Here’s what Magee said Tuesday night –

MAGEE: said he wanted to ‘show great respect’ to all those residents who put in submissions and showed up to the meetings. Claimed he was ‘very enthusiastic’ at the start about the review being a ‘great opportunity’ but ‘the more I read the report the more disappointed I became’. Although ‘I’ve never been a fan’ of structure planning he does ‘understand’ that this is a ’significant piece of work that planning departments do’. The time for it to be developed and its vision for 10 or 20 years is too long because he sees his Tucker ward area being ‘destroyed’ each day. So he is ‘so concerned and worried’ that ‘by the time we’ve done the structure plan it will be too late’. Claimed that ‘we know right now’ what is needed.

He had hoped to see the ‘neighbourhood character’ retained as with the 2013 Neighbourhood Character Overlays where ‘a whole host of properties’ were added to the list. Felt that ‘we should be concentrating more on Neighbourhood Character Overlays’ and Design and Development Overlays (DDO) rather than structure planning and controls which would ‘make VCAT actually apply those controls’ instead of merely ‘considering them’. Stated that ‘the minister has asked us to do this’ but our letter to him of last year asking of him ‘one single little thing’ – to change the law regarding VCAT ‘which would give us our protection’. Council wanted legislation so that ‘VCAT had to apply our planning scheme’. If this was done then 500 apartments ‘approved by VCAT’ wouldn’t have got through. So ‘that could have been one interim protection that could have been put in last year’.

With growing population of 1600 every year in Glen Eira and by 2031 a population of 170,000. ‘We can only put them up’ since we can’t spread out. The issue is then density and the pressure this is putting on commercial zones. ‘If we can’t have mandatory height limits as soon as possible’ then this issue ‘will drag’ on for the next 10 years. Council hasn’t ‘even addressed what’s going to happen to Virginia Park’ and the ‘railway corridors’. ‘We haven’t really addressed the transition’ zone issue especially in Bentleigh because this is ‘one of the only ones’ where commercial directly abuts Neighbourhood Residential. This means going from ‘no height limit at all to a two storey height limit’. Said that the planning scheme ‘talks about transition’ from 5, to 4, to 3, to 2 and ‘we haven’t got that’.

He was very ‘excited’ when he got the report and understands that structure plans can be ‘important’ because they allow ‘controls’ and with controls you can ‘have some meat’ that ‘VCAT then has to apply’. However, what VCAT applies is ResCode and ‘VCAT doesn’t apply the Glen Eira planning scheme’.  Didn’t think that people really understand the planning scheme which is ‘something that was put together over many, many years with the involvement of the Glen Eira community’. ‘The Glen Eira community said what the planning scheme should be’ and this was approved by the minister ‘yet VCAT have the right to totally ignore that’. VCAT apply precedent (ie existence of a 6 storey building already there) but it was VCAT who gave the permit and not council. He was ‘hoping to see these DDO’s and Neighbourhood Character Overlays’ to ‘give us the protection we desperately need’. Structure plans will in ‘four years time tell us what we know today’.

 ‘A great disappointment is that we are not reviewing those zones’. Claimed he had ‘thought about this for a long time’ even though he was  ‘one of those who didn’t want the zones reviewed’ because ‘the risk’ of doing this is ‘that they could be bigger’ (ie the growth zones) and ‘neighbourhood residential could shrink’. Now however he thinks that ‘it’s worth a crack’. Thinks that the minister is ‘only doing this because of the pressure that’s on the minister’ to be doing this. He’s not picking on Glen Eira, but it’s part of his ‘normal structure’ calling on Glen Eira to ‘review’. ‘To not review the zones is a missed opportunity’. ‘We need interim protection right now’. ‘When you can’t drive in or out of your driveway, that is bad planning’. ‘When you walk into your back yard and you see 11 or 12 balconies, that’s bad planning’. ‘Five years of having our planning scheme ignored by VCAT’ means that there will probably be 2000 minimum approved by VCAT and this doesn’t include Virginia Park. Finished off by saying that he is ‘incredibly disappointed that we haven’t seized the opportunity’.

