GE Transport


Another great turnout by residents of approximately 100 people. Again butcher paper, facilitator and Aiden Mullen presenting the background, current status and promised future work. There was however about an hour of questions that interrupted Mullin’s presentation. We note once again that the magic words of 12 storey high potential developments were eventually admitted through gritted teeth!

Councillors in attendance: Delahunty, Silver, Sztrajt and Athanasopoulos

Here are a mere sample of the questions asked by residents and the ‘answers’

RESIDENT #1 – One resident asked for hands up from residents, developers, and state government agencies. The vast majority were residents

RESIDENT #2 – When Mullin put up the slide of the Vision for Elsternwick, which still included the word ‘village’, this resident interrupted and stated ‘I am quite frankly struggling to relate that vision plan to the concept plan’. Said that all council’s thinking and what’s presented in the concept plans ‘doesn’t seem’ to endorse the vision statement. Mullin answered that it’s about ‘maintaining that strong cultural and heritage feel’. Mullin then went on with the rest of the presentation – ie spoke about bike connections, and an ‘integrated rail precinct’ and parking ‘opporunities, particularly along Orrong Road’. Said that the ‘fundamental change’ would be ‘creating a new cultural precinct’ near the cinema and ABC studios. Plus the library ‘could be relocated’ to this new precinct. Also said that ‘council’s carparks could have a role in providing more office’ space and employment opportunities (aka flogging off council land to developers is our take on this).

RESIDENT 3 – another resident interrupted and wanted Mullin to explain what ‘community benefit’ means. Mullin responded by saying that Glen Eira is a ‘diverse community’ but developers only build one sort of dwelling – ie 1 or 2 bedroom or double storey attached in the NRZ. ‘The market’ doesn’t do ‘affordable housing, aged care’ and student accommodation and ‘medium density family type housing’. Said that on ‘counciul owned land we can have a lot more control on that’. Resident then wanted to know whether this land would be ‘given to the developer and they produce it’? Mullin responded that there’s a ‘whole range’ of ways this could be done. Resident then persisted with ‘selling council land’ and Mullin answered ‘that is one option’ but that nothing has been decided as yet. The objective is to ‘get something in’ that ‘meets community needs that isn’t being met at the moment’.

RESIDENT 4 – When Mullin outlined that the car park had an 11 storey permit next to it, another resident stated that ‘an 11 storey building doesn’t set a precedent for what is right in terms of development’. Went on to say that ‘someone who wrote these plans missed the church’ and a scout hall both ‘historic buildings’ but the plans have building heights of 8 storeys so ‘what is going to happen to that church’? Wanted Mullin to ‘please explain to me, how does that work out’? Mullin then said ‘I’m trying to get through the presentation and the resident repeated that he would like an answer. When Mullin again said that he wanted to continue with his presentation the resident stated that the evening was about residents asking questions and getting answers from those people who put the plans together. Mullin said that his aim was to ‘take you through to how we got to’ this stage and get your feedback. It’s up to residents to then decide if they ‘agree’. Mullin went on to say that people didn’t want apartment buildings in residential streets and council ‘really’ wanted to protect heritage and the neighbourhood character overlays and these are currently zoned for 4 storeys. Stated that a vcat decision for 8 storeys was given recently in a heritage overlay and vcat is saying that if you ‘lock everything down it has to go elsewhere’. Council was trying to ‘get a better mix’ in housing and in the commercial areas a better mix of employment opportunities like ‘office’.

RESIDENT 5 – said there was no single storeys being built and there was a strong need for this. Wanted to know why this wasn’t in the plans. Mullen said this is because people are trying to ‘protect back yards’ and that with council’s plans for the townhouses they are trying to ensure that ‘living is on groundfloor’.

Mullen went on to say that ‘you can’t lock down everything’ because if ‘won’t get approved by the Minister’. So council is protecting heritage but saying that along the railway line and Nepean Highway this can ‘accommodate’ ‘taller buildings’ which will have an ‘office’ and ‘allow for employment’. This area would be 6-8 storeys but if there was ‘community benefit’ this could be ‘additional car parking’, ’employment’, ‘diverse housing’. The strategic sites ‘can accommodate height behind the shops’.

RESIDENT 6: said that ‘our little court’ disappears from the concept plans but council has ‘rezoned that area’ to ‘be 6 storeys’. Wanted to know why previously it was 4 storeys and now capable of a potential 6 storeys. Repeated that ‘this is in a court and we’re not on Glen Huntly Road’. Mullin answered that he would be ‘happy to discuss’ the matter with the resident afterwards.

