GE Governance


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its latest figures for building approvals in local councils. The numbers are for a six month period – July 2017 to December 2017. As can be seen from the table below, only Monash has had a greater number of permits granted. However, once we take into account Monash’s size (81 square km) and its proportion of houses to apartments, then Glen Eira still leads the pack in terms of increasing density, lack of open space, minimal single house replacements, and most mind boggling is how our ‘neighbours’ can have less than half of the developments that are occurring in this municipality.

Given these figures it is unbelievable that our council is paving the way for more and more development via its current planning strategies rather than attempting to seriously curb this growth.

PS – WE’VE UPLOADED THE ABS DATA HERE

Advertisements

Listed below is a sample of applications that have recently come into council. All are still awaiting decision. We have not included applications which are seeking amended permits for higher or more apartments, or any where decisions have already been made. Nor have we included the multitude of applications for two double storeys.

These few examples total well over 300 potential new apartments. Given council’s record at VCAT, and its pro-development agenda, we assume that the vast majority will be granted permits.

What these numbers call into question is the validity of council’s proposed structure planning and its claims about projected housing requirements that are supposed to justify the expansion of our activity centres and the rezoning of countless sites. Housing id forecasts tell us that McKinnon for example, is supposed to ‘average’ only a handful of new dwellings (18-27) per year over the next 20 years. In just a few months, McKinnon according to these applications is already up to 60 multiple dwellings. If the stats are so wrong, then it follows, that the planning is also way out of touch with what is occurring. What makes the situation even worse is that our neighbourhood centres, such as McKinnon, are still years away from having any structure planning completed!

Here’s the list –

15 Dudley Street, Caulfield East (nrz) – 8 STOREY, 106 STUDENT DWELLINGS – AREA 474 SQUARE METRES

43-45 Kokaribb Road CARNEGIE – 3 storey, 15 dwellings

32 Kokaribb Road & 259-261 Neerim Road CARNEGIE – 4 storey, 45 dwellings

331-333 Neerim Road CARNEGIE – 4 storey, 26 dwellings

82 Truganini Road CARNEGIE – 6 dwellings

304-306 Koornang Road CARNEGIE – 6 dwellings

11 Beena Avenue CARNEGIE – 3 dwellings

7-11 Belsize Avenue CARNEGIE – 4 storey, unknown no. of dwellings

4 Lake Street CARNEGIE – 3 storey, 8 units

38 Toolambool Road CARNEGIE – 4 x 3 storey

13-15 Hamilton Street BENTLEIGH – 4 storey, 27 dwellings

17 Gilmour Road BENTLEIGH – 4 dwellings

1 Heather Street BENTLEIGH EAST – 6 dwellings

45-47 Kangaroo Road & 33 Howe Street MURRUMBEENA – 15 dwellings

81 Dalny Road MURRUMBEENA – 4 dwellings

18 Railway Parade MURRUMBEENA – 3 storey, 17 dwellings

11 Perth Street MURRUMBEENA – 5 dwellings

8 Elm Grove MCKINNON – 3 storey, 6 dwellings

23 – 27 Prince Edwards Avenue MCKINNON – 18 x three storeys

12 Glen Orme Avenue MCKINNON – 3 x three storeys

16 Glen Orme Avenue – 3 dwellings

15-17 Station Avenue MCKINNON – 3 storey, 16 dwellings

27 Station Avenue MCKINNON – 4 x three storeys

40 Station Avenue MCKINNON – 3 dwellings

39 Lees Street MCKINNON – 4 dwellings

27 Draper Street MCKINNON – 3 dwellings

238 Booran Road ORMOND – 3 dwellings

3 Waratah Avenue GLEN HUNTLY – 8 dwellings

123 Kambrook Road CAULFIELD NORTH – 4 dwellings

204-206 Balaclava Road CAULFIELD NORTH – 5 storey meditation centre

1042 Glen Huntly Road CAULFIELD SOUTH – 3 storey, 9 dwellings

56 Hartington Street ELSTERNWICK – 3 dwellings

1 Riddell Parade ELSTERNWICK – 3 dwellings

Why is it that Port Phillip, Bayside and Kingston councils can publish the progress on the Elster Creek Catchment flooding mitigation project and Glen Eira is silent – apart from seeking councillor endorsement for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in June 2017?

These other councils have had no qualms in letting their residents know that:

  • A community forum was held
  • An action plan has been devised
  • CEOs have met several times

In Glen Eira all of this remains secret. Since Glen Eira is the major ‘culprit’ as the Elster Creek Catchment covers huge areas of the municipality, one would have thought that Glen Eira residents should at the very least be kept up to date with what is happening. Yet, there was nothing up on council’s website regarding the recent community forum. There is nothing in the minutes regarding the proposed ‘action plan’. Why the silence and why when we have again had more recent flooding is there this reluctance to give this issue the attention it deserves?

