Caulfield Racecourse/C60


PS: Last night’s meeting was largely all about planning and ‘consultation’. It is a continuing shame how incompetent planning is in Glen Eira when we find (finally) an admission that Council with its proposed interim height amendments (ie Amendment C147) was nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction and a pretense that it was ‘listening’ to the community. It is no wonder that Minister Wynne has refused to gazette these amendments.

We draw readers’ attention to the following paragraph from a VCAT decision where the member granted the applicant a permit for an 8 storey building in Rosstown Road, Carnegie. It shows clearly how – (1) residents have been conned – again, and (2) the quality of council’s planning department, plus (3) why must such information be discovered from third parties and not directly from council itself? Here is what the member stated in his judgement –

Fourthly, I choose to give limited weight to Amendment C147 to the Glen Eira Planning Scheme which seeks to apply a Design and Development Overlay to the review site, which will apply a discretionary height limit of six storeys. The proposed height limit is discretionary, so it does not preclude the consideration of a well designed eight storey building on the review site. Further, in response to my specific question, I have been informed by Council that there is no strategic work that underpins or informs the proposed height limit of six storeys. If such strategic work did exist, and had been adopted by Council, it may have provided me with some understanding or basis on which to further consider whether a reduction of height is appropriate for the review site. In the absence of any such strategic work, I am left with what appears to be an abstract proposed discretionary height limit, which I can only presume is based on the aforementioned development at 2 Morton Avenue, and which is not a seriously entertained planning proposal.

Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2017/158.html

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Here’s a summary of how the voting went at tonight’s council meeting – plus a few ‘highlights’.

Ormond Road Eight Storeys – Council will be supporting 8 storey mandatory height limits

Virginia Estate & Victorian Planning Authority – Council will forge ahead with the ‘partnership’ and hold ‘community consultation’ earlier.

Cr Silver distinguished himself by stating that he does not support social housing in Camden Ward.

Council will not be seeking to amend its local law on meeting procedures until at least 2018/19 when the current sunset clause for the law kicks in. Remarkable we say, given that emasculating the public question component of the local law was done so easily and on the whim of Lipshutz, Hyams and Esakoff in particular.

Caulfield Racecourse Trustees have signed the resignation paper but there is a hold up since the question of leases is yet to be finalised. We wait with bated breath!

The details of the above will be forthcoming in the next few days.

Delahunty moved a motion for a Request for a Report on the Caulfield Village. Her request was that the report include ‘planning options’ available to council on the social housing issue for the Village. Taylor seconded.

DELAHUNTY: said that the VCAT decision on Precinct 2 was that council was ‘unsuccessful’ in the attempt to ‘require’ the developer to include social housing. Called this a ‘surprising judgement’ and wondered whether the member had ‘actually seen or heard of’ social housing. Said the judgement was ‘so far removed from the way social housing operates’. Claimed that for the member to state that the ‘requirement to provide social housing’ is ‘financially prohibitive is rather surprising’. Said that ‘of course’ there’s a financial ‘imposte’ but ‘that’s what it is’. Called it an ‘incredibly disappointing result’ and when you have such a massive development almost like a ‘new suburb’ that there should be ‘some proper social housing provider attached to it’. Acknowledged that the developer ‘came up with their own scheme’ but this ‘doesn’t meet anyone’s definition of social housing’ and this looks like a pay later ‘lending scheme’. ‘It was an attempt to circumvent this requirement’ and all it would do would be to ‘help people access deposits’ or ‘get their hands on the deposit faster’.  Claimed that this doesn’t ‘address disability at all’ but helps the developer ‘sell their properties faster’. Said she ‘doesn’t understand at all’ how the judgement ‘was made’ and ‘won’t let this rest’. The report is asking for help to ‘understand what levers, what tools’ can be used. Said ‘noise’ is ‘available, appealing to the hearts of the developer is available’ but there ‘must be some planning levers that we can still pull’. ‘It’s unconscionable to let this go’.

TAYLOR: thought about the cost and ‘access to public land’ and ‘it’s not all about take, take, take’. The developer ‘can’t have it all one way’. On accessing a ‘social housing organisation’, ‘how difficult is this?’ Said there are ‘at least 39 social housing providers’ and it’s a ‘matter of liaising with them’. It’s ‘not onerous’ and a few meetings or emails can set this up. This ‘didn’t sit well with me’ so she ‘highly commends this report’.

