We’ve received a series of photographs that illustrate the carnage caused by development and the failure of this council to enforce its own regulations – much less fine contractors or even order a halt to construction because permit conditions aren’t being adhered to or everyday road rules are ignored. There is absolutely no excuse why residents living near these constructions should have their safety, and lives impacted to such an extent. Developers are not outside the law – but it might appear to some that in Glen Eira they are free to do what they like, when they like, and how they like!

photo13

photo2

photo6 and 7

photo10

photo11

 

photo5

 

Last council meeting the agenda was jam packed with application after application – all of them highly contentious and controversial – ie Belsize Avenue, Penang St., Mavho St., Lorranne St., Tucker Road, etc. We commented at the time that this is the typical council strategy. Cram all important decisions onto the one agenda so that debate and decision making is reduced to a measly 5 or 10 minutes each, as well as getting the resulting ‘pain’ from outraged residents over in the one fell swoop!

The agenda for next Wednesday night’s council meeting confirms this deliberate manipulation. There’s nothing that equals last meeting’s controversy. Item after item is so inconsequential that we have to laugh at the obvious ‘light weight’ nature of this agenda compared to what was dished up three weeks ago. There are no planning applications that occur in residential zones; there are no reports that couldn’t have appeared at last meeting given that councillors had requested them as far back as the 23rd September and the 12th August. For a council that claims to get councillor requests back at the next meeting this makes a mockery of such claims. Manipulation of the agenda is the name of the game!

There are however a couple of interesting applications for increases in both height and number of dwellings. These are all in areas zoned Commercial and hence there are no height limits. We’ve done a comparison of two of these in order to illustrate how inconsistent and nonsensical the officers’ reports are. Readers should remember that basically, these constitute a single development. Council in its benevolence at the time of decision making granted them 13 public car parking spots in return for an exeloo toilet! The buildings will ultimately be seen as basically fronting Centre Road, so why one should be allowed to be 5 storeys and the other only 4 given that both abut residential areas is anyone’s guess.

669_Page_1CONCLUSIONS

  • Given that these buildings are literally side by side, then allowing car parking waivers on one and simultaneously arguing that trucks can park on the same street taken up by cars from the other development is quite farcical
  • Since both are on Centre Road, why should one report single out the opposite side of Centre Road and argue that 4 storeys will dominate, but that 5 storeys won’t? Further the mention of Tucker Road buildings are at least 850 metres away – see screen dump below.
  • Finally we don’t believe that asking for accuracy and some decent officer reports is demanding too much – especially not when ratepayers are footing the bill for such efforts!

tuckerPS: THIS MUST SURELY TAKE THE CAKE!

UntitledAND THE BLURB STATES:

Vacant Land with Plans and Permits approved

Planning Permit Now Issued.
13.72m X 13.31m = 182.60m2 approx.
Elevated from the street with entrance from rear laneway.
Possible site for a 2-3 bedroom unit.
Use your imagination to create your new home in this great location.
Minutes to transport, shops, parklands and good schools.
Call for more details.

2011522262

quinnsblurb

Our apologies for this long post. However, we believe it lays to rest any misapprehensions about the new zones and the damage they are wreaking throughout Glen Eira.

We highlight one single case that has dragged on for over 12 years – that of 17 Rosella Street, Murrumbeena which is now zoned GRZ2 but which directly abuts the so called ‘minimal change area’. It is also a large site of approximately 1200 square metres. The property, we believe, was originally a government sale in 2002. Since then, there has been application after application for a variety of developments. Here’s a brief history:

2003 – application for 3 double storeys and one single storey. Application withdrawn eventually.

2003/4 – application for 2 double storeys and one single storey. Permit granted (3/2/2004)

2005 – application for 5 double storeys. Permit granted 6/9/2005

2005 – amended application – permit granted 7/4/2006

2006 – ‘voluntary amendments’ – Permit granted 22/8/2006

2007 – application for amendment to increase units from 5 to 9. Refused permit – 21/6/2007

2010 – application for 2 storey and 12 dwellings. Officers recommended approval. Councillors unanimously refused permit – 40 objections. VCAT hearing – which incidentally is not recorded in the planning register!

