LOBO:  was happy that Magee ‘to some extent’ agreed that ‘Glen Eira has to progress’. Stated that ‘all this hooha could have been avoided’ if Akehurst hadn’t taken ‘a shortcut’ and ‘asked us to take the zones’ to the government. ‘We accepted his recommendation and that was a rude awakening of our residents’. Result is that ‘we’ve now come back to the drawing board’ and they ‘could have come back early’ and ‘not have to wait for the Minister to tell us what to do’. He believes that ‘openness, transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of democractic system, free and fairness are the pre-requisites’.

LIPSHUTZ: thought that Akehurst ‘presided over a planning department that was second to none’. Said that council was ‘faced with a situation where we had policies that were not being looked at’ by VCAT. The Government then changed things and said ‘rather than having policies we are going to have zones’ and ‘that meant that VCAT had to adhere to the law’. Therefore ‘to criticise Mr Akehurst – I reject that completely’. Said that all councils are in a similar situation and Glen Eira ‘was the first council and we got the best deal possible, in fact the best deal than any other council’  because ‘we were the first’. He ‘rejects’ and thinks it is ‘dishonourable’ what was said about Akehurst.

Admitted that ‘I have never been a great fan of structure plans’. ‘They are very blunt instruments’. Thought the ‘aims’ of structure plans for activity centres was ‘a good thing I guess’ and that ‘they are long term arrangements’. But ‘things do change’. However, ‘I don’t see any alternative but to go ahead and do it’ because the ‘Minister has come along and said to us that that’s what they really want’. ‘We don’t have mandatory height limits’ and they are ‘finding’ that in Bentleigh and Carnegie 7, 8, or 9 storeys are going up ‘which are simply inappropriate and we can do nothing about it’ because all VCAT does is ‘we have to look at your policies’ but ‘don’t have to follow them’. They also ‘rely on their own precedent’ when they previously grant a 6 storey nearby and ‘ignoring what council and residents want’. So if council is to get a height limit and ‘we have to go through the structure plan process then that is what we are going to do’. ‘I don’t like it. I don’t think it is a very good way of going ahead’ but ‘we have no alternative’ to doing what the minister wants. The ‘real issue’ is that ‘rather than doing structure plans’, ‘rather than doing these half-baked planning review – I’m not saying this one is’, the government ‘needs to look at planning overall’.  They have to recognise ‘that we as residents know best what we want for our cities’ and that ‘we as councillors, representatives of our residents, have more say’ than the government.

COMMENT

  • Quite amazing that since we’ve published the Minister’s letter, there is (belatedly) the admission that council has been ORDERED by the Minister to do some work following years of doing bugger all and handing the municipality over to developers.
  • For a lawyer, and supposedly an intelligent individual, Lipshutz’s logic is woeful. But that’s what happens when you try to defend the indefensible and to save your own neck! First off: structure plans are not set in concrete. Like any other planning mechanisms they can be changed via amendments. All that is required is for the planning department to do some fair dinkum analysis, provide a feasible argument for a change, and produce the amendment. Obviously beyond this council’s will or capacity! Secondly, the claim that ‘we can do nothing about’ what’s been happening with heights is a blatant lie! During the past 13 years Council has had ample opportunity to introduce height limits; to introduce Urban Design Frameworks; to introduce Structure Plans; to introduce Design and Development Overlays. VCAT has been 100% correct in stating time and again that none of these tools exist in the planning scheme and therefore developers are within their rights to apply for what they want. It has nothing on earth to do with VCAT changing its interpretations and everything to do with Council’s refusal to implement any amendment which will impede developers and provide more stringent safeguards to the community. That is the bottom line and these councillors have all been complicit in allowing this state of affairs to continue unabated.
  • Being ‘first’ means nothing when other councils did their homework and achieved far better results for their communities through well prepared zones that were not ‘one size fits all’ – plus schedules that provided greater protections. And we do not need to remind residents that NO OTHER COUNCIL IN THE STATE, proceeded in the secret manner that Glen Eira did with councillors (undoubtedly Lipshutz, Hyams, Esakoff, Pilling, Delahunty and probably Sounness) deciding (illegally) behind closed doors that residents were not worthy of having a say!
  • As with our previous post on Hyams, Lipshutz can accept a large part of the responsibility for the erosion of resident rights and the appalling governance and internal divisions that have characterised this council for well over a decade. If he does stand again, and there is a very strong rumour that he won’t, then like the others, we urge residents to vote this ‘bastard’ out!
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