A resident has contacted us asking why Glen Eira ratepayers should be subsidising residents from other municipalities. This is not the first time this issue has raised its ugly head. Remember the GESAC basketball debacle when the ‘contract’ was awarded not to McKinnon Basketball Association but to what can be termed ‘outsiders’. Since then, all quiet on the western front – with no information as to whether all court time is now utilised as per ‘contract’ or whether ratepayers are still ‘subsidising’ the officer decision. Then there’s the issue of GESAC not recognising and providing a discount to countless ‘senior’ residents as other council pools do. And of course, each year admission and membership prices have gone up. Thus this resident’s query and ‘evidence’ presented below –

Hi there love your web site and the debates listed on there. I do have a great thing this so called council has been doing. I was at my grandmother’s place the other day who lives in Frankston and noticed that she had a letter from Glen Eira Council. Being a rate payer myself the curiosity got the better of me and had to have a look to see what it was. It was a bill for exercise classes. I questioned my grandmother what this was and she informed me that she goes to exercise classes some where in Bentleigh which is subsidised by the Council. My question is why as a rate payer are we subsidising people from other municipality to use Council services? I asked my grandmother if there were are clients that did not live in Glen Eira and she said there is quite a few in her class.

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http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/1096.html

Another VCAT decision raises major questions about the decision making capabilities of Council’s planning department. An application went in for 8 townhouses of three storey height in Grange Road Ormond. The land is 874 square metres and zoned GRZ1. The permit was appealed against by a neighbour and VCAT upheld the objection.

What is significant in this decision is that the member confirms that ‘policy’ supports 3 storey developments. However, there are plenty of comments made about internal amenity, safety of car parking proposals, and landscaping. All basic requirements that any planning department worth a cracker should have picked up on and consequently refused the permit. In Glen Eira, the permit was granted!

Here are some extracts:

On Landscaping

Mr Crawford (developer) put to me that modest landscaping is proposed along both the pedestrian and vehicular accessways and that landscaping is not a strong character evident in the adjoining properties or area. On my inspection, I observed that there is a level of landscaping evident in the area. The street trees make a contribution as do the existing trees on the adjoining sites. There has been no real attempt to soften the visual impact of the built form to the adjoining boundaries. There is minimal opportunity for landscaping on the southern boundary with landscaping limited to a series of ‘islands’ along the boundary where you would anticipate some tree planting. There is also minimal landscaping provided on the northern boundary. The northern interfaces comprises of a 1.6 metre wide pedestrian path providing access to each of the eight units. The plans detail a landscape strip along the boundary……The provision of landscaping along boundaries is hardly a new design technique that is difficult to achieve. Even if I was to accept the submission that landscaping is not a strong character in the neighbourhood, as a bare minimum, clause 55.03-8 Landscaping objectives seeks ‘To provide appropriate landscaping’. I find the provision of landscaping as proposed, is not appropriate and fails to achieve the objective of clause 55.03-8.

On Internal Amenity

The continuous linear form of the development and the setbacks to the adjoining boundaries has resulted in the need for screening to every window at the first and second floor levels to a height of 1.7 metres. The screening is required to protect the adjoining properties from overlooking. This continuous attached form compromises the internal amenity for future occupants. There is not one window that has an uninterrupted or obscure view to the sky. There is not one window that has an outlook. It is noted that the ground floor bedroom windows are not required to be screened to a height of 1.7 metres but are sited 1.4 metres from the ground as they are located on the pedestrian pathway that provides access to each of the units. It is often put that there is a compromise to be made between providing affordable housing and levels of amenity. It was also put to me by Mr Crawford (for developer) that ‘…one must also appreciate that planning decision making is concerned with appropriate, not optimal or ideal, outcomes …..’. I acknowledge that there is a balance to be struck, but in this case, the internal amenity impacts are a result of the proposed form of the site to develop eight townhouses. Fewer houses on site may enable this issue to be dealt with differently. Fewer houses may enable a design to provide an outlook to at least the living area if not bedrooms. As it is proposed, I find that the level of internal amenity to the future occupants is poor and the design is not a good planning outcome.

On Car Parking

The car accommodation is provided at grade in the undercroft of the building. Mr Robertson (for developer) in his evidence detailed that Design Standard 2 of clause 52.06-8 provides minimum dimensions of car parking spaces and accessways. The narrowest accessway width is shown as 4.8 metres (although less in some places). To confirm access to the car spaces, he provided swept paths which detail multiple movements to access the car spaces. It was his evidence that in residential developments where the user becomes familiar with the car space, a three-point entry and exit into the car spaces is acceptable. The car spaces are the minimum possible. Whilst it can be demonstrated that a car can enter and exit with multiple moves, the question is does it satisfy the objective of clause 55.03-10 [Parking location):

To provide convenient parking for resident and visitor vehicles.

