A long post, but an extremely important one.  We urge readers to note:

  • The new (ill applied) language of ‘evidence based’.
  • The political grandstanding
  • The possible influence that Wynne’s ‘rejection’ of amendments C147/8 has had where no strategic justification was submitted!
  • The implicit admission that council’s planning for the past decade is abysmal and actually non-existent
  • And much, much more!

Item 9.3 – Council submission on Ormond Tower proposal

Motion to accept submission moved by Athanasopoulos  and seconded by Davey.

ATHANASOPOULOS: said that council needs to ‘hold’ a ‘very strong position’ and the submission does that.

DAVEY: thanks officers for their submission on something as ‘vast’ as the proposal. Said this was an opportunity for council to represent what ‘the community wants’ on this site. Officers had ‘raised’ what they saw as issues – ie ‘height and scale’ and 13 storeys is ‘huge’ and ‘we need to consider something smaller’. The suggestion of a supermarket is ‘also quite significant for that area’ because of its impact on the shopping centre and also ‘traffic’. Impact on Katandra which is used by commuters and school is also significant. Said she was pleased that the officers recommended that the State Government also consider some form of ‘social housing’.

ESAKOFF: moved an amendment that a five storey mandatory height limit be proposed and then scaling back to no more than 2-3 storeys at the back. Said that council would provide justification for this when they appear at the hearings of the advisory committee in February. Seconded by Hyams. Said that there was much ‘concern’ in Ormond and surrounding areas about ‘this proposal’. She was asking for councillors’ support and said ‘I am taking a firm stand on what is appropriate in Ormond’ and she didn’t want to be ‘wishy-washy in our response’. Said the proposal was ‘completely out of sync’ with the planning scheme and ‘community expectations’. Quoted from the actual submission on height and ‘scale’ that is ‘beyond that of urban villages’. This is not in accord with council’s housing diversity policy that designates neighbourhood centres to be of less density than the urban villages. Since Ormond is a neighbourhood centre, she couldn’t see how council can accept anything above 5 storeys.

HYAMS: explained to the gallery the formalities of motions and amendments. Supported Esakoff’s amendment because council has to give the community some idea of where they stand and the submission is ‘very good’. His opinion is ‘that we need to be consistent across Glen Eira’ and council has asked for interim height restrictions and in Bentleigh which is an urban village they’ve asked for 5 storeys. Thought that if council is to be taken ‘seriously’ then 5 storeys ‘also applies to Ormond’. Stated that people might be asking why 5 storeys in Bentleigh and then being ‘less’ concerned when ‘it comes to Ormond’.

MAGEE: said that there already are 5 storeys in the area and that ‘one could argue’ that ‘this is the appropriate height’ but that means that the developer is saying 13 storeys and council is saying 5 storeys. The result would be that council would ‘lose a lot of credibility’. Council would be better of by saying ‘let’s look at parking, let’s look at traffic’ and ‘amenity’. ‘How many floors are going to be parking’ and how many accommodation and ‘start building the profile of how that affects’ the area. If council simply says 5 storeys then this makes it ‘hard for officers’ when they ‘go and do their presentation’. Once they’ve done the traffic and parking it immediately starts ‘putting the negative tone’ and through consensus ‘you reach a common ground’. This ‘could be 5 storeys’ and ‘it might even be 6’. To now say ‘we don’t want anything’ but 5, is a ‘very negative path’ and is ‘very hard to argue that ongoing’. Said this was only the ‘beginning’ of the process and they’ve got the opportunity to ‘sit down and present our submission’ and ‘we have to back that up with figures’. It’s very ‘hard’ to simply ‘go in’ with 5 storeys. It ‘has to be backed up’ with data. Didn’t want ‘them on the back foot’ and ‘saying they just want 5’ and there’s ‘no justification for it’. Magee would prefer that ‘they listen’. Said that council isn’t accepting 13 storeys. Council is merely saying here’s what ‘we think’ and this is based on ‘very sound logic’ and ‘every department’ involved with planning at council ‘will have input into this submission’. ‘It is dangerous to simply say 5 storeys maximum’. He can’t ‘support the motion’ because ‘it doesn’t give us the strongest argument’.

DELAHUNTY: said she thought that council had a better chance of a good outcome if ‘we used an evidence based’ approach. Said councillors know the area and ‘we kind of know what would be appropriate there’ but that ‘we would make a better argument when we do the strategic work’. Therefore ‘I would like not to have a height named in the submission’ because ‘it doesn’t use an evidence based method’. The proposed submission makes a ‘good argument about the height and the scale’ and its ‘relationship to what is currently in Ormond’. Said that council has made some suggestions for planning in Glen Eira over the past 6 months and this ‘suggests that we need time and space’ to do ‘strategic evidence based work’ to justify their recommendations so ‘I am worried about the inconsistency of now putting a height on it and what political mileage’ could be ‘gained out of that’. When they go to the panel in February, ‘we will have some evidence collected by then’ which they can present to the panel about ‘what our preferred height will be’. Said that it’s now council’s preferred height but ‘your preferred height because it is evidence based’. Thought that the ‘stronger position’ as a council is to ‘do the work first’. The community asked for feedback so if council is a ‘strong’ community voice they have to do better than propose something that is ‘not evidence based’. Thought they will get to a ‘height argument’ but only after they’ve done the ‘strategic work’. That will be done by February and because of that she thought ‘it will be stronger’.

