We’ve received the following email from residents objecting to the application for the Bethlehem hospital site –

COMMUNITY TOWN PLANNING CONFERENCE
Letters have been received in the mail today inviting objectors to attend the town hall on Thursday 2nd February 2017 at 6:30pm.  ITS VITAL THAT YOU ATTEND THIS MEETING TO SHOW YOUR CONCERN.
COUNCIL EMAIL SYSTEM STILL HAS A GLITCH
It had come to our attention that a number of your objection emails still have not been registered with Glen Eira council due to an inexplainable glitch in their email system.  All objectors should have received a letter from Council registering their objection.
If you have not received your confirmation letter you are not in the system and will not be notified of the Community Town Planning Conference.
If you have not received a confirmation letter in the mail of your objection email please resend it and make sure you receive acknowledgement and notification of the meeting .  Send your emails direct to the planning officer AStark@gleneira.vic.gov.au and copy bhcagroup@gmail.com  
 
If you are not recieving acknowledgement then contact the planning officer Adam Stark directly on his email or call direct on 9524 3831.

Figures detailing the number of net new dwellings granted permits for the second quarter of the 2016/17 financial year has just been published. Glen Eira continues to quadruple what is stated as required with a yearly average of 2000+ net new dwellings. We remind readers that the 11,000 dwellings required to meet population growth by 2031 will be reached at the latest in 2020 at this rate!

Unfortunately the complete data for Port Phillip, Bayside and Stonnington is not available.  Even if the data were available we remind readers that both Port Phillip and Stonnington are ‘special cases’ in that the former is a major tourist centre and hence it has several ‘capital city’zonings. Stonnington, according to the State of Play Reports has over 10% of its municipality zoned as commercial and development is concentrated in these areas. Glen Eira has a bare 3% of its land zoned as Commercial. In Glen Eira development occurring in the commercial areas is minimal, compared to the damage done in local residential streets zoned as GRZ and RGZ and yes, even NRZ.

Based on these figures alone, there is no reason why the zones cannot be reviewed and the extent of GRZ and RGZ areas reduced. If council is serious about implementing structure plans that take account of resident views, then the borders of the so called ‘activity centres’ and their respective zoning must be the foundation of any such review.

Here is the data and please keep in mind the question of ‘density’ when municipalities such as Monash, Kingston, Manningham, etc are double and triple the size of Glen Eira. What impact does 2000+ new dwellings per annum have on density, infrastructure, open space, traffic and transport on a municipality that is only 38.9sqk in comparison to these other councils?

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The image presented below derives from profile.id. It utilises census data from 2011 and provides a comparison of the development occurring in Glen Eira compared to the general metropolitan area from this time. We have absolutely no doubt that the situation has worsened considerably since the introduction of the zones and the rampant development that has been occurring in Glen Eira over the past 3 years.

Council has never published data which quantifies the number of single bedroom apartments compared to 2, 3, and even 4 bedroom apartments. Officer reports are inconsistent and frequently do not even mention the breakdown of what is on the application. As for delegated decisions, they never reach the wider public domain. Often those applications which do make it to council simply state ’40 dwellings’, ’28 dwellings’ etc. so residents have no idea as to how many are single, double or triple bedroom units. Whether or not this failure to be fully transparent, or consistent, is deliberate or not, we leave up to readers to decide.

What is absolutely clear is that Glen Eira is fast becoming the second most single bedroom municipality in the state – only behind the City of Melbourne (which does release statistics). Given the Caulfield Village Development with its near 50% single bedroom ratio for the first 2 precincts and likely to be more with the last precinct, plus what is likely on the cards for Virginia Estate, the groundwork for the slums of the future are well and truly set!

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Another VCAT decision (6 storeys, 23 apartments on Neerim Road) has been handed down in favour of the developer. (See: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2017/33.html)

We highlight some of the member’s comments below.

As a consequence of the amended plans, and confirmation that the ROW is a public highway and therefore able to be used, the Council advised that it was no longer pursuing the refusal grounds relating to overshadowing, bin storage and the use of the ROW.

COMMENT: From this comment it appears that council had no idea when it first rejected the application or drafted its conditions that the Right of Way (ROW) was a ‘public highway’ and hence ‘able to be used’.  What does this say about council’s record keeping, its corporate memory, and its professionalism?

In support of the proposed six-storey height, Mr Sheppard referred to the absence of a Design and Development Overlay or any other guidance from the Planning Scheme as to the building height sought; the existence of other similar developments in the activity centre; the adoption of a podium to integrate with the existing streetscape; and the recessed form of the upper levels.