CONCLUSIONS?

Once again residents are presented with spin and more spin and no detail, no strategic justifications for anything, and no honest to goodness data. We remind readers that at the Bentleigh forum when asked how many properties were being rezoned to accommodate higher development, Mullen stated that the data would be provided. It is yet to make an appearance!!!!!

Nor have we had a single word to justify why 12 storeys is fair and reasonable. Why not 6 storeys, or 7 storeys, etc. On what basis is the figure of 12 storeys plucked from the air?

There is much, much more that could be said. We will simply reiterate our conviction that decisions are already set in concrete and that these forums have been nothing more than a public relations exercise designed to meet state recommendations for ‘community consultation’ when doing structure planning.

The Elsternwick draft concept plans are ‘interesting’ to say the least.  First off there is the admission how badly this council and its zones architects stuffed up in 2013. When an activity centre has so many areas covered by Heritage Overlays, Newton, Akehurst, Hyams, Delahunty, Magee and Esakoff, all saw fit to go ahead and allow these areas to be zoned as Residential Growth Zone (RGZ). Thankfully the current plans attempt to redress this incompetence. However, they do a lot more ‘damage’ elsewhere in another example of clearing the ground for major high rise development!

Here is a summary of what is proposed –

  • As with Carnegie, the central shopping strip will have 3-4 storey (orange) but some of this strip will allow 8 storeys directly behind Glen Huntly Road (ie Sinclair and Beavis Streets) which abut heritage areas. Thus like Carnegie, heritage areas will be overshadowed by anything up to 8 storeys.
  • Several heritage sites along Nepean Highway will be, as with Carnegie, directly overshadowed by 12 storeys
  • The ‘borders’ of the activity centre have, like Bentleigh, mushroomed out to practically double the size – now extending to Glen Eira Road.
  • Ripon Grove and Gordon Street will now also become 8 storeys (from the current 4 storeys) and once more they sit alongside Heritage areas.
  • The most startling changes will occur all along Horne Street to Nepean Highway. These sites can now become 12 storeys – again encircling previous NRZ zones that are now upgraded to 4 storeys.
  • The amount of land now given the go-ahead for 12 storeys is alarming!
  • Possibly the most important change is the inevitable rezoning of those areas currently marked as C2Z to Commercial 1. This would allow residential and the height proposed is 12 storeys (ie along Nepean Highway).

The map below shows one example of what is envisaged. The yellow markings indicate some sites which are now being upgraded from 2 storeys to 4 storeys.

We’re focusing on one tiny corner of the Carnegie plan this post as the perfect example of planning gone mad. With typical double speak nonsense, council tells residents that they are concerned about ‘transition’ – we even get titles like ‘Building Transition Plan’.  We urge all residents to carefully consider the following and at tonight’s public relations exercise at Carnegie to really hone in on this lunacy.

Here’s what the above image reveals:

  • Rosstown Road ‘upgraded’ to 4 storeys from 2 and now abutting some remaining 2 storeys to the South-West of Rosstown Road.
  • The ‘pink’ coloured areas in Egan and Arawatta (up to 12 storeys) enclose ‘heritage character/shop top’ of 3 to 4 storeys
  • These ‘pink’ areas of 12 storeys also overshadow Chestnut Street (heritage overlay) of 1-2 storeys.
  • To the north of Chestnut we again have 4 storeys along Dandenong Road overlooking 2 storeys.

When all of council’s propaganda for the past 4 years has been about protecting the community via appropriate transition (ie 4 storeys, down to 3 storeys, down to 2 storeys via RGZ, GRZ1 & GRZ2 respectively) to now come up with this nonsense is literally beyond belief. It is even more unbelievable that such plans could even get off the ground and be put up for ‘consultation’. Who is responsible for this? Where is the strategic justification? What secret deals have already been made with developers and/or governments? And how on earth can 9 councillors even come close to believing that this is worthy of consideration by ratepayers? We would also question how much of ratepayer’s money has been spent on ‘consultants’ and producing glossy flyers, letters, and brochures that are nothing short of embarrassing!

A great turnout at tonight’s Bentleigh meeting – well over 80 residents we estimate. Councillors in attendance were: Magee, Hyams, Athanasopolous and Taylor.

