HYAMS: started off with ‘there is rapid growth all over Melbourne’ and other councils have had this for a long time and it is now hitting Glen Eira. The question is ‘are we equipped to protect our neighbourhoods?’ It ‘would appear not’ ‘given VCAT’s changing interpretation’. Claimed that policies were ‘previously sufficient, now not so much’. Council does ‘need to do something about it’ and the report does this. Said that at the last review ‘people were a lot less ambitious about what they wanted from us’ such as height limits, which council has now got. People also wanted ‘transition zones’ which is also achieved and ‘better protection of neighbourhood character’ and that’s been gained via the Neighbourhood Character Overlays. ‘So we basically carried out what was wanted in the previous review’ and ‘this is far more ambitious’ and ‘most of what residents have asked us for is represented in this plan’.

Admitted that some councillors, like Magee, ‘want the zones reviewed’. He believes that ‘it would be nice to do that’ but ‘it could be a double-edged sword’ and end up with things a lot worse.  The ‘more important point’ is that the Government is ‘in the process of reviewing’ the zones ‘so there is no point in us doing it’ because they would say like they did with Moreland that the latter’s proposed Better Apartment Guide wasn’t going to be ‘taken on’ because ‘we’re doing a Better Apartment Guide of our own’. So if council ‘was to do all the work on a review of our zones’ plus all the necessary strategic justification to go along with this, the government could then say why ‘are you wasting your time’ since we (the government) are already doing the review. ‘With a bit of luck’ the government review will achieve a ‘better outcome’.

With the zones, ‘nothing can be built now that couldn’t be built before’ but other things can’t be ‘built now because of the mandatory height limits’. The apartment boom did coincide with the introduction of the zones, especially in Bentleigh, and this isn’t ‘because of the zones’ since other areas like Carnegie ‘were copping’ growth ‘before the zones’. ‘There would be those who continue to misrepresent our zones for political purposes’.

Council ‘isn’t proposing to change the zones’ but to ‘strengthen the protection within each of the zones’ and this is the ‘neighbourhood character work’.  This, together with the structure plans, is the most important aspect of the workplan. This is important for the activity centes and the commercial zones and ‘whilst our policies haven’t changed but the interpretation of them has’ so both the government and VCAT are ‘now looking for something more explicit’ in place to give the protection ‘that we’ve achieved, or hoped to achieve in the past’.

On structure plans council had been told that unless you have ‘mandatory height limits in structure plans’ it is ‘hard to get mandatory height limits in shopping strips’ and these were interpreted as a minimum ‘height limit’ so developers went for higher. So now VCAT is ‘saying we don’t have height limits specified’ so we ‘now do need height limits even if they are not mandatory’.

Council is concentrating on Carnegie and Bentleigh because these are the areas that ‘residents said are the most important’ and ‘appreciates’ Pilling adding the clause about the interim height limits to the motion.  Said that there was a ‘gap identified in our heritage policy’ so this is the ‘first thing we will do’.

‘Unfortunately’ ‘everything we are planning to do does take time’. Council ‘would like to get’ these things ‘through quickly but the fact is that ‘we need planning scheme amendments’, and ‘you need to have done the research to present the government with truth’ etc and this could take up to 18 months. Claimed that the ‘government will never allow us to put at risk development’ and that’s what ‘all this is about’, ‘unless we make a very strong case based on the truth’.

On Magee’s thinking of what council should do, these are ‘encapsulated’ in the work plan and ‘we can’t really do them in a way except like this’. Admitted that it’s not something ‘that everyone would like’ but it’s putting one step forward and council wants to achieve 3 structure plans in 4 years. Saw this ‘as the best way forward’ and council would do ‘everything we can to expedite’ this and that involved ‘making budgetary decision next year’.

COMMENT

Like a dog with a bone, Hyams continues to stick to the glib, unsubstantiated claims that are designed to camouflage the incompetence of this council and his role as a ten year councillor.

We reiterate what we have previously stated –

  • VCAT has not changed its position. Glen Eira planning policies have always been deficient in terms of protecting our suburbs, especially housing diversity precincts. See the following post for VCAT decisions that precede the introduction of the zones: https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/lipshutz-versus-hyams/
  • Hyams like Magee, contradicts the report which states that council has reviewed the zones. Either the report is a work of fiction or both Magee and Hyams have either not read it, or ‘truth’ is not a priority component of their grandstanding.
  • Glen Eira has transition ‘buffers’ not ‘transition zones’ that would stand up to any real scrutiny. Zoning one property as GRZ2 hardly constitutes a ‘transition zone’. Further, Hyams claims of neighbourhood character protection is minimalist covering less than 2.5% of properties – and that’s if one can believe council’s figures!
  • How much longer will council use the excuse for doing nothing because the state government is looking at the issue or it should be the role of state legislation rather than local policies? That hasn’t stopped Moreland and other sympathetic councils from pursuing a Better Design Guideline for their municipalities. Nor has it stopped other councils from introducing Environmental and Water Sustainable policies years ago. Glen Eira’s persistent refusal to do anything is unforgiveable and residents are paying the price.
  • Council in its report admits that structure planning may necessitate the hiring of outside consultants and that this will be expensive. Yet, Hyams reveals that no money has been set aside in the current budget and it won’t be until next year’s budget. Thus, either we get a half baked structure plan devised by the current crop of Council’s planning ‘professionals’, or further delay is written into the workplan until funding is available.
  • Hyams continually hangs his hat on ‘mandatory height limits’ as the be all and end all. We remind readers of his contradictions when pre-zone he stated: that a problem was that if you set height limits then ‘people will build up to that height and you can’t stop them’ but if you don’t have height limits and let each application be ‘judged on its merits’ then you could get ‘better outcomes’. (from our post of 6/2/2013 – ie on application for Glen Huntly Road – 6 storeys and 45 dwellings which got a permit from council.)

Then post zones we get this diametrically opposed statement –

‘The new zones are limiting development’ because of the height limits and that ‘anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about’ or ‘is deliberately seeking to mislead you’.(25/9/2014)

  • Hyams’ record on voting in favour of major developments is akin to Magee’s. We won’t repeat by providing a list.
  • Finally, residents need to consider how much this individual has contributed to the poor governance within this council and how much this has subsequently cost ratepayers. We refer of course to the foul mouthed abuse of residents and Lobo and the bonanza this has created for lawyers. We also remind readers that it is primarily he and Lipshutz who have been the force behind: no notice of motion; no tree register; changing public question formats; and countless machinations over the continued reappointment of Newton. Nor does the community’s view appear to matter. When over 1000 people requested a Heritage protection overlay for Frogmore, it was Hyams, Lipshutz, and Pilling who denied residents the right to provide their evidence before a planning panel. It was also this unholy alliance which granted the MRC rights to their development via a fabricated ‘special committee’ arrangement. Countless questions of ‘conflict of interest’ also appear to have been ignored by these individuals. Thus, in our view, Hyams is definitely one of those ‘bastards’ who must be voted out!

 

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