At last week’s council meeting there was plenty of implied criticism of how strategic planning in Glen Eira was arguably negligent and inept and had not achieved what was possible in protecting residential amenity. The most damning comments came from Sounness in relation to the Glen Huntly Road application (Item 9.2).

SOUNNESS: ‘I recognise the building is kind of ugly’ and ‘if we wanted to have a particular form for built form outcome’ then council would be saying ‘this is the character we want’ but ‘Glen Eira hasn’t gone down that particular path’ (apart from Neighbourhood Character Overlays). This means that ‘not having said what we want’ this application then becomes what is ‘acceptable‘. Believed that a ‘refusal’ would ‘be hard to substantiate’ given the zoning and potential future development of the area. Said he would ‘love to see good tools’ but ‘we don’t seem to have them’.

The ‘tools’ that Sounness is referring to, and which other councils have worked on and included in their planning scheme – some, a decade ago – include such things as:

  • Structure Plans – especially for Activity Centres
  • Design and Development Overlays
  • Urban Design policies
  • Parking Precinct Plans

It should also be noted that councils which have had Structure Plans in place for eons have also had interim height limits for commercial buildings. Many, such as Bayside, now want these ‘interim’ height limits on a permanent basis and as part of their overall strategic planning for Activity Centres. In Glen Eira, because of the failure to implement any structure plans, or to even seek height limits on commercial properties, the sky is literally the limit. Now there are applications for 12 and even 16 storeys. But do the planning department and councillors really care?

As for Design and Development Overlays, Glen Eira has 5 in its planning scheme. Are they there to protect against ‘inappropriate development’? Definitely NOT. Two of these 5 are designed to permit (and we quote) higher density and higher scale development. The remaining three concern themselves with the height of fences in specific areas.

Here’s how many of these overlays other neighbouring councils have in their planning schemes. All vary in their intent and the ‘limits’ on development. Most however take a proactive approach in attempting to describe what they want, and to list what kind of development should be excluded. Not in Glen Eira though! Here are the tallies –

Bayside – 12

Boroondara – 31

Kingston – 24

Manningham – 12

Monash – 11

Moonee Valley – 12

Moreland – 23

Port Phillip – 21

Stonnington – 13

Whitehorse – 8

Yarra – 13

Glen Eira of course has its Neighbourhood Character Overlays. The ‘problem’ with this is that all of these together basically cover a bare 1500 properties and a few score number of streets throughout Glen Eira. It is no use therefore complaining, as Hyams and others have, about the lack of pitched roof applications, especially in housing diversity areas, when no attempt has been made, as Sounness says, to introduce the ‘tools’ that would help achieve such an outcome.

Sounness’ comments are warranted. Okotel’s previous claims about having to ‘watch’ the number of applications in Neerim Road and the car parking situation is also warranted. But what then? Apart from stating the obvious, what has council done in the past ten years to even come close to addressing such issues?

Ultimately the hand wringing of Lobo, Sounness, Okotel, and Hyams with his pitched roof pitch, does not excuse the inaction of this current crop of councillors, and those before them. When the problem is so obvious, and when countless streets are being destroyed, it is incumbent on councillors to ensure that all means are introduced to protect the local amenity, and neighbourhood character. It does not mean wringing one’s hands and saying ‘we do not have the tools’! The tools are available – if wanted. They have been available for years! Yet under this administration and its compliant councillor group, none of these tools have ever been openly discussed, much less implemented. In our view this represents a clear failure of planning prowess or, the deliberate decision to place as few obstacles in front of developers as legally possible. Either way, it is the community who pays the ultimate cost.

A trend is definitely occurring within Glen Eira where properties zoned Neighbourhood Residential, are selling up and getting out as quickly as they can. The latest example comes from Mavho Street, Bentleigh where some properties are zoned Residential Growth, some General Residential and others Neighbourhood Residential. Below is a screen dump of two adjoining properties located in the Neighbourhood Residential zone. We can only assume that the owners have seen what is happening to their street and their neighbourhood and decided that they want out.

