Another planning conference tonight on the 9 storey application for Centre Road, Bentleigh. Another round of listening to outraged residents. Another round of hearing complaint after complaint about council’s lack of adequate planning, council’s failure to inform residents, and council’s failure to provide sufficient notice of the meeting.

It is unacceptable that the planner tasked with presenting the application doesn’t even know where the site fits into the submitted draft interim height control guidelines. Initially the attendees were told it is in the requested mandatory 4 height limit. Residents had to correct him and state that ‘no’ – the site is in the ‘discretionary’ 5 storey height limit! Not good enough by a mile.

Nor is it good enough that a resident living 10 houses down from the site wasn’t notified by council. She found out via an anonymous letter placed in her letter box. Another example of residents doing council’s work! Nor is it good enough that several residents complained that they were only notified of the meeting this morning, and luckily they had decided to check their emails – otherwise they wouldn’t even have known the meeting was on.

Informing people should be the basic duty of council. A 9 storey application must surely qualify as a ‘major development’. This should appear on council’s website – preferably on the home page. The plans should be uploaded and dates and times for every planning conference, or delegated planning committee also published on council’s website – as plenty of other councils do.

In regard to ‘advertising’, surely something as significant as a 9 storey application deserves to be highlighted to all surrounding areas and not merely the legal guidelines of ‘adjoining’ properties. Clear and precise policy should be followed – especially since it is NOT COUNCIL who pays for the letters, but the developer.

All this simply boils down to either incompetence, or the desire to keep the public ignorant. Either way it is par for the course when it comes to the Glen Eira version of transparency and community involvement.

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