To protect residents from vehicular noise within developments.

I find that the parking accommodation is a poor outcome. Combined in the parking space is an overhead storage unit for each dwelling which is to sit above the car space and presumably above the door to the units. The car accommodation is ‘squeezed’ onto the site. It only meets the minimum standards and as it is open at grade car park with little opportunity for landscaping along the southern boundary. I am also concerned with the potential for noise to not only the residents within the development but adjoining to the south. The constrained nature of the design of the car park accommodation leads me to conclude that what is proposed is an unsatisfactory design response.

In terms of car parking numbers, the proposal meets the statutory requirement for the provision of resident parking and seeks a reduction in the provision of one visitor car space. I do not consider the reduction of one visitor car space inappropriate.

There was a great turnout at McKinnon Secondary College last night for the level crossings ‘information session’. Many questions were asked by residents. Some of the responses were:

  • Contracts had been finalised – major contractor John Holland
  • Residents fearful of potential damage to their neighbouring properties should contact the authority and have photos taken – ie a ‘before and after’ scenario
  • Palm trees would be removed and then replaced. No comment on the many gums – we assume they will probably be lost
  • Options for sale of ‘commercial’ land – we presume this means VicRail or VicRoads land
  • Whilst roads closed, parking will be available at the Caulfield Racecourse
  • Earth will be dumped at E.E.Gunn Reserve
  • Sheet anchoring will begin first – could be major concerns with water table and flooding

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Month-long Frankston line shutdown to come as first of 50 level crossings go

Date: July 30, 2015

Adam Carey

Frankston line commuters can expect more than a month of disruption and slow, crowded bus rides when the rail line is closed in the summer of 2016/17.

The extended shutdown, while three level crossings are removed, is set to be repeated on other lines across Melbourne as the Andrews government races to rid the city of 20 level crossings in this term, and 50 within eight years.

Nine crossings on the line between Caulfield and Dandenong are also due to go in the next four years.

The 34-day shutdown of the busy Frankston line will be hardest felt by those who live and work near the three railway crossings.  Three stations – Bentleigh, Ormond and McKinnon – will be demolished from November 2016, a few weeks before the line is closed, meaning commuters who use them will have to head to another station to catch a train. It is expected the stations will be out of action for about three months before they reopen by the end of February 2017.

The planned 34-day closure of the busy line will be preceded by a one-week shutdown mid-next year for early works.

Details of the project were revealed at a community meeting in McKinnon in Melbourne’s south-east on Wednesday night. The meeting was attended by hundreds of people.

Among them was Daniel Bowen, a spokesman for the Public Transport Users Association, who said the Level Crossing Removal Authority would have to take care to get the planning right and minimise disruption.

“They’re going to need to make sure they plan it well to ensure there are no nasty surprises that result in closures being longer than necessary,” Mr Bowen said.

“People can see the benefit of these projects but clearly how they handle the disruption for train users, bus users and motorists is the key in ensuring that it’s a success.”

The first three Frankston line level crossings set to go are at North Road, McKinnon Road and Centre Road. The crossing at Burke Road, Glen Iris, on the Glen Waverley line will be removed as part of the same package of works.

Mr Bowen has published other details about the project on his blog.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/monthlong-frankston-line-shutdown-to-come-as-first-of-50-level-crossings-go-20150730-ginlew.html#ixzz3hL3v7Wfa

 

 

 

Bayside council is currently undertaking community consultation on its draft C140 Amendment which will apply to areas zoned Neighbourhood Residential. Aside from the content, the methodology of this consultation stands in stark contrast to current practices in Glen Eira. Please note:

  • An online survey
  • An 8 page explanatory booklet in plain English
  • Clear explanations on the website – Glen Eira residents have to be ‘satisfied’ with the regurgitation of incomprehensible jargon contained in the public advertising and with only a link to the department as follow up!
  • Formal submissions
  • Links to documents

Source: http://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/caring_for_bayside/6801.htm

This amendment seeks to:

  • Limit subdivision size to 400 square metres. Glen Eira has no minimal subdivision size. In fact, Council granted 487 Neerim Road permission for 8 subdivisions. These all ranged in size from 199 square metres to just over 200 square metres! With no minimal subdivision size, this means that it is hypothetically possible for landowners and developers to subdivide and then subdivide again. In other words – 4 dwellings on a lot instead of the much vaunted 2 dwellings per lot. We expect developers to cotton on to this loophole very soon.
  • Permeability of 35%. Glen Eira prides itself on achieving that massive percentage of a piddling 25% which has been in place since 2004 and we wonder how hard our ‘negotiators’ really tried to increase this quotient! Please remember that there are other councils with as much as 40% permeability requirements!
  • Private open space to equal 75 square metres – a minimum of which must be 60 square metres and 5 metres wide. In Glen Eira, residents are stuck with – “An area of 60 square metres, with one part of the private open space to consist of secluded private open space at the side or rear of the dwelling or residential building with a minimum area of 40 square metres, a minimum dimension of 4 metres and convenient access from a living room”.

Bayside is also basing its draft on a 2012 Housing Strategy and is currently reviewing its Planning Scheme. Again, compare and contrast with what Glen Eira is doing!!!!!

A reading of recent VCAT judgements can only lead to the conclusion that Council’s presentations at VCAT are not only sub-standard, but that the necessary work required has simply not been done. When millions upon millions of ratepayer funds are used to fund a planning department, then it is incumbent on that planning department to ensure that when it fronts up to VCAT, that it has done its required homework and that all documentation supports council’s decisions.

Council continually uses VCAT as a scapegoat complaining that council ‘policies’ are overlooked, ignored, etc. But when the Planning Scheme is entirely silent on an issue; when so many ‘tools’ are missing that could restrict over-development, and when council itself chooses to over-ride its own scheme, then VCAT is definitely not the culprit that Council would like residents to believe.

Two important and recent judgements provide plenty of evidence for our above assertions.

2-4 Penang Street, McKinnon (See: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/1073.html)

Readers will remember the huge community reaction to this application for a 3 storey apartment block in a GRZ1 zone. Because of the number of objections, publicity, etc councillors voted to reject the application. This is part of the published VCAT judgement. Please note, that ‘no decision’ has as yet been made. It represents an ‘interim’ order, giving the applicant the opportunity to fix up a few details and to resubmit an amended application. Here are some extracts – but residents need to read the entire decision.

…..the planning scheme encourages a significant degree of change in the built form and density of development in this neighbourhood

The residents do not want an apartment building on this site. Many of them are opposed to the significant extent of change envisaged and encouraged for this neighbourhood in the planning scheme. The Tribunal must consider the acceptability of a proposal having regard to the physical context and the planning policies and controls that are in the planning scheme or that are seriously proposed to be included in the planning scheme (e.g. a well advanced planning scheme amendment). In this case, the Council has not advised that there are any proposed planning scheme amendments of relevance. Hence, we must consider and give weight to the planning scheme policies and controls. If the residents consider these controls and policies are not appropriate for this neighbourhood, that is a matter for them to pursue with the Council acting in its role as the planning authority for the municipality (responsible for proposing changes to its planning scheme).

If there was any doubt about the extent of change envisaged for this neighbourhood (e.g. units and townhouses rather than apartments), the nomination of a maximum building height clarifies this. A building height of 10.5-11.5 metres is not akin to the mostly two storey recent developments referred to by Mr Ziltzer. Rather, it is a three storey building height. This means a three storey apartment building on this site is an acceptable planning outcome.

We agree with the residents that the available on-street car parking lessens as you get closer to the train station. The residents also said there is limited on-street parking around the Clarendon Terrace retirement village next door in Graham Avenue due primarily to staff and visitor parking. We did not experience this during our inspection of the site and surrounds, which may have been due in part to the fact that it was a weekday when there may be a fewer number of visitors to Claremont Terrace. Nevertheless, even if we accept the residents submissions on this point, we also have Ms Dunstan’s expert evidence that includes car parking surveys. These surveys demonstrate that there is available on-street parking immediately surrounding this site on all days of the week. The Council does not oppose the proposed reduction of one on-site visitor car space and raises no concern about any impact upon available on-street parking. On the basis of Ms Dunstan’s evidence and the Council’s support for this aspect of the proposal, one additional residential visitor car parking on the street is an acceptable outcome that will not adversely impact upon the general availability of on-street parking.

