ALMA CLUB APPLICATION

As expected, the officer’s (Ron Torres) report recommends that a permit be issues for “up to 73 dwellings in an apartment style 3 storey building and townhouse style development of 2-3 storeys above basement car parking and a reduction in visitor car parking requirements….”. There were 58 formal objections.

It is worth commenting that this report contains much that is taken verbatim from the developer’s application. As to lighting and internal amenity there does not seem to be any problem in having people live underground – “It is considered the ground floor north facing apartments will have poor solar access as their floor level is substantially lower than the ground level at the northern boundary. Their living room windows are also substantially overhung by the balconies above. Therefore a condition is recommended to setback the first floor balconies to improve the amenity of these dwellings”.

On traffic and its impact on local and adjoining streets we have this: “…the expected traffic generation can be considered in the context of the traffic generated by the Alma Club (when it was operational). Therefore, whilst there will be a noticeable increase in traffic during residential peak times (ie weekday mornings), there will also likely be less traffic at other times when the Alma Club would have generated traffic, such as weekends. Furthermore, Council’s Transport Planning Department is satisfied Wilks Street can accommodate the traffic generated by the development. On balance it is considered an increase in traffic movements within Wilks Street as a result of this development is not unreasonable”.

Not one statistic to support any of the statements! And since when does 5 days of traffic twice a day compare to a declining club membership that is assessed only on weekends? Nor is there any mention of the major arterial roads that run off Wilks St and the safety issues involved. The only change that is advantageous to the community is the recommendation that a 5% open space levy be paid by the developer instead of the 4.75% that had been ‘agreed’ to previously.

All in all another dodgy officer’s report without substance, detail, and a far too heavy reliance on the proposal as submitted by developers. Surely when the community pays their wages it is not too much to expect that officer reports show some initiative and originality plus, providing a substantiated rationale for their decision making that is not authored by the developer.

RECORDS OF ASSEMBLY

First off we note that the online version of agenda has repeated one of the ‘minutes’ – meaning that one document is missing! The trend of secrecy continues unabated however. Notations included in these documents reveal that important issues that will have a major impact on the community HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED but not one word has come out into the public domain concerning these issues. For example:

  • Residential zones – at least 3 times
  • Referendum of Constitutional Recognition of local government
  • MAV state conference – list of motions. Again residents have no idea of council’s position on any of the proposed motions.
  • There’s another couple of interesting items that read – “Cr Hyams – letter to the editor in the Australian Jewish News from a Labor Federal member of Parliament. Need for a Council response to correct the record.” AND – “Cr Hyams – draft letter to the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust relating to members of the public attending and addressing the Trust.” (Please note that Delahunty had raised this issue in a previous meeting); “Cr Hyams – a meeting of the non MRC Trustees of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust.”
  • GESAC and dispute resolution also gets a nod as well as in the Audit Committee report.

Finally it’s worth mentioning the item recommending the rescission of the Sustainability Policy and enacting a new policy. We have noted several times in the past that the arguments put forward by Hyams and Burke (when it suited them) was that nothing could be done UNLESS IT WAS CONTAINED IN THE MEETING PROCEDURES. There is no facility in the meeting procedures for a rescission of motion! If the argument is to be applied consistently, then this recommendation cannot proceed. But of course in this council we can only expect some glib sleight of hand to justify actions that suit the ultimate objectives!

PS: Also along familiar lines there is Newton’s report on the latest Community Satisfaction Survey. The entire report is NOT included in the agenda papers. Rather we’re told that it is available on council’s website. Unfortunately to locate the report will involve a ‘hide and seek’ expedition! The vital aspect of the survey focuses on residents’ expectations as to service performance and their grading of this performance. Below is the relevant information and we point out that once again the huge discrepancy between what residents consider as important and their evaluation of the actual service.

Pages from Community_Satisfaction_Survey_results_2013 PPS: We’ve commented on this previously but given the deceptive reporting of the VCAT decisions it is worth re-iterating. For the 20 Hawthorn Rd application which was overturned by VCAT, council writes:

“Council determined to refuse the application as it failed to satisfy the intent and objectives of the Minimal Change Area Policy, in terms of excessive visual bulk and poor interface with the adjoining residential properties. The development
also failed to satisfy a number of the ResCode standards    ‘.

Not only is this entirely disingenuous, but not does represent what the member actually concluded. In fact, Council itself ‘stuffed up’ big time. It did not even know the areas that were Minimal Change as opposed to Housing Diversity. Here’s what the member concluded:

  1. There is little doubt in my mind that the subject land is in a housing diversity area under local planning policy. As the purpose of local planning policies is to give effect to the municipal strategic statement (MSS),[1] it is relevant to start with the MSS. The MSS includes a Framework Plan the purpose of which is to ‘support and promote’ specific land use outcomes.[2] The Framework Plan, although indicative, includes the subject land as an area along a tram route where ‘multi unit development will be encouraged’.[3] The MSS adopts a targeted approach to meeting future housing needs. It encourages multi-unit housing in identified housing diversity areas. Land along tram routes is a housing diversity area.
  2. The housing diversity area policy confirms the subject land is in a tram routes housing diversity area, having regard to the  Glen Eira  ‘policy framework plan’ and the Caulfield North ‘Framework Plan’.[4] I will return the specifics of the tram routes policy shortly.
  3. That the subject land is in a housing diversity area is confirmed by the minimal change area policy.[5] The policy was recently remade with amendments in Amendment C87 of the scheme (C87). The Council exhibited C87 before deciding this permit application. In the ‘Policy Framework Plan Minimal Change Areas’ map in the scheme when C87 was exhibited and in C87 shows the subject land not in a minimal change area. C87 was approved and commenced on 31 January 2013 and after the Council decided the permit application. It did not change the identification of the subject land as in a minimal change area in that map. In other words, C87 has not changed the identification of the subject land as not being in a minimal change area.
  4. I refer to this history because the Council assessed the permit application as if the relevant policy was the minimal change area policy rather than the housing diversity area policy. This was an error. The Council has now decided that the identification of the subject land as not in a minimal change area for policy purposes was a ‘mapping error within clause 22.08 mistakenly introduced in Amendment C87’,[6] and has prepared Amendment C108 to correct the ‘error’.
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