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Are we asking too much for both journalists and councillors to actually portray the truth? Here are the facts:

  • Magee did NOT ASK FOR AN INJUNCTION. His motion asked officers for ‘options’ to ‘challenge the VCAT decision’ and to provide some figures on ‘costs’ and chances of ‘success’.
  • This site in Claire Street is far from a ‘small area’ as Magee would have readers believe. It is 2053 square metres – fulfilling council’s planning scheme objective to ‘encourage’ the ‘consolidation’ of sites!
  • In his chest thumping speech where VCAT was again the sole villain, Magee stated in part – This application ‘failed ResCode, failed the Glen Eira Planning Scheme’ but the VCAT member who refused the original application for 34 units has now granted a permit for this application for 33 units. The member said ‘Council encourages dwellings of this scale’ and he ‘could not be more wrong’. Council ‘does not encourage development of any scale’. ‘Council simply says what are the height limits’ and what the Planning Scheme allows and this was ‘set up via consultation’ in 2004 and in 2010 ‘our residents said to us very clearly’ that they wanted ‘increased set backs and height limits’. ‘We got’ these things but ‘VCAT again are not applying our planning scheme’. No point in ‘having a planning scheme then’ if VCAT ignores it and that’s why ‘mandatory controls are very important’. Nearly everyone in Claire St., ‘has sold out’ so council needs to ‘dissect’ the VCAT decision.
  • Several things to note in the above: (1) the VCAT member does NOT STATE that council ‘encourages dwellings of this scale’. What he does say is that council policy and the zoning makes Claire Street an ‘ideal’ location for 3 storey developments. (2) as for council not ‘encouraging’ ‘development of any scale’, perhaps Magee should have a read of the planning scheme he is supposed to administer!
  • The word ‘encourage’ occurs 352 times in the planning scheme. In the vast majority of these occurrences, ‘higher density’ is the goal. Here are some examples with the relevant clauses in parenthesis.

Higher density housing is encouraged within and adjoining the commercial zoning (Clause 21.03 )

Single dwellings and multi unit development are encouraged immediately adjoining the commercial areas of these centres.(21.03)

Industrial sites surrounded by residential areas are encouraged to convert to residential where appropriate.

A targeted approach involves identifying areas throughout the City where multi-unit development is encouraged and facilitated through local planning policies and statutory controls.(21.04)

Encourage a mix of housing types, increased residential densities and mixed use developments within urban villages and neighbourhood centres

The encouragement of residential development within and around commercial centres is a key strategy aimed at giving additional support to centres (21.06)

Where a small retail centre is in danger of losing its retail role, alternative land uses should be encouraged to fill vacant premises. Favourable consideration should be given to uses such as small business, clean light manufacturing, service business, residential and community use. This is particularly the case in centres such as McKinnon, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and a number of local centres (such as Patterson).

Encourage conversion of derelict industrial sites to residential or mixed use activity where appropriate. (21.07)

Encourage highest residential densities in preferred strategic locations such as urban villages. (22.05)

To encourage increased densities within and around commercial/transport nodes which respects transition to the surrounding residential area

Where opportunity does exist,however, appropriate infill development at increased densities is encouraged.(22.05)

Buildings along Centre Road be encouraged to increase in height to provide for office,commercial and residential uses……

Where opportunities exist, medium density housing be encouraged in the residential areas surrounding the centre.

Encourage higher-density residential development.

Encourage site consolidation and redevelopment to support increased development densities.

Consolidate properties in the area west of Koornang Road to encourage more intensive development.

Commercial development on lots with frontage onto Neerim Road be encouraged

Increased density residential developments be encouraged

Increased density residential development be encouraged in Chestnut and Blackwood Streets with medium to high density development occurring on lots with frontage to Dandenong Road.

The re-development of 314 Neerim Road for medium density dwellings be encouraged

Increased density housing be encouraged, particularly along Rippon Grove.

Site consolidation to facilitate increased densities be encouraged

Encourage the higher and more intensive development in the southern and eastern parts of the precinct facing Station Street and the new road.(22.06)

Encourage the consolidation of sites to promote development opportunities.(22.07)

Encourage gradual changes in building heights between existing buildings and new developments.

CONCLUSION

Election time is definitely the top most consideration for many of the incumbents. Magee is excelling in his attempts to portray himself as a concerned councillor. We’ve had crocodile tears at VCAT, the demand for mandatory height controls instead of discretionary, and now the latest ploy – a request for a report on the Claire Street VCAT decision. We certainly doubt that this will go any further since appealing to the Supreme Court can only be done on a point of law and would cost the earth. Also, if council were stupid enough to vote in this course of action, then any determination would only be after the election. Thus, if Magee was so concerned about what is happening to McKinnon and other neighbourhood centres then where has he been for the past 18-24 months? Why does this crop up only now – 2 months out from election? Why all his votes for permits that we’ve previously pointed out? And why oh why, is so much of what comes out of this councillor’s mouth simply wrong, incorrect, and the opposite of the truth? What would help Magee’s election ambitions is that instead of lambasting VCAT again and again, he and his colleagues undertook to act upon resident wishes and review the appalling zones and rewrite the incompetent planning scheme. That would surely get him votes!

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