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Every single resident should read the ‘transformative concept review’ created by Planisphere. As a strategic document that is supposed to set the vision for the next 20 to 30 years, it falls well short of the mark in our view. Our concerns with this ‘review’ are numerous. In a nutshell, we find:

  • The objective is to sell off as much public land as possible
  • Recommendations are impractical and impossible to deliver
  • Corporate memory is non-existent. This results in unbelievable profligacy.
  • The incorporation of recommendations that are not what residents said they wanted, or ignoring what residents stated
  • Inaccuracies of statement after statement

We will start off with an analysis of the Bentleigh ‘concepts’ and proceed with the bullet points made above as headings.

Selling off public land

The Bentleigh Activity Centre has 6 car parks (one of which council doesn’t even know if it owns – ie Aldi!!!). What is proposed in superb double-speak is a ‘repurposing’ – ie sell off- of some of these car parks to commercial interests and the creation of a multi-storey carpark of 2 to 3 storeys. No costings of course, no time scale, no nothing! Instead we are left with the ‘promise’ of increased car parking spaces. Yet, the sites of this new car park are also highly questionable. If all car parks go, then residents will be forced to congregate even more in one single high rise concrete structure. Will this create less patronage of the centre or more? What is the evidence to support either position? And why high rise? Why not underground with a large public open space above as Stonnington is doing? We appreciate that council must recoup some money for any of these ventures, but the outcomes must be positive and not create more traffic problems which we believe this will do, or be deleterious to businesses when people can’t get easy access to car parking.

Impractical Recommendations

The desire for more shops, restaurants, cafes, and night-life sounds wonderful. The reality is that council has very little control over what kind of shops go into an area. Their level of intervention is limited to brothels, porn shops, massage parlours, alcohol etc. Council cannot tell an applicant to open up a restaurant when he wants to open up a $2 shop! And if hours are extended for restaurants until late evenings, then what impact will this have on parking. Will all restaurant patrons go and park in the high rise car park or settle for side streets that are closer to their chosen destination?

Also proposed is the creation of several ‘green spines’, the closing off of Vickery Street and the extension of the rotunda area across Centre Road to meet up with Vickery Street. We fully agree that the rotunda area has been an eyesore for years and that something needs to be done about this site. As far back as February 2010 there was ‘public consultation’ on the rotunda and the following resolution was passed on the 2/2/2010. Needless to say, the issue of the rotunda and the actions councillors resolved to happen were never heard of again!

That Council:

  1. Under take a proof of concept to redevelop the Bentleigh Rotunda site with acommercial caretaker presence at the rear and public open space adjacent to Centre Road.
  1. Prepare artist’s impression of what the redeveloped site may look like from Centre Road and Daley Street (to assist with further community consultation).
  1. Obtain advice to determine the most suitable commercial instrument to use to develop the site with a commercial component.
  1. Consider a further report on this matter (including suggestions for further community consultation) on completion of the above. (unanimously passed)

Traffic along Centre Road is already crawling. Closing off more access to Centre Road will surely force cars into streets that remain open. And what of the ‘green spines’ that are to run behind the shops? What happens to the truck deliveries that service these shops from these areas? Will they be forced into Centre Road itself?

Profligacy and Waste of Public Monies

3 options are provided for the current library site in Jasper Road, including ‘develop for mix of car parking/commercial/residential opportunities’ or ‘utilise for new centralised green park’. The last option is ‘retain library in existing position’. Thus 2 out of 3 recommendations involve moving a recently redeveloped library that cost ratepayers millions and will cost heaven knows how much more to move and establish in another centre. Here is a run down of just part of what council spent on this redevelopment alone –

That Council appoint Core Properties Pty Ltd CAN 007 192 056 as the contractor under Contract Number 2010.009 Bentleigh Library Building Refurbishment Works at 161 Jasper Rd, Bentleigh for the sum of $677,703.40 (GST incl) in accordance with the terms tendered. (minutes of 11/8/2009). (The contractor lists the resultant project at $1.5m)

That Council appoint WM Loud (Aust) Pty Ltd ACN. 005 711 222 as the contractor under Contract No. 2009.039 Bentleigh Library Car Park Rehabilitation & Associated Landscaping Works at 161 Jasper Rd, Bentleigh for the sum of $506,042.02 (GST incl) in accordance with the terms tendered (minutes of 19/5/2009)

Also of interest is that in March 2007 an officer’s report into the feasibility of developing a new Bentleigh Library and Community Centre including a Library, Maternal and Child Health and associated child development and care services, senior citizens and general community facilities and amenities . was tabled. The report then stated that – The cost of building a new library and community centre with the functions set out in Council’s resolution (which are greater than the facilities at Carnegie) is estimated to be $19-$24M. (Minutes of 20/3/2007). Hence the project was shelved and only the library redevelopment was undertaken. That was ten years ago. How much would this cost today?

Inaccuracies

On page 16 of the Bentleigh report we get this paragraph – Buildings are generally up to two storeys in height, with newer development up to four storeys. There are isolated older buildings dispersed throughout. The report is dated March 2017. To therefore claim that ‘newer development’ is ‘up to four storeys’ is unacceptable given that permits have already been granted for 8 storeys well before the writing of the report, and council’s own position is that it wants a ‘preferred’ height limit of 5 storeys.

On page 3 of the report we are told – This report reviews the options for transformation projects in each centre, from an urban design perspective.  An urban design approach that totally ignores built form and major development in the entire activity centre is certainly not a ‘comprehensive urban design’ evaluation in our view.

There is much, much more that could be said about these ‘concepts’. We urge all residents to voice their opinions and to insist that if council is truly committed to genuine consultation that the community’s views be incorporated into a vision that is truly representative of good strategic planning!

PS: NEWSFLASH ON INTERIM HEIGHTS FOR BENTLEIGH & CARNEGIE. SEE: http://www.nickstaikos.com.au/media-releases/new-planning-controls-to-protect-bentleigh-and-carnegie/

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