We’ve received the following email –

We, the residents of Glen Eira have tried to appeal to the integrity of Glen Eira City Council-we now realise that there is no conscience and no integrity to be found amongst our ‘representatives’

We are witnessing the destruction of our city through overdevelopment. Our homes are deprived of sunlight as the Council ignores our pleas to safeguard our habitable areas and gardens. We are not against developing more housing in our city. However, we would have expected our representatives to research how best to manage that development for the greater good of all. We now know the close relationship our Council have with developers and business (GECC mtg 24/7/18). Residents are not consulted about planning for future growth, but traders and developers are. Logic and reason have been ignored. Whilst the Council and the developers may well have joined together to restructure our city without any concern for the impact on the residents, we seem to have forgotten that the residents of the city of Glen Eira far outnumber the developers and Council. We are now numbering over 150 000.

We need to show our force in numbers…………perhaps a ‘People’s March’ in our streets might gain the Council’s attention.

Past generations established laws to protect the citizens of a democracy. These laws still stand.

We need to review the Statutory Regulations which our council assumes have no relevance to them:

  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • Local Government Act 1989
  • Local Government Bill Exposure Draft 2018
  • Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • Environment Protection Act 1970

We have no time to waste…………each day more streets are taken, residents’ lives are dismantled.

We need now to think collectively……….How can we unite to ensure our voices are heard?

This post concerns last night’s ‘discussion’ on VCAT Watch. The cases brought up involved Royal Avenue and Manchester Grove, both in Glen Huntly. The former application was for a 5 storey development in the Commercial Zone. True to form, councilors voted for 4 storeys only to be knocked on the head by VCAT with the developer getting his 5 storeys and car parking waivers. The second application also got the nod from VCAT where the site is zoned GRZ (ie 3 storeys).

VCAT certainly is no friend to residents. But neither is council!!!!! Until councilors stop pretending that all the blame should be laid at the feet of VCAT, and that poor old Glen Eira is a ‘victim’ of this autocratic institution, then nothing will change. Glen Eira is in the state it is because that is what was decided and the major culprits are Hyams, Esakoff, Magee, and Delahunty who oversaw the introduction of the disastrous zones without community consultation, and now again attempting a 20(4) appeal to the Minister for 12 storeys in Bentleigh & Carnegie. These same individuals have sat for years and years as our ‘representatives’ and have achieved zero when it comes to proficient planning. Worse is that they still insist on pulling the wool over residents’ eyes, when they certainly should know a lot better.

We urge all readers to listen carefully to what Hyams, Esakoff & Silver said in the following. We will then comment.

 

HYAMS stated that the member said that ‘the site didn’t need visitor parking because it is near a station” NO, THIS WASN’T WHAT WAS SAID. Paragraph 57 of the judgement states – I am satisfied the provision of one visitor parking space is acceptable. The member also states – I understand the provision of one or two visitor parking spaces rather than three spaces was supported by the Council’s professional planning and traffic engineering officers

So Hyams is taking issue with VCAT because some visitor car parking is waived. Yet officer reports repeatedly use the same arguments as the VCAT member. If Hyams and Esakoff are so concerned about the waiving of visitor car parking, then how come they voted for permits on the vast majority of the following cases? Why didn’t they stand up on their hind legs and ask the traffic department to justify its recommendations? If council’s own traffic department uses the same arguments as VCAT, then is VCAT really the villain or does the fault lie with a council that has no parking precinct plans, or decent parking overlays, even though these were promised in 2004?

Here are some quotes from officer reports for various applications – most of which got their permits from council and were voted through by the likes of Hyams and Esakoff and lately Silver. The quotes are all verbatim from the various reports found in the agenda papers (dates provided so people can check)

Application for 13 storeys, 117 dwellings – Glen Huntly Road/Ripon Grove

The Planning Scheme requirement is for a total of 213 car spaces to be provided on site. There is a total shortfall of 43 car spaces proposed.In relation to the car parking reductions proposed, this is considered reasonable given the commercial location, opposite a rail station, tram line and with short term on street parking available. (agenda of December 17th, 2017 – officer report)

13-15 Hamilton Street, Bentleigh – (10th April 2018 – officer’s report)

The reduction in visitor parking is considered acceptable. The applicant has provided a car parking assessment which outlines that peak visitor demand would likely be up to two, visitor car parking spaces. Given the site is within an area highly serviced by public transport, and there is sufficiently available space within the vicinity of the site to cater for 1 car space to be accommodated (as there is 1 space in the basement), this waiver is considered acceptable in this instance. 

