We have literally had a gut full of the dissembling, and mistruths, that emanate from council and its mouthpieces in regards to the residential zones. Here are some prime examples –

  1. The minutes of 13th August 2013 include the following sentence “Glen Eira has achieved improvements in town planning including:…..provision for increased permeable areas to reduce storm water runoff’. In the first place, the zones DID NOT provide any ‘improvement’ whatsoever. In fact, there is absolutely NO DIFFERENCE on permeability between the old system and the new. In contrast to this bogus claim, here are some facts about what other councils achieved for their municipalities, and not only in the equivalent areas of ‘minimal change’ but also in GRZ and RGZ zones.
  2. Greater Dandenong, which was second cab off the rank in introducing the zones, has for its GRZ1 zoning a “Minimum of 30%” in its schedule. In its NRZ1 zone it has a minimum of 40%. And Glen Eira pats itself on the back for MAINTAINING ITS PALTRY 25% AND 20% FOR GRZ AND RGZ ZONES! Whitehorse also has for its GRZ1 zone a permeability of 30% and its GRZ2 zone a permeability requirement of 40%. Even in its GRZ4 zoning there is still the requirement for 30%
  3. Next we are supposed to be grateful for the wonderful ‘site coverage’ achieved by council. It’s astounding when we consider that Glen Eira has simply opted for what was there before (ie 50% site coverage in minimal change and 60% in housing diversity) whilst other councils have again achieved much, much more. Banyule for example has a maximum site coverage of 40% in its GRZ2 ZONE; Bayside in 4 of its GRZ zones has a 50% site coverage; Whitehorse in its GRZ2 also has 40% site coverage.
  4. Council proclaims so proudly what it’s achieved in its allocations for private open space. How wonderful that only in minimal change has Glen Eira maintained its 60 square metres of private open space requirements. Residents in GRZ and RGZ have to be satisfied with the pathetic ResCode numbers. But once again, other councils put Glen Eira to shame on this aspect. Greater Dandenong, Maroondah and Manningham all have 80 square metres in their GRZ1 schedules; Monash in its RGZ2 zone has a 75 square metre requirement.
  5. Landscaping is another area totally neglected by our council. There is not a word about direct requirements for landscaping in any of the schedules. It’s quite amazing how the following councils first of all saw the importance of the environment and secondly managed to get some real substance into their zoning schedules. Banyule in its Low Residential Growth Zone states – “Landscape plans will provide 1 tree for every 400 square metres of site area, including 1 large tree in the front setback.”; Even Greater Dandenong in both its RGZ1 and GRZ1 zones includes – “70% of ground level front setback planted with substantial landscaping and canopy trees”; Whitehorse for its RGZ1 has – “Provision of at least one canopy tree with a minimum mature height of 8 metres. Development should provide for the retention and/or planting of trees, where these are part of the character of the neighbourhood’ and for its GRZ2 schedule there is this important inclusion – “Provision of at least two canopy trees with a minimum mature height of 12 metres. At least one of those trees should be in the secluded private open space of the dwelling. The species of canopy trees should be native, preferably indigenous. Development should provide for the retention and/or planting of trees, where these are part of the character of the neighbourhood.”
  • Glen Eira has achieved a ‘stunning’ 4 metre rear setback – but only for minimal change areas. So, if a two storey building goes up next door and it is 8 metres in height, the setback remains 4 metres. How wonderful! Others again show what can be done – Bayside for example in several of its GRZ schedules includes the following which once added up, the four metre setback that Glen Eira believes is ‘adequate’ is literally blown out of the water – ie “A new building not on or within 200mm of a boundary should be setback 2 metres from the side boundary and 3 metres from the rear boundary, plus 0.6 metres for every metre of height over 3.6 metres up to 6.9 metres, plus 2 metres for every metre of height over 6.9 metres.” Whitehorse for its GRZ2 states this – “Minimum 2 metre setback, plus 0.3 metres for every metre of height over 3.6 metres up to 6.9 metres, plus 1 metre for every metre of height over 6.9 metres”. Monash and other councils even have a front setback of 7.5 metres in its RGZ2 and NRZ1 schedules. Glen Eira has ResCode!

We’ve commented previously on the various height limits achieved by other councils in their numerous GRZ and RGZ schedules. (see: https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/what-could-and-should-have-been-done/)

CONCLUSIONS

There was so much that could have been achieved via the schedules and with proper strategic planning. Glen Eira basically did nothing expect rely on archaic data and an amendment that has well and truly seen out its time. This was more than laziness or even the inability to cope with all the new work required. It was basically we believe the total indifference to what might happen to people’s lives – and of course, not wanting to ‘inconvenience’ too many developers. The inequity was there before. It has now simply been reinforced and re-confirmed.

So what really went on in those secret meetings with Guy and his officers? How hard did our wonderful CEO and Mayor fight for their residents when all these other councils got so much more? What kind of deals were made where this council and its inept ‘negotiators’ were seemingly so prepared to sell out thousands of residents. If other councils could have their amendments with far greater protections ratified, then it remains a damning indictment of Glen Eira’s inability (or unwillingness) to do likewise.

PS

Council can continue to claim all it likes that the zones have not increased development. The facts tell a different story. Here’s one example for 90 Truganini Road, Carnegie

On 1/6/2011 an application went in for the construction of 2 double storey and one single story dwelling (ie 3 dwellings in total). Council granted the permit in 2011. Then followed a VCAT hearing where the member granted a permit for 3 dwellings (August 12th, 2012). What’s fascinating about this judgement is revealed in the following extract. It clearly shows how the current zoning of GRZ for this road has actually worsened the situation for residents. Instead of the 9 metres preferred by ResCode, 10.5 metres is now ‘mandatory’. We quote:

Building Height

  1. The maximum height of the development is proposed to be 7.25 metres. The site is located in a Special Building Overlay, and is subject to flooding. The proposal was referred by Council to Melbourne Water pursuant to Section 55 of the Act. Melbourne Water did not object to the proposal subject to the inclusion of conditions. Usually, where a site is subject to flooding, Melbourne Water specifies minimum finished floor levels above which the development must be constructed. However, in this instance, Melbourne Water have indicated that the site is not predisposed to flooding from their drains, and has not required a minimum height of the finished floor levels. As such, the maximum height of the building can be ‘capped’ at 7.25 metres, without further need for increases. I am satisfied that this height is appropriate in this instance for the following reasons:
  • The maximum height of the development is far less than the 9 metres referred to under ResCode.
  • The development includes reasonable wall heights of 5.5 to 5.7 metres, with the remainder of built form height to enable pitched roofs.
  • The development offers good internal amenity for the future residents in that floor to ceiling heights are reasonable at 2.6 metres at ground level and 2.45 metres at first floor.
  • The front 2 dwellings are proposed to be constructed to two storeys with the 3rd, rear dwelling (adjacent to secluded private open space) constructed to a single storey scale.

Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2012/1213.html

But this isn’t the end of the story. The property was sold (with permit) in August 2014 to ‘private treaty’ (http://www.domain.com.au/property/sold/development-site/vic/carnegie/?adid=2011016621

The current owner has now put in a new application (11/11/2014) for, and we quote“Three storey multi unit dwelling development with basement car park”. Thus, we’ve gone from 3 dwellings to god knows how many because the Planning Register refuses to reveal the exact number, and to a height limit of 10.5 metres at least. There’s also the additional problem of an SBO and the planned underground car park. Land banking par excellence here and council still maintains that the new zones have got absolutely nothing to do with increased density, increased height, increased everything!

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