PS: a new Facebook page has just started up opposing the Virginia Estate development. We have provided a link to this site via our Blogroll. The URL is – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453771051463638/ /

Last night’s planning conference for the Virginia Estate development was jam packed with outraged residents and traders. Pilling chaired the meeting. What came through loudly and clearly was:

  • Residents’ total dissatisfaction with council’s ‘communication’. Many stated that they did not receive notification, had no idea this was happening, and definitely had no idea that ‘permission’ had been granted for 10 storey developments in 2011.
  • Those who did receive formal letters also complained bitterly that the jargon was incomprehensible – ie one resident who had lived nearby for 30 plus years simply said – ‘oh well, it’s already commercial from the time of W.D & H.O Wills, so this is just more commercial.’ The idea of ‘residential’ did not enter his mind. Other residents were not so forgiving and labelled the notices as ‘misleading’ and ‘non-transparent’.
  • The developer’s retail impact statement was declared suspect by both the Carnegie Traders and the Bentleigh Traders Association.
  • Residents cited numerous objections – ie. Virginia Estate is ‘landlocked’ with no transport to speak of, alongside residential dwellings, with already choked major arterial roads. Other comments focused on what impact another 5000 residents would have on local schools that are already bursting at the seams. Infrastructure, open space and lack of sporting grounds were also noted.
  • Once again the chair (Pilling) resorted to the common Glen Eira tactic of trying to shut down one very informed speaker to the loud chorus from the audience of ‘let her speak’. It should also be noted that when the developer then rose and spoke there was no opportunity for residents to ask him questions since Pilling then closed the meeting!

SOME GENERAL COMMENTS

Throughout the ‘introduction’ to the amendment by both Pilling and council planner (Rocky Camera) there was no mention of:

  • Removal of third party objection rights
  • The overall number of proposed dwellings – ie Camera insisted that the amendment covered only 1200 dwellings without revealing the significant fact that 1200 was only for PRECINCT 1. Precinct 2, 3 and 4 were still to come. This is deliberately misleading and devious.
  • Pilling stated that ‘no decision’ had as yet been made. No ‘formal’ decision may have as yet occurred , but the developer revealed that it was council which asked for the 20m link of open space and the 5.7% cash open space levy instead of a land contribution of any significance. Meetings between the developer and council had been ongoing for a long period of time as well.

Finally, we wish to inform residents of how this council operates. When it wants, it can initiate ‘extensive community consultation’ at ratepayers’ cost. The best example of this, is the travesty that occurred with the removal of the Caulfield Park conservatory. There were 2 public consultations. When council did not get the results it was seeking there was a last ditch effort that involved:

  • The printing of glossy brochures and a ‘survey’ which was distributed to 3,247 properties around Caulfield Park. (Minutes of 24th September 2013) at a cost of over $14,000 and consultant fees which would clearly make this amount much greater.

In contrast Amendment C75 which set up the platform for the current rezoning only had 500 properties notified. The current proposal has had 638 according to the figures cited last night. When there are literally thousands of thousands of homes impacted by this amendment, 638 notifications written in planning jargon, is a drop in the ocean. Residents should be querying not so much the strategies adopted by council, but asking what are the vested interests behind such a strategy. It is obvious that the intent was to keep residents as ignorant and as quiet as possible! This is ‘consultation’, Glen Eira style!

meeting

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