GE Transport


Readers will remember this application and the massive effort by residents to fight the proposed 10 and 14 storey towers Woolies wanted in round one. It is now round two – plus an upcoming VCAT hearing regarding 7 Selwyn Street and plans for a 9 storey building that in reality reaches the height of a 14 storey development. This latter application received a permit from council last year.

In terms of transparency and making things clearer for residents impacted by such applications, we can see no reason why the planning register and its category of ‘proposal’ is often so uninformative. Is it too much to ask that instead of the phrase ‘residential towers’, residents are provided with some specific details such as proposed height or number of storeys for these towers?

Plans, when they do finally make an appearance, all too quickly disappear into the ether. If all residents have in terms of the historical record, then we maintain that the planning register should provide sufficient detail so that the community knows exactly how many apartments, height, etc. were granted or refused a permit. Residents should also be told whether these decisions were made under delegation, by council, or by VCAT. Only then will we have full transparency and accountability.

On transparency, we still do not know how much council is spending in defending its decision to grant a permit for 7 Selwyn Street. Whilst we have no problem with council supporting residents at VCAT, we find it particularly galling when a permit has been granted and council still insists on calling up fancy lawyers and expert witnesses that could ultimately cost in the region of $100,000. Surely it is the role of the developer to argue his case rather than council – especially since council use  of ‘experts’ to defend a permit has only occurred on one previous occasion in the past 5 years that we know of and that was the Horne Street development where the VCAT member absolutely blasted council for its shoddy planning.

Last night’s planning conference on the Bentleigh/Carnegie Amendment C184 was illustrative of the divide between developers, their representatives, and residents. Predictably, every single developer not only supported the advertised amendment as it stood, but most wanted even more, such as:

  • Higher built form (especially in Bentleigh)
  • Diluting of overshadowing/sunlight guidelines
  • Discretionary setbacks
  • Some even wanted the draft rezoning from 4 to 2/3 storeys to be returned to the ‘original’ 4 storeys.

Residents, on the other hand spoke passionately about the myriad of negative impacts on their lives that this amendment would create, or exacerbate –

  • Overshadowing and loss of sunlight all year round
  • Lack of open space and adequate infrastructure
  • Parking and traffic mayhem
  • Lack of acknowledgement of COVID and what this does to outdated population targets
  • Heights that will dwarf surrounding properties
  • Loss of neighbourhood character
  • Lack of fairness and absence of strategic justification
  • No planning for environmental/sustainability issues

THE PROCESS

What occurred last night was, in our view, nothing more than another example of a council determined to restrict residents from having any meaningful, public dialogue with councillors and/or planners. It’s also worth pointing out that in one of our recent posts we highlighted how other councils will interact with residents on important structure planning decisions that will go much further than the basic inform’ and ‘consult’ hierarchy of ‘consultation that Glen Eira does. (See: https://gleneira.blog/2021/01/07/consultation-2-2/)

No questions were permitted. The objective was simply to repeat orally the written submissions. Given that this was an amendment, and not a specific planning application, we have to wonder why the format was designated as a ‘planning conference’, especially since council’s stated aim in holding ‘planning conferences’ was the opportunity for ‘negotiation’ and potential consensus between developers and objectors!  Last night had no scope for any ‘negotiation’ or consensus.

Readers should also be very aware of the fact that Amendment C184 did NOT undergo any community consultation whatsoever. Council’s original draft which was not cleared for exhibition, also did not undergo community consultation. In both instances, the drafts were included in council agendas and the resolution was passed to send these documents off to the Minister seeking permission to advertise. All residents could do, was to then plough through hundreds of pages of documents, and if they had the time, energy and inclination, they were allowed to submit a formal objection/support to the amendment. Hardly ‘consultation’ – especially when there is not a single word to justify what is proposed such as the hundreds upon hundreds of rezonings, discretionary heights instead of mandatory, removal of mandatory garden requirements, and loss of permeability requirements in NRZ2.

Even more suspect was Magee, who chaired the zoom meeting and his comment to one resident. We’ve uploaded what she said and Magee’s retort below. Make up your own mind as to the appropriateness of Magee’s comments.

 

For those residents who were unable to attend, we’ve uploaded the entire audio that you may listen to.

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to Save Glen Eira for their terrific effort in collecting 1667 signatures in a very short time. We have also been told that there are even more with late signatures also coming in.

