Lipshutz moved some amendments (balconies to be 8 square metres; on site visitor parking increase to make up for lost car spots – ie 130 spots; peak hours for paid parking; screening allowed for ‘alternate methods’). Sounness seconded.

LIPSHUTZ: called this a ‘vexed issue’ and that Council has been accused of being ‘treacherous but the reality’ is that the government has given the development the ‘go ahead’ and therefore ‘Council has an obligation’ to do things properly. Said that ‘we can refuse’ the plans but all that would mean is that the developer will go to VCAT and they ‘will get what they want’. Went on to say that all councillors had looked very carefully at the plans and that they had seen some ‘defects’ and are now correcting these defects. Said that C60 is ‘going to go ahead’ and that it’s going to be a ‘very high class village’ and that this is ‘unstoppable’. Council now has to deal with this ‘appropriately’ and the conditions put ‘satisfy this’. Claimed that he has always been ‘concerned’ about car parking and traffic. Since there will be a loss of car spots then council is ‘increasing’ the number of car parking spots ‘up to 130’. Mentioned that the Tabaret’s permit is for 127 off site car parking spots and that has to be maintained and ‘how the developer does that’ is his problem. On balconies he was ‘concerned’ that they get a ‘high quality development in this area’ so ground floor balconies should all be at least 8 square metres because he doesn’t like the situation where people buy and they have ‘very small balconies’. Went on to explain that there are 373 dwellings above the ground floor ones and these balconies on average are over 7 square metres but only ‘22% are greater than 8 square metres’. Council is trying to make sure that these dwellings are ‘in accord’ those on the ground floor and ‘so when you have this people have open space’ and people can ‘walk around and enjoy some of the gardens and balconies’. The developer will have to ‘relocate’ parking machines and pay for this. Overlooking is another issue and ‘fixed glazing’ is one method, ‘there may be other methods’ and if council is satisfied then ‘we have to go ahead with that’.

Kept saying that this is only ‘the first stage’ since over the next 10 to 15 years more development plans will be coming in. Admitted that the issue of ‘social housing’ isn’t part of the plans for this stage but it will be in future stages and if not then council ‘will have something to say about that’. Concluded by saying that he thought that with the amendments they had ‘improved’ the plans.

SOUNNESS: called the history of the development a ‘strange beast’ and ‘contentious’ and claimed there is ‘little capacity’ for councillors to do much within the ‘framework’ of the legislation. So given the ‘current form’ of the application ‘there is only so much that Council can do’. Said that car parking was ‘one of those features’ that had been ‘taken away’ from council to look at. This also applies to ‘active open public space’ and the relationship to the racecourse has ‘also been removed from consideration’. Said that all this is ‘complicated, confusing’ and ‘vexed’. Claimed that ‘grounds to say ‘no’ to it are very limited’ and therefore ‘saying ‘yes’ to it is where we’re at’. He thought that if there has to be higher density then ‘where better to do it’ than ‘next to a train station’ and in a place ‘that’s already been affected by urban development’. He would rather see it here than in undeveloped land in the ‘peripherary of Melbourne’.This also applies to infrastructure so ‘I would rather see it here than elsewhere’. The Residential Zones only came in with ‘so much protection’ because of developments like this. This is part of a Glen Eira, Melbourne and ‘Green’s story’. Thought that the development ‘ticks a lot of boxes’. Said that he ‘wasn’t entirely happy with it, but it’s suitable enough’.

DELAHUNTY: said that even though something had to be built there, she thought that the ‘premises’ were wrong and that she’s got 3 major objections to the plan. First was the ‘lack of social housing’ which was included in the planning panel report and in the Incorporated Plan and she was ‘disappointed’ that it isn’t in this part of the Residential Precinct. It shouldn’t be ‘an after thought’ and it belongs here. Second was the ‘shortfall in the car parking’ and the amendment won’t fix it because people who know the area know that ‘there’s an enormous demand’ for car parking there. There is still too much of a ‘shortfall in my mind’. Thirdly the plan ‘falls down’ in the ‘provision of open space’. Said that the panel rested its recommendations on the fact that there was open space in the centre of the racecourse and Council’s Open Space Strategy found that there wasn’t enough accessible open space via the racecourse centre. So if the panel recommended rezoning based ‘on this premise’ and if the premise is wrong then the whole plan falls down.

