vegiegarden

PS: We’ve included some thoughts on this issue!

We believe that there is much more to this site than meets the eye. As one commentator pointed out, there was a Request for a Report by Magee and Hyams in May 2014. The ‘response’ to this request featured in the last council meeting (July 2014). Here’s what was reported back in regards to purchasing the site:

“The possibility of Council acquiring the vacant land at 846-848 Centre Road, Bentleigh East directly adjacent to the Centre Road Kindergarten.”

As stated above, the current and projected demand for kindergarten is fully provided for both in the municipality and in the East Bentleigh area.

846-848 Centre Road is reportedly for sale with an asking price of $1.8m to 2.2m.

Council’s valuation for Rates purposes is $905,000. This is on the basis of the land with no allowance for any town planning permit.

There is a current Planning Permit for the site (#GE/PP – 21681/2009), issued by VCAT in 2010. The permit allows a two storey building with basement car parking. It is likely to yield around 14 dwellings. The original Council resolution required deletion of dwellings resulting in a 10 dwelling development. Upon appeal, this condition was deleted.

Notable aspects of the permit and site:

Development must commence by 1 Feb 2015 and completed by 1 Feb 2017. Three permit extensions of time have been granted. It is unlikely a fourth will be granted.

The site is now in a Neighbourhood Residential Zone. Should the permit expire, the site will be restricted to a maximum of two dwellings.The site is affected by the SBO.

The site is potentially contaminated. A condition of permit requires a full environmental clean up to EPA requirements.

Other planning information includes:

May 2014 – Site being used unlawfully to store shipping containers. Planning Enforcement action current.

May 2014 – 17 dwellings, 2 storey application refused by Planning Manager.

June 2013 – 29 dwellings, 2 shops, 3 storey application. Lapsed application due to failure to provide information in time.

October 2007 – 16 dwellings/2 storey application refused by Planning Manager. Refusal affirmed by VCAT.

The site is a former petrol station. It would need to be remediated to EPA requirements.

Some parents would refuse to send their children to a kindergarten which used to be a petrol station regardless of whatever certificates or assurances were given. Any kindergarten on that site would be unlikely to be successful.

Council does not have $2m available. Council’s funds are planned out to achieve Council priorities including Public Open Space. 846-848 Centre Road is not in a gap area under the Open Space Strategy. Council is spending $3m nearby on the Centenary Park Pavilion.

To find such a sum would require cancelling other Council-approved projects.

Recommendation

1. That Council note that

a. 369 extra places have been provided over the last five years and that this response has met current and projected demand for kindergarten;

b. because Council is notified of births, Council will have several years’ notice of increases or decreases in numbers of children; and

c. the most significant change in Glen Eira’s future demographics is the projected growth in the 60-79 year age group.

2. That Council write to the owners of 846-848 Centre Road informing them that Council has no interest in purchasing that property.

Crs Magee/Delahunty

That the recommendation in the report be adopted.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

COMMENT

  • The Request for a Report DID NOT INFER that the land should be used for a kindergarten. In fact, it specifically cites the existence of an adjacent kindergarten. Yet, the Jones report deliberately links the purchase of this land for its use as a kindergarten!
  • Council admits that it is already receiving just under a million dollars in rates. Presumably, this amount is still being paid for the current year. Hence the asking price of $2 would be markedly reduced given the money council is currently collecting.
  • The land has stood vacant since at least 2007. Permit extensions have been granted time and time again. Seven years of extensions without providing any accounting of such decisions! Further, when Tang moved a request for a report on permit extensions in June 2012, the ‘response’ was that council does not keep such statistics, and couldn’t see any reason why it should change its ‘systems’. The resolution passed was the council ‘commence’ keeping such statistical records. This would take 4 years since permits are given a large grace period and then another grace period of building completion. Thus far there has been not one single officer report on how many permits are extended; the reasons; the locations. Developers can thus continue to land bank to their heart’s content!
  • The May 2014 permit rejection is also one to ponder. The application went in during July 2013. The refusal was given in May 2014. Why does it take 10 months to determine an application?
  • Having kindergartens on top of former petrol stations or contaminated grounds has not stopped council granting permits in the past. In fact the entire Clover Estate is built on contaminated ground that contained far more ‘dangerous’ toxins than a mere petrol station. The same goes for 175 Balaclava Road and probably countless other sites.
  • It should also be borne in mind that council is still waiting for Ministerial approval to exhibit its Amendment C115 which will allow higher density development in residential zones – ie more than 2 dwellings per lot. We wonder if the delay is to accommodate another application which this time will be rubber stamped with the new amendment?
  • Finding an extra million or so has never been a problem for council in the past – GESAC car park extensions, legal bills, relocating sporting ovals, etc. etc. etc.
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