No one is perfect. Mistakes are made –even repeated sometimes. But, (and this is a huge ‘but’) if nothing is learnt from these mistakes and they are allowed to go on and on, then there is something drastically wrong with the people involved and the organisation.

Glen Eira Council, and especially its councillors, are living proof that the pro-development agenda is all that matters. Why? Because this bunch has consistently repeated and repeated the most catastrophic errors in planning and have done absolutely nothing to either learn from their errors, or to address the real culprit – ie the planning scheme. Instead these 9 councillors have been content to play the ‘populist’ game by repeatedly lopping off one or two storeys, or reducing the number of dog boxes in applications. The result? The developer goes to VCAT and gets what he originally wanted. And the main reason? Because of the abysmal, pathetic, planning scheme that has not been properly reviewed or adequately amended since at least 2003. Even worse is that when decision after decision made by councillors is overturned, they have still done nothing. That in our view is not just stupidity, but blatant incompetence and indifference to residents’ plight.

Why can we say this? Because we have gone through every planning decision made by councillors since they were elected in late 2012. In every single decision where councillors lopped off a storey or two, or reduced the numbers of units, and the developer went to VCAT, the developer won! Councillor decisions are therefore not worth the paper they are written on and residents need to hold them accountable for not doing their jobs.

This is the first in a series of decisions we will be presenting. The failure of this administration and its 9 councillors needs to be revealed in all its gory detail. For each decision presented below we also quote from the VCAT judgement highlighting the inadequacy of the planning scheme. Please note that cases involving child care/aged care are not included in this ‘review’ nor are those applications which were refused outright.

COUNCILLOR DECISION #1 – 13/11/2012. 1056-1060 DANDENONG ROAD, CARNEGIE.

The application was for 12 storeys and 173 units. The officer recommendation was to grant a permit with some conditions. Esakoff and Pilling moved the motion for a permit for 8 storeys and 97 dwellings. On the casting vote of the chairman this motion got up. Lobo was absent. Voting for 8 storeys were – Esakoff, Okotel, Hyams and Delahunty. The developer went to VCAT and got his 12 storeys and 173 dwellings. Here is part of what the judgement stated – The review site is in Precinct 1 ‘ Dandenong Road  Precinct’ of the Carnegie Urban Village. There are no specific policies for this Precinct in clause 22.05 as they expired in 2007.

It is common ground that 29% of the proposed dwellings (50 in total) rely on ‘borrowed light’. It is also common ground that these are one-bedroom dwellings of the same design and that all are oriented to the east. It is relevant that the council is not opposed to dwellings with bedrooms reliant on ‘borrowed’ light and only contests the proportion of such dwellings in the building

 

COUNCILLOR DECISION #2 – 27/11/2012 – 127-131 Gardenvale Road, Gardenvale.

The application was for 4 storeys and 12 dwellings. Officers recommended a permit. Delahunty & Lipshutz moved to grant this permit. Hyams, Delahunty, Pilling, Souness, Lipshutz voted in favour of the permit. Lobo was again absent. Amended plans were put in at VCAT and council imposed new conditions. VCAT deleted most of the conditions and stated in part – The planning scheme does not specifically address these detailed urban design matters

 

COUNCILLOR DECISION #3 – 5/2/3013483-493 GLEN HUNTLY ROAD,ELSTERNWICK

The application was for 8 storeys and 57 dwellings. Officer recommendation was that a permit be granted. Lipshutz and Sounness moved that a permit be granted for 6 storeys and 45 dwellings. Voting for this motion were: Lipshutz, Hyams, Esakoff, Okotel, Pilling and Sounness. The developer went to VCAT and there was ‘mediation’ where council accepted 7 storeys. An objector then appealed to VCAT. The member stated in part – In this context I am satisfied that a seventh floor as accepted by Council is sufficiently consistent with the policies of Council for development in this activity centre and does not result in any significant amenity impact associated with the height through overshadowing or overlooking.

 

COUNCILLOR DECISION #4 – 5/2/2013 – 687-689 GLEN HUNTLY ROAD, CAULFIELD

Application was for 4 storey and 29 dwellings. Officer recommendation was for a permit with 28 dwellings. Lobo and Delahunty moved to refuse permit. The motion was lost. Pilling and Lipshutz then moved motion for 3 storeys and 25 dwellings. Lipshutz’s argument at the time (since this was the same council meeting as the case above) was and we quote – we’ve just approved a 6 storey building and this is only 4 storey so ‘it’s a little harsh’ to reject and he won’t support the motion to reject. Voting for the 3 storeys were – Lipshutz, Pilling, Magee, Esakoff, Sounness, Hyams. The developer went to VCAT and a permit was granted for 4 storeys and 28 dwellings. Part of the judgement stated – There is nothing within the Housing Diversity Areas referring to preferred maximum heights for built form.

COMMENT

Residents need to be fully aware that just because a permit is refused, or councillors in their grandstanding decide to lop off a storey or two, that is by no means the end of the matter. Our analysis reveals time and time again how VCAT decisions are made on the basis of what the planning scheme does not contain. We repeat –

  • No structure plans
  • No decent Design and Development Overlays
  • No Urban Design Frameworks worthy of that name
  • No preferred character statements for housing diversity
  • No development contributions levy
  • No review of flood areas
  • No parking precinct plans

And those responsible for this failure? Councillors – since they have the power to insist on reviews and ordering the pen pushers to come up with amendments that would plug many of the current gaps in the scheme. Instead, they continue to pretend that removing a storey is all they can do! This is either sheer stupidity or complicity!

Advertisements