Mr Morgan questioned the accuracy of the shadow diagrams, particularly the afternoon shadow impact upon the rear open space area of 6 Penang Street. We note that the accuracy of these shadow diagrams was raised during the processing of the permit application and there is a comment in the Council officer’s report that the shadow plans would be checked by both the Applicant and the Council officers (as a result of the Planning Conference with a councillor, council officers, objectors and the Applicant). This does not appear to have happened and Mr and Mrs Morgan are frustrated and concerned about this. We asked the Applicant to review and update the afternoon shadow diagram during the hearing. This was provided on day 2 of the hearing and it generally accords with Mr Morgan’s estimate of the extent of shadow. The 3pm shadow will extend almost to the east side of the rear addition of Mr and Mrs Morgan’s house. This impact is acceptable as it leaves the majority of the rear secluded private open space area, including the area in the centre and to the southeast, free of shadow.

Overall, there will be a significant change to the west side of 6 Penang Street and the outlook from the west facing windows and from within the rear open space area will be different. This extent of change is acceptable because of the planning controls and policies that apply to this area.

The residents submit in 2011 water flowed down Graham Avenue, along an open drain that abuts the southern rear boundary of this site, through this site (both 2 and 4 Penang Street), onto Penang Street and then across into the properties on the north side of Penang Street, including Mr and Mrs Forstmanis’ property. The residents also submit that cars floated down Graham Avenue. These submissions about the path of overland flow do not accord with the mapping of the SBO. The Council made no submissions about this issue during the hearing. Its drainage engineering referral comments request no net increase in peak stormwater runoff in Council’s drainage network with post development stormwater discharge to be maintained at pre-development level for 10 year ARI. There is no mention of whether there are any potential overland flow issues for the basement car park or the ground floor apartments, particularly those cut into the natural ground level. The Applicant submits this issue is a matter for the drainage authorities to address by reviewing the SBO in light of submissions such as those made by these residents. The Applicant sought advice from the Council during the hearing about this issue. We were told the Applicant was unable to obtain any information about a flood level for this site, and that the Applicant was advised there is no proposal to place a flooding overlay on this site.

Melbourne Water’s views have not been sought during this permit application process; and it is not known whether the extent of impervious surfaces proposed with the cut into the natural ground level is acceptable given the submissions that this site and much of the surrounding area are liable to overland flow.

In light of the mapped extent of the SBO in Penang Street and the residents submissions and photographs tendered about the overland flow, we are concerned about whether the basement may be liable to flooding and whether the ground floor units and associated paved courtyards cut into the natural ground may be liable to overland flow from the south (e.g. the rear open drain and Graham Avenue). This is a matter that should be further considered and addressed as part of the preparation of amended plans in response to our interim order. We note that the Housing Diversity Area Policy at clause 22.07-3.2 has specific policies for those areas that are affected by a SBO. This includes recognising that such areas may have a limited capacity for multi-unit development as they are liable to inundation from overland flows. Whilst this site is not in a SBO, we are not persuaded any implications associated with the potential for overland flow have been fully considered. Given all of these circumstances, we have decided that the views of Melbourne Water and the Council’s drainage engineering section should be specifically sought on any amended plans for this proposal.

This brings us to the most difficult issue in this case – how does this proposal respect the neighbourhood character? The purpose of the General Residential Zone (GRZ) includes implementing neighbourhood character policy and encouraging development that respects the neighbourhood character of the area. Clause 55 elaborates on this by encouraging development that either respects the existing neighbourhood character or contributes to a preferred neighbourhood character. A preferred character would be one identified through a neighbourhood character policy. In this case, the Council submits there is no preferred neighbourhood character statement or policy because this site is in a Housing Diversity Area. Unfortunately, the Housing Diversity Area Policy provides no helpful guidance on how development in such areas should respect the neighbourhood character. Similarly, the Schedule to the GRZ does not contain any requirements other than the maximum height of 10.5-11.5 metres. So we are left with having to make a decision about how a modern three storey apartment building will respect the existing neighbourhood character.

 

411-415 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick (See: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/1074.html)

This application was in Commercial 1 zone and within a Heritage Overlay. The application was refused by both Council and VCAT. However, once again, the refusal was achieved because of the VCAT member’s concerns, and not anything that Council put up.

The Council did not raise any internal amenity concerns in their grounds of refusal. Nor did they raise any concerns in their submission at the hearing, or in their questioning of the expert witnesses. In contrast, I have some serious and significant concerns regarding the potential for the future occupants of these dwellings to experience an acceptable or reasonable level of amenity. I have two main areas of concern.

