Adding more insult to injury, it appears that ratepayers are now footing the bill to fix up the mess that developers leave as a result of their constructions. In response to a public question asked at last council meeting on who is paying for road reconstruction at 2 Morton Avenue, Carnegie, the response was:

In recent years, property development in the street has resulted in various utilities
excavating the road pavement to access underground services. On each occasion,
the utilities repaired the road, most likely at the developers cost to Council
standards. The end result of all this work, however, was a patchwork of repairs. In
addition to the repairs, sections of the road pavement had begun to fail due to
general wear and tear. To address the patchwork of repairs and to remedy the
failed sections of pavement, Council recently removed the road surface in the
affected area and applied a uniform patch. These final works were undertaken by Council’s Asphalt Crew at Council’s cost.


Speaking of cost, here is another example of how to waste money defending the indefensible. Councillors responded to Wynne’s kick up the backside letter by ordering more ‘investigations’ into VCAT decisions. How many hours of officer’s time will be devoted to this? How much will this little exercise in futility cost? And why can’t this time be spent in drawing up worthwhile amendments to the planning scheme so that VCAT has some real guidance on planning applications? Thus, more ratepayer funds wasted on maintaining the illusion that all blame can be laid a the door of VCAT instead of council’s planning failures.

1st dec

PS: It hasn’t taken the developer long to resubmit another application for Claire St., McKinnon. It is still 3 storey, and instead of 36 dwellings, the application is now for 33 dwellings. Yes, the VCAT decision certainly stymied the development, didn’t it? So much for Magee’s  faith in council’s planning scheme and its non-existent neighbourhood character statements for housing diversity areas.


  1. We are promoting additional transport options including more and better train, tram and bus services; car sharing, cycling and walking

Oh yes, Glen Eira is definitely transport conscious! That’s why the funding for bicycle paths has been cut despite budget promises. That’s why car sharing was put off and councillors never even told that a proposal had been submitted to officers years ago. When a report finally made it to council the decision was (typically) to delay for another year. The next year a tiny number of spots was set up. And how much credence do we give to council’s ‘promotion’ and ‘advocacy’ power, when they can’t even get a bus to run past East Boundary Road? Then there’s the fabulous Road Safety Strategy which lapsed in 2008 and hasn’t been updated, or newly ratified.

  1. We fine builders if they breach safety requirements on building sites

We challenge any reader to find one single vcat decision where council has sought an order against any builder for ‘safety’ breaches. There aren’t any. As for fines – well we’ve featured countless photos of unsafe and illegal works (for pedestrians) alongside development sites. How many of these have been fined – despite the fact that the offences occur day after day!

  1. We are advocating for all development costs to be paid for by developments and not fall on existing ratepayers.

Really? So is this the reason that Esakoff moved a motion at the last MAV state conference that basically asked for ‘all development costs’ – BUT ONLY FROM COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENTS?!!!!!! Forget the fact that this was never endorsed by any formal vote much less discussed in council chamber with supporting reasoning. Commercial development almost pales into insignificance when compared to the developments occurring in GRZ and RGZ and now MUZ. Why these developments ARE NOT targeted is the $64 question?

The best of course is last –

  1. We are providing additional public open space and have imposed the highest Open Space Levy on multi-unit developments of any suburban council (estimated $5 million per annum)

Some very neat phrasing here which is technically not only untrue, but deliberately misleading. Glen Eira has NOT imposed the ‘highest’ levy on multi-unit developments. Plenty of other councils have much higher levies directed towards their activity centres, and suburbs where development is likely to occur at an intense rate. The perfect example of this is Stonnington which has the second lowest amount of public open space. In their proposed amendment they sought an 8% levy across the board in contrast to Glen Eira which has the least amount of public open space and only sought 5.7%. Admittedly Stonnington were not successful in getting their 8% for the entire municipality. However, they did achieve an 8% levy from developers in 4 suburbs, including Prahran and South Yarra. Achieving 8% from these 4 suburbs (given the size of these areas)plus the 5% from the rest of the municipality means that Stonnington is well ahead of anything that Glen Eira can achieve. Their Annual Report cites an INCREASE of $4.65 million in open space levies and this amount does not take into account the full year’s impact of the 8% in the four suburbs.

