NEWS FLASH: KELVIN HO IS COUNCILLOR ELECT

Motion to accept moved by Hyams and seconded by Lipshutz.

HYAMS: started off by saying that one of the ‘requirements’ for councils is to regularly review their planning schemes and this was last done in 2010/11. People then told council that they ‘wanted mandatory heights’, ‘transition zones’, and ‘better protection of neighbourhood character’.  Council therefore ‘implemented neighbourhood character overlays’, plus the new zones ‘had height limits’. In regards to Commercial zones then VCAT ‘disagrees’ with officers who believe that ‘our policies should protect’ against ‘this type of height that VCAT has been allowing’. Said ‘I don’t have a lot of faith in VCAT’ but they make the decisions and this is ‘binding’ so it’s ‘something that we need to look at’ in order to give Commercial zones ‘greater protection’ in regard to heights. The government is now looking at the residential zones, so ‘it is good’ that the discussion paper ‘doesn’t focus directly on those’ because ‘whatever we decide’ can be over-ridden by the government. Stated that the original Plan Melbourne talked about 60% of development going into established suburbs, but with the new Plan Melbourne Refresh the figure is no 70% of development in established suburbs so that means ‘cramming more dwellings into established suburbs’.  He hoped therefore that the ‘protections that we do have aren’t diminished by Plan Melbourne Refresh’.

Claimed that ‘community consultation’ is very important and that ‘what the community tells us’ from the review ‘will guide us’. Went through the various scheduled meetings and the themes of the discussion paper. Said that council would  collate all the information and then send it off to the Minister in August. Changes ‘will require a formal planning scheme amendment’ so this will ‘need to go through a lengthy process’ of consultation, planning panels and then council’s position sent off to the Minister. So even if ‘we all agree’ about height limits in commercial zones, and other things, it will still depend on the Minister.

LIPSHUTZ: planning schemes are ‘integral’ because it ‘certainly affects everyone’ so it is ‘important that the community be involved’.  Agreed with Hyams that it’s important that people are involved and they come to the meetings and ‘present their views’ because they can then ‘go to the government’ and say that ‘we’ve listened to the community; we actually know what the community wants’. Said it’s not 9 councillors saying this is what we like, but the ‘community saying this is what we require’. With the new zones people were saying that there is now development that ‘wasn’t allowed before’ well, ‘no one can build anything now that they could not before’. People can ‘twitter’ as much as they like and use other social media but ‘at the end of the day’ it’s ‘so important’ that people come ‘to these meetings and put your views’. Thought that the ‘zones are working well, but they can be improved’. Problem is VCAT because ‘they allow one thing in’ and the ‘next development comes along’ and they say ‘it is a street that is changing, therefore we will allow a second one’ and this ‘opens the floodgates’. Welcomed the review and wanted community ‘answers’ to take to the government’.

MAGEE: said he welcomed the review and that he wrote to the Planning Minister ‘last year asking for various types of reviews’ especially on the commercial zones and imposing overlays. ‘We had already commenced those discussions with the Minister’. So it is good that the ‘MInister is now formally requesting us to do what we were asking the Minister to let us do’. Said that ‘we can change our planning scheme, we can change our zones’ but this ‘won’t make one iota of difference’ if the Minister doesn’t also review VCAT. VCAT must ‘apply’ the planning scheme and shouldn’t be able ‘just to consider’ it. So council ‘can do all this work’ which they have done in 2002 and in 2010 and the ‘community told us’ what they wanted. ‘We knew street by street’ what people wanted through the minimal change areas. This was then changed into the new zones and ‘there were still problems’ because those problems are due to VCAT. Perfect example is Claire Street, McKinnon where there was a ‘totally inappropriate’ application. The ‘applicant lost at VCAT and came back to us a few months later’ with a new application which is ‘very little difference’. ‘So if there is no clear guidance from the Minister to VCAT’ then this planning scheme review is just ‘window dressing’. ‘It looks good, it sounds good, we’re all happy’ until the first council rejection goes to VCAT and ‘they disregard our planning scheme’. ‘You’re in the hands of an individual at VCAT’. Welcomes community input and ‘that will be what this council puts forward’ but unless the Minister looks at VCAT then ‘I worry that we are doing all this for no reason’.

ESAKOFF: said she was looking forward to community views and that ‘it is hard to imagine that anyone would want more’ development. Thinks that people will say that they want ‘less development’. Said she remembers community forums in 2002 where people were ‘horrified’ at the thought of 3 storey shop-top housing.  For Council ‘to put forward what our community says’ is ‘going to be a difficult one’ because for ‘us to go back with a lesser footprint if you like’ that what is there now, ‘we know where that is going to be put’ and ‘it won’t be accepted’. ‘Anything other than more won’t be accepted’.  Hoped that she was wrong in this forecast. What the community has got to say is ‘important’ because they might come up with ‘ideas’ that council ‘has yet to hear’ so this is ‘well worth listening to’.

SOUNNESS: said he’s got some experience in planning elsewhere where height and density is combined in other states. Victoria is different and complex and hard for people to understand. Said that the themes are good and people should respond not with planning language but with ‘your vernacular’. Thought that the 3rd theme on environmental sustainability was ‘vital’.  Said he’s got a major concern about climate, and how ‘we adapt and manage’ these changes.  Temperature increases mean less water and impacts on farming and food production.

LOBO: said he would try not to be ‘controversial’. Said he forecasts that the zones could ‘remain the same’ but people will have the opportunity to voice ‘their concerns’ and ‘what they have lost and hopefully what they will not lose in the future’. Said that the repeated ‘sentence’ that you can’t do now what you could do before’ is true, but the ‘zones’ have given ‘authority to builders to open up the floodgates’. Council can’t stop this or stop VCAT. So council is insisting on ‘democracy for Skyrail’ and ‘in this case we may have overlooked the democracy of asking the residents to comment’.

PILLING: said that Carnegie and Bentleigh East were ‘the real hotspots’ where residents ‘are concerned’ as well as the activity centres. ‘This is a chance for residents to get involved’. Thought this would be a ‘really valuable exercise’.

HYAMS: commented on the consultation on the zones and the consultation on Skyrail that Lobo referred to. The zones ‘were a direct translation’ from minimal change and housing diversity areas. The difference was that ‘in each of those zones we actually put more restrictions on what could be built’ and put on mandatory heights and increased setbacks. ‘So we actually did provide better protection right throughout Glen Eira’ and that’s why ‘we didn’t feel it was necessary to consult because’ it was basically a ‘transition’ and they were only ‘implementing the findings of the previous consultation’ where people wanted height limits and transition zones which ‘came with the’ new residential zones. But with Skyrail the government is ‘proposing to put in something that completely changes the neighbourhood amenity’.  Didn’t think there was ‘any valid comparison’ between the two examples. Urged people to ‘take advantage of the opportunity’ to comment and let council know ‘what they are thinking’. Said there’s a ‘tension’ between the need to ‘preserve neighbourhood character and residential amenity’ and to cater for a ‘substantial population growth’. This is what they tried to achieve with the zones by directing growth to transport corridors, ‘closer to shops so there would be less driving’. Not everyone’s going to ‘get what they want’ but important that people have a say.

MOTION PUT AND PASSED UNANIMOUSLY

NOTE: DELAHUNTY WAS ABSENT

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