Agenda item 9.4 on Visitor Car Parking says it all in the following recommendation:

…..each multi-dwelling planning permit application contains a different set of circumstances. Therefore, the provision of on-site visitor car parking must therefore be considered on the individual merits of the particular application being assessed.

For eons this has been Council’s official line on most policies or strategies. It does, however, beg the central and most vital question – what’s the point of having any standard, policy, plan, strategy, if that standard is not applied? The answer of course is dead simple. Council does not want to be ‘tied down’ with something that could potentially limit development. That’s also why there has never been any attempt to implement sensible Parking Overlays throughout the municipality (except for the ‘gone missing’ C99 for student housing) or even Structure Plans that address parking in a comprehensive and analytical manner. And that’s why council will probably accept the Caulfield Village development plan where NOT ONE SINGLE VISITOR CAR PARKING SPACE has been assigned for 442 dwellings!

Akehurst’s arguments are worth looking at in detail. There is the usual point about ‘mandatory’ versus ‘discretionary’ parking rates and how council is ‘powerless’ under such circumstances where VCAT is the single ‘villain’. But as councillors themselves have repeatedly stated – why should VCAT enforce the standards when council on its own repeatedly whittles away at those very standards? Esakoff remember, recently settled quite happily for 3 visitor car parks, when 5 should have been demanded.

Akehurst then presents the bogus argument of a 40 seat restaurant and its need for 16 onsite parking spots. What is not disclosed is that if this same restaurant had a parking overlay assigned, then the rate would be 3.5 car parking spaces for every 100 square metres of leasable floor space instead of the 0.4 ratio! And besides, most problems are not the result of restaurants, but residential over-development! It’s a pity that Akehurst doesn’t release any figures on how many units have been built and how many potential parking spots have been waived by this council and its failure to insist on its own policy!

Much is made of VCAT decisions and the reliance on ‘evidence’. We would also love council to rely on ‘evidence’. Unfortunately most VCAT decisions feature council actively supporting car parking waivers with very little quantified data presented by council’s advocate: Some recent examples:

Further I note that on-street parking is available along Centre Road and Grey Street at peak visitor times (i.e. non –business hours) that the Council is satisfied is sufficient to meet demand.  (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2013/2067.html)

I also agree with Council that one car space for each shop is appropriate. The shops have a floor area of around 50 sq m. (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2013/1791.html)

the proposal has a shortfall of two car parking spaces for visitors.  Condition 1(j) requires the provision of one car parking space for visitors to be provided within the basement car park. This reflects a position of Council that some waiver of parking may be acceptable. (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2013/1713.html)

Whilst other councils undertake thorough local analysis in order to introduce Parking Precinct Plans, or Structure Plans, Glen Eira does nothing. We doubt that council even knows how many street parking spots are available in its Activity Centres, much less in other zones. Akehurst’s report is true to form for a council that has consistently failed to enforce its own plans and is reluctant to put in place any strategy which will ameliorate the impact on local amenity – especially if it means that development may be somewhat curtailed.

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