Nor is Stonnington alone. Moreland for example has had in place for years now the following levies for developments in their various suburbs –

Brunswick – 6.3%

Coburg – 6.8%

Faulkner – 5.7%

Glenroy – 6.5%

Then there’s Dandenong with 20% for this stated area – – Any residential or commercial subdivision in the area bounded by Springvale Road to the west, Cheltenham Road, Dingley Freeway Reservation, Dandenong Southern Bypass to the north, EastLink to the east and Hutton/Greens Roads to the south.

Further, whereas countless other councils included in their amendments the clause that for certain ‘significant’ sites , the levy payable be higher than the levy for other areas, Glen Eira council was quite prepared to accept the obscene figures of 4 and 5% for the 2000+ development of Caulfield Village. They were even prepared to accept the ‘normal’ rate for the Virginia Estate with its proposed 4,600+ dwellings of 5.7%.

Readers should also remember that at the 11th hour, council reneged on its two previous resolutions that all monies collected from open space levies would be used to PURCHASE ADDITIONAL OPEN SPACE. Instead, revenue is now basically ploughed into more of the same – mega palaces (ie pavilions) and car parks within parks that constitute ‘open space’. The only purchases of land in the past 12 years have been two properties in Packer Park and now one in Magnolia Road that could have been bought years ago for a much cheaper price given that there’s been the on-off-on farce with the public acquisition overlay. An appalling record for a council that has known for decades that open space is a priority for residents.

We estimate that with the population increase, open space in Glen Eira per resident will DECREASE if this current policy continues. This in fact has been admitted by the Open Space Strategy itself. So what is council doing about this? Bugger all in our view. Spending millions on ‘redevelopment’ is not the answer to the continued growing lack of public open space.

  1. While the boom is being driven across Melbourne by external factors, Council is acting to limit heights and contain development to strip shopping centres and public transport routes

More deceptive phrasing we suggest. Most people would interpret ‘strip shopping centres’ as meaning the actual ‘strip’ itself and not residential land that is some 800 metres from the street. The use of present tense is also a concern. If council is ‘acting to limit heights’ then apart from 2 amendments for MUZ there is no evidence to suggest that council is doing anything to change the zoning. Council ‘acted’ in 2013. They are now totally ‘inactive’ except to refuse application after application and blame VCAT for everything.

Finally, the fact that such a piece of shonky, deceptive and deliberately misleading (mis)information could have gone out to residents without councilors’ knowledge says much about governance in Glen Eira and the kind of leadership that has been at the helm for far too long.

Page two of council’s damage control exercise (ie the Apartment Boom letter) purportedly sets out all of the fabulous things that council is doing for its residents. It is a pity that careful phrasing and half truths dominate instead of real facts. We ask readers to consider each point. The Council statements are in italics.

  1. Council is managing the boom within the limited powers given to us by state authorities.

One might quibble as to the definition of ‘limited powers’. Whilst it is true that there is much in all planning schemes set by the government, it is also true that close to a third of all planning schemes are handed over to councils to determine – they simply must support their proposals with sound empirical evidence. Councils are free to introduce structure plans, heritage overlays, design and development overlays, infrastructure levies on developers, open space levies, parking overlays, preferred character statements, up to date housing strategies for each precinct, and of course, the schedules to all the zones, and to determine where the zones go. We note that Glen Eira (contrary to other councils) has never had anything approaching real structure planning; it has 6 piddling design and development overlays – 3 of which regulate fence heights in a handful of streets and another two facilitate higher development in 2 specific areas. The Municipal Strategic Statement dates from 1999 and now belongs in a museum! Promises made centuries ago have never materialised. For 8 years council was content to extract a pittance for open space levies, knowing full well that the municipality was highly lacking in open space. Council also never bothered to ‘renew’ its lapsed development contributions levy so that now residents are subsidising developers completely for drainage. There is thus plenty that is within the power of council to initiate and deliver. They have simply refused to do the basics that every other council has done and which the State Government expects – ie structure planning and decent strategic planning.

  1. We obtained government approval for maximum height limits over all residentially zoned land where there were no limits before.