What will also be vital in the months to come is what happens on such relatively large sites. Whilst the Planning Scheme still contains the criterion that larger than surrounding blocks will be adjudicated against the General Residential Zone ‘standards’ instead of the Neighbourhood Residential zone ones, it will be most interesting to see how this plays out if the purchaser decides to aim for a 3 storey and 20+ unit development.

mavhoMavho Street is already gone. Now it is the turn of Bendigo Avenue as these recent advertisements show. Two triple blocks zoned Residential Growth are on the market and the single property is zoned General Residential Zone 2. An ‘invitation’ for 4 and 3 storey developments in an area with a Heritage Overlay and a SBO (Melbourne Water overlay).




When big money is involved (for both developers and council) then transparency and truth are the inevitable victims. We revisit the Virginia Estate proposal since the claims by the developer, council officers and councillors appear to be at odds and are strikingly reminiscent of what occurred with the Caulfield Village enterprise. Here’s why:

  • Gillon cites 1250 new dwellings in this week’s Leader articles. In the officer’s report the figure of 4,400 was stated. Magee even claimed 5000 new dwellings.
  • Caulfield Village started off with a proposed figure of 1100 dwellings. At this stage it has ballooned out to over 2000 – on a site that is half the size of Virginia Estate. We anticipate further increases once the remaining development plans are submitted.
  • How council can cite 4,400 new dwellings and Gillon only 1250 needs explanation – especially when the existing amendment (or equivalent of the Caulfield Village Incorporated Plan) grants permission for towers ranging from 4 to 10 storeys.
  • Council quotes directly from the ‘Retail Impact Statement’. Hence detailed documentation by Gillon does exist. It would also have existed when they approached the department and the Minister. Undoubtedly private discussions between Gillon and Council have been going on for some time. Requests for changes to setbacks and other conditions of the current amendment are not agreed to without some clear indication of why this is needed. Setback reductions can only mean more land for more development. Council’s reasons for agreeing to this are top secret as revealed in the non-answer to this public question –

“In 2011 Council resolved that the schedule for Amendment C75 maintain the 8 metre setback to East Boundary Road. The officer report now states: “The DPO will be amended to require that any land development within 6 metres of the East Boundary Road must be to Council’s satisfaction”. Why and on what basis has it been recommended to renege on a previous council resolution and the terms of the gazetted Schedule 2?”

The Mayor read Council’s response. He said:

“The request to change the existing DPO is a new amendment process and is totally separate to Amendment C75. The proposed changes to the existing DPO will be required to go through a full

public exhibition and independent panel process. At the conclusion of the amendment process, Council can decide to either support or reject this amendment.”

And as with the Caulfield Village fiasco, residents are the last to know what is really going on. Yes, a ‘public information event’ might be held. But how much veracity residents can rely on from both council and the developer is the real question! Finally, as has already been noted – when each and every councillor basically spoke against the requested amendment, why on earth did they vote to exhibit rather than reject! Given Andrew Newton’s email to the Minister’s Office, the writing is on the wall that the proposed Amendment will be pushed through – aka Caulfield Village!

Crs Lipshutz/Okotel

That Council resolve not to proceed with item 7i in the Community Action Plan for 2014-15.

Motion carried. Division Called. Voting for: Lipshutz, Okotel, Esakoff, Magee, Lobo. VOTING AGAINST: Delahunty, Pilling, Sounness, Hyams

SOME BACKGROUND: On a previous vote on this issue, Lobo voted for the creation of a tree register. At this meeting there were a few aghast faces when Lobo didn’t immediately put up his hand to vote in favour of the Lipshutz motion. After some concerted stares from across the chamber, he raised his hand. Anyone still believe that ‘decisions’ aren’t pre-arranged behind closed doors?

We also point out that it was Lobo who was featured prominently in his election material alongside Simon Crean. The later comments in the ‘debate’ are referring to this.

LIPSHUTZ: a ‘vexed issue’ which has ‘come back to council over and over again’. It’s been to the Local Laws committee which looked at this ‘extensively’. Claimed there is ‘no right or wrong’ but is a ‘philosophical argument’. Some say that’s it’s ‘very important to have a tree register’ and others say that they should be able to do ‘what I wish on my land’. Reiterated that ‘there is no right or wrong’ but an issue of ‘the right approach’. In his view, if ‘I buy a piece of land’ then ‘I should be able to do with it as I wish’. If he wanted to remove his trees and ‘concrete’ then ‘it’s my prerogative to do so’. When he bought his land over 20 years ago, there were trees and he kept some of them ‘but over the last 20 years or more those trees are gone’ and now he has ‘bigger and better trees’. ‘That’s my right to do that’. ‘Acknowledged’ that ‘not every tree’ is going to be classified as a significant tree, ‘but ultimately it comes down to property rights’ and ‘therefore I am seeking to abandon that part of the community plan’.