ATHANASOPOULOS: started by saying that ‘we live in a society that is very inclusive’. Said he had visited a family member in London who lived in a property bought from the government and it was ‘very nice’ in an allotment of ‘maybe another 30’ units in a village that ‘probably had another 100’ units. Said it was ‘great’ that this ’90 year old lady’ could walk everywhere and there was a ‘sense of community’. If it can happen in a ‘massive city like London’ then ‘why can’t we create’ something similar here? They need more ‘than vcat on our side’ but also ‘local members’ and ‘ministers’ in order to ‘get something better than this’ because ‘people deserve it’.

SILVER: asked that the motion also include ‘examples’ of social housing from other municipalities and their major developments. Went on to say that the judgement was from a ‘legal member’ and ‘whether something is regarded as reasonable is a matter of policy’ ‘rather than planning scheme’ so it’s not necessarily ‘fair to the tribunal to say’ that it’s a bad decision because they have to ‘implement the law’ even though council mightn’t like the decision.

Delahunty then asked Torres whether this amendment would ‘slow down our efforts’ on advocacy? Torres said ‘no’ in that there ‘are other examples in other councils’. Delahunty accepted the amendment.

HYAMS: said ‘there is also a matter of principle here’ because VCAT was supposed to ‘apply the objectives’ of the Incorporated Plan and the ‘objective is social housing’. ‘They are now saying they are not going to have social housing’ and he ‘can’t see’ how this is in keeping with the plan. Claimed that another objective was ‘that there be no loss of on street parking’ and the VCAT decision means that they are losing car spaces to the ‘net loss of 45’. These are mostly metered parking spots, so ‘it will be a cost to the community’. Hoped that they would ‘also be looking’ to see ‘how we can reverse that’.

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

COMMENTS

 

The history of Caulfield Village is literally the history of utter failure by Council to do its job of land management competently, transparently, and for the benefit of residents. Over the years, every single aspect of this project has been mired in controversy, lies, and repeated cave-ins. The machinations go back right to the beginning with the establishment of a Special Committee to decide on the C60 and which consisted of Hyams, Lipshutz, Esakoff and Pilling. These 4, together with Newton and this administration did everything in their power to accede to every MRC demand.

Not surprising that the developer keeps winning when the Incorporated Plan is literally such a joke and should never have been accepted by the 4 councillors involved. The municipality is now paying the price for this collusion and incompetence.

Admittedly, Delahunty was not part of these earlier decisions and to her credit she, Magee and Lobo have been consistent on their demands for social housing. The same cannot be said for Hyams and Esakoff. Here is what the former said when the first amended Development Plan for Precinct 1 came in – ie more dwellings and reduction in 3 bedroom apartments leading to more single bedroom apartments.(taken from our post of May 3rd, 2015)

HYAMS: said there will be more apartments, thus more people, but the ‘building still stays’ within the parameters of the incorporated plan. Said that objectors raised the issue of ‘lack of diversity’ but ‘I don’t know that there needs to be that diversity in every site – there needs to be diversity across Glen Eira’. So even though there will be many one and two bedroom places there are ‘family sites around the area’ so that’s the diversity. As for social housing ‘that is a requirement’ for the end of the development but ‘I don’t think there was a requirement’ for social housing in ‘every single part’ of the development. Didn’t think that it was ‘appropriate’ for council to ‘move the goal posts’ now in regard to social housing. He was ‘sure this would be enforced in due course’.

As for the role of the administration and its planning department, the following quote from the Camera report on the first Development Plan should be enough to convince readers of either how incompetent they are, or how committed they are to basically duping residents.

This document gives certainty to the local community by precisely stipulating building envelopes; their heights, setbacks, and siting. It can be said that the Caulfield Village development is one of the most planned development sites in the municipality. The future development of this land has been “locked in” following a rigorous community consultation and amendment process, the community now has a high level of certainty in what to expect at Caulfield Village

Finally, a word of warning to residents on the Virginia Estate proposals. Their draft ‘management plan’ is basically a duplicate of the MRC plan for social housing. They have undoubtedly witnessed the successes of the MRC and are employing identical tactics. We can only hope that with this new council, they will have learnt the lessons of the past when it comes to deciding on the Virginia Estate development – which we believe will dwarf what is occurring in the Caulfield Village.