The veracity of this statement depends on how one defines ‘residentially zoned land’. According to the planning scheme the Mixed Use zone (MUZ) is also labelled as ‘residentially zoned land’. Hence Council has not imposed maximum height limits on all residentially zoned land as they would like residents to believe. One could go even further and argue that today Commercial zones are de facto residential zoned land – especially when developers can build one or two shops and then put 100 units on top of this! It is also worth noting that Boroondara has managed to achieve a three storey height limit for its Neighbourhood Centres including the commercially zoned shopping strips and other councils are following this lead. In Glen Eira, no such thing exists, and even worse, all Local Centres are now zoned Commercial and the vast majority directly abut Neighbourhood Residential Zones.

As to the ‘no limits before’ statement – again a misrepresentation. There were limits, albeit, ‘preferred’ height limits of 9 metres. So what does council do with the zones? Accept and impose the absolute maximum of 10.5 and 13.5 metres and no height limits whatsoever for the Mixed Use Zone. A ‘one size fits all’ approach across the board. Sloppy planning indeed when seen in light of other councils and the number of GRZ and RGZ zones each applied and the height variations within each of the schedules. This of course required some hard work and a close analysis of the municipality – something entirely alien to this council.

Height limits by themselves do not of course make for good planning and protection of residential amenity. Especially not when there are no urban design frameworks to accompany the height limits and no real provision for open space, permeability, no tree protection, and no preferred character statements for Housing Diversity areas. We remind readers that other councils for both their GRZ and RGZ zones have managed to achieve far greater protections in terms of open space and permeability than Glen Eira. Some councils (ie Yarra) have even managed to have the Residential Growth Zones removed entirely and Bayside is also awaiting approval for this to happen in their municipality.

At the time of introducing the zones, Council had the choice. Schedules were there to be fine tuned. There was no fine-tuning. Simply a total cave in. Our question always remains the same – if other councils could get a better deal for their residents then why couldn’t Glen Eira? How hard did Newton, Akehurst and Hyams really try? Or were they so caught up with the self promotion of being the first council that all thought of getting the best deal went out the window?

  1. There is nothing under the new zones that could not be built before

A nice little slogan! The point is that PRIOR to the zones, developments were far more constrained and those applications which did get through (particularly in Carnegie) were also the result of a poor and ill-defined planning scheme. The loopholes that exist now, existed then. The difference however is that cometh the new zones, developers, investors, and real estate agents were given the clear signal that they could now build to their hearts content and instead of a 9 metre preferred limit, they could now literally go for 13.5 metres in RGZ and 10.5 metres in GRZ. That’s why we are now seeing amended application after application seeking the limit. One perfect example is 20 Wheeler St., Ormond. On the 21st May 2013 an application went in for 2 double storeys. On the 12th December 2013 an amended permit went in for changes to windows. Then on the 21st February 2014, a new application came in for 8 double storey dwellings. Council refused this application so we now get another application (15/10/2015) for seven dwellings on land that is roughly 760 square metres and zoned GRZ1 and this includes a combination of three and two storey buildings. Needless to say there is no minimum lot size for subdivision in Glen Eira, whilst Bayside is aiming for a minimum of 800 square metres and other councils have a range from 350 square metres per lot – ie Manningham

There’s also this beauty for 249 Neerim Road, Carnegie. In September 2011 an application went in for three storeys and 11 dwellings. It got a permit. Then in June 2015 another permit was issued for 4 storeys and 48 dwellings! Of course Council would like us to believe that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the zones

Even VCAT prior to the zones would pay close attention to the ‘preferred’ height limits. From a decision in 2011 on George St., Caulfield North –

The Council and Mr Durrell asked for the building to be lowered to 9 metres to meet Standard B7 (and consequently Standard B17 with respect to the western elevation) and to provide a better transition from the larger and higher form on the north side of George Street. ….. I consider lowering the building is a necessary together with other modifications as referred to in these reasons. I appreciate the scale of development opposite the site but am also mindful that land differs from the review site. The review site is small, has different building relationships, and has different visibility in the streetscapes and from adjacent confined lots. Further, it is influential to my conclusion that the change will assist to bring the development into compliance with Standard B17 with respect to the impact on No. 3 George Street

Compare the above (and council’s attitude) to what we now have. A VCAT decision from September 2015 –

There is no Design and Development Overlay or other overlay, or indeed a policy, to indicate the preferred heights for new multi-dwelling developments in the residential area. What guidance is available is obtained from Schedule 1 to the General Residential Zone, which specifies a maximum height of 10.5 metres for a building on this land. This height can comfortably accommodate three-storeys of residential development. Accordingly, the Council, through its Planning Scheme, has made a conscious decision to allow for three-storey development on this site. Indeed, the Council advised that it has no ‘in-principle’ objection to a three-storey building on the review site