COMMENT: Note the last sentence. The motion says nothing about ABANDONING the options for introducing a tree register. In fact, the motion speaks only to 2014/15! Yet, the intent and the overall impact will be that once gone from the community plan, there is no requirement for the Local Laws committee to ever revisit the issue, and hence no need to consider the issue as part of any Local Law Amendment. Further, if by chance the Local Law does come up for some amendments this year, then it will not be touched in all likelihood for another ten years until the sunset clause expires. The Tree Register issue will be dead, forgotten, and effectively killed off. We might also add that for the past 3 to 4 years the Local Laws Committee has been under the obligation to create the ‘framework’ according to the standing resolution. Their task was simply to carry out a council resolution. This they did not do! Nor has there been any report as to why this committee found so many alleged problems with creating the required wording – especially when countless other councils have ready made models to emulate.

OKOTEL: repeated that it’s a ‘vexed’ issue and that it’s been before council ‘many, many times’ and that it has also been looked at by the Local Laws Committee ‘many, many times’. People ‘do have different views’ but the committee has had ‘great difficulty in dealing with’ the issue if there was a ‘law in place’. The committee has ‘looked at different wording’, but they couldn’t ‘come up with anything that people are entirely satisfied with’. Council does have a ‘number of tree protection measures already in place’ and ‘these are adequate to protect our important trees’. On public land there is policy to ‘protect trees in our parks’ and on private land there are ‘laws against moonscaping’ and there are ‘often’ conditions in permits that council has said have trees that are significant. Said that having a new register would be ‘unduly onerous and invasive’ . There would be costs in ‘hiring the consultants’ and they would have to ‘survey the entire municipality’ then ‘maintaining and updating the register’ and ultimately ‘prosecuting the individuals’. All of these ‘costs would be of little benefit’ since only the ‘best of the best trees’ would be on the register. There wouldn’t be a ‘large number of trees’ so ‘going to the extent of having consultants identify the area’ for those few trees and prosecuting those individuals who happen to ‘prune’ their tree is ‘going that step too far’. She was ‘certain’ that when people buy a property with a nice tree they keep that tree. Thought it would be far better to ‘spend that money on planting new trees’. ‘Greening’ the streets by planting new trees is important and planting 400 new street trees is good but ‘we can do better’. Shopping strips ‘require greening’ so more can be planted there. Thought that Council could be ‘spending money in a way that would have far greater benefit’. Agreed with Lipshutz that when people ‘have a garden’ it should be their ‘right to tend their garden’ as they wish. Nobody should expect that if they ‘cut down a branch’ they would be ‘facing a $10,000 fine’ and if they ‘cut down the tree they could be facing a $50,000 fine’.

PILLING: thought it ironic that immediately after an item on powerlines and trees, and council’s emphases on saving trees, they should now be considering this particular item on the tree register. Said that council ‘does a lot of things for the community benefit’ and that saving trees, ‘even on private property has worth for the community’. Said that Okotel was ‘probably right’ in that ‘most owners’ would keep their trees but property developers are different. Other councils protect their trees but in Glen Eira ‘we don’t have very much protection at all’. Wanted this to ‘go forward’ and thought that it ‘eventually’ would either be by this council or the next. Thought that the ‘philosophical argument’ wasn’t as ‘good for the community’.

DELAHUNTY: ‘accepted’ that there are ‘philosophical arguments both for’ and against but thought that the application of these philosophical arguments was ‘mind boggling to me’ and there’s the inconsistency of the application of such arguments ‘from one item to the next’. Quoted Okotel from the last item when she said – “The loss of trees is a great shame for Glen Eira’. ‘Guessed’ it was about ‘where they were planted’ so all boils down to the ‘individual property rights kind of argument’. But then councillors who argue that they can do anything they want on their land will ‘then go on to quote all the provisions we have around the planning scheme’ and that this ‘protects trees’. Then asked ‘whether that should be changed as well?’ ‘You can’t have this inconsistent application’ about trees on private land. Either trees are important and ‘community asset’ no matter ‘where they are’ they should be protected or ‘you don’t’ think they are important. Said that ‘this lauding of planting more street trees’ is equally ‘mind boggling’ in the ‘inconsistent application of this as well’. It’s community money used to plant but the same councillor ‘who moved a motion to get those same street trees removed’ so this is a ‘bad use of money’. Plenty of arguments around for protection of existing trees – ‘population growth’. Why protect them right now ‘no matter where they are planted’ because ‘they are a community asset’.