See: https://www.facebook.com/savegleneira/

Hopefully this kind of response will once and for all put a stop to the myths that residents are ‘satisfied’ with planning, open space, environmental sustainability, and consultation by this council. Residents have spoken and we can only assume that they desire major change and a council that does listen and act in accordance with residents’ wishes.

Over the past few years there have been numerous issues which have raised the ire of many residents, evincing passions that have hitherto been unknown in this community. We are referring to the various draft structure plans, the proposed Inkerman bike path, as well as the Carnegie Pool redevelopment for the current projected cost of $51 million. Why this has and is happening relates directly to council’s overall approach to ‘consultation’ and the methodology for disseminating vital information.

A few overarching comments and questions to begin with:

  • How reasonable is it to release hundreds upon hundreds of pages of documents and expect residents to fully understand, or have the time, to read, digest, analyse, and then comment on any proposal?
  • How reasonable is it to present ‘designs’ that provide no essential data such as cost, or vital information on current traffic data, the percentage of green open space, versus concrete; the potential for overshadowing of open space; the number of proposed tree plantings versus removal of existing trees, etc.?
  • Is the ‘top down’ approach really providing residents with clear options based on the above?
  • Is the timing of forums the best approach for those who work, or for families with children – ie during the day, or smack in the middle of dinner time or bed time for young kids?
  • Are the questions asked in surveys truly designed to elicit informed choices?
  • Are the resulting officer or consultant reports a true reflection of the feedback provided?
  • How can the goals of transparency and accountability be integrated fully into all consultation methods?

We believe that residents and councillors deserve a lot better if the goal is truly ‘evidence based’ decision making as has been stated again and again. What is asked, and how it is asked and analysed validly, remains the cornerstone of sound consultation. How this is then reported becomes crucial.

Below we highlight our reservations plus providing recommendations to improve the process and to address the above bullet points.

STRUCTURE PLANNING

Council’s first step in the process of developing structure plans came in 2017 with its surveys on ‘activity centres’.  Fair enough! But did the actual questions provide residents with a realistic insight into what they were actually commenting upon? When the phrase ‘shopping strip’ is used again and again, how many respondents had any inkling that this could, and did, lead to the rezoning of surrounding residential streets? How many respondents had any inkling that the size of their activity centre was to be expanded when the terminology used was consistently ‘study area’? And how on earth could the resulting reports be so out of kilter with the data actually provided? (See: https://gleneira.blog/2017/03/21/structure-planning-consultation-2/

Here is an image of what was asked. Please note the continued and slanted emphases on ‘shopping strip’. Not one single question was designed to elicit responses to the matters that had clearly concerned residents for eons – namely building heights, open space, and parking.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTIVITY CENTRE STRUCTURE PLANNING CONSULTATIONS

  • Provide residents with a short, informative Discussion Paper that emphasises in a succinct manner all the pros and cons of what is proposed.
  • Ensure that council resolutions are carried through. For example, it was resolved on the 23rd May 2017 that council: endorses the creation of the Activity Centre Community Advisory Committee and request the expression of interest for community members. This never eventuated!!!!!!
  • When the Glen Eira News provides articles on the issue, then it must include all the relevant details being considered.. This was not done in either the April, June, July, November, 2017 editions. Unless residents were prepared to plough through reams of documents, they would not have had any inkling that 12 storeys was being considered for Elsternwick and Carnegie. Even with the final announcement of April 2018 (see below) those residents who had not followed the issue closely would not know what had been passed. Instead we have the usual jargon of ‘right buildings’ in the ‘right locations’, or the import of the word ‘guidelines’ (ie prescriptive or discretionary) without any real information being communicated. All is made to sound wonderful in what can only be interpreted as nothing more than another public relations exercise rather than information provision!

  • Ensure that questions included in surveys are not nebulous and vague – that they direct residents to the crux of issues. For example, would it have been too hard to include questions along these lines –
  • What do you consider to be an appropriate height for Centre Road buildings?
  • Are you in favour of any council sell off of public land to consolidate car parking in one spot?
  • Where would you like to see extra open space created and why?
  • What parking restrictions should council consider for this activity centre?

Council did not come close to asking questions of this ilk!

