GE Open Space


The above table proves beyond doubt what an unmitigated disaster planning has been in Glen Eira and continues to be. If our suspicions of council’s intent of facilitating more and more development bears fruit then the very fabric of Glen Eira will be destroyed even further.

Here’s why:

  • Nearly a 1% increase in vacant properties
  • Instead of a projected 148,000 population in 2016, there’s only 140,000
  • Cars per household increase – and no proper parking precinct guidelines
  • Increase in family households but significant decrease in number of 3 bedroom places and even a decline in number of 2 bedroom places
  • A population increase of 10,000 but over 8000 building permits handed out in the 5 years.
  • Well above Victorian average for apartments in the municipality. Glen Eira’s buildings are composed of 24.2% for ‘semi-detached, row or terrace house, townhouse’ whilst the state average is 14.2%. In terms of ‘Flat or apartment’ Glen Eira has 24.5% and the State average is 11.6%.

Conclusions

  • There is a vast oversupply of dwellings in Glen Eira
  • Glen Eira is well and truly meeting its population growth
  • Diversity of dwellings is declining fast

Source: http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/LGA22310?opendocument

The most important page that has thus far been published by council is the following because it provides a clue as to what council is really planning and why residents across Glen Eira should be very, very concerned. Our take is that council intends to facilitate and expand development across Glen Eira – especially in those areas which happen to be close to railway stations and along major roads.

The Draft Activity Centre, Housing and Local Economy Strategy makes this absolutely clear. Here is the relevant screen dump  (page 10).  Please note the following:

  • At least 3 current Local Centres will be upgraded to Neighbourhood Centres – Patterson, Ripponlea, and Garden Vale. That means more apartments!
  • Moorabbin which is a current Neighbourhood Centre will now be a Major Activity Centre as will Glen Huntly (we acknowledge that the latter has always been seen by the Government as a Major Centre. Council has insisted on calling it a Neighbourhood Centre).
  • Caulfield and Virginia Estate are givens – just the amount of residential development is unclear. We estimate another 5000 dwellings at least on these two sites.

Council has refused to deny the possibility that properties currently zoned Neighbourhood Residential will suddenly find themselves zoned as General Residential or Residential Growth. Or those zoned as General Residential will be ‘upgraded’ to Residential Growth. Without a straight out denial, that convinces us even more that the probability of this occurring is already set in concrete. The question is how many homes will be affected? How many residents will wake up one morning to find that they can now have 11 and 13.5 metre dwellings (at best) right next door to them?

As an example of what currently exists we use Patterson as a model. Here is a map of this currently designated Local Centre. Please note that it consists of a handful of shops zoned Commercial 1, but surrounded entirely by sites zoned Neighbourhood Residential. Activity centres by definition include Neighbourhood Centres and every single activity centre contains sites zoned as either Commercial, Mixed Use, General Residential or Residential Growth Zone. They do NOT contain properties zoned Neighbourhood Residential – especially not in Glen Eira.

It is definitely time that council for once provided residents with a clear and truthful version of what is in store. A simple, unequivocal ‘no’ to our suggestion that countless properties will be rezoned to GRZ or RGZ would alleviate much angst.

Here is a table from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recording the number of building permits granted in each municipality for the 2015/16 financial year and up to the end of April, 2017.

These figures prove conclusively that Glen Eira is the most overdeveloped municipality in the South East. As we’ve mentioned several times, Port Phillip is a very special case – ie parts zoned as Capital City status, plus a huge Commercial area (9.5%) in comparison to Glen Eira (3.1%). These figures come from the State of Play reports for the committee which reviewed the residential zones – MRDAC (Ministerial Residential Development Advisory Committee).

The figures raise countless questions that we’ve previously reported on. For instance:

  • Why, when Glen Eira is basically doubling and tripling its projected required dwelling figures to meet population growth, is there a strong possibility that council will expand the borders of its activity centres and include more sites into its GRZ or even RGZ zoning?
  • Why isn’t council screaming loud and clear about Wynne’s VC110 amendment when countless other councils are? Remember that the mandatory 2 dwellings per lot in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone is now gone and we are already seeing applications coming in for multiple dwellings in this zone? Plus the fact that the General Residential Zone will now not be seen as the area for ‘incremental’ growth, but is the target for major development? That especially hurts neighbourhood centres like Ormond, McKinnon, Bentleigh East, etc where large swathes are zoned as General Residential.
  • Why isn’t council addressing the most basic of questions – what is ‘capacity’?
  • Why isn’t council uttering a single word about ‘density’? Our calculations indicate that at the estimated population for 2016 of 148,000 people, that the municipality’s density (ie number of people per square km for land zoned as ‘residential’) will climb from approximately 3,800 per sqk to over 4,400 per sqk. How sustainable is this? How much will it cost to upgrade basic amenities such as drainage, open space, etc. And who will pay for it – developers or residents?