The outstanding pattern of the night however was that those in attendance had definitely had enough of spin, obfuscation, lack of detail, and definitely lack of strategic justification for any of the ‘concepts’. The anger in the room was palpable and expressed time and time again. Council’s responses were, to put it bluntly, pathetic. Here’s how the evening went–

  • Facilitated once more and room set up with tables, butcher paper and planners assigned to each table
  • Following on from facilitator’s introduction, Aiden Mullen provided the ‘background’ – ie what’s happened thus far and what’s still to be done and what previous feedback had been. Some new stats were put up purportedly displaying the percentages of homes in the various zones in Bentleigh. Noteworthy is the fact that Mullen NOT ONCE SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED THE PROPOSED 8 STOREYS HEIGHT LIMIT. These areas were referred to as potential ‘office’ space! Did admit that the current circle designating the RGZ ‘didn’t make sense’! – that means that the August 2013 introduction made ‘no sense’!
  • Residents then wanted to ask questions – and they did!

RESIDENT NO 1 – wanted to know what the strategic justification was for the 5 and 6 storeys and now 8 storeys and what is the definition of ‘community benefit’? Also said that he didn’t see ‘any connection’ between the vision statement and what the concept plans proposed in terms of height. Mullen answered that an ‘activity centre is typically a 10 minute walk’ from the station. Said that ‘feedback’ from community was that developers ‘were taking, taking, taking’ and ‘not giving back to the community’ and council will be looking at every application and deciding ‘what the community really needs’. Thus ‘greater employment’, ‘office’ opportunities meets ‘community benefit’ plus ‘additional car parking’ and street connections. The resident then again asked about the vision that’s been proposed and how this fits in with 8 storeys. Wanted to know how that figure was reached and that ‘it seems a bit arbitrary’. Mullen answered that the vision was about a ‘more family friendly vibe’ and have a better ‘mix’ of housing.

RESIDENT 2 – how many properties were being rezoned from 2 storeys to 3 or 4 storeys? Mullen answered that he didn’t have those figures.

RESIDENT 3 – asked about current applications and whether they would be limited to the new heights. Mullen answered that once they’ve got their permits that’s it.

RESIDENT 4 – stated that there’s a childcare centre next to an 8 storey building and didn’t think this ‘benefited the community’ and ‘wasn’t very family oriented’.

RESIDENT 5 – queried council saying that they ‘heard’ from the public agreeing to some parts being 3 and 4 storeys. Went through the number of developments in Bent Street along a 250 metre stretch of road and these totalled well over 200 new dwellings. Said ‘that’s what people are up in arms about’ and ‘to fix that you’re saying’ that houses opposite can also now be 3 storeys when they are zoned for 2 storeys. ‘You’ve ruined Bent St.’ so ‘leave that alone’. Went on to say that ‘no-one gave you the okay’ to change some houses in Vickery from 2 to 3 storeys. (applause). Said he lives near Patterson and he has opposed development because of lack of parking and now council has ‘the audacity to say that’s what we heard from the public’. ‘You did not hear that from the public’.

RESIDENT 6 – asked ‘what gives you (council) the confidence that consultation has informed’ the plans? Mullen answered that the feedback made it clear that people didn’t want to see apartments in residential streets. Resident 5 then came back and told Mullen to stop talking in percentages and to give precise figures. ‘We want to know absolute numbers so tell us the truth’. Mullen said he would ‘update numbers and put them on the website’.

RESIDENT 7 – said she’s been to a meeting years ago and about a development in Centre Road and that ‘it was loud and clear’ that people ‘went against development along Centre Road’ that was high ‘because of the shade’ and would make Centre Road a ‘wind tunnel’. Concluded that those people weren’t listened to ‘years ago’. Also permits that were then granted had 2 years to start building but council simply granted extensions after extensions.  So how can residents have confidence that this won’t happen again and the ‘new plan’ and the ‘old plan’ don’t look any different’. The old plan has heritage but ‘we know’ by driving down these streets that they are ‘not’ being protected. Mullen responded that it’s important for council to get ‘policy’ written into the scheme. Facilitator then said that policy makes it harder for VCAT.

RESIDENT 8 – asked about balconies and that people use these for hanging out washing, sheds, etc. and what council is going to do about this. Mullen responded that council is looking to ‘tighten controls’.

RESIDENT 9 – asked about the interim height guidelines and what this means for Centre Road. Mullen said that this allowed council to get on with the structure planning work without having to worry about VCAT.

The facilitator then tried to put a stop to the questions. However one resident stood up and insisted on being heard.