Finally, why shouldn’t the Community Engagement Committee vet proposed questionnaires and surveys? Why must everything be a top-down approach? And why shouldn’t residents be directly involved in the analyses of any responses? Unless of course, council’s main objective has been to push through its agendas regardless of what residents say they want. And there is plenty of evidence to support this notion, sadly!!!

It has taken council no less than 4 weeks to fulfill its promise of answering ALL questions posed by residents at the 20th August Zoom meeting on planning.

What is concerning about the responses is:

  • The failure to answer some of the questions posed
  • The reliance on more and more motherhood statements that are meaningless
  • The unwillingness to engage directly (and honestly) with what the questions actually asked.

We’ve uploaded council’s version of the questions and their responses HERE.

Even more significant is the number of questions that remain unanswered. We list them below. We have edited out comments and only included what can be regarded as ‘questions’.

How many homes has the State govt required GE to provide over what period of time and how are we on track for that? At some point can we say ‘that’ it, we’ve built  our allocation and we can stop now’?

Can you define housing and how the current repeat building of shoe boxes is meeting the needs of older Australian’s or young families

Ron’s  photo with title”the right housing in the right place” is shops and apartments at corner of Glenhuntly Road corner of James St in Glen Huntly. But this development has a step at shop front doors and disabled access is only by pressing buzzer through apartment entry in side street. Does Glen Eira Planning Scheme now require universal access for all new shops and ground floor apartment ? Especially as Ron noted aging population wit likely greater accessibility needs.

How is planning going to fund adequate open space into activity centres, areas of need, increased population to ensure resident recreation, mental health and a decent Urban Forest policy as if 5.7% open space levy has not increased open space, 8.3% may well also be inadequate.

in regards to the Elsternwick Structure Plan, particularly as it relates to the Urban Renewal North Area. In Dec 2018 we were provided with a step-by-step process by the Mayor. Where are we at right now specifically in that  process that was presented?

How does bulldozing one heritage home after another present has proctection

In Feb 2018, Council endorsed max. of 5 stories in all Neighbourhood Centres as recommended by the Planning Officers.  To have made this recommendation Planning Officers must have undertaken statistical analysis that supported that decision.  Please advise when the Amendments supporting a request for interim height controls for 5 stories was submitted to the Minister

You mention diversity but there seems to be little diversity in  what’s being built that’s new… lots of tiny apartments.  What about townhouses, low cost housing, well equipped house sized apartments for downsizers …??

what is the status of the Caulfield North Activity Centre planning? has it been discussed with the community because the area is a real dogs breakfast at present

how do the conditions imposed on planning permit applications get enforced and followed through by Council?

When will ESD LPP be introduced and when will Council include zero net emissions from buildings  and transport by 2030 in the Planning Scheme? Is Council considering water sensitive design and biodiversity sensitive design? How will council prioiritise active transport and reduce car-dependence and car-parking provision?

how do the conditions imposed on planning permit applications get enforced and followed through by Council?

It sounds like the Planning team is under-resourced, having to put important work on hold while attending to other work – do you need more staff?

Sorry Matt but if the council isn’t listening to the community why spend money on so called “consultation”.

Caulfield South is a Neighbourhood Activity Centre, which, in the Glen Eira City Plan 2020, height limits of buildings in commercial zones are designated as 5 storeys.

 As we meet this evening there are 5 developer proposals heading to VCAT:  one of 9 storeys, one of 8 storeys and three buildings of 7 storeys in Caulfield South Neighbourhood Centre. Caulfield South is not a Major Activity Centre. Developments of this nature will seriously impact the neighbouring properties and destroy the concept of what is presently a neighbourhood centre.

Residents should not be expected to fight these battles on their own. As there are no structure plans in place for Caulfield South, and there are currently no mandatory height limits for Caulfield South Neighbourhood Centre, residents will struggle to win at VCAT.

Will Council commit to defending its City Plan by providing external legal representation to help residents oppose these developments when each of these proposals goes before VCAT?

CONCLUSION(S)

The questions that weren’t answered are important. Some seek information on status of policies and structure planning; others seek specific statistics that council should have at its fingertips. In terms of council’s needs is it really that difficult to provide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a straight forward question of ‘do you need more planning staff’?

