Item 9.13 – Neighbourhood Character

COMMENT

Here was the golden opportunity to achieve something positive for residents – to start the process of introducing those ‘tools’ that would go some way to ameliorating the damage that has already been done in neighbourhoods, as well as putting the brakes on further deterioration of amenity.

Instead we witness 9 councillors who have once again decided to serve the pro-development agenda rather than serving the best interests of residents. As with so many other contentious issues, the ‘answer’ was to do nothing – to ask for another report in 12 months time whilst Rome is burning at ever faster and faster rates. And when such a report does eventually surface, we are under no illusion that it will provide the catalyst for any action that does not benefit developers!

To cave-in, to basically whimp it is, in our view, unconscionable. Residents deserve a lot better than councillors who repeatedly fail to initiate any action that would serve the interests of their constituents.

Readers should note:

  • the ‘discussion’ took less than 5 minutes
  • the ‘silence’ of all other councillors apart from the mover and seconder
  • not one single comment on the ‘adequacy’ of the tabled report

 +++++++

Sounness moved to accept with the additions of: that ‘tools’ such as Urban Design frameworks have ‘less weight’ than statutary guidelines especially if applications end up at VCAT. A report be provided in ’12 months time’ on the ‘effectiveness’ of planning tools for ‘urban character’; the report also look at ‘car parking’ in Glen Eira’s Residential Growth Zones. Delahunty seconded.

SOUNNESS: said that he asked for the report because there were ‘some issues’ where the community ‘feels’ that with the new zones, especially in ‘transition’ areas, that people are concerned about what is happening. Stated that ‘council has an obligation to represent residents now’ and those residents who will be living in the area ‘in the future’. Report is on how the ‘tools we’ve got’ relate to ‘neighbourhood character’. Said that he had ‘asked around’ what council can do ‘to protect neighbourhood character’. The responses were basically that ‘the whole planning system should be changed’ but ‘this doesn’t really help’. The ‘advice’ that councillors have received is that the tools already in place are used ‘judiciously’ and even though ‘they might not satisfy everyone’s needs’ there are also the ‘future needs’ that have to be considered. Said he was enquiring about some of the clauses he had heard mentioned ‘around the place’ and that’s why he’s asked for the ’12 months time’ report. He knew that Bayside, Stonnington and Boroondara have ‘done certain things’ but when he’s talked with councillors there, they wish for ‘certain things that we’ve got’. So council can ‘review’ things in the future, especially when the Local Government Act is amended and other legislation. There ‘will be more opportunities for council and councillors’ to ‘communicate to the community what’s going to be happening’.

DELAHUNTY: claimed that what Sounness is ‘trying to achieve’ is to discover ‘why there is such a gap’ between what is ‘available to us’ and what ‘other councils are doing’. The motions ‘seeks to clarify’ this a ‘bit more’. There are applications in Glen Huntly Road for multi storey so when there is talk about ‘preferred character’ and ‘no doubt’ the report will say that this is ‘sympathetic to the emerging character’ but this becomes ‘the emerging character’ if it gets through. ‘This is incredibly subjective’.

MOTION PUT – carried unanimously

PS: another example of ‘quality control’ and ratepayers’ dollars at work?

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