Two further applications for Neerim Road are up for decision at the next council meeting. If approved, this will mean (potentially) another seventy eight dwellings for this already overdeveloped road.

The latest trend in officer reports is to recommend setbacks which exceed ResCode ‘guidelines’ and anything in Council’s Residential Growth Zone Schedules. The language now used is to refer to ResCode as ‘prescriptive’. Given Council’s and VCAT’s record, ResCode is anything but ‘prescriptive’!

However, having been chastised by VCAT members in some recent decisions, the final recommendation is now couched in far more circumspect language. For example – ‘up to thirty (30) dwellings’ and ‘up to forty eight (48) dwellings’ in both applications.

Council’s recent arguments have been that if greater setbacks are imposed, this will likely cause a reduction in the number of proposed dwellings. The recent Belsize/Neerim Road application was for 52 dwellings. Council granted a permit for 47 on this basis. The member however, was far from convinced –

The reduction in dwelling numbers by Council appears to only be founded on its assumption that there may be a need to reduce the number of dwellings with the additional setbacks it imposed. With the setbacks I have determined it may be possible that close to 52 dwellings may be achieved. Until amended plans are submitted to Council it is unclear exactly how many dwellings will be achieved. I will therefore amend what the permit allows to remove reference to the number of dwellings. (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/464.html)

 

Council has also been knocked back several times in its attempt to have, as part of the conditions, that the developer display a sign informing prospective buyers that residential parking permits will not be granted. The member’s view was:

The conditions do not directly relate to implementing the development in accordance with the planning scheme. Rather they are to provide advice to residents about a local law that is separate to the implementation of the planning permit. The planning application has met its obligations for resident car parking on site. Any local law Council has about how it manages on street parking permits is a matter for it to address, separate to this permit. I will delete the two conditions

 

When all of the above is combined with now common VCAT statements that Glen Eira’s planning scheme is bereft of preferred neighbourhood character statements for its housing diversity areas, and devoid of any ‘specific built form outcome’ statements, then developers will always have the upper hand. VCAT, for all its faults, can only interpret State regulations and Council’s Planning Scheme. If the Planning Scheme is totally inadequate then the blame must be sheeted home to council’s planners and its councillors.

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