Council has released the various documents it will be presenting at the upcoming panel hearing for the Ormond Tower project. The files are available at: http://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/Council/News-and-media/Latest-news/Copy-of-Ormond-Station-proposal

We wish to note the following:

  • The only councillors to vote against the ‘official’ council position of a mandatory 8 storey height limit were Esakoff and Sztrajt. All others in our view adopted the spurious position of 8 storeys is better than 13 storeys. Hardly a convincing argument!
  • The fact that the so called ‘evidence’ was released only AFTER the decision was made cannot be seen as transparent and accountable government. It reinforces our view that like so many other contentious issues in Glen Eira, first make the decision and then massage the ‘evidence’ to support that decision!
  • ‘Evidence based’ is the latest jargon to infiltrate into polit-speak. Our understanding of ‘evidence-based’ is that it stems from medicine in the first place and involves data that is ‘scientific’, ‘objective’ and quantified through such processes as randomised clinical trials held over years and years. Individual ‘clinical expertise’ does come into it, but that ‘expertise’ is accorded the lowest rung on the hierarchy of ‘evidence’ and is measured against the overwhelming findings of the various data sets.
  • We find no such ‘evidence’ in the Hansen report for starters. The term ‘opinion’ is used at least 11 times in the document, whilst ‘in my view’ occurs countless more times. Basically, this is nothing more than the ‘opinion’ of one individual – albeit the opinion of someone with great experience.
  • We challenge anyone to find one single scrap of ‘evidence’ in the Hansen report that would justify the recommendation for an 8 storey building. There is absolutely nothing in this report that would indicate why 8 storeys is preferable to say 7, 6 or even 10 storeys!
  • The traffic report is equally dubious. And why there is support for a reduction in resident and visitor parking is simply beyond us given that it does not accord with council’s own planning scheme! (see image below).

parking

  • The economic retail report is interesting for several reasons. It announces huge impacts on neighbouring commercial shopping strips if the project proceeds. Mention is made of Bentleigh and others. Yet when it came to the Virginia Estate proposed amendment, the initial officer’s report fobbed off the economic impact by stating that under the zoning of Commercial, the intent was to develop more ‘activity’ and ‘employment’ in these centres.

Thus we have to wonder – did each an every councillor bother to read these ‘expert’ reports? Did they ask some decent questions? When were they briefed on the reports? Or were they simply told by officers ‘this is what we think’ and you should abide by this? Finally, how much did all these ‘experts’ cost ratepayers?

We will report on the actual ‘debate’ in the coming days.

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