Council has in all probability spent a fortune on consultants. As we’ve stated previously, consultants are basically hired guns. Much depends on their brief and the directions issued to them by council staff. This is made crystal clear in the Introduction to the consultant’s Housing Study. We’re told that the objective is –

To assist in preparing the (activity centre structure planning) strategy, Council has commissioned .id (Informed Decisions) to undertake an analysis of housing consumption patterns and opportunities. It also includes an assessment of centres identified by Council as appropriate for intensification and their potential dwelling capacity

Thus from step one the game is virtually rigged! It is council staff who have decided which areas are ‘appropriate for intensification’, where the borders will now be, and which areas will be upgraded to allow for more intense development – but without providing residents with the necessary logic behind any such decisions nor any data that might justify such decisions.

Not for the first time in this entire structure planning process, have we been provided with consultants’ reports which in many areas are certainly open to question. The latest example(s) come from the Housing Report.


We are told that the report is dated May 2017. That is 2 months after Wynne introduced VC110 which removed the mandatory 2 dwellings per lot in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone. It is therefore fascinating to observe that the Housing Report does not once make specific mention of this fact – although there is reference to the ‘garden requirements’ and height limits.

Why not state the removal of the mandatory 2 dwellings per lot up front? Why not address its potential impact across all of Glen Eira and not just those areas immediately outside the designated activity centres? We proffer the answer that this would cast some serious doubt on the figures provided by the report – even though they are claimed to be ‘conservative’. If there is no limit on the number of dwellings now permissible in NRZ, then that means that infill will in all likelihood  be far greater than suggested by the report. If it is therefore greater, then the argument could follow that activity centres do not need to be so gung ho in allowing more development. That in fact much of the current zoning can be reduced and that there certainly is no need to expand the borders of activity centres and rope in more dwellings for greater development.

The report goes on to claim that in the NRZ areas there will only be the following number of ‘net gain’ new dwellings –

We now have 10 applications in for multi unit development in NRZ. These applications reveal how suspect the Household predictions are. For example:

  1. 4-6 Hudson Street is applying for 8 dwellings on a site of 1308 square metres. According to the above table this should only result in a ‘net gain’ of 3 dwellings. If a permit is granted the NET GAIN IS 4 DWELLINGS.
  2. 36 Mawby Street is applying for 4 dwellings on 740 square metres. The report suggests that this will result in a ‘net gain’ of 1.3 dwellings. The result would be a net gain of 2 dwellings.
  3. 2 Newman St is applying for 6 dwellings on 964 square metres. The report suggests a net gain of 1.9 dwellings. If approved, the net gain will be 4 dwellings.
  4. 5 Rigby Avenue is applying for 5 dwellings on 877 square metres. Again the report would suggest that this is a net gain of 1.9 dwellings. The gain is 3 dwellings.

As a total from these 10 applications, and assuming they will all be granted permits, we have the prospect of 41 dwellings instead of 20 dwellings. That is a doubling in yield from March 2017. And this is only the beginning. What happens in the GRZ zoned areas is yet to unfold.


The East Village Activity Centre has now mushroomed into an enormous area that also includes Virginia Park. Given what’s happened with Bentleigh we are confident that this will now be the borders of the new ‘activity centre’. Virginia Estate is smack in the middle of this ‘activity centre’.

Despite various sections of the Housing Report referring to ‘development sites’, Virginia Estate is not included in any calculation, in any forecast, nor in any comment as to how this 20 hectare site might impact on housing numbers. Absolutely extraordinary when it is clear that this site has the potential to house anything from 3500 to 4500 new apartments. What we do get is this convenient ‘get out of jail’ clause  – No assumptions have been made about the conversion of additional industrial or commercial land being rezoned for residential purposes and the dwelling yields that might arise from such a process.

Surely any decent and ‘objective’ analysis of housing capacity in a municipality must include the largest site in all of Glen Eira? And then go on and provide some possible scenarios of what 3500-4500 new dwellings would mean for ‘housing opportunities’ overall. If one 20 hectare site is about to become the greatest residential development in Glen Eira’s history, then surely some slack can be given to other areas? But no! Council’s view is the more the better and the report plays along via its silence on this issue.