Item 9.8 – Environmental Sustainability Measures

Sztrajt moved motion to accept ‘as printed’. Seconded by Esakoff.

SZTRAJT: began by saying that he requested the report and that he wanted to ‘ensure’ that those who are ‘building this new generation of houses’ are being ‘compliant’ with ‘our wishes’ and ‘cognisant’ of the requirements for sustainable energy sources and urban design. ‘What’s been fantastic’ is that officers reported back to him with ‘quite a large amount of detail’ about what the ‘State Government is intending’ to do. ‘Upset’ about the ‘lag time’ before the government does anything and council doesn’t have ‘any idea’ about what they will do. This means that until then, ‘we will have a significant number of developments’ that will only be ‘considering’ the ‘current guidelines’. ‘It would have been nice for Glen Eira to take the lead here’ but the ‘reality’ is that ‘for us to put forward’ any proposal ‘would in fact take just as long’ as ‘waiting for the State Government’. ‘It’s a little bit of a missed opportunity’ but ‘we simply don’t have enough time to tackle’ the issues. Council ‘has lead the way’ in ensuring that their facilities are as ‘environmentally friendly as they can be’. ‘It would have been very nice’ with all the development going on, to have something and he is ‘hoping’ that this now ‘happens across the state’. ‘It’s a shame that between now and then nothing can happen’ and he recognises the ‘purely logistic reasons why that is not possible’. Wants council to ‘revisit’ the issue once they know what the State Government is doing. Then council can decide ‘what is the right environmental’ outcome for Glen Eira and if the state government regulations ‘fall short of our standards’ then Council can move to strengthen them for the municipality.

ESAKOFF: agreed with Sztrajt but ‘given the time constraints’ she is happy to look at the government regulations when they come through and to see what council can do then to ‘bring it up to the standard that we would like it’ to be.

TAYLOR: is ‘very passionate’ about ‘enhancing’ the environment and the ‘Integrated Traffic Management’ plan can add further on carbon emissions. If council is going to tackle co2 emissions then they ‘have to be consistent’ across the board. She is ‘disappointed that we have to wait for the State Government’ but rather than proceeding ‘head long’ once the government comes up with its plan it will be ‘easier to implement’. But that doesn’t mean that ‘we can’t revise what we are doing here and now but subject to the State Government’.

MAGEE: stated that on his recent visit to Hanover (Germany) nobidy parks their cars in apartments. It is automatically parked ‘millimetres’ from each other and takes about 42 seconds for people to retrieve their cars. This is also more ‘environmentally friendly’ because ‘there’s no lighting down there’ so if it’s all mechanical there’s also no airconditioning and electricity costs are lower. Melbourne hasn’t seen this yet. There are also trains ‘every 2 minutes’. And ‘visitor car parking isn’t considered there’ because they ‘can fit them’. He wants to see ‘things like that coming through our planning schemes’.

SZTRAJT: said there are 2 options before councillors. One is to ‘ask officers’ to do the work on an amendment for which ‘there is clearly no benefit in us doing’

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

COMMENT

The most farcical aspect of the above ‘debate’ is that council has numerous times used the argument that ‘no, we can’t do that because the outcome could be worse’. Now we get the reverse – ie if the State Government amendments don’t come up to our (non-existent) standards, then we will introduce more stringent ones! On what basis does Sztrajt, Esakoff and Taylor believe that the minister will allow more stringent rules that limit developer’s options or cost them more? And what if council suddenly has a ‘born again’ conversion after the State Government’s announcements – how long will it take them to get things started? Another two years? Three years?

Clearly this is a council which has no standards, no objectives on the environment and no will to act in an environmentally responsible fashion for the benefit of the entire community. The only benefit is for developers. If it were otherwise then council would act immediately on amending its schedules to the zones by increasing the permeability requirement across the board as well as increasing the open space requirements across the board. Introducing a minimum lot size subdivision would also be of great benefit. There is absolutely no reason why these changes cannot be done now.