2013 – application for 3 storey and 7 dwellings. Permit refused – 15/4/2014

2014 – application for 7 double storeys. Decision pending.

In 2010, when that particular application went to council, the officers report included the following gems:

 

A Planning Permit was issued by Council in May 2005 for the subject site and authorised the construction of five (5) double storey dwellings and basement carparking. This permit has not been acted upon and has expired.

The proposed development is considered to be consistent with and respectful to the existing and envisaged character of this neighbourhood. At a height of two storeys, the proposal is considered to be compatible with the existing building stock inRosella Street and nearby streets which includes single and double storey dwellings and a range of multi unit development. Its setbacks and appearance (materials and roof form) are also appropriate in the existing streetscape on this 1177 square metre site.

The development will have a maximum height of 6.6 metres. This is comparable with other building heights in the neighbourhood and will provide a reasonable transition with adjacent single storey development.

The site abuts seven properties within the Minimal Change Area to the south and west. The development provides setbacks of at least 4 metres from the western boundary and over 14 metres from the southern boundary at both ground and first floor. This is considered an appropriate design response to these sensitive interfaces. The rear setback in particular could be described as a generous outcome for a housing diversity area and will allow planting of canopy trees and protection of the Melbourne Water main drain asset.

Crs Esakoff/Pilling

That Council:

Issues a Notice of Refusal to Grant a Planning Permit for the construction of a two storey building comprising twelve dwellings and basement carparking, in a Special Building Overlay Area for Application No. GE/PP-22781/2010 in accordance with the following grounds:

  1. The proposal does not satisfy the intent and objectives of Council’sHousing Diversity Areas policy (Clause 22.07-3.1). It will have anadverse visual impact on the adjoining residential properties to thewest, which are located in a minimal change area.
  1. The proposal is not site responsive in terms of minimising adversevisual bulk impacts on the adjoining residential properties to thewest.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

The ensuing VCAT hearing which also refused the application, had the following comments to make:

  • The review site is within the Hughesdale residential neighbourhood centre. Its western boundary is the boundary between the residential neighbourhood centre and an area of minimal change. Council and residents opined the site is a transition site and development should respond to guidelines for minimal change areas as well as those for residential neighbourhood centres.
  • Planning policies for the residential neighbourhood centres such as Hughesdale anticipate an intensification of dwellings and built form in a manner that:
  • is a lower scale and density than development in commercial and mixed use areas of neighbourhood centres
  • is appropriate to that of the neighbourhood centre
  • is sited and designed so that it does not dominate the streetscape
  • responds positively to its interfaces with existing residential development in minimal change areas.
  • The submissions, photos tendered at the hearing and my inspection suggest to me the neighbourhood character of this area comprises:
  • predominantly interwar single storey dwellings, with very low site coverage, generous front setbacks, side setbacks and some canopy trees in rear yards. Nearly all dwellings have hipped roofs, articulated built form and a mix of materials and colours
  • some varied larger built form such as 1960’s style ‘barrack’ flats, articulated townhouses and dual occupancies in both tandem and side by side arrangements
  • few developments with basements and ramps to the public realm
  • breaks and gaps in the built form when it extends deep into the site.
  • Mr Bowden, Mr Shumack and Ms Ramsay opined the proposed development would be inconsistent with the character of the neighbourhood, even allowing for some level of change and intensification. Mr Bowden submitted broad planning policy objectives need to be tempered by the site’s inclusion in a residential neighbourhood centre and its proximity to a minimal change area. He thought the site to be suitable for some intensification but not to the intensity or built form proposed. He thought the proposed level of intensification to be better located within a higher order commercial neighbourhood centre or village. (Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2011/352.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=17%20and%20rosella

 

CONCLUSIONS

  • Under the new GRZ zones there IS NO TRANSITION BUFFER
  • 3 years ago, it was considered that 12 units and 2 storeys (of 6.5 metres in height) was ‘too intense’ development. Now 3 storeys (and 10.5 metres) is deemed suitable by council
  • There is no differentiation in council’s GRZ AND RGZ zones between commercial and ‘neighbourhood centres’ that are hundreds of metres away from any shop, any railway station, or any transport route.
  • This application typifies everything that’s wrong with planning per se, but especially the disaster that is planning in Glen Eira.

