Glen Eira has designated Bentleigh, Elsternwick, and Carnegie as Urban Villages where the majority of new development is supposed to go. All the rest are either Neighbourhood Centres or Local Centres. There are ten Neighbourhood Centres and 23 listed ‘local centres’ in the Planning Scheme. The Phoenix Precinct has its own category as a Priority Development Zone.

According to the Planning Scheme, residential development in Neighbourhood Centres, is meant to adhere to the following:

Apartments and shop top housing is encouraged within the commercial areas of these centres. Single dwellings and multi unit development are encouraged immediately adjoining the commercial areas of these centres.

AND

Encourage a decrease in the density of residential development as the proximity to the commercial area of the neighbourhood centre decreases.

Thus, according to this prescription, multi-unit development is only to go into those areas “IMMEDIATELY ADJOINING THE COMMERCIAL AREAS”. Then why oh why has so much of these neighbourhood centres been zoned as GRZ1 – ie three storeys?

It is obvious that the zones do not match what is stated in the Planning Scheme, with the result that huge swathes of McKinnon, East Bentleigh, Murrumbeena, Ormond, Caulfield South and others, have been all given the green light for 3 storey multi-unit development.

Local centres are even worse off since these are pockets of land zoned commercial that more often than not, directly abut neighbourhood residential zones. The Planning Scheme states:

Recognise the minor role that local centres will play in providing for housing diversity by encouraging development limited to low density shop top housing

AND

Ensure that residential development (except in Patterson and Gardenvale local centres) does not exceed two storeys in height

Since there is no height restriction on land zoned commercial, this is indeed pie in the sky – as recently proved with a three storey development at 251 Koornang Road (zoned commercial 1). Why such errant nonsense still remains in the planning scheme is beyond us. Nor has Council even attempted to introduce any restrictions on its small shopping strips as Boroondara has had success with. Nor have they introduced any Design & Development Overlays as this comprehensive document from Bayside demonstrates (uploaded here). Council has done nothing except slap Commercial zoning on a handful of businesses without due regard to the fact that many of these ‘local centres’ are surrounded by residential, low rise single dwellings – all zoned Neighbourhood Residential zone.

Once again it is inept planning and a bonus to developers.

So here is a quiz on the zones that readers might like to have a go in responding to. We would bet that councillors and even officers wouldn’t know the answers to most of these queries!

  • Which suburb has the largest Commercially zoned area?
  • Which suburb has the largest percentage of its land zoned GRZ1?
  • Which suburb has the largest percentage of its land zoned GRZ2?
  • Which suburb has the largest percentage of its land zoned RGZ1?
  • Does Glen Eira really have 78% zoned NRZ1?
  • What percentage of residential land area in Carnegie is geared towards medium and high density development because of its zoning? How does this correlate with the nonsense of 80/20 – ie minimal change versus housing diversity?
  • How many streets in Glen Eira have multiple zonings (which was advised against by the C25 Panel Report)? – ie RGZ, GRZ, NRZ, MUZ, C1Z?
  • How much ‘infill’ has occurred in Neighbourhood Residential Zones – ie two double storeys per block?
  • How many sites in Glen Eira are over 1000 square metres, larger than their neighbours, and according to the planning scheme, capable of accommodating more than two dwellings – regardless of them being in Neighbourhood Residential Zones?
  • How many amendments has Council pushed through to rezone land to Mixed Use since the introduction of the zones? How does this compare with other councils? Please remember that Mixed Use has no height limits, no open space requirements, etc.
  • How many VCAT decisions that overturn council are largely due to the ‘policies’ contained in the Planning Scheme?

These are the questions we believe that residents need answers to since they go to the heart of sound strategic planning. If this council is so confident that its planning is ‘perfect’, then they need to be able to justify their planning decisions. Thus far, all residents have received are shonky figures, complete failure to fulfill the ‘promises’ of a decade ago, plus execrable statements that consulting with residents would result in worse outcomes. For any council to hold such a view is utterly abhorrent.

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