RESIDENT 10 –  was told to be ‘brief’ by the facilitator but the resident answered ‘I’ll take my time thanks’. Said that we’ve got the lowest amount of open space and Stonnington is developing an underground car park and open space on top. Why isn’t Glen Eira doing the same? Mullen said ‘that we’re proposing to relocate our parking to the central strip’. Resident went on to density of population, and rates of development, and that ‘we’ve got enough housing supply’ for the next 35 years, so why ‘when we’re pulling our weight’ and the ‘critical issue’ for people is about ‘overdevelopment’ are they recommending 8 storeys in Bentleigh and 12 storeys in Carnegie and ‘repurposing council land for development’. Thus ‘how are we meeting the first principles of the origin’ of the planning scheme review and the rounds of consultation? Mullen’s answer was ‘you can’t reverse what’s happened’ and ‘you can’t put a stop to development’. Resident then asked ‘why’ and Mullen answered ‘because the Minister won’t approve’ it. Resident then said that ‘Boroondara is challenging it’. Mullen said that council is trying to provide the ‘right building in the right place’.

RESIDENT 11 – queried the boundaries since it was said a 10 minute walk and he lives near Thomas St which is at least 15 minute walk to the station. So why are these houses being rezoned and ‘I query the boundary of the activity centre’.

Facilitator then intervened and insisted that people now break up to discuss issues at their tables.

The final part of the meeting included Magee being invited to speak. He started by saying that it’s important for residents to speak up and that nothing ‘was set in concrete’ and that residents could always speak with councillors. One resident then said that he’d been to forums before and questions of height keep coming up. Said he was ‘quite amazed’ that ‘the message isn’t getting through to council’ that people don’t want 8 storeys. Said ‘it would be good to see a show of hands’ from those people who wanted 4 storeys. Magee answered that it’s about context and that if you asked people if they wanted 8 storeys most would say no. But if you asked them about 8 storeys at Ormond Railway station ‘I guarantee you that most would not say no’. The resident insisted on asking the question whether people wanted a maximum of 4 storeys. Our observations indicated that just about everyone put up their hands!!!!!!!!

MEETING CONCLUDED AT THIS POINT!

PS: IF ANYONE WAS IN DOUBT ABOUT THE INCOMPETENCE OF THE CURRENT PLANNING IN GLEN EIRA, THEN THE LIBERALS ARE QUICK TO POINT THIS OUT!

Southern Metropolitan Region

Mr DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan)

— My constituency question relates to the Minister for Planning and is about the precinct surrounding Chestnut Street in Carnegie

That area has a significant set of protections over the streetscape and the properties there . It is also an area in which the government has recently put an interim design and development overlay in place . The City of Glen Eira is currently consulting with the community but has proposed an area where up to 12 storeys will be built. This would be a very significant increase in height and would put massive pressure on traffic, with congestion .

There is obviously an area already impacted significantly by the sky rail, and the risk of this imposition and overshadowing is significant.

. What I ask is whether the minister in his planning scheme amendment will rule out a 12 -storey tower or 12 storeys that overshadow heritage protected areas?

 

At the last council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to endorse the Activity Centre, Housing and Local Economy Strategy. The discussion on this item should be further cause for concern since:

  • The emphases is clearly on growth and more growth despite the Hyams’ effort to deny this
  • Bentleigh East residents should definitely be gearing themselves up for at least 6 storey developments and probably many more areas earmarked for GRZ and possibly RGZ
  • The lame excuse that up-to-date census figures are not included because council is waiting for vital employment data. Please note that this release will basically reveal figures of work by sex, age, and broad categories of employment – ie ‘professional’, etc. The only scrap of really important data would be how residents travel to work – ie walk, car, train, bus. There is literally no valid excuse why current figures have not been incorporated into these latest documents – except that they prove several things that council would like to ignore – ie less population than projected; increase in apartments standing empty; decline in residents over 75; well above state average for 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, etc. etc.

Readers should also question why the gallery is repeatedly subjected to waffle and more waffle instead of actually focusing on the documents themselves and DEBATING the issues and the recommendations.

+++++++++++

Athanasopolous moved motion to accept as printed. Taylor seconded.

ATHANASOPOLOUS:  said that everyone knew at end of last year that council was ’embarking’ on structure planning and this ‘document is one part of that body of work’. It was ‘a great piece of work’ and there will always be ‘some things that aren’t identified’. But ‘the community was consulted on this’. Thought that the ‘outcome, balances the community expectation’ and ‘what the state expects’. Congratulated council and officers and ‘the community for being a big participant’. Hoped that ‘we will continue to produce work like this’ to ‘shape the future’ of the city.