MAGEE: agreed with Delahunty on social housing. Said that hearing that the Incorporated Plan is now going to ‘be looked at through fresh eyes’ and when the MRC sold it off to a developer and that developer looks at the Incorporated Plan and decides that this isn’t ‘what I want to build here’ so this leads to a ‘situation’ where council ‘thought’ one thing and another thing is happening. Said that since this will take 10 to 15 years and these councillors won’t be there it’s important that future councils keep tonight’s ideas in place. Said that in planning terms for the city this ‘is a race to the bottom’ and won’t benefit Caulfield or ‘amenity’ of Caulfield. Won’t help people trying to ‘commute to an from the city’ and if ‘we don’t do the job properly now then parking’ will be decided ‘in ten year’s time’ . Said ‘there’s questioning’ about rail, the superstop tram stop and whether this will even be built. Said that Caulfield could have ‘another 7 or 8 thousand people’ living here and how does everyone survive in ten years time and ‘how do we make a decision today’ when they don’t even have the ‘foresight to see exactly what’s going to happen’? The Incorporated Plan has changed so taking away commercial areas means ‘more units’ therefore ‘more people’ and ‘more stress on car parking’.

When there are events on at the racecourse then car parking is impossible and that’s ‘why roads are closed off’. The ‘perfect storm’ will be when people are living there already, and there’s races and Monash and then people will ‘look at us and say how did you get this so wrong’? Lipshutz’s amendments are ‘commendable’ but he has ‘still got some severe concerns’ about it. Said that if the motion is defeated then he’s got an alternate motion to put up.

LOBO: after listening to both sides he thought that it was ‘unfortunate’ that when the Special Committee made their decision on the C60 they now ‘have to keep that decision going’. Said that if he would have been in the position of deciding he would have sent it back and asked them to come up with something else. Said it wasn’t the ‘right development’ because there will be a ‘lot of traffic problems’ and because of the railway the ‘chaos will be unimaginable’. Ended up by saying that ‘I am not happy with this at all’.

HYAMS: agreed that this has a long history and goes back to the C60 and that it’s ‘important to remember’ that this involved a ‘long consultation process’ and an ‘independent panel’. When the Panel reported back ‘we ameliorated the original proposal’ and with the panel’s report ‘we ameliorated it a bit further’ so ‘given the outside constraints’ Hyams claimed that they did the ‘best we could have done’. ‘It clearly is an appropriate site for a large development’. Said that ‘a lot of work has gone into this’ and praised the planners. Said that this is the ‘first’ and the ‘less intense’ of all the precincts and with drainage and traffic plans council is looking both at bits and the entire 3 precincts. Even though there have been changes such as less office space, the ‘building envelopes comply with the incorporated plan’ and Council even got ‘independent legal advice’ on this. Said that he didn’t think anyone would be advantaged by ‘forcing’ the developer to ‘build offices’ and then ‘no-one is going to use them’. Stated that council used ResCode as a ‘guide’ even though they weren’t ‘applicable’. Even though council’s traffic department was ‘comfortable’ with 73 car parking spaces on site, and even though he has ‘respect for our traffic engineers’ he doesn’t ‘always agree with them’ and this is where he thought they were being a bit ‘conservative’ about what was needed. So councillors are now asking for 130 which equals the spaces lost on Station Street. Since there won’t be any residential parking permits issued this means that ‘eventually’ there will be Residential Parking Permits for ‘surrounding streets’ so the residents ‘won’t have the option of clogging up nearby streets’. Said that the Transport Plan ‘is not acceptable to us’ or Vic Roads but this latest version is now ‘acceptable’ to everyone. Summarised what else was required such as Waste Management and Construction Plans as well as amended Section 173 Agreement. Admitted that ‘this won’t please everyone’ but it’s a ‘huge site’ near shops and transport so ‘we need to strike a balance between protecting neighbourhood amenity’ and accepting ‘appropriate development’.

ESAKOFF: said that she was ‘satisfied’ with the conditions placed on overlooking and setbacks since they are ‘ResCode compliant’ but didn’t agree that private open space ‘on the ground should be less than 8 square metres’ and agreed that private open space for balconies above was good. Thought that the Integrated Transport Plan ‘must be addressed now’ . Agreed that ‘parking will be an issue’ but it’s an ‘issue throughout all of Glen Eira’ and that ‘replacement of some of these lost spaces is imperative’.

OKOTEL: although the original decision was made in 2011 these current plans have raised concerns by residents and councillors but Lipshutz’s amendments do ‘address those concerns’. The motion will ‘strike the right balance to ensure that’ the development will be ‘satisfactory for the residents’ and for use of ‘future infrastructure in the area’ and it will ensure that there won’t be ‘interruption to traffic flow in the area’.

