ITEM 9.4 – APARTMENT BOOM

Hyams moved motion to accept. Seconded by Pilling

HYAMS: started off by saying that there had been a lot of ‘misinformation’ about council’s planning zones and this was due to real estate agents doing it for ‘profit’ or others for ‘political reasons’ or still others just ‘to make mischief’. Thought it ‘was important’ that residents ‘understand the causes of what is happening in neighbourhoods’ and the circular makes this ‘very clear’. What’s happening is not just in Glen Eira but everywhere and it’s happening even more in other municipalities. The circular also points out ‘what we’re trying to do to manage the growth’. Said that if people are ‘concerned’ about the growth then they should look carefully at the revised Plan Melbourne discussion paper especially the ‘ways of allowing more housing’ in the middle suburbs and the possibility of ‘code access’ for 3 storey apartments. This means that there will be no notification and residents won’t even know that an application has gone in.

PILLING: agreed with Hyams and that this ‘has been discussed’ many times. It was good for council to ‘circulate this letter to residents’ and it was 11 cents and ‘wasn’t paid out of rates’ but fines. This is all about ‘population growth’ and council’s ‘role is to set boundaries’ and they have done this ‘with the zones’ where population growth is concentrated around public transport hubs, shops, whilst ‘keeping the majority of the municipality’ protected. There has been a ‘lot of misinformation’ but the ‘leaflet sets it out clearly what council’s role is’. Growth is happening everywhere and Glen Eira is ‘relatively low down the list of 4 storey apartments’. Carnegie isn’t ‘surprising’ but other municipalities have far more. Thought that ‘we’ve got the mix right’.

LIPSHUTZ: the circular is ‘very timely’ given the discussion paper about Melbourne growing ‘up rather than out’. Council’s job ‘is to inform’ people and this explains ‘development in our city’. It’s ‘not because of the zones’ because it is ‘throughout Melbourne’. Said that people ask ‘why are you doing this’ and how much time is spent and ‘I would answer’ that less time is spent doing this than ‘answering public questions’ that are ‘designed to embarrass council’. Said that people have come to him, who previously ‘criticised this’ and now said ‘sorry, we’re wrong’ we can ‘now see what you’ve done’ and see what ‘we’re facing in Melbourne’. ‘Our role is’ giving ‘information as well as communication’ and this is what the circular does.

OKOTEL: said that this goes ‘a long way’ in meeting the areas where council is ‘falling short’ – ie communication. The Community Satisfaction Survey cites planning, transport and communication as the areas needed to improve. Residents have ‘voiced appreciation’ for council publishing this. There ‘will be mixed views in the community’ but ‘as a council we do try to improve our practices’ and ‘learn from the feedback of residents’. This circular does ‘attempt to meet those areas identified’ in the community satisfaction survey by ‘communicating about planning’.

DELAHUNTY: thought that Okotel’s point was ‘well made’ about communication. For her, when people talk about zones, what’s missing is the people. ‘These are homes’ and for those saying ‘lock the doors’ then she doesn’t ‘understand’ where people think everyone’s ‘going to live’. ‘We’re not targeting a population growth – we’re accommodating’ the growth. Said ‘we’ve got a responsibility to provide housing’. ‘We can’t lock the doors in Glen Eira – it’s not fair’. Said that we ‘need a good mix of housing’. Council isn’t taking on as many as others and that ‘might be to our detriment or not’. ‘We need to remember that these are homes for people’ and council needs to ‘ensure that they are affordable’ and that this doesn’t ‘unreasonably impact on current situation’. When councillors get emails that ‘high rise’ is going to be next ‘student’ homes then you ‘need to look at the causes’ and this means more social housing is needed. Thought that the ‘information’ sent out was ‘factually correct’ and was ‘worthy of having a conversation about’.

LOBO: said that ‘this report should have come before’ the letter was ‘circulated’ and that would ‘have been much more professional’.

SOUNNESS: said that there is a ‘growth scenario’ and that there are also ‘macro’ issues. Said there’s no view of what the final picture of the growth is ‘going to be’. Acknowledged that people are uncomfortable with certain heights but in Victoria it seems that the view is ‘we can spread out, we can spread up’. The urban growth boundary was supposed to be fixed and not changed and it’s changed continually. The development industry ‘appreciates’ not having ‘firm boundaries’. In Glen Eira there are ‘tools’ that they can deal with things but there are other tools that ‘are not available’. Agreed that ‘we’ve got the factual information out there’ and thought that ‘we’ve doing as best as we can’. ‘We’ve got controls over the majority of residential areas’ and areas where ‘large’ growth ‘can take place’ and council has to limit the bad effects of this and ‘maximise the good’.

MAGEE: said that this has come to a council meeting because of ‘response from the community’. The response has been ‘quite large’ and he got many phone calls and people are ‘really appreciative of some facts’. Said that he’s met with the mayors of Shepparton, Boroondara, etc. and they all say that ‘development’ is their main issue, ‘so it’s no different to what is happening in Glen Eira’. Glen Eira, unlike other councils has ‘actually identified areas’ ‘many years ago’ so the areas for growth were ‘already in place’ long ago. Councils like Boroondara ‘had nothing like that’ – ‘it was all one zone and anything went’. Glen Eira ‘identified many years ago opportunities to protect’ and to ‘direct where development should go’. Agreed with Lobo that it might have been better to have this item discussed before the ‘information’ went out but ‘this is here because the information went out and to respond to the many, many’ residents and to ‘formally acknowledge their responses’.

HYAMS: reinforced the mantra  and said ‘all together now’ (sing song by all councillors) ie nothing can be built now that couldn’t be built before etc. Said that there are ‘people who have their mind set’ that everything bad about planning is ‘council’s fault’ and that ‘you’re not going to change people’s minds’ on that. But the ‘fact’ is that most people have a ‘fairly open mind’ and they ‘want information’ so the circular ‘serves a very important purpose’ in ‘letting people know what’s going on’. It is a ‘hot issue’ and ‘people are crying out for information’ and ‘this supplies it.

MOTION PUT – CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

In response to a public question Council responded that the cost of printing and distributing the ‘circular’ was $14,355!

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