Bent Street Bentleigh is another example of amended permits seeking an additional storey increase and more apartments to permits that had already been granted. Again, the VCAT member’s comments on what the zones really mean –

….there has been a change in planning circumstances, notably the zoning of the land has changed from Residential 1 Zone to the current General Residential Zone Schedule 1, which contemplates more intensive development where height of building can be 10.5 metres and up to 11.5 metres on a slope plus promotion of site consolidation, compared to the maximum height of 9 metres recommended in Clause 55 for the Residential 1 Zone.

The situation is even worse for some developments zoned Mixed Use and/or Commercial. Centre Road is the perfect example with applications going in for increased heights and increased numbers of dwellings. Because they can – they will! Which of course raises the question as to why Council did not at the time of introducing the zones include a height limit on MUZ? Thus, we return to the ad hoc planning that has characterised Glen Eira for well over a decade. Two recent amendments have imposed 3 storey height limit on MUZ sites. Why couldn’t this be applied to all such zoning back in 2013? Or is the truth finally dawning on council about the unmitigated disaster they have ushered in through their indecent, secretive haste and lousy planning?

  1. We refuse to give on-street residential parking permits to new nulti-unit developments

Wonderful! Except that all these cars now go into surrounding residential streets that have no parking precinct plans attached to them and no real analysis of what these neighbouring streets can cope with. Nor does the absence of a residential parking permit mean that all those cars which are parked illegally will be fined. Laws are one thing – enforcement another!

More in the days ahead!

The following reports come from 2 agenda items – (1) comments on the VCAT decisions, and (2) the Bent St application. We have decided for this first item to highlight some of the comments made by Magee. The reasons should be obvious!

MAGEE: said he spent the day at VCAT with residents of Claire St., McKinnon and that the judgement shows that VCAT ‘does have the capacity’ to look at the Glen Eira Planning Scheme and listen to what the residents of Glen Eira ‘have said they want in the area’. The Planning Scheme has ‘been put together over many years with vast community consultation’ (sniggers and jeers from the gallery). Said he represents the 140,000 people and not the few who claim to do so. Continued that the planning scheme was voted on by all councillors. It then ‘went to the Minister’ who approved it. After doing ‘so much work, we know what our residents wanted’ and ‘that’s what our planning scheme actually says’. With the new zones, Claire Street has height limits and the developer got it wrong by wanting to ‘build almost fence to fence’. ‘He had scant disregard for our planning scheme’. The VCAT member ‘applied our planning scheme’ – he applied ‘what we as a council’ and what ‘we as residents have said is appropriate to Glen Eira’. Every council has a scheme but that sits on what councillors and ‘residents think is appropriate’ for that municipality. The member ‘applied our planning scheme’ and ‘when he did, this building did not fit’. And when he applied the rules that ‘residents put to us that they wanted, it did not fit’. Said that unfortunately not all VCAT members are as ‘educated’ as this member and not all of them ‘do their homework’ nor ‘appreciate the level of detail we have in our planning scheme’.

Said that 97% of the municipality has got height limits and 3% commercial with no height limits. Putting height limits on commercial areas has to be done through an overlay, and then community consultation, ‘permission from the minister’, and ‘through a long and detailed process’. ‘If council decides at some point in the future’ to do this, then he would ‘welcome that’ but to do ‘that we would need legal opinion, planning opinion’ and the Minister’s approval. There are some other things that might be done with the commercial zones but he is ‘very, very happy that’ the zones ‘cover 97% of our municipality’. This ‘in conjunction with our planning scheme’ is what ‘makes it work’. When VCAT doesn’t apply the planning scheme ‘that’s when it goes wrong’ but for Claire St., they did apply it.