TAYLOR: said that ‘we all want to take a position of strong advocacy’ and agreed with Esakoff that none of them ‘want to be equivocal’ and that through their campaigning they are aware of residents’ concerns about height. Agreed with those opposing the amendment that if they could ‘pack’ more ‘evidence’ behind their position they would be better off.

SILVER: thought that listening to the community and then ‘going bang’ in February is ‘the strongest way possible’ of achieving something.

AMENDMENT PUT AND LOST. VOTING FOR – Hyams and Esakoff.

Voting against – Magee, Taylor, Delahunty, Davey, Athanasopoulos

ABSTAINED – Silver

ESAKOFF: said she was ‘disappointed’ about the amendment being lost and that she was a ‘little confused about the arguments’ and that the ‘authority’ will decide ‘regardless of our submission’. Thought that on ‘behalf of the community’ that ‘we’ve made a stand’. As for ‘evidence’, she thought that council’s ‘heirarchy’ of urban villages and neighbourhood centres is ‘evidence’. Summed up by going through submission again – ie traffic, impact on local schools, shopping centre, etc. Wanted a more ‘transparent process’ that allowed for meaningful ‘community input’. Said she would ‘get over’ losing out on the amendment but ‘the community mighn’t’. If council suggested 5 or 6 storeys then ‘we wouldn’t have the multiple levels of car parking’ since ‘it would reduce the need for it’ so Magee’s earlier arguments would now be ‘all irrelevant’. ‘This is our submission. This is our chance’. Even though they will have a hearing ‘this is our submission’ in what ‘our community is going to see us standing up for them’.

SILVER: thought this was an ‘unfortunate situation’ in that before the level crossing works they had land ‘subject’ to the same conditions as elsewhere but the Minister changed the legislation and the government is now using this ‘opportunity’ to ‘make a bit more dough’. The ministerial amendment ‘wiped the slate, carte blanche and the government could do whatever it wants’. Ideally council should be the decision maker, but that’s not happening since all they are doing now is telling the government what they think ‘should be the standards’. Didn’t know ‘whether this is a genuine form of consultation’ but seemed like ‘just another way for the government to make more money’.  Council ‘has a standard’ and it’s up to the government to adhere to this standard ‘or ignore it’. That’s why he didn’t support the amendment because he is ‘uncomfortable with the entire sky tower’.

MAGEE: even though he agrees with ‘everything’ Esakoff said thought that they are ‘trying to get to the same position in a different way’. They don’t want 13 storeys but ‘there isn’t even an opportunity for an appeal to VCAT’. The Minister ‘will decide’ on the basis of the reports submitted to him. Council’s just is to put ‘forward a submission based on evidence’. ‘It can’t be an emotional response’. Said that local MPs are ‘on our side’ and they are saying ‘give us the tools, give us the reasoning’ so it’s not 13 storeys. So even though the ‘community may be disappointed that we didn’t put in a blanket 5 storey maximum’ the important ‘part’ is ‘where this will end up’. Didn’t want the ‘negative feel right from the start’. Thought that it had to be ‘evidence based’ and not emotion based.

HYAMS: even though he would have preferred the amendment to be passed, this is still a ‘very good submission’. Thought that it was ‘fair enough that the government does go for some value capture, but it has to be reasonable’. This will be a ‘stand alone building’ and so won’t ‘integrate with the shopping centre’.

DELAHUNTY: thought that what is likely to be ignored is ‘our role’. Planning isn’t simply about height or overshadowing, it is ‘more nuanced’ and how a ‘building might add to a place’ and council is ‘best placed to make those decisions’. Was ‘disappointed’ that council wasn’t the ‘decision maker’. Didn’t ‘want to see lazy planning from the state government’. Council needs to ‘keep up our efforts’  in terms of ‘more than just heights and more than just shadows’ and ‘talk more about Ormond’ and the people and ‘the way the village and the people interact’. Supported the ‘strong submission’ and didn’t think ‘it’s our only chance’ because they will ‘front up again’ in February.

ATHANOSOPOULOS: thought the submission was ‘very strong’ and important to have such debates. Thought that a comment from the gallery earlier about going to VCAT and ‘not having the right evidence’ was important. So this is setting the ‘bar’ and saying ‘we are no longer unprepared’.

ORIGINAL MOTION PUT AND CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

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