PILLING: supported Lipshutz’s amendments and thought there was ‘much merit in the application‘ especially in light of Plan Melbourne. Said it was ‘about a sustainable city’ and seeing that people have more ‘accessible public transport’. Pilling did note that there still ‘would be reduction in car parking’ from what’s ‘there now’ but that’s ‘in keeping with our policies, with State Government policies’ in that for such areas the priorities ‘won’t be cars‘. Said again that this ‘reflects’ state and council policies and how they are all trying to create a ‘sustainable city’. Thought that ‘the grounds for refusal are fairly weak’. This is only stage one and social housing will be ‘pushed’ for later since this is only ‘early days’. The racecourse ‘was considered’ but not tied in ‘legally’ to a condition here so the grounds for refusal are ‘relatively weak’. Said that councillors and the planning department had ‘spent a lot of time on it’.

LIPSHUTZ: quoted Bismark about politics being the art of the possible and community would like to still rage and fight the battle over C60 but ‘that’s come and gone’ and the ‘reality’ now is the development plan.Councillors have to look at this and ‘see how best we can deal with it’. Claimed that ‘everyone here’ has really considered this carefully and ‘given a great deal of thought’ including from the officers. His motion was the ‘product of a lot of people’. Claimed that they asked officers to ‘consider’ what a refusal would mean but that the grounds for refusal were ‘weak’ and ‘in my view would have been knocked out very quickly’ at VCAT. But if it still goes to VCAT as a result of the conditions put on it then Council can then go to VCAT and say ‘here are our reasons why’ and ‘we could have a proper argument’ and ‘that’s a far better way’. Not about VCAT though but about ‘community’ and they’ve ‘looked very carefully’ about all such concerns as parking, screening, open space, traffic. It’s not ‘perfect’ but it ‘ensures’ the best for residents. Again, it’s only the ‘first stage’ and they will keep ‘looking at it again’ at each stage. In terms of traffic there will be road redesign and this will ‘improve things’ to ‘some extent’ and there will definitely be ‘more traffic, more parking’ problems but people who will ‘live there will live there knowing these are the restrictions’. Council has ‘ensured’ that there is no overlooking and that there is ‘open space’ . In his view ‘it is a bonus to Caulfield, not a detriment’.

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED

COMMENTS

  • Not one word mentioned about permeability, PUBLIC open space, site coverage, sunlight. Questions on these aspects were asked at the Planning Conference. The answer was that officers were ‘investigating’ and had not finished their analysis. Yet not one single word in either the report, nor any of the councillor comments touches on these aspects. What makes it even more outrageous, is that for the other applications on the agenda (ie Neerim Rd – 16 units) Esakoff was very concerned about the number of units which would not have access to natural light. What all this means is that people living in Activity Centres and potentially high density commercial zones have greater protection of their amenity than will those residents who end up in the Caulfield Village!
  • How many more times will that old scapegoat of VCAT be pulled out of the hat by Lipshutz and his ilk? What this red herring totally ignores is: (1) Lipshutz, Esakoff, Hyams and Pilling had the option way back to reject both the rezoning as PDZ and the C60. The clandestine machinations in setting up the Special Committee when there was no need for one was deliberate with the purpose of facilitating what is now a fait accompli!
  • Not one single word by any councillor or the report talks about Design as such or even the Planning Scheme for that matter? Residents are supposed to grovel in sheer gratitude that ResCode has been applied, even though it is not applicable! Why then couldn’t other aspects of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme also be applied such as site coverage, permeability, etc. In the end, all we have to go on is that self proclaimed expert on everything (Lipshutz) that the Caulfield Village will be ‘high quality’.
  • Council’s ‘legal advice’ is simply that – advice. It is not fool proof, nor is it set in concrete. It could have been challenged as other councils have challenged Ministers and VCAT. But of course to do this would mean that the old argument of ‘the Minister will call it in’ or ‘VCAT will make it worse’ would go out the window.

Finally it is worth noting that for all the Lipshutz talk about the amount of effort that councillors put into this decision, we have to wonder:

  • Did every councillor bother to read every submission? Were these submissions (apart from VicRoads) treated with the respect they deserved given the time and effort that people put into them?
  • When were they handed the submissions? For example, we know that councillors were not privy to any documents until the Planning Department deigned to provide councillors with something. As late as April councillors had not clapped eyes on anything to do with the plans is the rumour.
  • If these councillors put in hours of toil in discussing, arguing, arriving at consensus on the biggest residential development in the history of the municipality THEN WHY IS THERE NOTHING IN THE RECORDS OF ASSEMBLY leading up TO LAST NIGHT’S MEETING? One could be forgiven for thinking that something of such a scale should have been discussed over and over and over again at assemblies. It either wasn’t, or the other possible alternative is that the minutes of the Records of Assemblies are nothing more than figments of someone’s imagination!

We pass on our sincere condolences to all those residents currently living in North Caulfield for the sheer destruction of their amenity that this project will cause and the unmitigated chaos that they will have to endure for the next 15 years. That is the legacy that will be left by Newton and his gang.

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