PS: As for ‘progress’ in Glen Eira, we recommend that readers have a read of one of our previous posts on Environmental Sustainability Measures. The refrain since at least 2008 has been the same! – https://gleneira.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/how-green-is-my-council/

The prize for the most disingenuous, misleading, and completely ignorant or politically expedient comments for the year must go to Delahunty, Magee and Athanasopolous. How anyone in their right mind could even contemplate uttering the sentiment that 20+ storeys of dog boxes is acceptable, given the community’s outcry about height and inappropriate development is simply staggering. But that’s what has happened as exemplified in the following ‘debate’ on the option of seeking mandatory height controls for the Caulfield Village Smith Street Precinct.

First, some explanation is necessary. The approved Incorporated Plan for the entire Caulfield Village project includes the following:

  • All stated heights are ‘preferred’ and are not MANDATORY.
  • The cited heights are listed according to AHD and for the Smith Street precinct the highest is nominated as 120 metres which is then recorded as ‘typical 20 storeys’.

AHD, or Australian Height Datum involves calculating street level from sea levels. In other words, how much above sea level is the land under discussion. The image we present below comes from the State Government’s Land Services division. It shows the contours of the land. Readers should note that the lie of the land varies from 46 to 49 metres. Since the Incorporated Plan specified 120m AHD that means that the 46 or 49 metres needs to be subtracted from the 120 metres to get any idea of the ensuing height.  If we subtract 50 metres from 120 metres, the result is 70 metres above ground level that the building can reach – unless of course the MRC decides to push the buttons on the ‘preferred’ aspect and go for higher. The Building Code of Australia sets a minimum floor to ceiling height of 2.4 metres. Thus even if we have larger floor to ceiling heights for the commercial ground floor areas, that would still leave approximately 60 metres available for residential purposes. The possible results are that the developer could quite easily construct a building of 25 and above storeys. Nothing binds the developer to a mere 20 storeys as this council would like residents to believe! – and especially not when we have a ‘preferred’ height limit rather than a mandatory one!

Please read the following carefully and decide how well these councillors are representing the community and how much they really understand as to the implications of their voting!

Delahunty moved motion to accept ‘as printed’. Magee seconded.

DELAHUNTY: thanked the resident for bringing council’s attention to the issue of ‘additional’ controls concerning heights at a recent council meeting and ‘whether or not we should look at some height controls’. Said the report gave the option that ‘we could apply to the minister to change the height controls’ or they could ‘reserve’ action until after the structure planning is done. Went on to say that ‘at the moment’ the Smith St precinct has height that varies from ’12 to 20 storeys’ and if the developer wanted to go over this height limit then ‘they would have to go through a planning application’. She therefore ‘supposes’ there is a ‘large disincentive’ for the developer to do this. Said she wasn’t ‘of a mind to impose anything additional’ on the developer that ‘isn’t in keeping with that particular precinct’. Her concern was getting ‘nice apartments’ and ‘not how high’ those apartments are. ‘I’m not particularly concerned about that’ or the ‘height of the Smith Street precinct at the moment’ because ‘I do not believe it will go over 20’. Admitted that it has been ‘much debated, much hated, but it is what it is’. It’s on an ‘incredibly major transport hub’ with no open space, but this ‘will change’. ‘So it’s right and proper that it takes a fair bit of development’. ‘So the height is of less concern to me personally’ than who will live there – ie affordable housing. This is where ‘I am suggesting we focus our energies’ and that’s why ‘I endorse that we reserve our considerations’ until the structure planning strategies are done. Said that it was ‘good’ to have to consider this and to have the reminder that there is a ‘built in disincentive for the developer’.

COMMENT

  • As to the Incorporated Plan being a ‘disincentive’ this is utter hogwash. If anything it and the history of this project are INCENTIVES, since the MRC has won every battle it has chosen to pursue at VCAT – and all with council’s complicity, or cave- ins. There is no reason to suspect that any future visit to VCAT will result in a different outcome if council does not strengthen its controls. And that, this motion has explicitly refused to do. Readers need to question why?

MAGEE: ‘like you’, I ‘certainly don’t have any issues with a 20 storey building on that site’.  Said it can already be ’22 storeys because what we’re talking about is height’ and by lowering the ceilings for each storey they can fit more storeys in. So on the ‘number of apartments’ there is ‘room to move’ but the overall height ‘can’t change’. ‘If you’re not going to put this sort of density around major transport’ hubs then ‘where are you going to put it?’ Went on to say that it does lack open space so ‘where can we find open space’ and implied the racecourse. Said that the precinct will also have commercial areas and that will bring ’employment opportunities’ and ‘right next to a railway station is a great incentive’. Didn’t think they should go to the government and try to get anything that’s ‘not there right now’. What’s there was ‘put in place many years ago and I believe we’ve moved on from that’. Went on to say that this is ‘really a great opportunity for people who don’t want to have a car’ to ‘live in a precinct’ that will give ‘unprecedented opportunities for public transport’ and ‘overlooking’ one of the most valued and ‘new open space’. With developments of this size there are ‘security’ issues but what council is ‘talking about today is not security, not open space, but height limits’. What’s there now is ‘may be not’ what was originally wanted but he thought it could be. ‘detrimental if we try and change that’ because ‘it could be changed the other way and we could see something that is quite significantly higher’