Despite what we cited from the report previously (ie ignoring commercial and industrial land) the report also includes the following:


Thus if a major source of housing supply is ‘redevelopment sites’, then what credibility should be given to a report that totally ignores these massive sites? Even more ludicrous is the fact that council is now working on an East Village/Virginia Estate Structure Plan that is, we assume, independent and separate from what its Activity Centre consultants determined as the entire area. (ie above graphic of East Village ‘study area’).

There are a multitude of questions that demand answering and which council has steadfastly refused to address. Instead, residents have been fed, in dribs and drabs, consultant’s reports that raise more questions than they answer and which often fail to stand up to full scrutiny. If you can’t trust the data, then you can’t trust the conclusions and the outcomes.

Finally, we highlight one other paragraph from the Housing Report that typifies the inconsistency and lack of strategic justification for much of council’s planning. The paragraph concerns the ‘values’ assigned to each activity centre. The higher the value, then the more development was likely to occur according to the Household report.

At the other end of the scale, East Village recorded the lowest score, receiving just one point out of five. This centre does not have railway or tram services, and has minimal retail and other services along its commercial spine. It is also split by two major arterial roads that impacts on urban integration. East Bentleigh also received a relatively low score of just two points. It was notable that lack of public transport access was the major reason why these centres scored poorly when measured against the attributes.

If council is reliant on its consultants and won’t do anything without ‘evidence based’ data, then why, given this report:

  • Is Bentleigh East being ‘upgraded’?
  • Why isn’t Caulfield, nominated as a Major Activity Centre by Plan Melbourne,  being given priority ahead of say Caulfield South and Bentleigh East?

The lack of transparency in everything council has done must be highlighted. We have morphed from ‘study areas’ to actual increased borders of activity centres; asking what people ‘love’ about their ‘shopping strips’ achieved nothing except focusing residents’ attention on the shops themselves instead of all the related issues such as building heights, open space, etc. etc. etc. The list goes on an on. Now a year down the track residents are still being kept in the dark as to:

  • precise housing numbers required to meet population growth
  • strategic justification for increased activity centre borders
  • strategic justification for 8-12 storeys
  • costs
  • timelines
  • future of neighbourhood centres
  • whether or not Glen Huntly, East Bentleigh, Caulfield, Caulfield South, Ormond will have more of their areas turned over for increased development
  • high rise at railways – Bentleigh, McKinnon given council’s cryptic comments of the past

Other councils do not operate in this fashion. Their consultants reports do not ignore commercial and industrial land. Their consultants provide a ‘cost-benefit’ analysis for what is termed ‘community benefit’. The list goes on and on. When compared to other councils and their community consultations Glen Eira continues to exhibit all the old traits of lack of transparency, accountability and a genuine intent to listen to the community.


Council’s response to a public question asked at the last council meeting continues the tradition of – (a) not answering what was specifically asked; (b) revealing only half of the story, and (c) resorting to a plethora of meaningless motherhood statements.

We ask readers to especially focus on the highlighted sections in the following image. The question asked two specific things – why all of council’s documentation largely failed to take into account the development potential of Caulfield Village and Virginia Estate AND why council is proposing the expansion of our activity centres and hence more development when council is already well and truly surpassing its housing targets.


  • Council refers to the current planning scheme. Well the current planning scheme which is so out of date it is irrelevant states clearly that: there will be a need to plan for the additional 6,000 dwellings which are predicted for Glen Eira by 2021 as well as encouraging a more diverse housing stock (Department of Infrastructure, 1999, Victoria in Future).
    Not a word about 9000 or 2031!
  • Council then conflates the consultant’s Housing Study with Victoria in Future 2016. Far more damning however is the deliberate omission of some vital information. Here are the Victoria in Future projections where the 9000 additional dwellings is to be found in the time span from 2016 to 2031. Even these figures result in an average new dwellings per year of 642. Glen Eira’s average is practically triple this.
  • Nowhere in the housing study is the figure of 9000 mentioned. In fact, we’re told that in 2013 the available land promised 87 years of growth, but as of now this has been reduced to only 37 years. Are we therefore to conclude that development in Glen Eira has been so dramatic and drastic that in the space of 4 short years developers have gobbled up 50 years worth of previously available land? If so, then what does this say about our rate of development and the need for more development?
  • We might also ask what is the motive behind the use of the word ‘just’? Does this mean that according to council the projected housing growth is barely achieving what it must and this is the ‘excuse’ for facilitating more development? Where is the data to support such an outrageous claim?
  • Further the entire statement ignores what has been happening prior to 2016 and the amount of new dwellings that have already occurred in Glen Eira. Here are the figures for building approvals from 2011 to 2016 –
  • 2011/12 – 912
  • 2012/13 – 957
  • 2013/14 – 1,231
  • 2014/15 – 1,786
  • 2015/16 – 1,680
  • 2016/17 – 1991