Given the sheer number of questions that didn’t receive an ‘answer’, it is impossible to accept the possibility that missing all of these was nothing more than an ‘oversight’. So why weren’t they answered? And why does council keep promising things that it has no intention of fulfilling?

This is a very, very brief report on last night’s council meeting. It represents in our view one of the most shameful performances in living memory. Inconsistencies in argument abounded, as did the continuation of council policy in NEVER, but NEVER answering residents’ questions that are deemed ‘embarrassing’ to council. And God forbid that any councillor actually has the balls to criticise or even question such responses or the substandard officer reports that are continually tabled in chamber.

The true highlight is Athanasopolous’ comment that councillors should not appear to be in the ‘pockets of residents’. Esakoff and her cohort were guilty of this very thing – but only when it suited. On the one hand they supported the 9 storey development in Selwyn Street in the face of massive opposition, and then when it came to the Glen Huntly Structure Plan, the argument suddenly changed to we ‘have to listen to our residents’.

Each and every one of these councillors has failed the community time and time again. It is definitely time for change.

Featured below is an interview with a Caulfield South resident on what is happening to this neighbourhood centre. As we have stated numerous times residents have never been given a clear unequivocal answer as to whether or not Caulfield South, Bentleigh East and now Caulfield North will have structure plans with mandatory heights, or merely Urban Design Frameworks that are nothing more than ‘guidelines’. More to the point, even if structure planning is undertaken, it will still take years and years for these plans to have any legal effect.  In the meantime these suburbs will, and are already, having high rise plonked alongside one and two storey dwellings.

Council is of course playing the blame game – ie it is all the government’s fault. Nothing could be further from the truth. Had council done what every other council has for the past decade, such as structure planning, design and development overlays, and decent strategic planning, we would not be in the mess we are now. Residents are the true victims of this councils inaction and pro development agenda for the past 15 years!!!!!

Please listen to this interview since it reveals fully the impact on residents.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council will consider an application for a 9 storey building opposite the Woolworths application for a 14 and 10 storey apartment/supermarket complex. The VCAT decision on the latter is imminent.

In regards to the current application the officer recommended a permit. Please note the following:

  • The application includes provision for a maximum of 600 people attending the building at the same time. Hours will be up to 10pm on most days
  • The parking shortfall is 231 and this is considered ‘acceptable’ given the availability of public transport. There will be NO ONSITE PARKING available.
  • The height of the proposed building is equivalent to what the Woolworth’s proposal is
  • Overshadowing and overlooking is ‘acceptable’ according to the report because this is an ‘activity centre’ and hence can’t have the same safeguards

The one sentence in this entire unbelievable report which is completely insulting and dismissive to residents and objectors reads:  Each of these matters (ie objections) have been considered in this report and there are no outstanding objector concerns to consider.

Our take on this report is that resident objections have NOT BEEN considered in any meaningful way. The entire report is designed to justify the unjustifiable. We do not deny the importance of a Jewish cultural precinct, nor the fact that both state and federal governments have provided millions to ensure this happens. What we do object to strongly is the failure to assess this application on pure planning matters and current council policies.

For starters the actual permit conditions concentrate almost exclusively on what most residents would regard as ‘minor’ compared to size, bulk, and traffic management issues. We get pages and pages about preserving the Kuldig stained glass windows and the bass relief. Pages and pages about ‘updated’ traffic and acoustic reports – but only after development has already been done! Of course there is the usual Construction Management conditions but hardly a word about setbacks, heights, etc. All of the latter remain ‘acceptable’ in this report.

Much is made of the current interim structure plan and the Design and Development Overlay No.10. Yet in this report basic features are easily pushed aside. For example: on street wall height the DDO requires 13 metres and upper level setbacks of 5 metres. The application is for A four storey, 17.39m high street wall is proposed along the Selwyn Street frontage. In determining that this is okay, we get this gem:

Whilst this is higher than that envisaged by the DDO, it is consistent with the recently approved street wall height of the Holocaust Centre immediately to the north at number 13-15 Selwyn Street. 

In the first place council granted the 13-15 Selwyn Street permit in June 2018. Amendment C157 was gazetted in 16th August 2018. That is two months after council granted the permit. Hence there was no DDO at the time of this decision. Also worthy of noting is that council’s structure plan had already been accepted with a three storey street wall height in February of 2018. Council’s incompetence at that time in ignoring its own structure plan and Quality Design Guidelines therefore paves the way for this application to get the nod and the pathetic argument is that because one building has a four storey street front it is okay for the entire street to look like this – ie. the podium is acceptable and will provide a consistent street wall character. 

