Another incredible agenda of 273 pages. More developments feature and more ‘let’s do nothing’ recommendations.

Caulfield Village Height Limits

Item 9.10 is the officer report on councillors’ request to investigate the options available to provide more rigorous height provisions for the Smith Street precinct.

This report is the outcome from previous council resolutions that in typical fashion have gone nowhere and disappeared into the dustbin of history. On February 7th 2017, councillors passed this resolution –

requests officers to undertake a review of the current town planning controls applying to the Caulfield Village Development given that planning scheme controls have evolved since the approval of Amendment C60. The review is to identify any potential gaps in the controls including the loss of on-street car parking around the Caulfield Village development site. Should any gaps be identified officers are to commence a planning scheme amendment process to address these gaps.

Then again on the 21st March there was this resolution –

That Council:

  1. notes this report;
  2. notes potential gaps identified in the current controls relating to social/affordablehousing, and the precinct boundaries;
  3. commences a planning scheme amendment process to address these gaps in thecontrols, and seeks authorisation from the Minister for Planning to prepare and exhibitthe amendment; and
  4. seeks a further report from officers on the options available to provide more rigorousheight provisions for the Smith Street precinct..

Nothing could be clearer we maintain that the ‘order’ to begin a planning scheme amendment. It is yet to materialise.

So for this council meeting we get the following recommendations –

That Council:

  1. notes this report.
  2. notes that Council could apply to Minister for Planning to change the current preferred height controls within the Smith Street precinct to mandatory maximum height controls.
  3. reserves its consideration of height provisions for the Smith Street precinct until after Council has completed its Activity Centre, Housing and Local Economy Strategy, and resultant built form guidelines for Glen Eira’s activity centres.

The proffered arguments for this ‘do nothing’ approach are indeed lamentable.

  • First we’re told how wonderful the existing Incorporated Plan is – ie This process provides a significant incentive to the developer to comply with the heights and setbacks set out in the Incorporated Plan. Really?!!!! So this is why the developer has gone to VCAT time and time again and increased his heights and setbacks for Precinct One and now had major victories with Precinct 2? How much longer will council continue with this charade that the Incorporated Plan is worth the paper it is written on?
  • Next, there is the usual scare campaign – ie requesting the Minister to authorise mandatory height limits could very well result in greater than the current 20 storey ‘discretionary’ height.
  • Then finally we get the ‘promise’ of ‘action’ down the track – ie The Activity Centre Housing and Local Economy Stategy will result in ‘built form’ guidelines for Glen Eira’s activity centres, such as the Caulfield Station Precinct. It is recommended that any further consideration of the Smith Street precinct occurs after the completion of the built form guidelines. What this recommendation does not highlight is that ‘guidelines’ are just that, and in no shape or form are they a better option than mandatory provisions.
  • Nor is there any discussion of whether any proposed ‘mandatory height limits’ will be judged on the number of storeys, or what is known as the Australian Height Datum (AHD). We have already seen that because of the slope of the land Precinct 1 now has 6 storeys instead of 5, and the Smith Street precinct is mooting 22 storeys instead of the wonderful council promise of 20 storeys!

Conclusions 

  • How many more times will council resolutions be ignored and not acted upon?
  • How many more times will residents have to wait before council gets off its backside and actually begins reforming its all too numerous mistakes of the past?
  • How many more times will this administration use ‘scare tactics’ as the excuse to not attempt anything?
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