COMMENT

Upcoming elections obviously do very funny things to councillors. They not only play to the gallery, but all logic, consistency, and we might add, integrity in presenting the truth, flies out the window. Magee’s comments presented above illustrate this fully. Here’s why!

  • Over the years we have presented countless VCAT decisions that keep telling council to get their act together. VCAT has also made it clear time and time again how little ‘guidance’ on heights, on urban design, on anything, is present in the planning scheme.This has got nothing to do with VCAT and everything to do with Council and its negligence over a 13 year period. It is surely time that council stops using VCAT as a scapegoat for all the ills of planning in Glen Eira.
  • Magee should also get his facts right prior to opening his mouth and grandstanding for public consumption. His comments reveal either a total ignorance or the deliberate attempt to deceive and mislead. His statement that – VCAT applies … ResCode and ‘VCAT doesn’t apply the Glen Eira planning scheme’ is literally unbelievable. Firstly, ResCode is the most minimalist set of figures available. They are nothing more than Clayton’s ‘standards’ – often ignored by VCAT and council itself. But the most damning aspect of this statement is that the Glen Eira Planning Scheme itself uses ResCode when it could have had far more stringent requirements via its schedules to the zones. It was council who decided that GRZ1 AND RGZ should not attempt to provide greater protection via the schedules as other councils have achieved. Thus, VCAT can only apply what is in the planning scheme. If there is nothing there, or only the minimalist ResCode standards, then the developer is provided with all the advantages. That, in our view, has been the council agenda for ages!
  • ‘The Glen Eira community said what the planning scheme should be’. What absolute bunkum given that the zones were introduced in secret and without any public consultation and he was in favour of no consultation.
  • At least there is the admission that council hasn’t got ‘transition zones’ or parking policies and that this is ‘bad planning’. Of course it is abdominal planning, especially since these issues were known way back in 2003 (ie the community plan) and have been brought up time and time again by residents. Magee has been on council since 2008. What has he done about this ‘bad planning’? What pressure has he exerted to ensure that these problems are dealt with? What else has he done except to play the populist card several months out from an election? And if he is so concerned about the destruction of neighbourhood character in Tucker Ward and especially in Bentleigh, then why has he voted to grant a permit for all of the following applications in Bentleigh.
  • 15-19 Vickery Street, Bentleigh – 4 storey, 47 units
  • 11 – 13 Bent Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storey, 34 units
  • 37-39 NICHOLSON STREET BENTLEIGH – part 3 and 4 storey, 10 units
  • 670-672 CENTRE ROAD & 51 BROWNS ROAD BENTLEIGH EAST – 3 & 5 storey, 67 units
  • 23 Bent Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storey, 34 units
  • 817-819 Centre Road BENTLEIGH EAST – 3 storey, 26 units
  • 27 and 29 Jasper Road BENTLEIGH – 3 storey, 25 units
  • 64-66 Bent Street MCKINNON – part 3 and part 4 storey, 31 units
  • 14-18 Bent Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 55 units
  • 29-33 Loranne Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 42 units
  • 22-26 Bent Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storeys, 41 units
  • 24-26 Mavho Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storey, 28 units
  • The best is the sudden epiphany that the zones should have been reviewed. Perhaps Magee has not read the Planning Scheme Report since it states on page 108 – Glen Eira has completed its review of the new residential zones. Really? When? Why isn’t this ‘review’ public? What were the conclusions?  We also wonder what Magee means when he states that he has thought about this for a ‘long time’. Does this mean a week, a month, a year? If so, then residents need to be reminded of his comments which follow. The dates are from our postings. Incredible that as recently as February Magee could say that ‘we have a very, very good planning scheme’. Clearly a man who is consistent in his inconsistency!