Here is the link to the Port Phillip data – http://portphillip.vic.gov.au/E135525_17__Action_Plan_Elster_Creek_Catchment_-_FINAL_Oct_2017.pdf

And uploaded HERE is the report on the community forum.

2017 has been interesting to say the least. 5 new councillors elected in 2016 brought hope that much which was amiss in Glen Eira would finally be rectified. Alas, whilst there has been some ‘progress’, there is still a long, long way to go.

Our ‘summary’ –

The Positives

  • Telecasting of council meetings – finally
  • The promise of a tree register – finally (although this could go much further and be part of the planning scheme rather than the Local Law)
  • ‘Community participation’ sessions at council meetings
  • Ostensibly, increased ‘community consultation’
  • More concrete action on heritage – ie application for Dandenong Road property

The Negatives

  • The (deliberate) drip feeding of information on structure planning
  • Extension of one year on work completion resulting in more opportunity for inappropriate development
  • The refusal to listen to the majority of community views – ie Harleston Park basketball court; height limits for Carnegie, Elsternwick; Virginia Estate, etc
  • Inundating residents with masses of documents released simultaneously
  • Lack of detail and justification in these documents – ie no ‘discussion papers’ that objectively present the pros and cons of each issue
  • No explanation as to why the Local Law has to wait until 2019 for review & no mention of notice of motion
  • Support or silence on State Government’s so called ‘reforms’ on planning
  • ‘Consultations’ that fail to ask the ‘right’ questions
  • Repeated refusal to answer why, when Glen Eira is exceeding its housing ‘quota’ by miles, this council is determined to facilitate more and more development
  • Continued and significant decline in ‘community satisfaction’ surveys and yet no action on the perennial problems – ie parking, traffic management
  • Majority of open space levy goes to existing open space and NOT THE PURCHASE OF ADDITIONAL OPEN SPACE. Plus the recent change to reporting on open space expenditure where monies spent on ‘improvements’ no longer feature together with the levy income.

The ensuing months should reveal whether or not these councillors are prepared to listen and then act on what the community has so emphatically stated in regard to structure planning and what their priorities are.

We would also like to thank all our readers for their support and wish everyone a fabulous 2018!

Finally, after years and years of naysaying, council had the first live streaming of its meeting last night. It went well but does raise some questions in relation to its Local Law. For example:

  • Given that presumably more residents can now see who votes for what, couldn’t the minutes reflect this vote instead of simply having ‘carried’, ‘unanimous’ or ’lost’?
  • The ‘public participation’ segment is now also available. These ‘questions’ and ‘responses’ could therefore also be included in the minutes.
  • Since these recordings will be ‘archived’ and available for viewing at any time, surely it makes no sense to have the official paper record (ie the minutes) not in line with what can be watched over and over again?

As for the meeting itself and its contentious items, not much has changed. Early on it was the Esakoff and Hyams show on the Rigby and Newman Avenue multiple dwelling applications. The ‘solution’ as moved by Esakoff and seconded by Hyams was to grant a permit but instead of 4 out of the 5 dwellings being double storey, the permit now states that 3 out of the 5 be double storey. No other councillor spoke on either of these items. Hyams did refer to Wynne’s VC110 amendment but neglected to also say that according to the Planning Scheme large size lots in the NRZ have, since time immemorial and not just since 2013, had the potential for multiple dwellings! More dubious was Hyams’ subsequent  comment that because of the introduction of the zones in 2013  no such applications ‘would have been attempted’. He neglects to mention of course that council’s position to the department was that the ‘hurdle’ of 2 dwellings per lot could be overcome by subdividing first and then submitting an application!

We remind readers of several past VCAT decisions, where the member made it absolutely clear that large size lots can hold multiple dwellings because that is council’s ‘policy’ and is enshrined in both pre and post introduction of the zones. One such application was in St Aubins Court, Caulfield North. Even though the application came in prior to the introduction of the zones in 2013 and thus had the advantage of ‘transitional’ provisions, the outcome was still a 2 storey development of 22 units – based almost entirely on council’s ‘policy’. We quote:

However in this case there remains, even post the application of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone, strong and clear local policy support for the development of large sites such as the review site with medium density development……. While this policy intent has always applied to the Minimal Change Areas, we note that this policy statement was amended as part of the application of the new residential zones into the  Glen Eira  Planning Scheme. That amendment provided for the potential to rezone large sites with the Minimal Change Areas, so that they could continue to provide opportunities for medium density housing, despite the provisions of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone. We consider such an amendment to affirm for us the continued role expected in policy for large sites such as the review site, despite the applications of the new residential zones to the  Glen Eira  Planning Scheme. (http://www7.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2014/664.html)