  • 97% of the municipality DOES NOT HAVE HEIGHT LIMITS!
  • Mixed Use Zones (apart from 2 specific sites) DO NOT HAVE HEIGHT LIMITS. No mention of course about this little fact
  • Once you remove parkland, VicRoad land, Special Utility zones, etc from the total acreage then the percentage of land zoned commercial and mixed use is far greater than the 3% this council would like residents to believe is the truth. Also given council’s penchant for transforming sites zoned C2 (ie no residential dwellings) into C1 (allowable residential dwellings such as Virginia Estate amendment) then the percentage skyrockets even further. Then add on all the amendments which have already and are still waiting to be rezoned from ‘industrial’ land into Mixed Use or Commercial and the figures literally go much higher.
  • Magee is obviously under the illusion that if you repeat something often enough people will believe you – ie ‘vast community consultation’. Perhaps he and the other councillors should ask residents whether they believe the planning scheme does in fact represent resident views?


Before we report on the actual ‘debate’ readers need to take a look at what the zones have meant for this street and the surrounds. It is our estimate that since the zones were introduced the area has had 378 new dwellings permitted. This rivals Neerim Road’s 548 new dwellings. (click to enlarge the image)

bent street latest

Here is what councillors said. It took roughly 7 minutes!

Proposal 4 storey, 20 dwellings. Hyams moved motion to accept plus introducing some conditions for the street trees. Seconded by Sounness.

HYAMS: said he chaired the planning conference and that objectors’ ‘concerns’ have been ‘addressed by the officer recommendations’. This is the ‘right place for a 4 storey development’ ie next to supermarket and station and ‘sufficient’ parking. Went through some of the conditions such as increased setbacks for basement car parking to allow for landscaping. Basically read out the other conditions from the officer’s report. Thought that all of this meant a ‘reasonable compromise’.

SOUNNESS: said he is supporting the application in order to be ‘consistent with the planning scheme’ designed for the area. ‘Being part of the Bentleigh Urban Village it does have criteria’ and meets those criteria. There has also been a lot of 4 storeys surrounding this development and others higher in surrounding area given by VCAT.

LOBO: said that in 2011 ‘I predicted that Glen Eira will be like Calcutta’ and he ‘got told off’ for saying that. ‘Well the writing is on the wall’.

DELAHUNTY: said she remembers Lobo’s comments and is an ‘indication’ of what is happening in Bentleigh and ‘especially around this area’. Bent Street ‘have taken more than their fair share’. However she wanted to draw people’s attention to ‘housing affordability’ and the high cost of renting. A report came out showing that some families spend up to 50% of their income on rent. So they need more development and then the rental will drop because more development ‘will push the prices down’ for ‘people to be able to live around infrastructure’. Thought that Lobo’s values would also support the idea that people should be able to afford to live where there are good health services and ‘good infrastructure options’ and ‘Bentleigh certainly has’ those things. She ‘understands that it is a balancing act’ so will support the motion.

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED. Lobo only councillor to vote against.


We urge all residents to read the following carefully. It illustrates completely how resident wishes are completely ignored and distorted. It reveals the complete failure of strategic planning in Glen Eira and the unwillingness to remedy this situation. When hundreds of residents demand a review of the total planning scheme, when they demand a review of the entire zones, the argument becomes distorted into maybe, possibly, perhaps years down the track, we might consider something for the commercial zones. This is not councillors representing their constituents. It is councillors representing developers above the community!

Item 9.8 The Minister’s Letter

Hyams moved the motion to accept the report plus adding two more clauses – (1) that officers prepare a report on vcat decisions which show “contradictions on similar applications’, and (2) that ‘officers ascertain’ from the Minister what he allegedly stated to residents regarding structure planning. Seconded by Magee.

HYAMS: said the minister’s letter was ‘disappointing’ although council couldn’t expect him to suddently change everything. He had hoped that he might have said that this could be the start of a ‘process’ where VCAT would have to ‘take account of our planning scheme’. Went on to say that council’s policies have to be approved by the minister and that before they even get to the minister council goes through an ‘exhaustive process’ and the housing diversity/minimal change ‘went through about 2 years of exhaustive consultation’ and the zones were a ‘direct translation’ of this earlier 2004 policy. They also did a ‘lengthy consultation on the whole planning scheme’ and people said ‘they wanted transition zones’ and height limits and more character overlays which ‘became neighbourhood character overlays’. Claimed that a ‘lot of work goes into these’ and it’s a ‘shame’ that VCAT doesn’t pay them more attention. Said the Minister said we should look at zones and overlays because they are more ‘stringent’. Some parts of the zones are mandatory but others remain ‘discretionary’. Problem now is that VCAT is inconsistent and that two members can look at identical applications and give different decisions. That’s why he has moved the second part of the motion and with these examples ‘perhaps this will’ bring more ‘pressure on the government’ to act. The third part of his motion is because some residents in Bentleigh who ‘have taken it upon themselves’ and who are ‘quite eager about changing our planning scheme’. They met the Minister and he ‘apparently gave them an undertaking’ that ‘we were to put in some strategic plans or structure plans’ and that he would be ‘quite ameniable’. ‘That would be nice if it was true’. He wasn’t sure and gave an example of Moreland who asked for ‘ten storey limits’ in their commercial centres and the Minister responded with 13 storey discretionary height limits. So even if there is the possibility of ‘improving the amenity of our commercial zones’ then ‘we’re obliged’ to find out exactly.