21st March 2017 – It is also noted that the site has good access to public transport. A tram route runs along Glen Huntly Road which operates between Melbourne University and Carnegie. The nearest tram stop is approximate 50 metres to the east. Glen Huntly station is also a short walking distance from the subject site (approximately 400 to the west). 1254-58 Glen Huntly Road, Carnegie – 6 storeys, 79 dwellings)

The proposal is seeking to waive the requirement for one visitor parking space. Given the proximity of the site to the Ormond Train Station (less than 100 metres), this reduction is supported. It is noted that Council’s Traffic Engineers did not raise any concerns with the waiver of the visitor car space. (12th April, 2018) 532 North Road Ormond

9 Royal Avenue Glen Huntly – Given the strategic location of the site, proximity to public transport and the availability of short-term car spacesavailable within the immediate vicinity, a reduction of 2 visitor car spaces is consideredacceptable. .(26th September 2017)

So we have the paradox of councillors now blaming VCAT for something their own transport department endorses!

Adding further salt to the wounds is that councillors have voted in the Integrated Transport Strategy. As we’ve pointed out previously, council’s intent is clear. When parking overlays are eventually introduced, they WILL NOT maintain the current requirements of Clause 52.06. Council will REDUCE the statutary requirements for parking in its activity centres. Thus instead of 1 spot for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment this will in all likelihood be reduced to 0.8 spots and visitor parking (currently 1 spot for every 5 dwellings) cut back to maybe 1 in ten. Offices and other commercial properties will get even greater dispensations. All one has to do is read the document and ponder what the following (again quoted) has in store –

Where it is demonstrated that office parking usage is lower than the planning scheme requirements due the high level of public transport provision, explore a reduction in the statutory parking requirements for office use. When determining appropriate parking rates, the site specific conditions of the development and the corresponding ability for the centre to adapt to an increase mode share of sustainable travel, should be taken into account. (page 38) 

Where it is demonstrated a public parking availability is underutilised during the evenings, explore a reduction in the statutory parking requirements for these commercial uses. When determining appropriate parking rates, the site-specific conditions of the development and the corresponding parking utilisation of the centre should be taken into account. (page 38)

Next we’ve got the the Esakoff view. Her argument that Royal Avenue isn’t in the ‘core’ of the commercial centre is literally stunning. Since when is the interpretation of a commercial ‘core’ taken to mean a LINEAR line drawn down the major arterial road? That’s not what the planning scheme says. Neither the Urban Villages policy, nor the Housing diversity policy differentiates between commercial sites along the main road and those commercial sites that sit adjacent to the main road. It’s a great pity that Esakoff didn’t think of this ‘problem’ when she voted for the Carnegie structure plan with its proposed 12 storey height limits in Commercial centres that are all over the place and definitely NOT LINEAR! For example Woorayl, Egan, Arawatta. In Elsternwick the same non-linear configuration applies – ie Horne Street branching off Glen Huntly and earmarked for 12 storeys.

Then there’s Silver and his bemoaning of the fact that Manchester Grove’s ‘neighbourhood character’ was overlooked by the VCAT member. We wonder if Silver has even ventured down this street and attempted to define its ‘neighbourhood character’ since council certainly hasn’t! We remind readers that council DOES NOT HAVE any character statements for its housing diversity areas. It does not have ‘preferred character statements’ like other councils. In fact there is nothing except the zoning of GRZ and the go ahead for development. And Manchester Grove is being ‘developed’ constantly. There are already 22 units at 15-17 Manchester Grove and across the road the Coles car park followed by a long series of 3 storey townhouses. Asking VCAT to respect ‘neighbourhood character’ when council doesn’t is the supreme joke!