Wynne’s introduction of VC110 has major ramifications for Glen Eira and other councils. The 2 applications decided last night might be an anomaly because of their size. Thus far we believe that 14 applications have come in for multiple dwellings. Not all are large sites. The latest application for 3 double storeys is a mere 585 square metres (see below). Worth remembering as well is that according to the Housing report they accord only 0.6 net new dwellings in the NRZ and this is for sites over 700 square metres! Such applications show how far out council’s maths on dwellings truly are.

Whether or not this application receives a permit, or ends up with a permit from VCAT will reveal much about council’s agenda in relation to the Neighbourhood Residential Zones. The ‘requirements’ for this zone has remained unchanged since 2004. The Schedule introduced in 2013 simply incorporated what was already there. No new work was done. Now work is desperately required. Other councils managed to have schedules that had greater permeability, less site coverage, and subdivision sizes included in their schedules. Council has the opportunity to amend the schedules. But will they do this or remain content with facilitating more and more development in the NRZ?

PS: FYI, council has granted a permit for 6 Hudson St., Caulfield North for one double storey apartment block with 8 dwellings. The land size is approximately 1300 square metres. Please note this was not decided at council level and it shows that there is nothing to stop apartment blocks from now being constructed in the NRZ as opposed to ‘townhouses’ etc. The flood gates are well and truly open across Glen Eira!

PS: We’ve done some double checking. According to the Minister for Planning’s Amendment VC104 and dated 22/8/2013 the maximum height limit in the NRZ is 8 metres if there is no height limit in the associated schedule. On the very next day, council’s Amendment 110 was gazetted. There were mandatory height limits in the schedules for the General Residential Zone (10.5m) and for the Residential Growth Zone (13.5m). Council relied on VC104 for its continuous claims about ‘introducing mandatory heights for all residential land’. Strictly speaking this claim, made time and time again, was and is untrue. The Mixed Use Zoning (considered ‘residential’) did not have height limits imposed – and neither did the schedule to the NRZ. On 23rd March Wynne gazetted his VC110 which has the effect of over-riding VC104 and the height limit there is 9 metres. Thus Glen Eira is now stuck with a 9 metre height limit in its NRZ and even higher if the land slopes. Readers should also note that Wynne has carefully refused to consider ‘basements’ as part of the 2 storey limit and allows basements to protrude up to 1.5 metres above ground level. This has the potential to therefore yield a three storey dwelling in the NRZ!

 

Two incredible officer reports feature in the agenda for Tuesday night. Both are examples of what lies in store as a result of Wynne’s VC110 and the removal of a 2 dwelling maximum for the Neighbourhood Residential Zones. The applications are for 2 Newman Avenue and 3 Rigby Avenue, both in Carnegie and practically abutting each other. The officer recommendations are to grant permits for both with some minor tinkering on conditions.

The details of the applications are:

Rigby Avenue – 4 double storey, 1 single storey

Newman Avenue – 4 double storey, 1 single storey

What is literally astounding about these reports is the failure to even mention Wynne’s VC110 and its ‘requirement’ for the mandatory ‘garden area’. Instead, the reports focus exclusively on the existing planning scheme where large allotments MAY be considered for more than 2 dwellings per lot.

So, if council is determining applications based on its CURRENT PLANNING SCHEME, then the following is unlawful, devious, and inaccurate! BOTH applications exceed the current 8 metre mandatory height limit. VC110 specifically stated that if councils have different heights included in their schedules, then the schedules apply – at least for the next 3 years! Here is a screen dump of the legislation. Please note: ‘must’ and the fact that Glen Eira does have a schedule!

Instead of honouring its own planning scheme, these reports state –

Rigby Avenue – The maximum overall height (at 8.4m) is well within the 9m height limit of the zone.

Newman Avenue – The maximum overall height (at 8.8m) is within the 9m height limit of the zone. There appears to be a minor encroachment to the apex of the roof, which can be addressed by conditions.

Adding salt to the wounds for the Newman Avenue application is the recommendation to waive one car parking spot with this nonsense – The requirement for one visitor car space is proposed to be waived. This is considered reasonable given there will be one on-street car space maintained at the front of the site. 

There are plenty of other dispensations provided that reveal the inconsistency of this council’s application of its own planning scheme. More to the point, we find it reprehensible that a report can be written which deliberately includes false and misleading information!

Next Page »