  • My first concern is regarding the overall size and layout of some of the apartments that face either north or south. Inherent in this design is an effort to squeeze as many apartments as possible with either a northern aspect to the public car park or a southerly aspect to Glen Huntly Road. On the one hand, this intent is a positive one as it is far preferable to have apartments face public land, rather than adjoining private properties. On the other hand, when taken too far it has the potential of creating very narrow apartments. I fear that this is one design response where a good intent has been taken too far. As a result, there are a number of apartments that are relatively narrow, as evidenced by a living space that is around 2.8 metres wide. Of the 32 apartments proposed in this development, 14 have a living space of this width.
  • Surprising, 12 of these 14 apartments comprise two bedrooms, and so will potentially have a larger number of occupants than the one bedroom apartments. In some cases these narrow living spaces are combined with relatively tight bedrooms, at around 2.7 by 2.8 metres. In some apartments, these narrow living areas are provided in relatively small apartments, with two of the two bedroom apartments measuring 55.8 square metres, and another at 56.2 square metres.
  • I sought to explore my concerns with Mr D’Amico and Mr Sheppard, and also received submissions from Mr Pitt. I think it is fair to conclude that the apartments that are before me are at the smaller end of the spectrum of what might be considered acceptable apartments, where some of the internal spaces are rather tight. What I sought to do with my questioning of Mr D’Amico in particular is to try to establish whether these apartments sat within the range of acceptability, or whether indeed they have spaces that bring into question their usability and functionality, and their ability to provide a reasonable level of amenity. I accept that such a decision is a matter of subjective judgement, in the absence of any set of standards that I might apply to apartment designs. However it is a subjective decision that I take very seriously.
  • My second concern is with the proposal to design one inboard apartment on each level, with a sole orientation to the western side boundary. On each level this inboard apartment consists of one bedroom, and ranges in size from 45.6 to 46.2 square metres. The apartment has a 5.9 square metre balcony, and both the balcony and the living room window are set 4.4 metres from the western boundary, and in a light court measuring 5.7 metres wide. Three sides of the light court are enclosed by the proposed development to the top of the fifth floor. The only opening to this light court below the top of the fifth floor is via the adjoining property to the west.

Conclusions & Questions

  • Why does this Council continually front up to VCAT without the necessary ‘evidence’ to support its decision making?
  • Why doesn’t Council do what it stated it would do at the planning conferences – ie shadow diagrams review?
  • Why doesn’t council know what areas are subjected to flooding and why haven’t the SBO’s been reviewed?
  • Why is there no ‘preferred neighbourhood character’ statements for Housing Diversity Areas? Why is Council not pursuing an amendment to introduce such controls?
  • Why are applicant’s often ‘dubious’ traffic reports accepted at face value without council checking for veracity?
  • Why does ‘internal amenity’ rarely get a mention in council’s reports and arguments?
  • How much longer will Council continue with the farce that all the problems can be laid at the feet of VCAT?
  • How much more of ratepayer’s money will be expended on substandard presentations at VCAT?

Carnegie’s 1880s Frogmore House tower demolished after being deemed unworthy of heritage protection

The historic Frogmore House tower in Carnegie has been demolished. Picture: Valeriu Campa

The historic Frogmore House tower in Carnegie has been demolished. Picture: Valeriu Campan.

THE tower at Carnegie’s historic Frogmore House has been demolished.

The 1880s feature has been bulldozed six weeks after Glen Eira Council deemed the property unworthy of local heritage protection.

Glen Eira Residents Association president Bette Hatfield said it was “an absolute disgrace”.

The bulldozers were sent in after an unusual, split council vote was won by just three councillors.

Crs Michael Lipshutz, Neil Pilling and Jamie Hyams voted to abandon plans to protect the property.

The site post bulldozing. Picture: Valeriu Campan.

The site post bulldozing. Picture: Valeriu Campan.

The Frogmore House site when demolition began earlier this month.

The Frogmore House site when demolition began earlier this month.

Councillors Thomas Sounness, Oscar Lobo and Karina Okotel had wanted other options explored; Mayor Jim Magee was absent and Crs Mary Delahunty and Margaret Esakoff declared conflicts of interest and did not vote.

More than 1000 residents had petitioned the council to save Frogmore House.

New owner Jewish Care will now redevelop the 7,917sq m site into a 120-bed Jewish aged care centre.

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And the current online comments –

Two of the councillors who opposed the heritage listing appear to have Jewish surnames?

How is it we live in a world where 1000 people want this historic 1880 building saved and it is not considered worth saving ? We have so many conflicts of interest and back room deals going on and the end result is another piece of history gets bulldozed

what no Australians allowed what a disgrace

A disgrace. We have sold our souls in melbourne. Anything can be demolished.

Yes i wish they would demolish councils full stop

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