Readers might also like to revisit one of our earlier posts – https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/are-we-about-to-be-screwed-again/

There is a salutary lesson for residents and council in the comparison of the Caulfield Village development process and what is fast approaching for the Virginia Estate project. Residents need to be fully aware of:

  • The impact of rezoning (ie Caulfield Village rezoned to Priority Development Zone, and Virginia Estate now mooted rezoning to MUZ and/or Commercial 1)
  • Council acceptance of an Incorporated Plan for Caulfield Village and the potential acceptance of a ‘Management Plan’ for Virginia Estate – both of which will allegedly provide the ‘conceptual framework’ for development but without real detail. No objection rights for residents – decision is made by council.
  • Development Plans (ie the details) which then follow for each precinct but which only have to be ‘generally in accordance’ with the Incorporated/Management Plan. These Development Plans can be amended time and time again, and have been for the Caulfield Village.

Readers will remember that the Precinct 2 application (just under another 400 dwellings) for the Caulfield Village was refused at ‘manager’ level by Council without Council displaying this until after the fact. The developer immediately went to VCAT, where the decision has now been handed down. Once again, the developer has basically won, and all previous promises (ie real social housing element, ‘housing diversity’ has gone).

The ‘problem’ with this entire process is that the Schedule for the Caulfield Village which Council accepted and which provides all the ‘musts’ is so vague, and basically useless,  that the developer has all the cards stacked to his advantage. Fundamentally,  council’s requirements were inadequate and our fear is that unless some real lessons are learnt the same will occur at Virginia Estate. For example, the Caulfield Village history is:

  • No on-site visitor parking required (at this stage 2063 dwellings – originally mooted at 1100 in the Incorporated Plan). Precinct 2 now has 45 on site car parking spots but this is dependent on the ‘largesse’ of the developer and not on council’s Schedule.
  • Amendment after amendment that allows balconies to encroach on setbacks
  • No definitive statements on social housing except this useless sentence in the Schedule – The provision of affordable housing in the form of social housing. No definitive statement on how many ‘social housing’ units, or how this is to be managed. Readers will remember that council wrung its hands in dismay when Precinct 1 was allowed without any social housing and the arguments of Hyams et al were that future precincts would meet this requirement. So much for promises!
  • No definitive statements on ‘housing diversity’ – thus Precinct 1 has over 40% as one bedroom dwellings and Precinct 2 will likely have 2.2% of three bedroom apartments according to the plans.

For the full VCAT decision, please see: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2016/1965.html

As we’ve said above, unless the lessons from Caulfield Village are learnt, and learnt properly, then we fully expect that the Virginia Estate project will follow in the same manner . It is the job of this new council to ensure that every single potential gap in any Management Plan and accompanying Schedule is spelt out so that the developer has as little wriggle room as possible. If this is not done, then we can rest assured that the eventual Management Plan will not be worth the paper it is written on and the entire project will duplicate the abysmal planning that occurred and is still occurring with the Caulfield Village!

A quick report on tonight’s marathon council meeting:

  • Development applications went according to officer recommendations
  • Hard copy again different to online agenda in terms of the in camera item – more monumental stuff ups regarding potential purchase of open space with no explanation or apology offered
  • Amendments C147/8 on interim height limits were passed with Magee and Lobo voting against on the basis that everything should be mandatory. Arguments (if they could be called that!) put up by Lipshutz, Hyams, Esakoff, and Pilling, were once more based on ‘trust us, we know what we are doing because if we went for all mandatory, then the Minister would be likely to make it all discretionary’.
  • Caulfield Racecourse another monumental ‘let’s wait for the Minister to act, rather than have council reps resign now’ because there is a danger here in what the MRC could do!
  • Public question time reminiscent of kindergarten playtime, where the CEO asked questioners to put up their hands if they were present in the gallery. By this stage, after 2 hours of councillor waffle and woeful debate, most people had left and who could blame them given the fact that most of these councillors simply like the sound of their own voices and the quality of ‘debate’ is totally underwhelming! Please remember that if the questioner was not present then the question nor answer was read out and neither will this appear in the minutes. Thus the wider community has no way of knowing what the issues are, nor council’s responses. This is called open, accountable and transparent government – for which we’ve got Lipshutz, Hyams, Esakoff, Pilling, Ho to thank!
  • Magee being Magee – a useless request for a report on the Claire St VCAT decision. Asking what recourse council has – ie whether an appeal to the Supreme Court has any merit? No doubt the eventual report will come back and state that there is no grounding in law for an appeal and that it would cost hundreds of thousands. We suggest that the cheaper and quicker remedy would be to change the zones, which after all is what the community has been demanding for ages!