That makes a grand total of 8557 in the space of 6 years. Victoria in Future 2016 projections are 13,000 from 2011 to 2031 – again reinforcing the fact that Glen Eira is capable of meeting its housing needs with an average of 650 dwellings per year. Even if this years Victoria in Future increases the number of projected dwellings needed, we maintain that Glen Eira remains well and truly ahead of the pack in the development game.

  • As for the 10 hectares of land now claimed to be ‘saved’ from 4 storey development it would be far more credible if council actually calculated how much land in the current RGZ areas was already chocka-block full of four storeys. Perhaps that would leave only 6 or 5 or 4 hectares that are now ‘saved’?
  • The most unbelievable statement is – the issue is not just about numbers. Surely it is the numbers that determine the required extent of new development? Surely it is the numbers that determine whether activity centre borders need to be doubled in size? Surely it is numbers that determine whether or not the municipality requires 12 storeys of mainly residential development in order to play its fair share in accommodating population growth? And the most important question – if structure planning is meant to apportion appropriate land use outcomes, then numbers are integral to decisions on where, how much, how high, and can the municipality cope with these numbers?
  • Please also note the failure to respond to the issue of Caulfield Village and Virginia Estate. With another potential 5000 dwellings to go up, then ‘first principles’ means nothing. Again, its back to numbers.

The really sad aspect of such a response is that councillors allowed this to go out in their name without a murmur. Do they really understand what is going on and have they heard the growing public resentment?

Whilst it is true that the past is the past and that we should be looking forward rather than back, history remains important – especially if that history is now being ‘revised’ and distorted with claims that are anything but truthful and has the potential to influence the present and future. This post seeks to correct these revisionist accounts by analysing the Hyams comments put up on the Bentleigh Action Group Facebook page. His comments are presented in italics.

….. when we consulted on the review of the planing scheme in 2010 -2011, we were told by the community that we should get mandatory height limits in residential zones, transition between zones and better protection for areas of significant neighbourhood character. We therefore changed our significant character areas to Neighbourhood Character Overlays, and added areas to those, and, as part of the zones that came in during 2013, achieved mandatory heights in all residential zones – the only Council to have this, and transition zones.


  • Mandatory height limits were NOT imposed on all residential zones. MUZ (Mixed Use Areas) which are included as ‘residential’ were totally ignored and remained so until the introduction of the recent interim height limits in Bentleigh & Carnegie. All other MUZ zones in Glen Eira do not have height limits.
  • There is not one single word in the 2010 Planning Scheme Review about mandatory heights for residential zones. Either this was not an overwhelming view in 2010, or the ensuing report was a total work of fiction. We’ve uploaded the report HERE and ask readers to carefully peruse this document. We challenge anyone to find a single word about height limits that does not relate to aged care only!
  • There has never been any ‘transition zones’ in Glen Eira. At best it can only be called a ‘buffer’. The only concession was the additional setbacks for the three storeys of GRZ2 when this bordered a Neighbourhood Residential zoning. – Even these setbacks and schedules pale into insignificance when compared to what other councils were able to achieve in their GRZ zoning. See:
  • The eventual Amendment C87 which introduced the Neighbourhood Character Overlays was totally inadequate. Many areas previously labelled as ‘significant’ became ‘non-significant’ . The total properties deemed ‘significant’ was just over a 1000 out of 50,000 plus homes. Further, nominations were made by officers alone. Both councillors and residents had no avenue upon which to include their nominations. The planning panel in fact stated that another amendment was required in order for residents to have other properties included. This took another few years and the additional numbers were less than earth shattering. It is also worth remembering that the Planning Panel report of December 2002, told council to introduce Neighbourhood Character Overlays. It took 10 years for council to get Amendment C87 underway!!!!!