We next come to the issue of overall height and again the variance with the current DDO –

The roof height complies with the DDO, whilst the architectural feature that serves to screen and integrate the plant equipment extends more than 4m above that the preferred height. It is important to recognise that the architectural feature is curved, so its encroachment is softened. It is considered that the curved design of this feature is an important design element as it not only serves to screen the plant equipment, but also adds visual interest and a more sculpture look to the tower 

Does this mean that anything that is of ‘visual interest’ or ‘curved’ can attain any height the developer wants – in spite of what planning law states?

One of the most questionable ‘conditions’ comes with the issue of overlooking. Instead of requiring the developer to alter his plans, council comes up with the following ‘solution’ –

To limit overlooking impacts from these areas, expanded metal mesh cladding is proposed to cover the entire windows of these areas. The cladding will only be 23 per cent visually permeable. This affords a higher degree of protection than if the Clause 55 overlooking standard was applied. 

So we get to the ludicrous situation that where ‘convenient’ for the developer, Clause 55 does come into play and is ‘improved’ upon – even though it carried no real weight given the proposed height.

The best part is the finding that a car parking waiver of 231 spots is just fine! Why? –

The proposal generates a requirement for 231 car parking spaces and 17 bicycle parking spaces based on the Scheme requirements. No car parking is provided as this is not achievable on this land due to both the shape and size of the lot, however 40 bicycle parking spaces are provided.  

And

It is recognized that there are no options for providing any on-site parking and this must be balanced with the broader benefit of the building. 

Really? So local residents are nothing more than ‘collateral damage’????!!!!!!! And since when are there ‘no options’. There are no ‘options’ only when it doesn’t suit council and the developer and the objective is to have a 9 storey building! 

Apart from this nonsense we also have to take the word of transport assessments that state:

Car parking surveys of the area demonstrate that throughout the day there are at least 100 spaces available with typical occupancy rates of approximately 20% at the busiest times which increases to approximately 50% outside of peak times. 

Even if this were true, it does not include the resultant traffic and parking issues created by the Woolworths development and the potential supermarket traffic and that of 173 apartments in the complex. More importantly, since this application wants attendances until 10pm at night then the argument about other developments wanting ‘long term car parking’ spots goes out the window. How many visitors attending a function until 10pm that starts at say 7pm will want to travel home by public transport – especially the elderly?

Basic questions have simply not been addressed or brushed under the carpet. The so called developer’s answer to traffic and parking includes a majority of ‘promote’ options with no empirical evidence provided that these have a chance in hell to be successful.

All in all, this is a deplorable officer’s report and should be condemned for what it really is – an excuse to give the developer everything he wants. This council is simply going from bad to worse in order to facilitate its pro development agenda!

With the advent of Trump a new industry has evolved – ‘fact check’. We believe that a similar process should apply to the regular diatribes of Hyams in particular.

Below we quote some of the comments he has put up on social media in response to one of our earlier posts on C184.

Our objective is simple:

  • We want residents to judge for themselves how much of what he writes is ‘tripe’; how much is ‘dishonest’ and how much is guilt by omission – ie only revealing partial ‘truths’.

 POINT NO.1As Glen Eira “Debates” also knows, when we put our proposed planning scheme amendment, based on the structure plan, to the Minister in January 2019, it sat in his office until nearly the end of the year, and then he came back to us and said there would need to be major changes for him to give us permission to exhibit.

COMMENT: The implication of the above is that council was left sitting in the wings awaiting Wynne’s permission to exhibit for over a year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Council knew as early as the 22nd January 2019 that there were problems with the submitted amendment. Furthermore, the proposed amendment DOES NOT go straight off to the Minister but to the Department.

Following this extensive ‘review’ by the Department (DEWLP), council received the following letter from DEWLP which showed up the glaring errors in the proposed amendment. It makes us wonder once again at the competence of the planning department. Did they understand Plan Melbourne? Did they know what the VPP actually stated? What was their ‘strategic justification’ for ‘special circumstances’ relating to mandatory heights? How hard did our planners try on this point? Until today, no ‘evidence’ has been produced that council fought tooth and nail.