MAGEE: claimed that 97% of Glen Eira has ‘a mandatory height limit’ and 3% could ‘possibly’ have council ‘put in some overlays’. Said that ‘regardless of what we are told by some of our residents’ structure plans ‘are nothing more than a plan’. ‘It’s not a law’ but only a ‘look at an area in the future’ that says ‘how it should look like and how do we get there’ and cater for transport, etc. ‘It doesn’t actually say that we have to apply any of that’ and VCAT doesn’t have to do anything either. Claimed that if council wanted VCAT to do anything then ‘it would have to be in the form of an overlay’. Overlays need a panel assessment and they could end up saying that ‘Carnegie is quite suitable for 13 storeys’ and Bentleigh ‘quite suitable for 6’. Council would then ‘have to argue against that’, then the Minister would ‘have information’ saying the opposite. S0 ‘there is a risk in asking for something’ that ‘you don’t get what you want’. Said he was ‘open minded’ about what the Minister said to residents. He and Hyams had met with residents and when they heard what Wynne had said they were both ‘enthusiastic’ because these were different to ‘the comments’ heard ‘in the past’. Previously they ‘had heard’ that commercial zoning was ‘the responsibility of the State Government’. Council only assesses according to the planning scheme. Repeated that if council got mandatory height limits in commercial zones or activity centres then ‘it would have to be in the form of an overlay’. Council will write to the minister to ‘clarify’ what he said. If he is ‘going to be supportive’ of overlays then ‘I would be very willing’ to support ‘going along that line’. But ‘before that’, there has to be a motion, and before that ‘there would have to be information coming back to an assembly of councillors’ so councillors know ‘what is proposed’ and that would need ‘legal advice’, ‘strategic planning’ advice, and they would ‘have to assess that at an assembly of council’ and ‘if there was support to see that go further’. First off, council ‘needs the minister to clarify his comments’ because ‘this process could take anything from one to two years’ and cost over $100,000. He doesn’t want to do this if the minister ‘says no – that’s not what I said’. Need to clarify what he said but overall supportive of an ‘overlay’ around commercial zones.

LIPSHUTZ: said that ‘before we go ahead’ he wants things ‘in concrete’ that it will be accepted and ‘not simply some political speech’. Also have got to be careful about ‘what we wish for’ since might ‘get something we don’t wish for’. Before they start anything they need to get ‘proper advice as to what we actually want’. Earlier Delahunty had spoken about affordability of housing and so ‘maybe we actually want’ some areas to be ‘growth zones where we have higher density’ rather than putting overlays on ‘carte blanche’ and this may ‘not be what we want’. Said it is easy as ‘some residents have said’ to put on overlays of no more than 5 storeys ‘over this whole area – but is that what we want?’ Said that what ‘we have to do’ is have ‘measurable’ facts about ‘areas that aren’t covered’ and ask ‘what is the strategic vision’ and once they’ve got it, then they will ‘go to the minister’. Repeated that ‘sometimes the cure is worse than the disease’ and here ‘it may well be’.

DELAHUNTY: supports Hyams’ motion. Thought that Lipshutz was ‘quite right’ that there is a ‘requirement for high density’ in some areas. Third part of the motion asks for ‘clarification’ from the minister and that ‘this would be a change in direction’ and leads to the question of ‘whether we should go down that road of structure plans’. She likes structure plans because it allows ‘residents to have a say’ on areas in contrast to what is happening now such as ‘piece meal’ planning in ‘making decisions application by application’. But even though she likes the ‘process’ it ‘doesn’t necessarily result in better outcomes’.