TAYLOR: said it was a ‘huge body of work’ with over 4000 responses to the consultation and she wanted to ‘keep this coming’ in the further consultation. There will be plenty of options that inform people so council ‘isn’t hiding’ this from people and they really want input. The ‘standouts’ were that people wanted a ‘diversity of housing’ that catered for different ‘age-groups’ and for ‘people of different ability’ and ‘different socio-economic backgrounds’ plus ‘families’. People wanted ‘density’ to focus ‘on the activity centres’ and ‘less on the smaller streets’. People also wanted to ‘maintain the heritage and character’ of places. Said that ‘we do have to wait for Census data’ since she’d seen something on social media that asked ‘why do you need to wait?’. Said that ‘we have to wait’ until October 2017 because ‘we will get more important data’ on employment, and people’s vocation, ‘work place address’, and how they get to work. ‘We can’t ignore this vital information’ and they want a complete report. Without it, the report ‘won’t be useful and it will have gaps’ and ‘won’t serve the community in the way it needs to do’. Stated that it’s ‘important to have a dynamic document that continues to respond’ to the community and ‘this important data’ that they currently don’t ‘have access to’. The 4 structure plans are really important in that council has a ‘clear roadmap’ of ‘where we’re going’.

HYAMS: thanked submitters. Said this isn’t the end of a stage because the document ‘will be changed’ because ‘of further census data’ and more feedback from ‘the other consultations’. Called the document a ‘set of’ ‘guidelines’ that is the ‘skeleton’. Said there ‘were some changes from the original’ and these were that ‘the word vibrant was taken out’ since ‘that word did seem to cause a fair bit of angst’ and that people wanted their centres to be ‘lively’ but also ‘safe’ and ‘sedate’. Student housing also went in as an additional category of housing. This was important because people were thinking we ‘are allowing student housing when we’re actually not’ in certain areas. Caulfield South and Bentleigh East were also changed and ‘redefined as larger neighbourhood centres’. This is ‘basically the same as a neighbourhood centre’ but ‘maybe a bit more development’. Worth noting that in terms of shop floor space that Bentleigh East is ‘larger’ than Glen Huntly but has got less public transport and that’s why ‘it’s not the same’ but ‘it is probably appropriate that it be differentiated’ given its commercial size. Thus the housing ‘might be more 4 to 5 storey shop-top’. ‘We shouldn’t be seeing this as an attempt to encourage growth’. ‘We don’t want growth but have to accept that growth is happening’. So they have to ‘channel it in the most efficient way’. The plan therefore ‘sets out where employment opportunities should focus’ and ‘where different types of housing’ should go. So ‘if you’re looking for an absolutely prescriptive plan for every house in Glen Eira’ this isn’t it but rather a ‘broad brush’ stroke.

SZTRAJT: Said that council can accept or reject development applications but ‘at the end of the day other bodies such as VCAT’ ‘make the decisions’. ‘If we don’t provide these types of guidelines’ then council is ‘opening ourselves up to unelected officials who don’t live in the area’ making decisions ‘about what’s appropriate’ for us. ‘This is a way’ for the community to ‘tell us not only where development should happen’ but ‘what it should look like’ and ‘how it should be integrated into public transport’.  Said that ‘this is the ideal’ that it’s a plan ‘where we (say) what we want for our community and as a community’. Said he is ‘proud’ of what has ‘gone into’ the document and it is a ‘very impressive process’ of consultation.

MAGEE: said this is ‘all about building a much stronger local community’. The document moves council forward but ‘it is not the end of the journey’. This has to work with Plan Melbourne as well as the community/council plan. ‘This is something that will continue to evolve’. Said he had talked with a resident who had moved into Carnegie and she was ‘absolutely amazed’ what a great ‘city’ Glen Eira was. She hadn’t thought she ‘could afford’ to live in Carnegie ‘next to a railway station’ and a ‘really vibrant place’ as she ‘called it’. Council didn’t ‘supply’ the building but council did make sure that the building ‘complied with out planning scheme’. Council has to look at ‘where people live and where people work’. Said ‘I would hate to see Glen Eira purely as a residential city’. It has to be a place where people can work and not have a ‘one hour commute’. Said it’s been ‘nice’ to hear positive comments coming from residents especially around the Bentleigh and East Bentleigh area on ‘what’s happening in the city’.  There are ‘several tiers’ to the structure planning and this is ‘one tier’. Looking forward to further feedback and currently it is ‘8 to 2’ on the feedback – 8 positive and 2 negative.

