback from information session

5 – Local Area Traffic Management Plan

HARLESTON PARK SMALL BASKETBALL COURT– 28th November 2017 – 2. Feedback – Email comments; 3. Feedback – ‘Have Your Say’ Forum comments;4. Feedback – Letter received with signatures

CAULFIELD WEDGE DOG PARK– 6th February 2018 – 3. Feedback – Email and phone comments;4. Feedback – ‘Have Your Say’ forum comments

COMMUNITY FEEDBACK ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A CLASSIFIED TREE REGISTER – 26th September 2018 – survey responses & submissions

PROPOSED NEW PARK – AILEEN AVENUE, CAULFIELD SOUTH – 5th February 2019 – 2. Have Your Say Feedback; Email Feedback; Phone Call Feedback

CAULFIELD PARK MASTERPLAN – 5th February 2019 –Have Your Say Forum Discussion  Email Feedback; 4. Community Meeting Feedback

GLEN EIRA ROOMING HOUSE STRATEGY – 21st May 2019 – 2019 – Consultation feedback

ROSANNA STREET RESERVE UPGRADE – STAGE TWO – 2nd July 2019 – Have Your Say Feedback ; Email Feedback;Phone Calls Feedback

DRAFT MURRUMBEENA PARK MASTERPLAN REFRESH – 3rd September 2019 – Survey feedback;5. Email feedback

BENTLEIGH EAT STREET – PROPOSED ONE-WAY TRAFFIC CHANGES

(NORTHBOUND) TO VICKERY STREET – 24th September 2019 – email, survey responses

HOPETOUN GARDENS LANDSCAPE MASTERPLAN – 16th October 2019 – Have Your Say feedback;Email feedback;Phone call feedback

FUTURE OF SPORT AND ACTIVE RECREATION – CONSULTATION OUTCOMES – 16th October, 2019 – Have your say comments

WALKING AND ACCESSIBILITY ACTION PLAN, CYCLING ACTION PLAN AND

PUBLIC TRANSPORT ADVOCACY PLAN – 17th December 2019 – emails, comments (but not on previous item for Inkerman Road cycle path)

CARNEGIE SWIM CENTRE REDEVELOPMENT OPTIONS – COMMUNITY

CONSULTATION OUTCOMES – Community Consultation responses’Community Voice’ survey results

 25th February 2020

PARKING POLICY – 17th March 2020 – Draft Parking Policy Engagement Report

OPEN SPACE STRATEGY REFRESH – 9th June 2020 – Feedback – Email and Letter; Have Your Say Forum

MULTIDECK CARPARKS COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND CONSULTATION – 14th December 2021 – HYS Individual Comments; CV Individual Comments; WSP Report – Online Community Workshop; Chat – Online Community Workshop;;Social Media; Written Correspondence

MULTIDECK COMMUTER CARPARKS PROJECT – OUTCOMES OF COMMUNITY CONSULTATION – 30th August 2022 – MDCP – Social Media Feedback;. MDCP – Written Correspondence Feedback;MDCP – HYS Survey Responses

Democracy in Glen Eira is moribund. Decisions are made by this administration prior to any so called ‘community consultation’. Even councillors are denied access to all relevant data either in time for the thousands of pages to be digested properly, or with-held completely. Ultimately, all this means is that decision making and community consultation in Glen Eira is a joke!

Whether it is McKenzie or Torres, the decision to NOT PUBLISH all community responses in full on the Housing Strategy is the most recent case in point. This has now expanded to include contentious projects detailed in the current agenda. We will itemise our concerns with these two projects.

Alma Village Pop-up Park

We have to query the value of any consultation (ignoring of course the effect of the various sub-standard questions asked) when residents who decide to respond are not provided with enough information to come to some reasonable conclusions as to the proposed project. For example, in the above ‘consultation’, there are plenty of drawbacks, plus residents have never been informed as to:

  • The final estimated cost of the project
  • The number of residential/road car park spots to be lost
  • Traffic analysis dates from 2018 and is therefore way out of date
  • Not even a consultation ‘summary’ report included – it is incorporated into the officer’s report

Interestingly, this officer’s report does include the following:

Page 556 of the agenda states:All feedback received is attached.

Page 561 states: All feedback received is included as an attachment with names and identifiers removed.
One letter from a local business and property owner is included with all details.

None of these attachments are included in the agenda! Our commiserations to the officer since it is obvious that the decision to with-hold the full feedback was done following the writing of this report! Decisions on the run no doubt as a result of community criticism.

The report itself recommends that council proceed with the pop-up park, despite the fact that we are told that the feedback results were ‘split evenly’ between those who supported the idea and those opposed. When nearly half of respondents are opposed, then surely some re-thinking is necessary? But no! The project is still pushed onwards!

Circular Economy Feedback

For this ‘consultation’ we do get a ‘summary consultation’ report. Sadly, there has also been some late editing/censorship for this item. In the contents page we are told that the actual survey questions for both the ‘community members’ and for ‘businesses’ are included as Appendix A and Appendix B. THEY ARE NOT!

As per normal, what we do get is a ‘summary of themes’ rather than a full insight into what people said or wrote, plus some demographic info.

COMMENT(S)

Recent decisions to with-hold information and commentary from residents is deliberate and has nothing to do with ‘transparency’ and privacy’. If identifying information could be removed in countless previous consultations and all feedback published, then it should also apply to the most important consultations such as the Housing Strategy and the structure plans. Council has therefore entered the new realm of censorship in the hope that residents will accept the spin, and bullshit that typifies council’s reporting in these matters.

We have had of late survey after survey, where the questions fail to address the central issues and proposals of the item. Most are Dorothy Dixers, designed to elicit the response required. They do NOT seek to garner what the community really thinks or wants. They are prepared in order to substantiate the decision that this administration has already made. We do not even know if councillors have any say in the creation of these questions. The Community Engagement Committee certainly does not – when in fact they should be a vital component of the process.

But even more alarming is council’s failure to adhere to the IAPP2 scenarios of engagement and to inform residents of the ‘influence’ their input can and will have. All consultations in Glen Eira do not even come close to the ‘involve’ or ‘collaborate’ criteria. Most are simply ‘inform’ and with ‘consult’. It remains a top-down approach. Here are the selected options, now pick one! The money splurged on these bogus consultations is simply mind-boggling. But naturally, we will never be told how much!

By way of contrast, we ask readers to have a long, hard look at what Bayside is currently doing on one of its consultations, and which they have done for all of their important consultations. That is letting residents know well in advance the extent of ‘influence’ they can have. Various methodologies are then implemented to ensure these criterion are met. Not so in Glen Eira. All residents are told is that the feedback will be ‘considered’.

Here is the Bayside approach:

See: https://yoursay.bayside.vic.gov.au/MelroseStreet/community-engagement-overview

Finally a recommendation to readers:

  • If you are providing any feedback to council directly, then we believe it is imperative that you also cc your comments to all councillors. This can be easily accomplished via this email: councillors@gleneira.vic.gov.au. Our suggestion is based on our real doubt that councillors are informed fully as to what residents say/want. Communicating directly with them will ensure that the ‘gate-keeping’ of this administration is reduced.
  • Public questions should also be sent to councillors. We again doubt that councillors have much time to digest the public questions and certainly not too much time to provide responses in the record of assembly meetings held just prior to entering the chamber.  

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