PS: this is the real estate agent’s blurb that accompanied the 6 Larman St, East Bentleigh advertising -

Play with the Possibilities (general residential zone)

Fit the family, invite the in-laws, develop the dream! With a charming three bedroom, two bathroom brick home, around 643sqm of land and flexible General Residential Zoning, this versatile property in the Gardeners Reserve/Moorabbin Hospital precinct has so many possibilities to play with!

Offering three living areas, two quality kitchens, two-car garaging and scope to configure as two dwellings, this immaculately presented home offers excellent family accommodation for today, exceptional rental potential for tomorrow and all the extras you could need (including gas and woodfire heating, air-con’r, polished boards and robes) as a basis for renovation and extension in the future.

Alternatively, see the future rewards in this super-central site and explore the multi-level, multi-home potential offered by flexible zoning (subject to Council Approval). Close to the Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre, medical facilities and Centre Rd shopping and transport, this prime site is ready to get into the game!

Council is clinging desperately to its myth that the new zones are a ‘neutral translation’ of the past. According to their version of history, nothing is different. Well, much is different we say. The number of permits granted since the zones came in have skyrocketed and it’s not due to developers trying to get their ambit applications in before the gazetting of the amendment so that the ‘old’ rules would apply. Nothing is the same under the new zones. The staggering increase of four storey applications for quiet residential streets is a new phenomenon – thanks to the zones. The number of amended permits seeking higher and greater numbers of dwellings is also ‘new’. The current trend of selling multiple blocks of land in order to build bigger and denser apartment blocks is also new. The number of residents getting out of Glen Eira because their streets are becoming the slums of the future is also new. Everything has changed and in our view, to the detriment of thousands upon thousands of residents.

It’s therefore interesting to see in today’s Leader this little ‘clarification’ -

UntitledWe have to ask:

  • What pressure was put on The Leader to insert this token ‘correction’?
  • Isn’t it news that the old system ‘permitted buildings of up to five storeys’ when we are repeatedly told that there were no height limits in the past?
  • Will Council’s reach ever extend to silence real estate agents when they disclose the truth?

At last council meeting Hyams let slip the fact that developers were in the know well before residents had any clue as to what was going to happen on August 5th 2013 – ie the introduction of the new zones.

Here’s some further evidence to substantiate our claim that it is developers who get the ‘inside information’ and residents are the ones left out in the cold – despite numerous public questions as to what was going on in early July 2013.

The screen dump below comes from Ratio Consulting – a big firm that has done plenty of work for developers and has undoubtedly got many ‘friendly’ contacts within council. In a posting dated 30th July 2013 they state the following:

To keep our clients in the loop, here is a summary of what we know so far.  We are mindful that the following information is gathered from verbal discussions from various Department and Council officers as there is little official feedback.  Things are moving quickly so we strongly advise you to make additional enquiries that relate to you and your circumstances.

Many Councils are currently reviewing the zones and the implications and we would expect substantial movement in the next 2-3 months.  We will keep you posted of progress in these municipalities.  The municipalities we do mention below are those we and our clients work with on a regular basis, and/or have information to share.

Source: http://www.ratio.com.au/ratio-news-planning-zones-update

Here’s what is stated about Glen Eira, before the Minister’s announcement on August 5th. We conclude that developers knew more about what was going on within Glen Eira, than residents. Readers will remember that whilst other councils were busily organising their processes for consultation, Glen Eira’s residents had a year of stunning silence. The only item relating to the zones was Council’s submission to the Minister’s draft in 2012 – just on a year before the March 2013 Minister’s announcement that the zones were now set and that they would come into effect on July 1st 2013. This would give councils a year to implement and consult on their proposed zones. For Ratio to therefore state that Glen Eira “is well advanced with the translation of the zones” and that council is ‘working’ with the Department shows exactly how much the big end of town was in the know and how little the ratepayers knew!

ratio