Full reports in the coming days.

Finally, ‘victory’ appears to be on the horizon for the local community with the release of the committee’s report on the Trustees and Caulfield Racecourse issues. We’ve uploaded the full document HERE

In short, the recommendations are:

  • All trustees to resign. If they refuse the government will introduce legislation which revokes the Crown Grant
  • The department to be interim ‘manager’
  • Preference is for a “separately legislated trust with specific accountabilities and functions” rather than a Committee of Management.
  • Training to go within 5 years of renewal of leases

The latest Development Plan for the Mixed Use Precinct of the Caulfield Village reveals once again the failure of this council to keep its residents informed as to what is really going on. Worse still, the proposed plans are another example of MRC profit making and to hell with the local community.

Council Secrecy

The plans reveal the following (and we quote) –

On 27 May 2014 Glen Eira City Council (GECC) approved the initial Development Plan for Caulfield Village (DP 16060/2013) relating to that part of the Residential Precinct west of Bond Street. That Development Plan approval was subsequently amended on a number of occasions, most recently on 05 May 2015  (page 6 –Town Planning Assessment Report)

Condition 24 of Development Plan approval DP 16060/2013 required that the proposed design of the Normanby Road / Boulevard / PHE / Sir John Monash Drive intersection be resolved and approved by SJB Planning Council before further work on the future stages of Caulfield Village can advance. Following extensive engagement with State and local government stakeholders, an updated Integrated Transport Plan was submitted to Council for endorsement on 01 October 2015. (Page 13/14)

Thus, the MRC keeps putting in amended plans and residents know nothing about the amendments and what concessions have undoubtedly been granted to the MRC and by whom! There has not been any formal council resolution on the 5th May 2015, nor any notice that amendments were sought. Why not? And who made the decisions and under whose authority? And as we stated in our previous post, who made the current decision to ‘refuse’ the new Development Plan and what were the grounds of refusal? Why aren’t residents informed as to what is going on until after the fact?

The Development Plan

There is much that could be said about this current proposal. We will only highlight the most obvious things –

  • Another 397 apartments proposed in 4 buildings
  • Building A – 9 storeys of 56 one bedroom and 56 two bedroom
  • Building B – 9 storeys of 44 one bedroom, 56 two bedroom and 9 three bedrooms
  • Building C – 5 storeys of 36 one bedroom and 12 two bedroom
  • Building D – 7 storeys of 92 one bedroom and 36 two bedroom

Thus the percentage of family oriented three bedroom apartments is the wonderful number of 2.26% – whereas the documents claim 5%!

The proposed configurations of these apartments are also nothing to write home about. For example:

No of apartments under 50 square metres – 51

No of units between 50 and 60 square metres – 60

No of balconies under 8 square metres – 71

We remind readers that council caved in on the requirement for 8 square metres of balcony on a previous amendment. Also the State Government’s Better Apartments is looking at legislating for a minimum size and 50 square metres is one suggestion.

Traffic Management & Parking

  • Thanks to the incompetence of the Incorporated Plan, there is NO VISITOR CAR PARKING
  • 397 units plus retail only warrants 441 spots
  • The ‘statistics’ used date from 2010 and ‘updated’ in 2013! No mention of course of impacts on Eskdale Road, Newington, and other local streets all round the precinct!

Affordable Housing

We are so dumbfounded by this proposal that we cite it in full. Please remember that some councillors wrung their hands in dismay when there was no provision for ‘affordable housing’ in Precinct One. The argument put forward by the Lipshutzs and Hyams and Pillings of this world, was that the other precincts would fulfill this requirement. Well here is the ‘master plan’ for affordable housing, courtesy of the MRC. We are sure that readers will get a good laugh out of the following:

Aspirations for the provision of affordable housing within the Caulfield Village development are expressed in the Incorporated Plan. In the current absence of a Federal or State Government scheme to support the development of affordable rental housing, BPG has given detailed consideration to how it might self implement an opportunity for affordable housing within its development that is suitable to Caulfield Village and the broader Caulfield context.