COMMENT

  • Money is NOT IN RETAIL, but in residential. That’s why the MRC has almost halved the originally mooted amount of commercial space in the development. For Magee to therefore spruik the ‘employment’ benefits of commercial space is a nonsense. We would not be surprised to find that the next development plan intends to cut the already reduced commercial space by another few thousand square metres and instead go for more apartments. Since nothing about this entire project is ‘mandatory’ the MRC can do what it likes – and it has!
  • Just because something has ‘been in place’ for years and has time and again shown to be inadequate is NOT AN ARGUMENT NOT TO TRY AND REMEDY THE SITUATION.

ATHANASOPOLOUS: asked if there was any site within the area that could provide space for ‘consumer car parking’ and whether ‘we’ve ever looked at the opportunity’ provided by the racecourse for ‘visitor car parking’?

TORRES: said it was a ‘private development on private land’ and so ‘the approval doesn’t envisage private car parking but it does envisage providing enough car parking for the various uses’ that will be ‘developed on this land’.

COMMENT

  • Athanasopolous’s question to Torres displays not only ignorance of the history of this project – for which admittedly some slack may be given – but surely when a councillor is about to vote on an important issue, he should make it his business to find out about the history of the project. If Athanasopolous had bothered to do his homework he would have found that on the issue of using the centre of the racecourse as a car park, both the community and council for that matter were strongly opposed.
  • Torres also needs to be ticked off on his response since it is only half true. The ‘various uses’ may be met, but there is no visitor car parking – agreed to by council!

MOTION PUT AND PASSED UNANIMOUSLY

A brief report on last night’s marathon 3.5hr council meeting. Full reports to follow.

  • On development applications, resolutions basically went along with officer recommendations. Certain councillors excelled in once again waffling on about ‘strategic vision’ instead of making even one comment as to the merits or drawbacks of the submitted plans and whether or not the plans were in accordance with the planning scheme.
  • Environmental Sustainability? Much hand wringing and crocodile tears regarding the environment but ‘too late’ to do anything now since the Government will be introducing its own guidelines/standards.
  • Mandatory heights for Caulfield Village? – Delahunty and Magee aren’t concerned about heights. Besides, there is already enough ‘protection’ regarding heights!

Comments

Whilst 5 new councillors were elected, it hasn’t taken long for them to be completely absorbed into the prevailing ‘do nothing’ , pro-development culture of this council. Opportunity after opportunity has arisen for real and dramatic change, as evidenced by the last two bullet points mentioned above. Residents should also not forget that any changes to the Local Law have also been delayed until 2019 when the current law expires. Nor should we forget the delay in introducing an amendment to hike up the open space levy. Council’s excuse?  Let’s wait for the latest census data! Well it is obvious that other councils do not intend to wait and have been working away solidly to impose adequate costs on developers that actually mean something. Here’s what Kingston is doing. The image is from today’s Caulfield-Moorabbin Leader. Amazing how other councils can proceed and work for their community!

Item 9.8 of the current agenda features council’s approach to Environmental Sustainability. That is, let’s not do anything and wait another two to three years for the State Government to introduce legislation. This ‘recommendation’ is despite all resident feedback on the need to increase open space in developments; to increase permeability and to introduce some decent amendments that will address the lack of any decent environmental measures in the current planning scheme.

We must also point out the complete lack of ‘objectivity’ in the officer’s report. Six metropolitan councils have been successful in introducing their own Environmental Sustainability Design amendments. Admittedly, these expire at the end of December 2017 as noted in the report. What is not noted is:

  • Are these councils seeking to extend their sunset clause?
  • What benefits have already been derived by having policy in place for nearly 3 years?
  • What damage will continue to occur in Glen Eira over the next 3 years whilst this council sits on its hands?
  • What of Water Sensitive Urban Design policies that these councils have with NO expiry date?

Every time that there is the possibility of introducing some new measure to protect the environment, or residential amenity, this council resorts to its old tricks – let’s wait for a couple of years because it is a state responsibility and not ours! Imagine how many more trees will go and how much more concrete will be poured whilst this council does nothing!!!!!!!

Here are the ‘unbiased’ officer recommendations –

 

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