So ultimately the question becomes – when will these councillors fess up to their mistakes and apologise to the community instead of continuing to spout utter bullshit that shows no respect whatsoever to those they are meant to represent.

Mr DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan)
— My matter for the adjournment tonight is for the attention of the Minister for Planning in the other place, and it concerns the planning scheme in Glen Eira. Glen Eira is an area that needs significant protection. I note that it is an area where in 2013 –14 Matthew Guy as  planning minister provided significant protection through neighbourhood residential zone layers to prevent the intense development of many areas of the municipality.
Under this government those neighbourhood zones have been trashed, have been weakened significantly, Removing the two -dwelling cap and allowing a cap of nothing. There is no cap: you can have as many dwellings as you wish on a property. Indeed the general residential zone issues are also significant, with an increase in height and, as of right, three storeys in many locations.
Parallel with that there has been a battle by many in the City of Glen Eira to protect Elsternwick, Bentleigh and Carnegie. The minister put temporary height restrictions in Bentleigh and Carnegie a year or so ago. But the issue remains: what will occur now? We know that the council has asked the minister, through section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, for its draft structure plans for Elsternwick, Bentleigh and Carnegie to be approved. Residents believe there has been insufficient justification for some of the proposed heights. For example, in Elsternwick 12 storeys is significant and is likely to change the area of Elsternwick that has that proposed height very significantly so that it would be unrecognisable from its current shape. What would justify an increase of five storeys in Carnegie and some of those other areas of Glen Eira?
I say that there needs to be a change of government and there actually need to be protections in Glen Eira that protect open space and indeed protect the quality of life, the livability of Glen Eira, which has one of the lowest amounts of open space of any municipality.
Council has done significant strategic work, but I ask the minister to come forward with clear policies. I do not necessarily endorse the structure plans put forward by the City of Glen Eira. I ask him, though, in the coming months before the state election to come forward with structure plans and arrangements that provide sufficient protection. That does not mean five storeys as of right in Carnegie and Bentleigh, and it does not mean 12 storeys in Elsternwick. So I ask him to act and come forward with those structure plans before the election.

An astonishing item (9.8) features in today’s agenda. Council is proposing to enter into a potential 9 year lease with the VRC (aka MRC) for 2 sections of the Wedge – ie the land that has stood vacant at the top of Glen Eira/Booran Rds for years and years. The terms of the proposed lease are:

  • For the first 5 years the payment to council (as committee of management) of $137,500 and for each 2 year extension up to a further 4 years, a rental of $30,400 per annum.
  • The land under discussion includes a 153 square metre area that contains a water bore, and another area to the east of the Wedge of 675 square metres. This second area abuts the current freehold land containing the stables.

Our take on this is as follows:

  • Why would the MRC agree to pay even this pittance for a lease on land that has stood empty for years unless this is nothing more than a major land grab to accommodate future residential development to the east of this strip? Below is a screen dump taken from the VPA website which makes it clear that the MRC is thinking of more development once training goes.

  • Is the payment of basically $27,000 per annum a reasonable rent given that any commercial block of 675 square metres would certainly receive far more in rent?
  • Does this lease mean that training will not be gone for another 9 years at least? In 2011 a 5 year time limit was put on. We are now talking 2027 at the earliest.
  • Why has this item made an appearance at this stage given that the newly appointed trustees are set to begin their reign on the 1st August, 2018. Does the signing off of this lease usurp their power and authority and hence is the timing deliberate? Surely council could have waited another 2 weeks given the years when nothing has happened?
  • What does this mean for the proposed dog agility facility? How can dogs, kids, and adults co-exist with trucks, workmen, etc having unrestricted access to the bore?
  • Why is the last sentence of the Department letter redacted? What potentially damaging info does this sentence contain?
  • One sentence of the officer’s report is worth repeating –As the lease term is less than 10 years Council is not required to give public notice of the intention to enter into the lease with the MRC. Skull duggery at its best! No publicity, no objections, no community involvement whatsoever! Well done council!

All in all another cave in by council and the department to the Melbourne Racing Club!

