Theme 1 of council’s Discussion Paper focuses on the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS). This is supposed to outline the ‘vision’ and the policies that will enable the achievement of this ‘vision’. Much of the MSS is ridiculously out of date. A total rewrite is required especially when figures from the 1996 Census are sprinkled throughout this section, or the so-called Community Plan of 2001-2004 provides the basis for planning.

Of greater concern however are the Objectives and the Strategies which are supposed to implement these objectives. There is a total disconnect between what council purportedly aspires to, and how local policies can achieve such objectives. In many cases there are no policies that are in any shape or form available to support the stated aims.

Here is a limited list of objectives taken verbatim from the MSS.

Facilitate high quality urban design and architecture that will enhance neighbourhood character.

Question: how can ‘high quality urban design’ be ‘facilitated’ when there are no urban design frameworks?

Identify a preferred future character for housing diversity areas.

Question: how many more VCAT permits will council allow before it ensures that housing diversity areas do have preferred character statements and thus closes off this loophole so well exploited by developers?

Encourage the retention of existing vegetation, in particular vegetation and trees which contribute to the City’s tree canopy.

Question: how can council achieve this objective without a tree protection policy?

Ensure residential development in commercial areas does not contribute to traffic and car parking problems.

Question: When will council introduce decent Parking Precinct Plans and stop agreeing to car parking waivers?

Ensure that where new development places an increased burden on infrastructure it contributes to the upgrading of infrastructure

Question: How can this objective be met when council has removed its development contributions levy from the planning scheme?

It is all very well to have grandiose statements in the MSS. It is another matter entirely to ensure that there are policies within the planning scheme that will have the legal weight to bring these aims to fruition. As we’ve stated, in Glen Eira, there is not only a lack of policy, but a total disconnect between aims, objectives, and strategy. Thus, the answer to council’s question –‘Are there additional policies that should be included in the Planning Scheme’ – is a resounding ‘yes’!

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