Below are the ‘responses’ to last week’s public questions. We ask readers to consider:

  • How much credibility do any of these ‘responses’ deserve?
  • How much faith should residents place in the imputation that the zones are largely the handiwork of the Minister and that little ‘ol Glen Eira Council was not the instigator and/or responsible for the outcomes?
  • Why would a Minister bother with such a small site as the Alma Club when he hasn’t intervened in the C60 or other major developments such as the Clover Estate, etc? In our view, the rezoning of the Alma Club and other sites has to be placed fairly and squarely at the feet of Council and not the Minister.
  • Who wrote the schedules? Surely not the Minister?
  • Please note how many sections of these questions are totally ignored
  • Once again, not all public questions were read out or their existence even acknowledged.
  • And the most important question was – why the secrecy?

QUESTION 1

1. On what precise date was Amendment C110 (Residential zones) submitted to the Minister and/or DPCD?

2. Why hasn’t the full Amendment and its schedules been made public by council prior to its being gazetted – especially since it has now been announced?

“Council does not have Amendment C110. It is, of course, not possible for Council to publish a document that is not in our possession.

When the Minister announced the creation of three new residential zones in March 2013, he said that he would translate Councils’ planning schemes into the new zones by Ministerial Amendment. A Ministerial Amendment is different to the process you are familiar with which involves Exhibition, an Independent Panel and Adoption.

After the Minister announced his openness to Ministerial Amendments, this Council sought differential zones and mandatory maximum height limits, which the Glen Eira community and Council have sought for many years, based on the established Minimal Change and Housing Diversity policies. On 5 August, the Minister announced that he had approved a translation into the new residential zones and issued a Media Release to that effect.

Ministerial Amendment C110 also includes some elements which Council did not raise such as the rezoning of the site of the former Alma Club in Caulfield North to the General Residential Zone and the rezoning of the ABC’s studios in Gordon St, Elsternwick to the Residential Growth Zone.

It follows that there was no precise date on which Amendment C110 was submitted to the Minister in the way that most planning scheme amendments which have been prepared and adopted by a Council.

Amendment C110 is scheduled to be Gazetted on 23 August 2013. The mandatory maximum height limits and other benefits will apply to applications lodged on and after that date.”

QUESTION 2

New Residential Zones were announced last week which show 1 Wilks St site allocated General Residential Zone Schedule 1 with minimal setbacks to the abutting Neighbourhood Residential Zone Schedule 1. This fails to meet the Transition Buffers as elucidated to in “5.9 Transition Buffers” of the Guide to the New Residential Zones; buffers which apply to all other abutting transitions. 

Question 1. Please provide IN DETAIL ALL the reasons why the zoning for 1 Wilks St site was not retained as Neighbourhood Residential Zone, the equivalent of the old Minimal Change Area, particularly as it completely contravenes all the reasons given by Council for unanimously rejecting the Planning Application GE/PP25557/2013? 

Question 2. Please provide IN DETAIL ALL the reasons why the zoning was made General Residential Schedule 1 not General Residential Schedule 2, particularly as 1 Wilks St is abutted on over 3 sides by Neighbourhood Residential Zone Schedule 1?  

Question 3. Who (officer, department, council or government person or the like) made these aberrant recommendations and who authorised these aberrant decisions?

Question 4. Under whose or what authority were these decisions made?

Question 5. Further to my question on zoning of 1 Wilks St, what action is Council now taking, or intends to take to rectify the error in Transition Buffers for all properties abutting the 1 Wilks St site? 

The Minister for Planning applied the new zones by Ministerial Amendment, taking into account and largely adopting requests from Council. However, Council did not canvass any change for the site of the former Alma Club at 1 Wilks Street, Caulfield North. Council assumed a direct translation from Minimal Change to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone.

Council was advised on 5 August that the former Alma Club had been included in the General Residential Zone. Council’s understanding is that the site will have its own Schedule which will be consistent with the setbacks set out in the officer report on the planning application considered by Council on 2 July 2013. Details should be clear by the time of Gazettal which is scheduled for 23 August.

The planning application for the site is before VCAT. That appeal would be determined in accordance with the rules which applied at the time the application was lodged, including the Minimal Change policy

QUESTION 3

Given that the

1. Glen Eira Planning Scheme was last reviewed in 2010 and scheduled for the 4 yearly review in 2014 and

2. Council had 12 months to implement the new residential zones Could Council please provide its reasons for electing not to consult with the community on the introduction of the new residential zones? 

Glen Eira has had policies in the Planning Scheme for the last nine years which differentiate the municipality into Minimal Change Areas and Housing Diversity Areas. Those policies were incorporated into the Planning Scheme following extensive community consultation. The policies are well understood within our community. (Policies are, however, open to interpretation as is regularly seen at VCAT and greater certainty could only be achieved by the use of controls ie zones.)

Council undertook a Review of the Planning Scheme in 2010-11. Through the consultative mechanisms of the Review, the community made clear that it is seeking:

 mandatory maximum height limits binding on all parties, including VCAT;

 transition controls to step development more gradually between higher and lower density areas; and

 greater certainty for both existing residents and providers of additional residential housing.

The three new zones provide the opportunity to achieve these enhancements which are not possible under a policy framework.

Based on the outcomes of these consultative processes, Council sought a direct and neutral conversion to the new zones which achieved the outcomes sought by the community. If the process had not addressed the community’s expressed priorities, Council would have discontinued that process.

The translation which has been approved introduces greater protections for the benefit of existing residents as well as greater clarity for those wishing to proceed with residential development. The mix of zones, like the policies before them, provides for a clearer balance between retaining valued Neighbourhood Character and opportunities for higher density sustainable development at appropriate locations around public transport and shopping centres.

It is important to bear in mind that these zones were applied by Ministerial Amendment, taking into account, and largely adopting, Council requests. It is our firm belief that further consultation could not have resulted in a better outcome, and may well have had the opposite effect. Our concern, on this as in all matters, was to achieve the best possible result for the Community.”

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