POINT NO.2 – It is also tripe that that the NRZ areas will now revert to what was there in 2004, because in 2004, there were no mandatory height limits in those areas, as there is now – a height limit of two storeys. It is also tripe that the zones that came in in 2013 are “notorious”. The zones gave us mandatory height limits in all but the commercial zones where previously there had been none. They also restricted development in the NRZ to two dwellings on any block, until the current government removed that restriction and put in the minimum garden requirement instead, and allowed us to require greater permeabilty and less site coverage, and increased setbacks.

COMMENT : Whilst it is true that prior to 2013 there were no mandatory height limits anywhere in Glen Eira, it is quite disingenuous to claim that the secret introduction of the zones was not the spark that caused the destruction of many residential areas in the municipality. We remind readers that many residents awoke one morning to find that their streets could suddenly go from a 9 metre discretionary height limit to a 13.5m height limit.

Hyams’ claim that these mandatory heights were ‘in all but the commercial zones’ is another furphy. Any site zoned Mixed Use and these are classified in all planning schemes as ‘residential’, remained without any height limits. Another example of ‘dishonesty’ is the statement that in 2013 sites in NRZ were restricted to ‘two dwellings on any block’ and this only changed when the MInisier removed this last year.

The zones were introduced under Amendment C110 which clearly stated:


Hence any site that was larger than your ‘conventional’ size lot became a target for multi dwellings.

Hyams’ third misrepresentation of the truth in the above comment relates to his assertion that the zones introduced greater site coverage, setbacks and permeability in the areas zoned NRZ. Not so! In 2004 with amendment C25 council achieved variations to the ResCode requirements of 50% site coverage and a 4 metre rear setback. Permeability did increase to 25% in 2013. Thus council’s proposed new zone of NRZ2 reverts back to what we had PRIOR to 2004 in terms of site coverage.

POINT NO.3 – . Also worth noting is that the new NRZ2 areas are GRZ and RGZ under the current planning scheme, and so will be getting increased protection, another reason why labelling this as negative and retrograde is tripe.

COMMENT: As per usual Hyams fails to reveal the full picture. Reducing the heights for various streets does not erase what has already been developed in these streets. When these ‘reductions’ are compared to the number of sites that are suddenly allowed to have increased heights, we can see exactly how much ‘protection’ has been introduced via this amendment. All the areas in Green below or dark blue were zoned NRZ (ie 2 storeys). Green is now zoned for 3 storeys and the dark blue for 4 storeys!

CONCLUSION

We regard it as really tragic for the residents of Glen Eira that conducting a fact check on what comes out of the mouths of our elected representatives, or council officers is even necessary. Living in a democracy one should expect that organisations answer criticisms honestly,fully and are completely transparent with their constituents. Spin, obfuscation, and deflection onto individuals rather than the issue, is the enemy of good government. It belongs in the world of Trump and his tactics. Not in a municipality that likes to portray itself as listening and acting in accordance with its residents’ aspirations.

 

We’ve received this comment on the draft Amendment C184 and feel that it deserves to be highlighted –

Below is an email I have sent to the CEO of Glen Eira Council on this issue (rmckenzie@gleneira.vic.gov.au). I will post a response when received.
_______

Dear Ms McKenzie

I am writing about Planning Scheme Amendment C184 Glen Eira – Bentleigh Activity Centre (“Proposed Amendment”).

I am owner of XXXX Road, Bentleigh. If the Proposed Amendment is implemented, all of the properties that neighbour mine, which are currently one to two stories, will suddenly be eligible for the building of developments of up to 4 stories.

Many other residents of Bentleigh (and, of course, Carnegie) are facing the same situation.

I’m so surprised and disappointed that this is being proposed.

Over recent years I’ve witnessed the many documents and social media posts published by Glen Eira Council, in which the Council continually professes to be examining responsible and appropriate ways to improve the lives and amenities of residents. The Council’s website refers to you, personally, as a person who is passionate about creating “liveable communities” with people who have “pride of place” (https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/about-council/our-organisation/meet-our-chief-executive-officer).

