We’ve previously commented on two separate planning applications – both in mixed use/commercial areas – and how one is recommended for approval and the other one a refusal. We have queried the difference and the rationale behind such decision making. Here is the report from Tuesday night. We ask that readers carefully consider what councillors have said on the following:

  • The use of railway car parking as a ‘substitute’ for forcing developers to include adequate car parking within their boundaries!
  • Neerim Road will develop more so council has to be cognisant of this. Yet, Hawthorn Road which will also be ‘developed’ somehow escapes the guillotine completely
  • Internal amenity is okay for Hawthorn Road, but no mention made of internal amenity for Neerim Road.
  • No mention made of how many ‘standards’ the Hawthorn Road application meets in contrast to the Neerim Road one, where countless standards are not met!

 

Item 9.1 – Neerim Road Application

Lipshutz declared a conflict of interest and left chamber. Okotel moved motion and added that car parks be ‘at grade’ and number of visitor car parks be added. Hyams seconded.

OKOTEL: started off by saying that there had been many applications for Neerim Road and that there would certainly be ‘a changing face for that area’ and that council had to ‘keep that in mind’ when ‘future applications’ came in. Went through the officers’ report – ie objections like car parking, bulk. Said that the conditions imposed ‘addressed’ the objections. Reiterated that there was already a 4 storey and 3 storey nearby. The application included a ‘large setback’ so not to impact on residents. Said that there was some overshadowing but that ‘officers advise’ that ResCode standards are met even though this application doesn’t need ResCode standards because it is for 5 storeys. Because Neerim Road is being ‘more and more developed’ she wanted 11 visitor car parking spots and not the 7 put forward by the developer. Said that visitors will come to the area ‘at different times’ and ‘that road will become busier’ so council has to ensure ‘that there is adequate visitor car parking’ since it ‘will have negative impacts on the street for years to come’. Went through some of the other conditions such as construction and waste management plan.

HYAMS: called this the ‘right place’ for such a building because it is next to a 4 storey building and commercial buildings and near the station. Traffic is ‘bad’ now but will be ‘better soon’ because of the grade separation. So by the time this is built the ‘traffic conditions’ will be ‘greatly improved’. Talked about ‘generous setbacks’ and how he thought that visitor car parking was important and that the 57 car spots weren’t in stackers. Stated that one objector complained about developments where ‘sand’ was going through their houses, but with the construction management plan this would be avoided because they would have to ‘control dust’. Said that the conditions would ensure that this doesn’t ‘overly impact’ on amenity. Said that originally council allowed a three storey building but VCAT gave them four but if that ‘happened today VCAT would not have been able to’ do that. Went on to say that ‘I know that many residents are hearing’ that the ‘new zones are creating more development’ and that ‘this is not true’. ‘The new zones are limiting development’ because of the height limits and that ‘anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about’ or ‘is deliberately seeking to mislead you’.

LOBO: said that Carnegie ‘has been overdeveloped’ so it has ‘gone with the wind’. He wasn’t ‘on a journey of publicity’ but to ‘represent the residents’ who have put him in ‘the office’. Said that he was ‘surprised to read that all dwellings are of reasonable size’. Asked who council is caring for – ‘residents, developers, or future residents?’ Said that the zones ‘are supposed to protect 80% of Glen Eira’ and the other 20% are the GRZ, RGZ and commercial and ‘this has caused a rude awakening’ by residents ‘as can be seen’ from ‘recent planning conferences’. Stated that 80% of ‘the effects’ therefore come from ‘20% of the causes’. Referred to the real estate agent quoted in the Leader and that like all real estate agents he would say it’s an ‘advantage’. Residents are ‘awaiting salvation’ ‘whenever’ and if the ‘review of the zones’ takes place. And that ‘is a million dollar question’.

MAGEE: said that councillors are ‘responsible authority’ and not ‘popular authority’ so they have to assess applications ‘on merit’. When there’s an application like this, near a railway station and with ‘minimal impact on three sides’ then council has to find ‘affordable’ housing for people and ‘we can’t put a gate around’ Glen Eira. ‘It’s incumbent on us as a community to look after the community’. Yes, 57 dwellings ‘is a lot’ but it faces a road that is ‘predominantly a commercial centre’. It’s housing diversity and this is what council ‘has planned’ around railways and shops. The time of 2 storey dwellings ‘is long gone’. Cited Matthew Guy as saying that Victoria’s going through the ‘biggest building boom since the goldrush’ and therefore it’s everywhere. Now it’s happening in Glen Eira but soon in Springvale and other suburbs. This is a fact of life and ‘it is incumbent on council to do it locally, respectfully’. Repeated that council is the ‘responsible authority’ and not merely the ‘popular authority’.