Lipshutz might have done the ‘right thing’ by planting ‘new beautiful trees’ at his place but that ‘doesn’t give them any protection from the next owner’. Yet he ‘sees them now as adding back to the community’. ‘It doesn’t mean that they will be there forever’. Said that councillors need to ‘think about our values’ on this. Admitted that she is a ‘screaming leftie’ and because of this believes in ‘the community’s values over the individual’s values’ and she’s a member of the Labar party ‘because their values match mine’. Their values ‘state’ that ‘community’s have rights, organisations have rights’ ‘over an individual’. Said that some people might be ‘shocked’ to think that they ‘voted’ for some of these councillors who ‘purport to uphold these values’ and on their election promotions blurbs had ‘labor giants’ photographed with them. ‘Simon Crean was an absolute giant of the Labor party’.

PILLING: interrupted with a ‘point of order’. Delahunty asked ‘what is the point of order’. Pilling answered that he thought it ‘was off topic’.

DELAHUNTY: ‘on the basis of relevance’ she thought that ‘values’ were relevant to every decision council makes.

MAGEE: said he ‘understood’ the point of order and where ‘Delahunty is going’ but asked her to ‘please come back to Item 9.11′.

DELAHUNTY: repeated that council values are implicit in every decision and that it ‘should come as no surprise to the community’ especially since those ‘values are heralded on our election material’. Thus, trees are a ‘community asset’ wherever they’re found; community ‘has rights over the individual’. This is what she ‘believes’ and that’s why she ‘belongs to a party that also believes that’.

Went on to say that the issue was in the ‘much heralded’ community plan – the ‘overarching government document’. ‘Therefore a tree protection list must be forwarded’. Said it was ‘absolutely outrageous that we would'( interrupted by Magee at this point about the need for an extension of time. Delahunty said ‘I am done’.

SOUNNESS: ‘having respect’ for the environment is a ‘matter of principle’ and council spoke very ‘convincingly on Section 18c’ about racial discrimination and they took a ‘principled decision there’. If the environment isn’t protected then ‘some things degrade’. ‘Feared’ that ‘Glen Eira may go down the path of the Sahara desert’.

MAGEE – asked Sounness ‘are we talking about Item 9.11?’ The ‘tree register’.

SOUNNESS: Said he sees trees that are in the backs of properties and he enjoys seeing them and he’d like others who see such trees to be ‘comforted and supported’ and ‘encouraged to retain those trees’. Unless Council has a register then there ‘will be some’ who dismiss the importance of trees as ‘insignificant’ and ‘everyone stops caring about such things’. Whilst flowering gums and other shrubs might be attractive, they ‘don’t have the grace of some of the older’ trees. Wants to protect those trees and those properties who have such trees to be supported for ‘their retention’. This is above the individual’s rights for the ‘greater community benefit’.

LOBO: said ‘I am not supposed to talk on this, but I will’. Answered Delahunty by saying ‘I am here to represent the residents not a political party’. (Esakoff saying ‘hear, hear’ at this!) Lobo said that political parties can be either right or wrong and that they aren’t always right and if wrong ‘I do tell even the biggest person that you are wrong in the Labor party’.