Yet if you asked anyone in Bentleigh whether they think changes in the nature of the Proposed Amendment would achieve those stated aims, I would sincerely doubt anyone would believe so. Certainly not after witnessing the impacts of developments in a location such as Bent Street (Bentleigh) in recent years, such as the jamming of the street with cars (creating an effective ‘one way’ street situation), and the shadowing and loss of privacy at adjoining properties. I will leave out comments on the impact of the suburb’s “character” (despite my concerns about this), as I know this can be subjective. The other factors referenced are plainly more objectively measurable – and there can be no doubt seriously adverse impacts have occurred.

Of course, what those developments and the Proposed Amendments create is financial opportunities for the Council. No-one begrudges the Council the opportunity to chose its financial targets and boost its budgets, but to do so for its own sake at the expense of the residents the Council is supposed to support and service, is just so disappointing.

I note the Council has been separately consulting in recent periods about building a multi-story carpark off Centre Road – for purposes that include, amongst other things, freeing up some of the other carpark space for other purposes. If it is considered that this is necessary, why not use some of that space that would become available for multi-story residences? If the changes are about accommodating more people in the Council areas, utilising ‘empty space’ is surely a better option?

Perhaps most distressing of all, we have had numerous car accidents in the past 2 years at the corner of XXXX and XXX, with high volumes of traffic turning quickly into or from the busy roads – resulting in cars crashing through front fences and gardens. One can only imagine how this would exponentially increase as a result of the Proposed Amendments. Surely it can be recognised that this is a major health and safety issue? If mass developments are permitted in this area, and there are more accidents following traffic increases, will the Council accept some responsibility?

Ms McKenzie, I have young children who are learning about local government in their local Bentleigh school, and when I explain to them what is being proposed despite the impacts on residents and the risks, they can’t reconcile it with the messages they see on your website about developing “the best possible health, safety and lifestyle for the City” and having an emphasis on “community wellbeing” (https://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/about-council/our-organisation/our-guiding-values).

In this context, can you please explain to me how, specifically (not in generalities), areas like mine were chosen for these proposed planning amendments? Do any Council members live in properties that are now proposed, under the Proposed Amendment, to be allowed to be surrounded by 4 store developments? Would you like this to be applicable to your property? Do you really believe there is no other solution to whatever issues this is proposed to solve – or is the message to residents of “sorry, you’re the unlucky ones – but think of the money!” really what is intended to be communicated to residents? Are the salaries of senior Council staff linked to financial metrics that effectively incentivise accommodating mass developments like this, directly or indirectly (such as by being tied to overall financial performance)?

I know this is a proposal only, and that ‘consultation’ is occurring. I will of course make a submission. But I did want to reach out to you directly as I feel these issues are exactly what a CEO who doubtless embodies the values of the organisation should be weighing in on. I would be very grateful for your personal response.

Finally, can I ask you to – just for a moment – imagine if you were in my position. Imagine how powerless and let down you would feel by the process (being one of apparent inevitability, given what has occurred in recent years despite residents’ objections) playing out around you. I love Bentleigh dearly, but the steps to removing so much of what it is that attracted people like me to the area appears to have been set in motion. I’ll fight it every step of the way, but I really hope that is not necessary and the Council lived up to its professed values. Is reclassifying large swathes of residential area for the development of enormous buildings towering over existing homes, shadowing them and boxing them in, all in the apparent primary name of dollars, consistent with those values? If so, how? Or is the main value that is being applied one of “Growth at all costs”?

I have no doubt you are a caring and logical person who has excelled in their profession. I note you are also a Board Director at Zoos Victoria – a wonderful organisation. I am quite sure in your role relating to the zoo the approach you advocate for is not ‘fit more and more enclosures into the existing space, so we can house more exhibits/animals for the people to pay to see!’.. Rather, I imagine the focus of an organisation like the zoo is largely to improve the existing amenities and look to accommodate development and new exhibits only where it does not unfairly compromise existing enclosures. I wonder at how to reconcile the apparent approaches in Glen Eira to those in this other organisation you are part of overseeing.

I’d be very grateful for your written reply, including responses to the questions posed, so I can share this with my neighbours – who are equally concerned, and in many cases quite elderly and thus feeling even more powerless and reliant on your living up to the Council’s professed values. Like me, they see this as a moment where we’ll truly get a chance to see your and the Council’s real values in action. We look forward to seeing the professed values upheld in this regard, and thank you in advance with this expectation. I also appreciate you taking the time to read this letter.

Kind regards,

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