We ahd (sic) intended to wait for the respective state governments to finish further reviewing their planning policies before we did our next review, so we knew what we were working with but, as you noted, the government required us to proceed with our Review.


  • The legislation requires local government to undertake reviews every 4 years. Council was required to undertake its next review in 2014. That would have provided them with a year’s ‘experience’ of the zones. Instead they requested and received extensions from Guy. Who applied for these extensions and whether they were done under delegated authority is the crucial question since there was no resolution permitting at least 3 consecutive requests for extensions. Readers should also note that the authority to request extensions is not delegated under the legislation. Thus, the questions remain – did councillors know that these requests had gone in? Were they supportive of these requests? If Wynne had not finally had a gut full of Glen Eira, and refused their latest request for a 2 year extension, would we still be sitting on our backsides and not have had a planning scheme review in 2016?

 It is notable that, as part of its review of the planning zones, the government has decreed that all General Residential Zones should now have mandatory height limits. We already had this, but many others had heights that were lower, but discretionary.


  • Once again Hyams is not averse to telling a few porkies. If height limits are included in the schedule to a zone, then they are MANDATORY and not discretionary. There were plenty of other councils who used their schedules to good effect and achieved far greater benefit to their communities than Glen Eira did. Our council worked on the principle of ‘we’re perfect’ so don’t have to change a thing and we can rely on a housing strategy based on 1999 data. Thus it became a ‘one size fits all’. The schedules basically replicated what had been set up through Amendment C25 in 2004 (this amendment created the Housing Diversity/Minimal Change areas). By way of example here is what some other councils were able to achieve via the schedules to their zones –


Bayside – MUZ – 50% site coverage; GRZ’S – 50% SITE COVERAGE (Glen Eira 60% in GRZ and nothing for MUZ)

Boroondara – GRZ1 – 9 metres; GRZ2 – 10.5 metres; grz3 – 10.5 metres;

Greater Dandenong – permeability – 30% for GRZ1 and in NRZ – 40% permeability (Glen Eira – permeability 25% in NRZ and 20% in GRZ/RGZ)


Stonnington – grz5 – 9 metres; grz6 – 11.5 metres; grz7 – 10.5 metres; grz8 – 12 metres;  grz10 – 9 metres; grz11 – 12 metres; grz 12 – 9 metres; grz14 – 9 metres

 Furthermore, the new mandated height is 11 metres, but we stay at 10.5 metres because that’s what we have in the schedule to the zone. It would therefore appear that we were ahead in this, rather than outdated.


Again, what is not stated is as important as what is stated. With the new legislation of VC110, councils have been given 3 years (from March 2017) to come into line – ie 9 metres in NRZ and 11 metres for GRZ. All councils will then revert to these heights regardless of whether or not their current height limits are lower. Even more important is the fact that council decided that what was previously a 9 metre discretionary height limit should overnight become a 10.5 or a 13.5 height limit across the board – all done in secret and without any consultation whatsoever. Other councils of course analysed their municipalities and produced various height limits to suit the specific areas. In other words, they actually did some decent planning. Glen Eira did none of this.

The committee advising the government in its review stated very clearly that the default zone should be the GRZ, not the NRZ as it is in Glen Eira, and that the NRZ should be used sparingly. This, if implemented, would have resulted in far more streets like Princes Street, not fewer, but fortunately, the government has not chosen to redraw the boundaries, despite the recommendation. It is also fortunate, therefore, that we had the zones implemented before the committee report.


The effect of implementing the zones before the committee report, and being the first council in the state to do so, gave developers a year’s head start to exploit the new height limits in both the GRZ and the RGZ. Developers now knew that they could build 4 and 3 storeys with impunity across large swathes of the municipality. Also worthy of comment is the fact that the Planning Panel report of 2004 stated unequivocally that council needed to address the borders for its neighbourhood centres and consider whether some suburbs like Murrumbeena and Ormond were in fact suitable candidates for designation as neighbourhood centres. Council has totally ignored this for the past 13 years. The panel also repeatedly stated that amendment C25 was viewed as ‘interim’ and that council must proceed with far more and immediate strategic planning to iron out all the anomalies. This never happened.