It is becoming abundantly clear that council has stuffed up monumentally in its structure planning fiasco. Richard Wynne has obviously not been willing to sign off on the Elsternwick proposals. The reason? Major community opposition plus the failure to provide any strategic justification. The result is that council is now being forced to:

  • Spend more money on more consultants for something that should have been researched and analysed right from the start of the process
  • Commit to further ‘community consultation’ via a ‘reference group’ so that the Elsternwick structure plan is now put back until late 2019 and probably beyond.

The History of Machination

Elsternwick was ignored when the interim height guidelines were introduced for Bentleigh & Carnegie. Why? We still have had no explanation, unless of course the objective has always been to turn Elsternwick into a high rise centre. Now another year at least will pass without any decent protection for the suburb.

Council called for further traffic and overshadowing data in February 2018. It is now 5 months later and still no sign of these documents. Have these even been done? If so, then why do we need more consultants to do the same work?

Are we about to have another Clayton’s  reference group that is sworn to secrecy? Why couldn’t such processes be instituted for all the activity centres right from the start?

So now we’ve reached the ludicrous situation where the ‘objectives’ for Elsternwick include:

All of the above ‘criteria’ were supposedly analysed and confirmed by council in February 2018. We had urban design guidelines that established setbacks and heights; we had ‘landuse frameworks’; we had ‘place making’ projects; we had promises about open space levies and developer contributions, etc. etc. Two conclusions are therefore possible: either this latest consultancy is there simply to endorse what has already been determined or, it is an acknowledgement of the total incompetence of this council where even Richard Wynne won’t go along with the existing draft structure plan and tells council to go back to the drawing board! And all of this begs the question of course as to why Carnegie is being totally ignored. It also has heritage plus 12 storeys and pathetically limited justification. We congratulate Elsternwick residents but bemoan the fact that it is opposition that causes ‘reviews’ rather than sound planning by this council!

For more ‘damage control’ info, see – www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/elsternwick-masterplan

We urge all readers to carefully consider the significance of the following screen dump. It comes from the consultant’s report that accompanies Melbourne City Council’s attempt to ensure that ALL of its parks receive the appropriate amount of sunlight during the winter months. Melbourne has now formulated Amendment C278 in order to achieve this. (Uploaded HERE)

The image depicts the overshadowing resulting from a 20 metre (6 storey) building. Glen Eira in its wisdom proposes buildings to a height of 43 metres, with a 4 metre ‘exemption’ for masts, etc. Even if a building is of a lower height as envisaged for East Village, (ie 8 storeys) the fact that public open space will be surrounded by 8 storeys on all sides, is great cause for concern. If a 6 storey building has the potential to throw a shadow of between 90 and 111 metres in winter, what percentage of the proposed ‘public plazas’ will be in the dark for most of the day? What does this also mean for council’s structure planning such as in Elsternwick which will have new open spaces surrounded by 12 storeys? And Caulfield Village plus Monash’s Fusion Plan that will reach at least 22 storeys surrounding its public space reserves?

The very fact that several council meetings ago, there was no commitment forthcoming to support Melbourne City Council in its endeavours reveals much about the mindset that dominates in Glen Eira. Thus far they even seem incapable of providing shadow diagrams able to stand up to full scrutiny.

The above graph featuring today’s release of ABS building permits for Local Government Areas still shows Glen Eira leading the way.  When the 80 square km of Monash is taken into account, compared to the 38.9 square km that is Glen Eira, then the impact on overall density is obvious. Further compounding the problem is that in Glen Eira permits for single houses only reached 269 whereas Monash had 580 – more than double going into Glen Eira!

Even more astounding is that the total number of permits since the 2011/12 financial year is as follows for the various municipalities –

Glen Eira – 11,049

Bayside – 6,527

Boroondara – 9.905

Kingston – 7,785

Stonnington – 10,176

Port Phillip – 8,144

Monash – 11,072

Thus in just on 7 years, and excluding the number of single houses from the overall total, Glen Eira has had an average of 1,271 net new dwellings granted building permits. This far exceeds the needs of population growth and given what is in the pipe line via East Village, Caulfield Village and council’s desire for 12 storeys in Carnegie and Elsternwick, then developers must indeed be rubbing their hands with glee.

We’ve uploaded the ABS data HERE