The Caulfield Village & Affordable Housing Report at Appendix Q explores a variety of models that might be adopted to facilitate affordable housing opportunities within the development. It identifies the “Pathway to Ownership” model as the most appropriate having regard to the particular circumstances of the proposal and its context. Broadly, the model would offer assistance to low-to-moderate income renter households to purchase an affordable home in the Caulfield Village development by providing people in affordable or private rental with a savings record an opportunity for assistance to meet the necessary start up funds to facilitate ownership. Deposit subsidies from BPG to eligible participants also form part of the assistance package. The scheme would be administered by a community housing provider. It is anticipated that eligible purchasers would currently be living in community housing or private rental accommodation, with limited opportunities to otherwise enter the housing market.

The added benefits of the scheme include the direct expertise of a community housing provider to assist appropriate and eligible candidates on the pathway to ownership, and the freeing up of low rental accommodation previously occupied by participants in the Pathway to Ownership scheme.

The preferred affordable housing model, which will be known as Caulfield Apartment Start Program (CASP) could potentially be applied to any of the proposed accommodation within the development, rather than limited to certain apartments or apartment types. Likewise there would be no limit to the number of apartments able to be purchased under the affordability scheme. The model applies a subsidy to eligible purchasers, rather than dwellings. It is uncertain, until the scheme is up and running, what the uptake of accommodation through the Pathway to Ownership model will look like, but BPG is committed to implementing the program for accommodation within the Mixed Use Precinct, and potentially future development stages

Our final word of caution

Whilst the variously dated Incorporated Plan (ie some of the documents refer to the Incorporated Plan as being 2011 and other documents cite 2014!) stated that the maximum preferred heights for Precinct 1 was 5 storeys, we now have 6 storeys looming over Station St. This is because of the neat little trick perpetrated by the MRC and permitted by council of using the formula of AHD. This refers to sea level heights. Thus if the land is sloping, then instead of the preferred height of say 5 storeys, the MRC can build 6 storeys. Council of course, and all their expert planners, did not pick this up – or if they did, did not care! Thus we warn residents that the mooted heights of these building are just that – mooted and nothing is set in concrete!

PS: stuck between the four building of 9/10 storeys, and 5/6 and 7/8 storeys, the MRC proposes to create a ‘pocket park’. The accompanying visuals are astounding: vast expanses of ‘open space’ that make the area look like a major park and not a ‘pocket park’. No real high rise to dominate the site; no overshadowing whatsoever, and nowhere in the landscape plan could we find any data which states the size and dimensions of this proposed ‘park’. What we do know at this stage is that 25 onsite trees will be removed and 14 street trees at least!

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COMMENT

Residents should be outraged at the processes involved with the development of this project. At last council meeting a public question was asked in relation to a Practice Day hearing held at VCAT on this application. The response was far from satisfactory. Be that as it may, plenty of questions need answering, and all have to do with due process and sound governance.

  • When did council first receive this second stage Development Plan?
  • Who made the decision to ‘refuse’ and why wasn’t this done via a formal council resolution given the magnitude of the plans and the contentious nature of the entire project?
  • What was the purpose of the Practice Day hearing and what were the grounds for someone’s (not Council’s) refusal? What is the outcome of this hearing?
  • If decisions by VCAT are already pending as potentially indicated by the response to the public question, what is the use of calling for submissions after the fact?
  • Time for submissions is 16 days. Whilst this does meet the conditions set by the relevant Schedule it is far from satisfactory, given that council also had the option of 28 days – ie “Display the development plan for public comment for at least 14 days, but no longer than 28 days”
  • And how does the VCAT involvement meet this stated requirement from the Schedule – “The responsible authority must decide whether to approve a development plan or amendment to a development plan within 60 days after the display of the development plan is completed.”

In short, we maintain that every single aspect of planning for this site, has been abysmal with council and especially Hyams, Lipshutz, Esakoff and Pilling, falling over backwards to accommodate the MRC!

PS: the link to view the plans is – http://www.gleneira.vic.gov.au/Planning-and-business/Planning/Large-scale-developments/Caulfield-Village-Development-Plans/Development-Plan-2

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