Even the later government  Advisory Committee report had this to say about the process that Glen Eira used to introduce the new zones in 2013 – especially the lack of strategic justification and lack of consultation.

The State Government has not redrawn the boundaries as Hyams stated. This has been left up to individual councils. So what does our mob do? Borders have expanded, hundreds of currently zoned NRZ properties are now ‘suitable’ for 3 to 4 storey development and current 4 storeys may well become 12 storeys. Is the past about to repeat itself? Where is there one iota of strategic evidence for any of this current planning?

The past is thus crucial to an understanding of the present and the future. As a result of this past council now finds itself with a deluge of required work. For many areas it is far too late to ameliorate the damage already done. Structure planning is the start of a long overdue process. It is up to residents to decide whether the eventual outcomes from the current planning efforts are adequate and deliver what is expected. But structure planning is only the start. The most important aspect will be the ensuing amendments and their strategic justification, plus the accompanying schedules to the various zones.

Residents have made their views absolutely clear. Councillors had better be ready for an almighty fight if residents feel that the past is about to be repeated.

In several recent posts we have featured the data on the number of building permits granted to Glen Eira and its neighbouring councils. Planning permits are another indicator of development. The figures below are for the 2016/17 financial year and represent NET NEW DWELLINGS and not simply a one for one replacement. It is also safe to assume that since these figures are for the last year that many would not as yet have been started and definitely not been granted their building permits.

Given that Glen Eira is part of the Inner South East group (ie Boroondara, Bayside and Stonnington) these figures again reinforce the simple fact that our council is well and truly outstripping our neighbours in terms of current and proposed development.

Here are the stats:

Glen Eira – 1806

Boroondara – 1077

Bayside – 490

Stonnington figures aren’t available for the 3rd quarter. The other quarters show – 427, 98 and 141!


Ever since the introduction of the zones in 2013, Council has used VCAT as a convenient scapegoat. VCAT’s granting of permits of course has had nothing whatsoever to do with the inadequate planning scheme and the fact that developers could drive a truck through it! Time and again the blame was laid at VCAT’s feet but with no attempt to address the shortcomings of the planning scheme itself. We maintain that without Wynne’s order to get their house in order, Glen Eira would still be doing nothing since a further application for a review extension was undoubtedly the catalyst for Wynne to say ‘enough is enough’!

Now we have another scapegoat. This time it’s the State Government and the refrain of ‘we can’t stop development’. No one is arguing that development should be stopped. It is where and how much development is encouraged that is the sticking point. Plus of course the essential questions of capacity, density, and whether or not Glen Eira is meeting its housing needs for the projected population growth. These are the issues that council has been totally silent on.  Whether or not we have 37 years land supply, or the original Newton/Hyams claim of 90 plus years is beside the point. What needs quantifying and elaborating is whether or not Glen Eira’s rate of housing development is sufficient to meet its projected population growth and therefore there is no need to rezone areas for even greater development.

Judging by the various community forums on the current structure planning, what concerns residents is the extent of the development and what measures council is proposing that will ensure residential amenity and the environment is safeguarded. Allowing buildings of 8 to 12 storeys is not the majority’s view of reasonable development and neither is flogging off public land to facilitate such development.

According to Plan Melbourne Refresh (2017-2050) Glen Eira is now part of the Inner South East group of councils which includes Stonnington, Bayside, and Boroondara. Here is what is forecast in two scenarios – (1) current projections and (2) ‘aspirational’ projections. According to this, 4 municipalities should be able to provide an additional 110,000 or 125,000 net new dwellings over the next 34 years.

Since these figures are for all South East councils, we would expect Glen Eira’s share to be roughly 27,500 or 31,250 net new dwellings by 2051. That’s another 34 years away and provides an average of either 808 net new dwellings per year or, for the ‘aspirational’ scenario, 919 net new dwellings per annum. The fact that since the introduction of the zones Glen Eira has more than doubled this ‘requirement’ per year has not been acknowledged. If development continues at this rate then Glen Eira will have reached its supposed ‘target’ not in 2051 but closer to 2025. And since structure planning is never intended to be anything more than a ‘vision’ for the next 15 years, this makes council’s planning even more suspect given its rezoning proposals.

