Below is our analysis of the first two planning applications and the officers’ reports. We have for ages lamented the quality of such reports, their lack of detail, lack of cogent reasoning and overall lack of consistency from application to application. For example: one application might rate a mention of ‘internal amenity’, another might skip this altogether. But the overriding characteristic of all the reports is the failure to quantify, explain, and to insist on the adherence to council’s own standards – time and time again.

For these two reports we’ve extracted some sentences and then provided our comments. The extracts do not constitute everything we could have said. Otherwise this post would definitely turn into a major opus of interminable length. So, please read and try not to laugh too loudly!

22 Mavho St, Bentleigh -14 properties notified and 30 objections

A recommended condition is included to increase the front setback by 1.5m to bring the proposal closer to full compliance with ResCode and improve the streetscape appearance of the proposal.

COMMENT: what a nebulous airy fairy comment. What does ‘closer to full compliance mean’. If it’s not compliant then why accept it? And how much out of compliance is the final recommendation?

The plans lack sufficient detail to demonstrate that neighbouring properties will be protected from overlooking. A recommended condition requires privacy protection measures to be added to the plans and elevations.

COMMENT: if there is a ‘lack of sufficient detail’ then why assume that screening will solve the problem? Did council bother to check to see if it would?

The recommended increases in basement setbacks (or basement size reduction) can reduce car space numbers, and therefore dwelling numbers or the mix of dwelling sizes. However, the ‘lost’ spaces can be regained by the use of car stackers, or a second basement level, or a combination of the two. That is, the proposed dwelling yield will not necessarily change.

COMMENT – Not only does council worry about the developer losing a few units because he hasn’t supplied enough basement setbacks, but they are even providing him with the ‘answer’ to leapfrog their conditions. What a wonderfully kind council this is! And so blithely to recommend a second underground level of car parking without even considering what this does to neighbouring properties. Sink holes here we come perhaps!

Council’s Transport Planning Department is satisfied that each dwelling has satisfactory car parking. It accepts the provision of three visitor spaces, acknowledging that parking guidelines suggest five. The removal of a redundant crossing will provide an additional on-street space, and the site has good access to public transport.

COMMENT: another visitor car spot gone. As for on-street car car parking space please note that no statistics, no traffic counts are provided. As for ‘good access’ to public transport – only if you want to park  in a two hour zone throughout most of the area, or if for longer then the hike to the station is much longer.

Council’s Transport Planning Department has advised that the increase in traffic generated by the proposal is unlikely to have any significant adverse impact on the current operation of Mavho Street or the surrounding road network

COMMENT: ‘unlikely’ – does that mean that Council really doesn’t know? That they haven’t done the proper and necessary research? And exactly how is ‘significant adverse impact’ defined? Is there a difference between ‘significant’ and plain, old ordinary ‘adverse impact’? To quote Ms Hansen – PLEASE EXPLAIN ON EVERYTHING! and a few statistics to back up such unsupported statements wouldn’t go astray either!

Create a gentler transition to the rear of the site.

 COMMENT: oh, the language is sublime. Straight out of Shakeseare no doubt. Again, what does ‘gentler transition’ really mean? Are we talking 4 storeys down to 2? What’s ‘gentle’ about a 4 storey building sitting alongside single storey dwellings?

AND OF COURSE THERE’S NOT A SINGLE WORD ABOUT INTERNAL AMENITY, SUNLIGHT, ETC. to be found anywhere in the report.

Application NO.2 – 2-4 Penang St McKinnon – 12 properties notified – 48 objections + petiti0n with 34 signatures

Recent developments of three or more storeys in scale have been constructed on McKinnon Road in close proximity to the subject site.

COMMENT: McKinnon Road is a main street with buses, and a railway station. It is not a quiet residential street consisting of a handful of dwellings. To compare McKinnon Road to Penang St is like comparing Jack the Ripper with Little Orphan Annie!

An emerging new character is evident in the neighbourhood which varies from single to three storeys in scale. It is considered that the proposed development adequately respects the existing and emerging character of the neighbourhood.

COMMENTS: language, language that says absolutely nothing. What does ‘adequate’ mean? More importantly there are no three storey developments in any residential side street close to Penang. How can something ‘respect’ the existing neighbourhood (when there aren’t any 3 storeys) and then in the same breath claim that it ‘respects’ emerging character. What this report doesn’t state is that the emerging character is based on this application – it will set the precedent for what comes after – as is intended no doubt!

The overshadowing of adjoining properties satisfies Res Code requirements. The relevant standards ensure a minimum level of sunlight for adjoining secluded private open space areas.

COMMENT: ‘minimum level of sunlight’. Welcome to the world of the mole!

One dwelling at first floor (Apartment 14) is considered to have poor internal amenity, by virtue of its undersized balcony and south facing orientation. It is recommended that this dwelling be deleted (which will allow for the additional visitor car space within the basement).

COMMENT: Thank god – the ‘problem’ of car parking is solved. But since when is a balcony part of ‘internal amenity’?

Street tree at the front of 4 Penang Street can be removed as it does not meet with current Council Strategy

COMMENT – we simply adore this comment. Trees can be destroyed because they (poor things) don’t happen to fit in with what council decided should only be planted two years ago. Never mind that the tree is in good health, at least 15 years old, provides shade, and aesthetic ‘ambience’ to the street. It has to go because the developer needs a crossover! And council might just make some money out of the deal!

Landscape Assessment Officer

Σ It appears that there are trees to be removed at the rear of 4 Penang Street

Σ Advanced tree requirements in post construction landscape

COMMENT: ‘it appears’ – don’t they even know?!!!! What trees? Are they healthy, large, ‘significant’? The best is that ‘advanced tree requirements’ only get a look in after the fact. Surely this is Monty Python at their absolute best?

The applicant commented that they would check the accuracy of the shadow diagrams and ensure there are no other errors on the plans. Council’s Town Planning Department also commented they would check the shadow diagrams to ensure their accuracy.

COMMENT: so it’s been ‘checked’. What are the outcomes? Do they ALL comply? Could the poor paying public please be let in on the little secret with some facts, some figures, some real information?

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