COMMENT: There is nothing new in this comment since decision after decision has highlighted the lack of ‘guidance’ in council’s planning scheme. The Urban Villages were created via Amendment C11 well over a decade ago.  Yet, this council administration and its councillors have literally sat on their hands and done nothing to address these gaping holes in the planning scheme. Nothing but nothing can excuse returning councillors such as Hyams, Esakoff, Magee  and Delahunty for their role in allowing this to continue and in introducing the residential zones in secret and without fine tuning the planning scheme.

There is no policy or provision within the Planning Scheme which indicates the anticipated or desired building heights in the urban village. The Council has prepared Amendment C147, which proposes the introduction of a Design and Development Overlay (DDO) in the Carnegie Urban Village. The proposed DDO specifies a mandatory maximum four-storey height for development on the review site and neighbouring properties on the south side of Neerim Road. The Council has submitted the Amendment to the Minister for Planning with a request that the Minister prepare, adopt and approve the Amendment in accordance with Section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. At the time of the hearing, no response to the request had been received from the Minister. As it stands, Amendment C147 does not have the status of a seriously entertained planning proposal. There is no certainty that the Minister will agree to the Council’s request or what form the Amendment, if it is approved, may ultimately take. Given this, I am unable to give the Amendment weight in my consideration of this proposal.

COMMENT: Did council finally see the light with its proposed interim height controls, or was this foisted upon them by Richard Wynne? We now have the even greater embarrassment that Wynne has been sitting on these drafts for months presumably because council has again failed to do the necessary strategic work to justify the lines it has drawn on some maps!

While the Council raised concerns regarding the rear profile of the building, it was unable to quantify the setbacks which it considers should be provided in order to achieve what it would consider to be a satisfactory response to the neighbouring residential precinct.

COMMENT: This comment is the most remarkable of all. How can any argument be successful when no justification is provided?

Unlike some other planning schemes which include local policies on Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD), there is nothing in the Planning Scheme which addresses the level of daylight which should be provided to habitable rooms.

COMMENT: Another gaping hole that council has continually argued needs to be addressed by the state government and not councils. Thankfully Stonnington, Bayside, Port Phillip, etc. have not taken this same tack and have thus succeeded in providing greater protection to their neighbourhoods!

The evidence included a survey of on-street car parking spaces within a distance of 250 – 350 metres of the review site. The survey data confirmed that there is ample capacity to accommodate the four visitor cars. Notably this includes the unrestricted kerbside parking in Shepparson Avenue. The Council submitted that consideration should be given to the cumulative effect of parking reductions granted for developments in the activity centre. It was submitted that occupancy surveys such as those contained in the evidence can only reflect existing conditions and do not factor in approved developments which have not been constructed and for which reduced car parking has been allowed. While I understand the Council’s submission, I was not provided with information on the location and nature of all these other proposals, their stage of development and/or details of the nature and extent of any parking reductions. In the absence of this sort of information, I am unable to undertake the form of assessment advocated by the Council. I can only make a decision on the information contained in the application material, the submissions and the evidence. There is nothing to indicate that the on-street parking in the centre is experiencing such demand that a further four spaces cannot be accommodated. This is even more so the case when consideration is given to the likelihood of peak visitor demand occurring outside of the business hours and, therefore, at times when the demand for on-street parking is reduced.

COMMENT: It should not take more than an hour’s work to determine how many car parking spots have been waived in permits granted for this area! This was obviously not done! When council can spend literally millions upon millions on its computer systems (including – from memory – a $4m tender late last year) all such data should be available at the press of a few buttons.

Here is a tiny sample of what has been happening in just one small section of Bentleigh East since the introduction of the zones. The image below includes several applications that council rejected. However given the zoning and developers’ success at VCAT, we have included these as well. Readers should also note that it looks like Larman Street and St Georges is heading in the direction of Bent/Elliott/etc. The following properties have been recently sold –

7 Larman St – 25th June 2016 – $1,155,000

8 Larman St – 30th November 2016 – $1,302,500

Also worth bearing in mind is that the Virginia Estate project is just down the road!

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A quick count reveals 247 new dwellings in these few streets alone from just 15 developments and 23 original lots of land. That is a ten fold increase to what was there before! All in a ‘neighbourhood centre’ without rail, tram and without any data ever provided as to how well the local infrasture is coping with this rampant development. We have to wonder whether council has any idea as to the cumulative impacts on our drainage systems, parking and traffic, and environment.