Another issue which council has remained entirely silent about and which is already having impact on dwelling numbers is Wynne’s introduction of VC110 and the removal of the mandatory 2 dwellings per lot in the Neighbourhood Residential Zones. Currently there are 9 applications in for multi-unit developments in these areas. Thus instead of 18 dwellings, we now have the potential for 38 dwellings on these 9 blocks of land. (see below).  Has council factored this into its planning? Why the silence? And what other countless loopholes can developers exploit before council actually introduces amendments that ensure the protection of residential amenity? Please remember that the new ‘garden’ area does not apply to land under 400 square metres. There is literally nothing to stop a developer subdividing his/her land first, and then applying for a planning permit. Result? No need for ‘garden area’!!!!

Until all of these aspects are taken into account, and until council provides concrete and reliable data to justify its expansionist planning proposals, residents have every right to believe that council’s agenda is to continue to facilitate more and more development – regardless of whether it is needed, much less sustainable! And finally, please bear in mind that Glen Eira already has up to anothyer 5000 dwellings waiting in the wings via the Caulfield Village development and the massive Virginia Estate! These latter developments barely rate a mention in council’s pronouncements!

Here is council’s version of the relevant stats for Carnegie and the proposed structure plan – According to the above figure the residents of Carnegie are supposed to be better off in terms of the number of properties rezoned to a lower height. As with the Bentleigh figures, the reality is far different. One example is the rezoning of Elliott Avenue and Tranmere where seven properties on the east side of Elliott Avenue will go from 4 to 3 storeys, and both sides of Tranmere will also be reduced by one storey. Nominally, that should make it 21 properties that will have a reduction in height. Sadly, it is far too late for 14 of these properties which are already set for 4 storey development. (Please note – we are counting the consolidated lots as 2 properties).

This image tells the full story – post zones.

  • No 1 Tranmere has been to VCAT. Given developers’ past history, there is always the second bite at the cherry by simply reducing the number of proposed dwellings by a handful. It will be back again.
  • Nos. 3 -7 Tranmere are currently up for sale and will have their applications in well and truly before any amendments see the light of day from council! (See: – )
  • No.8 Tranmere sold in April 2016, No.6 Tranmere in 2015 & No. 11 Tranmere sold in November 2016. Whilst these properties could possibly remain as ‘owner-occupier’ we don’t like their chances of remaining so given what is happening around them and the potential to make some major profit.

Thus Tranmere & Elliott are GONE, GONE, GONE thanks to what happened in 2013 and no revamping of the zoning at this late point in time is going to alter this fact.

So that readers fully understand the above image here is the legend –

  • Yellow infill means that permits have been granted for 4 storey developments, or will soon have applications coming in for 4 storeys.
  • The dark blue in Jersey Parade is another application currently in for 4 storeys
  • The light green represents other applications and/or permits
  • The red indicates the upgrade from 4 storeys to a potential 12 storeys.


  • Given examples like this, how much faith should residents place in council’s figures?
  • What effect will rezoning have if nothing changes in the schedules to the zones and when will council get around to actually doing anything with the schedules?
  • The destruction of these streets has been known for years yet council has tried time after time to avoid undertaking a planning scheme review. This has only happened due to Wynne’s refusal to grant another extension and the order to undertake structure planning.
  • What is the strategic justification for any of these changes? Does it make sense to impose a 12 storey height limit on residents zoned for 4 storeys? We keep hearing the nonsense about ‘right buildings in the right place’ and maintaining a ‘balance’. The only ‘balance’ we can find is an open invitation for more development and the selling off of council land!

PS: we’ve received an email from a resident telling us that nos. 7-11 Belsize Avenue has been sold to a group of developers. Anyone want to take bets on what will happen to this land?

We’ve received the results of a survey conducted by a resident. The findings provide plenty of food for thought that council needs to incorporate into its planning and thinking.

Our thanks to the resident for his time and effort.

Results are uploaded HERE