ESAKOFF: ‘well said Councillor Lobo’. Said that councillors are there to represent the community and ‘not any political party’ and the community values ‘what they own’. Hopefully they ‘will value any significant trees they may have on their property’. ‘If you’ve bought a property that has a lovely tree you will cherish that tree’ and it will be removed if it becomes ‘old’ or ‘dangerous’ but she ‘couldn’t see that happening’. For developers and moonscaping ‘there are laws in place’. Doesn’t agree with many of the comments already made and that councillors are there ‘for the community and people do have rights’. ‘The community should not be able to over-ride’ the individual’s wishes ‘in their own home’. If the tree is in the front then people could see it, but if the tree is ‘in the backyard who is going to see it apart from perhaps a neighbour?’ and ‘not the community’. Thus ‘the owner of that property should have every right to do what they like’. She has always ‘been on the side of personal rights’ and she doesn’t want people to be told ‘what they can and can’t have’ in terms of trees in their gardens. That’s their ‘domain’ and it’s ‘called private open space – private’. ‘To be personal and to accuse people of inconsistency I think is a disgrace’. Said that people can argue for protecting street trees and planting more trees, but on people’s own property they should decide. Went on to ‘red tape and the costs’ is ‘another layer that the community is over’. Said that the ‘community’ doesn’t ‘want any more red tape’ or costs in choosing ‘what to do with their own private space’.

HYAMS: said he understands that ‘this is a philosophical discussion’ about the ‘rights of the individual which are very important’ and the ‘rights of the community’ to enjoy the ‘amenity’. Thought that Pilling, Sounness and Delahunty have ‘missed the main point’ in that the motion is about ‘asking the community if they want a significant tree register’. If the motion is voted in then it becomes part of the Local Law and that ‘goes out to quite a comprehensive community consultation’. Said that those who support the motion are arguing that ‘we support’ the community ‘so much that we don’t want to know what they think about this’. He does ‘want to know’ what people think and he won’t support one if the community says it doesn’t want one. Stated that ‘trees to contribute to the community’ and even from backyards ‘if they are tall enough’. There are ‘thousands of houses’ that have got Heritage listing. So if council thinks that it’s important to preserve ‘neighbourhood amenity’ with the heritage listings, and councilors at every meeting ‘limit’ what people can do through imposing ‘greater setbacks’ on their applications, then this is ‘all about contributing to the neighbourhood amenity’. A tree register ‘isn’t terribly different to that’. Admitted to be ‘embarrassed’ because the issue keeps returning. Said that a ‘great’ amount of work had been done by the Local Laws committee. Stated that the planning scheme maybe does ‘take care of some areas’ it ‘doesn’t take care of all’ the possibilities. So, ‘let’s hear what the community has to say about this and then make our decision’.

MAGEE: supports the motion because when he moved into his house in 1988 it was ‘ornamental trees and fruit trees’. He pulled them out and ‘put in native trees’. Now he’s got an ‘oasis of native birds’. He also planted an ‘inappropriate tree’ which ‘grew very, very quickly’ and had to be taken out because of impact on neighbours. He’s planted every tree and if in a ‘couple of years time’ he wants to change his garden then should be able to. ‘This isn’t about cutting down trees but giving people their individual rights to decide’ on their own property. Said he would hate to see a ‘situation’ where a tree was ‘causing me harm’ but his neighbours ‘opposed that’ and ‘council supported them rather than me’.

LIPSHUTZ: although he rarely agrees with Lobo, he does on this occasion in that ‘we’re all here to represent the community and not political parties’ and ‘Cr Delahunty represents the Labor Party’.

DELAHUNTY: ‘point of order Mr Mayor. That’s not what I said’.

MAGEE: confirmed this wasn’t ‘what she said’.

LIPSHUTZ: withdrew comment. Said that on Heritage ‘how many times has it come back to council because we don’t necessarily agree with the Heritage advisor?’ This is like ‘someone coming along and saying that tree is significant’. Then someone will appeal that decision and then it will be ‘red tape and a bureaucratic issue’. Whether something is a significant tree ‘is in the eyes of the beholder’. As an analogy said that clients going to court are told ‘to settle because it is in your control’. When the judge decides ‘you’re gambling’ as to the decision. ‘This is exactly the same thing here’. People ‘gamble on somebody saying this is not a significant tree’. Stated that those claiming that a tree is significant won’t be the owner of the tree but a neighbour. ‘It’s a matter of property rights’. Agreed that ‘trees do add a great deal to the community’. Hyams has spoken about asking the community but that’s a ‘very cute argument because we all know that when you’ consult with people that ‘the vast majority’ ‘don’t give their view’ and it’s only those people ‘who have a strong view about the issue’. those who give their view are the voters and it’s those people who ‘will in fact say yes or no’. Going to community consultation means that ‘you will get’ the views of ‘activists and who have strong views’ and the ‘vast silent majority don’t care’. And ‘they don’t care’ because they are ‘satisfied’ about the ‘way council operates’.





view from barbecue area

This is a first for Glen Eira Debates in that for this particular post we only feature the final summation by Lipshutz on the tree register issue – the report on the full ‘debate’ will ensue. We simply ask readers to contemplate the following words and to pass their own judgement.

