Item 9.8 – Neighbourhood Character Provisions

Crs Sounness/Delahunty

That Council notes this report and considers implementation of Neighbourhood Character Provisions as well as Design and Development Overlays to support existing and expected future residential character, assome of the preferred planning scheme tools to implement the findings of the City of Glen Eira Planning Scheme Review Process.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

SOUNNESS: said he had talked with planners and that ‘it is good to have a review and see how other councils are doing things’. The current process of ‘consulting with the community’ has resulted in a lot of issues being put forward. Council has to decide ‘what weight’ to give to these suggestions. The current officer’s report however will be useful to ‘resource us’ for what will be a useful ‘outcome’.  Said the report shows that ‘different tools achieve different outcomes’ but in ‘different ways’. Council needs to try and be in a ‘defendable position’ on policies. He supports the officer’s recommendations but would like these things as part of the consideration of the planning scheme review.

DELAHUNTY: said that councillors had had an ‘off the cuff discussion’ on Neighbourhood Character Overlays.  Said that in ‘applying’ these Neighbourhood Character Overlays there are objectors so it is ‘perhaps a little more of a vexed issue’. Said that she thinks more and more people are becoming in favour of them and sees this as ‘our obligation’ to ‘extend’ these through ‘housing areas’ that are ‘post war stock in Glen Eira’ and not just Victorian places. So ‘we are discussing Neighbourhood Character Overlays in the context of our planning scheme review’ but she thinks that we ‘ought to have more conversations about character overlays’ and ‘how to extend them’. Torres ‘tells us’ that these things do ‘carry some genuine weight’. This is ‘what people are asking for’ and will protect the ‘old parts of Glen Eira’.

Sounness declined the opportunity to sum up.

COMMENT

The officer’s report highlights the work done by neighbouring councils. Significantly, the officer report does not include a Glen Eira summary alongside so that a real comparison may be made. Nor does it spell out the various heights and other conditions these councils have implemented through their schedules to the zones – all of which stand in stark contrast to the Glen Eira (lazy) approach of ‘one size fits all’. In fact, no mention of the zones occurs at all in the councillor ‘discussion’.

More concerning is that ‘neighbourhood character’ appears to have morphed into Neighbourhood Character Overlays (NCO) only judging by the comments of these two councillors. Hardly satisfactory – especially since NCOs are tools designed for use in specific areas – generally a street or two – and certainly won’t cover large swathes of Glen Eira. What does cover large swathes of Glen Eira are the abysmal zones – which do not rate a mention from either Sounness or Delahunty and certainly did not feature in the Planning Scheme Review Discussion Paper nor did it receive the attention it required in the ‘feedback forum’ presenting the draft ‘workplan’.

Even the State Government’s Practice Note highlights the additional tools that councils may use, but which this motion appears to ignore – Different areas do have different characteristics and expectations and the VPP allows councils to set different residential development standards through either the schedule to the residential zones or the application of the NCO to achieve local neighbourhood character objectives. These can influence the nature and extent of development that can occur in order to achieve a desired neighbourhood character outcome for an area.

A further cause for concern is the stated intention of council to wait until release of the data from the August Census before anything in the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) is truly amended and/or updated. Again, this does not adhere to the published Practice Notes – The objectives for neighbourhood character and the strategies and implementation measures for achieving the neighbourhood character objectives should also be included in the MSS.

We can therefore only conclude that the intent of Council is to do precisely what they have been ordered to do by the Minister and nothing more! The zones remain sacrosanct – despite the outcry, petitions and media coverage from residents dismayed at what is happening to their streets. And, the longer these zones remain untouched our fear is that it will be too late to do anything to halt the destruction. Perhaps this is what it’s all about?

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