SOUNNESS: said his ‘understanding’ is that it is a ‘suitable zone, suitable plans’ and ‘suitable location’. Didn’t think that there was ‘capacity’ for council to object on ‘strategic planning grounds’. So he supports motion.

HYAMS: asked Akehurst if the new zones now allow people to build what they couldn’t build before

AKEHURST: ‘The short answer is “No”‘

LOBO: ‘I’m not playing politics with the government’ and that if he has anything to say ‘I will say the same’

PILLING: agreed with Hyams and said that the Leader article was ‘not quite right’. Said that ‘the inference is that the new zones mean more development’ but ‘nothing has changed’ and in fact it’s better because ‘we’ve put height limits on’. He also ‘gets information from real estate agents’ and the bit about ‘cashing in’ is not true and ‘it’s all spruiking’ and like Hyams said it’s ‘misinformation’. ‘What’s happening now is more surety’ and this application is ‘in the right place’ and ‘we need to have boundaries’. Claimed that in ‘surrounding councils’ ‘it’s a mess’ in contrast to Glen Eira and he ‘endorses’ the application.

OKOTEL: said that since councillors are also residents that they do ‘take these decisions very seriously’ and do take residents’ concerns ‘into account’. Councillors have to ‘apply planning law’ when deciding on applications. On what Lobo said about Carnegie, she thought Carnegie is ‘fantastic’. Everyone ‘I’ve spoken to’ who lives there ‘loves the suburb’. It is ‘thriving’ and new businesses are moving in and council is going to improve the pool, the library forecourt. Repeated that decisions are based on ‘planning law’.

MOTION PUT & CARRIED. LOBO VOTED AGAINST

 

ITEM 9.2 – HAWTHORN ROAD APPLICATION

Delahunty moved to accept motion as printed. Lipshutz seconded.

DELAHUNTY: it’s for a 6 storey building and shops but ‘unfortunately’ this application had ‘so many grounds’ upon which to reject, that that’s the only alternative. Thought that this was the first time she’d seen a recommendation from officers to reject application rather than conditions. But ‘the issues are so great in this application’. Said that there will be more development here, but with this application the ‘bulk, height’ is unacceptable. Hawthorn Road doesn’t ‘have parking that is associated with a railway station’ where they can waive car parking. Car parking therefore ‘was a massive issue’. The application also ‘fell down’ on buffer zones to residential areas and amenity. Overshadowing was ‘considered acceptable’ but 6 storeys was ‘considered to be too abrupt’ even if the land around this is ‘ultimately developed in accordance with the zoning’. ‘No internal amenity impacts that were of concern’ but there was the concern about a ‘really substantial pipe’ for infrastructure. Height was ‘excessive’ and therefore there would have been too many changes necessary so it was recommended to be refused. Said she would ‘like to see a development that is a lot more responsive to the needs of the area’.

LIPSHUTZ: said that it’s a ‘poor application’ and ‘fails on almost every ground’. Admitted that ‘it’s a big site’ and should be developed but if people go down Hawthorn Road they will see the parking problem which is ‘woeful’. Also thought that 6 storeys was ‘too high’. There aren’t other 6 storeys in the area and ‘that’s not to say there shouldn’t be one’ but this one is ‘totally out of character’. It would be a ‘travesty’ to see a 6 storey building in ‘that shopping centre’ when there isn’t anything approaching this height. Didn’t think that the developer had ‘looked at this whole thing properly’.

SOUNNESS: he was speaking against only on the basis that their reasons for refusing ‘weren’t substantive’. Said that he ‘recognised’ that they didn’t have the conditions for approval and that it was probably going to VCAT. Thought that council ‘does want to facilitate the development of this site’. On drainage and parking he ‘would have loved’ for these issues to have been resolved with the applicant.

MAGEE: said a four storey would have been acceptable but there’s a lot to dislike about the application as it stands. It ‘doesn’t give you a benefit to the amenity’ or ‘help with parking’. So there’s nothing in the plans that give ‘grounds to work with the developer’. There’s no ‘transition’ to shops around. Said he would have ‘been surprised’ if there was anything else but a refusal recommended. Said council has to ‘look at the amenity impact’ and ‘how that translates’ and the ‘protection of that amenity’.

OKOTEL: said that it would have been good to find a ‘happy medium’ where objectors could be satisfied by conditions but if council put on conditions then it would mean a ‘significant redesign’ because ‘it fails on so many counts’ so the ‘only option available is to refuse it’.

DELAHUNTY: briefly summed up.

MOTION PUT and CARRIED. PILLING, SOUNNESS AND LOBO VOTED AGAINST

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