In November last year council dealt with an amended application at 670 Centre Road Bentleigh East. The developer sought to increase the height of the development from four to five storeys and add another ten apartments – making a total of 50 units. Councillors resorted to their usual practice – ie lopping off a floor and reducing the number of units to 41.

Off course the applicant appealed to VCAT and has now been granted his wish – five storeys and 50 units plus reductions in visitor and shop car parking. What we find significant in this decision is the member’s comments regarding the Glen Eira Planning Scheme and its obvious shortcomings.

I further note that a recent approval of a five storey building at 730A Centre Road, Bentleigh East has been granted. I consider that there is nothing in the scheme that would suggest that a uniform height is required in centres such as this that have no mandatory height limit and provided that they can manage the interface with adjoining residential properties it is appropriate to grant this additional height.

Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/554.html

Given the recent success of Boroondara in protecting its local shopping strips (including commercially zoned sites) with height limits set at three storeys, we ask again and again – what is Glen Eira doing? Why can other councils successfully push through amendments that limit overdevelopment and provide greater protection to their suburbs and neighbourhood centres? Why can other councils have countless Design and Development Overlays and Glen Eira only manages to basically facilitate further development or protect fence heights in a handful of streets via such overlays? Then there’s the lack of structure plans, parking precinct plans, urban design frameworks, preferred character statements – and the list goes on and on……

VCAT is not blameless by any means. But whether council likes it or not, it is the planning scheme that sets the parameters, and to a great degree, determines what can and can’t be built. Sounness has already stated that Glen Eira lacks the necessary ‘tools’. Delahunty has questioned the wisdom of the current zoning in East Bentleigh and Elsternwick. Lobo has been consistent in his lament over what is happening to Carnegie and Bentleigh. What residents should know is that the ‘tools’ to fix these issues exist. It just requires commitment, work, and a real concern for what is happening throughout Glen Eira. Such improvements would of course go against the underlying consensus that development upon development is ‘good for business’. We think that the ‘business’ of any council is to ensure that the amenity of residents is not sacrificed to the greed of a few. If councillors cannot understand this, or are unwilling to accept this basic premise and act upon it, then they do not deserve to be our so-called ‘representatives’.

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