‘I think the outcome for Glen Eira is superb’ (13/8/2013)

Said that 97% of the municipality has got height limits and 3% commercial with no height limits. Putting height limits on commercial areas has to be done through an overlay, and then community consultation, ‘permission from the minister’, and ‘through a long and detailed process’. ‘If council decides at some point in the future’ to do this, then he would ‘welcome that’ but to do ‘that we would need legal opinion, planning opinion’ and the Minister’s approval. There are some other things that might be done with the commercial zones but he is ‘very, very happy that’ the zones ‘cover 97% of our municipality’. This ‘in conjunction with our planning scheme’ is what ‘makes it work’. (25/11/2015)

‘We can sit up here and refuse it because we don’t like it’ but that would be ‘stupid’ since they know that it ‘already complies’ with ResCode and the planning scheme which was ‘put together with great community consultation with our residents’ who together with ‘council decided what can be built in what streets’ (30/6/2016)

‘I believe we have a very, very good planning scheme’. Last year ‘VCAT approved 582 apartments’ that had been refused by council and that was because ‘it wasn’t consistent with our planning scheme’. ‘Our planning scheme is what our residents said they wanted’. Council ‘went to the community’ and asked ‘Do you approve?’ and residents said ‘yes’. The minister then approved but VCAT ‘only have to consider it’. So when council consider buildings of 9 or 2 storeys ‘we look at residential building codes’, and the planning scheme. Councillors ‘sometimes’ give a permit to ‘buildings we don’t like’ mainly because ‘there are no grounds for refusal’. ‘It is wrong to say we want this and then to vote for something different’. Council and community has ‘asked’ for this planning scheme and that is ‘what is so disappointing about VCAT’ (4/2/2016)

Claimed that if council wanted VCAT to do anything then ‘it would have to be in the form of an overlay’. Overlays need a panel assessment and they could end up saying that ‘Carnegie is quite suitable for 13 storeys’ and Bentleigh ‘quite suitable for 6’. Council would then ‘have to argue against that’, then the Minister would ‘have information’ saying the opposite. S0 ‘there is a risk in asking for something’ that ‘you don’t get what you want’.(25/11/2015)

MAGEE: only the Minister ‘can do anything’ about the zones. When in opposition, Labor was ‘very clear’ that they were going ‘to review zones’ but haven’t done ‘anything about it so far’. He ‘believes’ that ‘we’ve got a very good system’ . In 2009/10 there was a ‘public review’ of the planning scheme and three things emerged that residents wanted – height limits, buffer zones, and ‘less discretion at VCAT’. ‘That’s exactly what the zones are doing’. Regardless of council ‘advocating for this change or that change’ or whether ‘we want a review the minister at any time can review’. Said that MPs are asking the minister to review zones in their electorates. Said that council was’ criticised at one point for not consulting’ but he thought ‘we very much did’ and now to ‘do a review of our consulting’ they would be ‘accused of doing the very same thing’. Glen Eira’s ‘system puts development’ where he thinks ‘it should be’ – in activity centres and along transport routes. Said that there are 3 Residential Growth Zones and the rest of the residential zones are in ‘shopping strips’. Thought that Glen Eira ‘is very, very lucky to have what it has’. If the minister ‘wants to tinker with that and reduce that’ then no council would have room for residential growth zones. If councils all got what they wanted it would all be neighbourhood residential zones. This would be ‘totally inappropriate and disrespectful’ to the 1000 people a year who come to live in Glen Eira. They have to be ‘accommodated somehow’ and currently council has got a ‘system that I certainly won’t be voting to change’ until the minister tells them ‘what that change will look like’. Was worried that if council ‘opened this up’ that the growth zones would increase and ‘neighbourhood zones would decrease’. (30/4/2015)

Apart from commercial zones, there is now a ‘sense of security’ for developers because they know what they can do and get a loan easier. Developers can therefore plan better. Said that the 4 storey buildings around tram lines is only 2.2% ‘of our city’ and ‘you might actually struggle to find a block big enough’ to build 4 storeys because of ‘setbacks’ on top floor. So a lot of these could ‘end up being 3 storeys’. Said it was a ‘really good outcome for the residents of Glen Eira’…..Congratulated officers on ‘getting this through’ and didn’t think it ‘was a surprise because that’s the sort of work we do here’…’we are very good at what we do’. In the future council can say ‘no, it’s wrong’ and ‘go away’ to developers because they haven’t got it right. Also have to thank the state government in ‘being proactive and helping us get this in place’. ‘I think the outcome for Glen Eira is superb’30/12/2014)

CONCLUSION

Not much needs to be said. We will merely ask this simple question – can anything that comes out of these councillors’ mouths be believed? Think of this when you vote!

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