LIPSHUTZ: Said that on Heritage ‘how many times has it come back to council because we don’t necessarily agree with the Heritage advisor?’ This is like ‘someone coming along and saying that tree is significant’. Then someone will appeal that decision and then it will be ‘red tape and a bureaucratic issue’. Whether something is a significant tree ‘is in the eyes of the beholder’. As an analogy Lipshutz said that clients going to court are told ‘to settle because it is in your control’. When the judge decides ‘you’re gambling’ as to the decision. ‘This is exactly the same thing here’. People ‘gamble on somebody saying this is not a significant tree’. Stated that those claiming that a tree is significant won’t be the owner of the tree but a neighbour. ‘It’s a matter of property rights’. Agreed that ‘trees do add a great deal to the community’. Hyams has spoken about asking the community what they think on the issue but that’s a ‘very cute argument because we all know’ that when you ‘consult with people that ‘the vast majority’ ‘don’t give their view’ and it’s only those people ‘who have a strong view about the issue’. Those who give their view are the voters and it’s those people who ‘will in fact say yes or no’. Going to community consultation means that ‘you will get’ the views of ‘activists and who have strong views’ and the ‘vast silent majority don’t care’. And ‘they don’t care’ because they are ‘satisfied’ about the ‘way council operates’.

Developers odds-on to win at planning tribunal

Date:  March 21, 2015 – 6:28AM

Jason Dowling

Councils have almost become redundant in the decision-making process for controversial residential developments, according to a RMIT University study.

The house always wins, or in the case of Victoria’s planning tribunal – big housing developments nearly always win, new research indicates.

Councils have almost become redundant in the decision-making process for controversial residential developments in Melbourne’s suburbs, according to a RMIT University analysis of permit applications.

When councillors refused a permit, almost nine out of 10 permit applicants went to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and in 73 per cent of cases the council’s decision was set aside and the permit granted.

When councillors supported a development and residents appealed to the tribunal, the tribunal upheld the council’s approval in 85 per cent of cases, the report by RMIT planning researchers Joe Hurley and Brendan McRae showed.

Once councils and the state government set strategic planning rules for an area, the power of a council to influence contentious individual planning applications diminishes considerably, an extract of the draft report indicates.

Although councils and third-party objectors, such as residents, may be able to slow or modify a development – often at a cost of millions of dollars to the project – they are rarely successful in stopping it.

The researchers looked at 759 development applications across the 31 metropolitan Melbourne councils in 2011 using minutes from council meetings, with the full report expected to be published later this year.

The research focused on new residential development applications considered by councillors to highlight decisions in the context of urban consolidation policy.

The report, Competing objectives, interests and politics in development assessment, said in contentious planning cases the tribunal has become an entrenched part of the application process and the tribunal offered developers “another spin of the wheel” at attractive odds.

It said given the number of cases where council planning officer recommendations were overturned, “[the tribunal] is going beyond providing oversight on the political influence of councillors”.

Dr Hurley said planning law was often not black and white and included a level of discretion that assisted both developers and councils to deliver planning outcomes tailored to individual sites and the character of an area.

The research indicated a “protectionist impulse of local-level elected representatives and the role of the tribunal in making decisions that significantly diminish this protectionist influence”.

“The system at the moment is doing a pretty good job of papering over the fact that local representative decision-making is really being circumvented,” Dr Hurley said.

“For contentious issues, they are effectively withdrawing that delegation from the local level of government,” he said.

Going to Victoria’s planning tribunal is not cheap.

Another report by Dr Hurley showed a tribunal case can cost developers several millions dollars and residents more than $100,000.

Asher Judah from the Property Council said the report indicated the planning tribunal was doing its job and councils were not.

“[The tribunal’s] job is to determine points of law, in these cases, planning law,” he said.

A spokesman for Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the government was preparing legal changes so that the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal must, where appropriate, take into account the extent of community opposition to permit applications.

Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur said councillors had “the complex task of considering an application in the context of the planning scheme and local planning policy, not based on councillors’ personal views, while also fairly representing community views”.