OKOTEL: said that council has been ‘frustrated’ by VCAT decisions ‘many times’ as illustrated by the Claire St decision where policy was applied and in McKinnon road was ignored. The inconsistency ‘makes it difficult’ for council because they have to think how VCAT ‘might approach’ the decision and council has to try and be consistent ‘in our decision making’. Also ‘frustrating for residents’ because a lot depends on which VCAT member is making the decision. Claimed that the ‘only way’ to get consistency from VCAT is via the State Government. The minister’s response to council’s letter was ‘disheartening’ in that it said that VCAT could continue and completely ‘disregard our planning laws’, despite ‘the extensive work we’ve put in in developing those policies’. Hyams’ second part of the motion is ‘looking’ for evidence to ‘highlight that inconsistency’ in VCAT decision making. Regarding the third part of the motion, she is ‘eager’ to see the minsiter’s response.

HYAMS: the commercial areas are the only parts in Glen Eira that don’t ‘have a zoning’ and ‘everything is discretionary’. So he is looking to ‘get greater certainty’.


A quick note on tonight’s council meeting. Much, much, more to follow!

  1. Frogmore application for Jewish Care Aged Care Facility – refusal passed unanimously with both Esakoff and Delahunty declaring conflicts of interest
  2. Truganini Road application – permit
  3. Bent St – permit with conditions about protecting street trees
  4. North Road 6 storey application – Esakoff moved motion to lop off two storeys and reduce number of dwellings. Motion passed.
  5. Minister’s letter – officers to prepare another report on inconsistencies with VCAT decisions and follow up on resident claims regarding Wynne being amenable to structure plans and zones. This was suddenly a discussion only about COMMERCIAL ZONES!
  6. Lobo gagged from asking questions by Magee, Pilling, Lipshutz
  7. Magee taking on the mantle of chief council promoter!

Level of consistent and cogent argument remains appalling. Political expediency the winner!

Tonight’s Planning Conference on the 9 storey application in Centre Road Bentleigh had a huge turnout of very disgruntled and angry residents. Well over 100 residents and thus far over 150 objections. 6 councillors showed up – Lipshutz (who chaired the meeting), Hyams, Magee, Pilling, Delahunty and Lobo.

It was announced that at 4pm this afternoon the applicant had notified council of his referral to VCAT as a result of council’s failure to reach a decision within the 60 day timeframe. Quite remarkable given that the application was submitted on the 30th June, 2015 – five months ago! Several residents took council to task on this issue, asking why council is incapable of determining something within the legislated timeline.

What makes this even more outrageous is the fact that it only took one month for a decision on a 16 storey application to be rejected by the manager for an application in Egan Street, Carnegie. For this application (and we quote)  (t)he reasons for the refusal relate to planning policy; impact on the public realm, height and scale of the building; traffic impacts, internal amenity; and equitable development rights with the adjoining sites. This is identical to all the objections raised by residents at tonight’s meeting. Hence, why does one application only take 32 days to determine and another application fails to be determined in 5 months? Why is one application refused under delegation by the Manager, and this application is permitted to go on and on and on? Or is this another instance perhaps of the Alma Club fiasco where council also failed to deliver a decision in 60 days and at ‘mediation’ caved in entirely so the developer got his way?

The most promising aspect of tonight was:

  • How well versed residents were in planning law and how little the professional planners seemed to know, or couldn’t answer
  • How residents are no longer prepared to sit and merely accept council’s waffle
  • How residents are now loudly and clearly demanding that councillors introduce planning scheme amendments – although Lipshutz denied that this was an option and the planners pleaded ignorance, thereby contradicting what Magee and other councillors have allegedly told individual residents.
  • How residents are now demanding that council do what it is supposed to do – ie. insist on accurate and valid traffic reports from the developer; that height in basement car parking be measured accurately so that cars over a certain height can enter; that Heritage of nearby streets be protected.
  • How community expertise is prepared to challenge council ‘expertise’ – ie architects, air conditioning professionals, and ordinary residents who have had enough of council’s pro-development agendas and seeing their neighbourhoods destroyed.

Of course, tonight was merely going through the motions. The developer did not front, and Lipshutz performed his usual trick of twice threatening to close the meeting. In fact, he closed the meeting with people still wanting to ask questions. Ultimately, tonight’s meeting was another clear message to councillors – shape up or ship out like Newton and Akehurst have.