DELAHUNTY: said it was an ‘incredibly’ important and ‘detailed piece of work’ and that ‘I’ve learnt a lot’ like what to call ‘that bit around Caulfield Station’ since ‘we’re all calling it different names’ and ‘what goes in a framework and what stays out of a framework’. Strategic planning is ‘sometimes about patience and getting the levels right’. So this ‘sets up the framwork’ for the future in how the ‘city looks and reacts’. Wasn’t ‘sure that I completely agree with Cr Hyams’ in saying ‘we don’t want growth’. Want ‘growth that we will be able to manage it in a way’. ‘We don’t want necessarily to shut the gates’. Victoria is the ‘recipient of the great benefits that growth has given’ but a bit ‘overwhelmed’ in how to ‘manage that in people’s best interests’. ‘We can’t shut the gates in Glen Eira’ and the plan is how to ‘manage the look and feel’ of growth. Agreed with colleagues that the strategy has been commented upon and had changes as a result of consultation. Thanked residents and ‘officers for their work’.

ATHANASOPOLOUS: thanked councillors for explaining ‘what this strategy means for you and what you got out of the process’. Said that one of the ‘most glaring’ stats he’d seen was that 80% of residents worked outside the municipality. Thought that ‘number is quite high’. Said that ‘retail is fantastic’ in most places including neighbourhood centres. Other forms need to be ‘encouraged’ and that the city is ‘craving’ for this. ‘great work’ and thanked the community ‘for being involved’.

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

When tens, if not hundreds of thousands of ratepayers’ dollars are spent on consultants then surely it is incumbent on those consultants and the officers who advise and vet the final reports to ensure that they are accurate. This is not the case with the latest Planisphere document entitled Urban Design Analysis – Bentleigh, Carnegie & Elsternwick (uploaded HERE).

Consultants are ‘hired guns’ – employed to do a job where they are bound by their brief and terms of reference set by council and completely reliant on the data that is provided to them by officers. How much they are paid is also correlated to the amount of work expected. If the data is deliberately skewed and the brief so narrow that it becomes meaningless, then the validity of any ensuing ‘report’ must be questioned. This is the case with the Planisphere effort.

Here is the section highlighting the recommendations on Carnegie –

Please note the following:

  • There are no ‘approved’ permits of 16 storeys in Carnegie. The 8 Egan St application for 16 storeys has twice been rejected by both council and VCAT. The first in 2015 and the second in May 2017. Why does Planisphere then state that VCAT approved this application? Readers can check these decisions at – http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2015/1565.html and http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/2017/695.html
  • As far as we know there has also not been a 13 storey permit granted. The application was for 12 storeys. Emphasising these illusory ‘permits’ is intended to bolster the argument that greater heights are now a reality in Carnegie and hence the proposed ‘urban design’ is warranted.
  • There is no explanation provided as to why this document concentrates exclusively on the areas nominated in the interim height amendment – especially since many of council’s proposed changes are OUTSIDE the areas included in the amendment – Rosstown Road for example. There is not a single word about Elliott, Tranmere, etc. Why? If the brief was this narrow, then council needs to tell its residents the reasons why and on what basis the changes in other areas were made.
  • The language used is also a concern in our view. For example: south of the railway line we find that an 8 storey permit is labelled as only a ‘minor breach’ of the interim height guidelines of a preferred 6 storey height limit. Yet, North of the railway we find the language changes to ‘significant breaches’ when only one permit has thus far been granted. We remind readers that the overriding reason given by VCAT for this permit was the lack of any height and building design guidelines in the planning scheme!
  • The most startling comment is the recommendation for a 9 storey height limit. Council’s ‘concept plans’ nominate an 8 to 12 storey height limit in this area. Thus we have the ludicrous situation where consultants recommend a potential for 9 storeys and council for some unjustified reason decides that 12 storeys is appropriate! Whether or not this is simply council’s opening ambit claim with the intention of ‘softening’ up the community and making them feel relieved that it will ultimately only be 9 storeys remains to be seen. But surely it is strange that so called experts call for 9 storeys and council wants 12 storeys?

There is much, much more throughout this consultant’s report that needs challenging – especially when activity centres as in Bentleigh have doubled in size and the consultants completely ignore what is happening outside the immediate commercial areas. And surely by any accepted definition ‘urban design’ must include analysis of setbacks, open space, traffic, etc. Planisphere is silent on these issues and residents are left to wonder what else council has up its sleeve?

PS: WE’VE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING FLYER AND ENCOURAGE RESIDENTS TO ATTEND

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