EAST VILLAGE, BENTLEIGH (previously known as Virginia Park Estate)

Updated Concept Plans for the major “ East Village” commercial, retail and residential  development (20.2 ha or 202,400 sqm) have recently been released.   The “East Village” site is located on the current Virginia Park Industrial Estate on the eastern side of East Boundary Road (near the North Road intersection) in Bentleigh East.  The site has poor access to public transport and, with the exception of East Boundary Road, has limited vehicle access.

Concept Plan

The first plans for re-development of part of the Industrial Estate were known as the Virginia Park Estate and were presented to residents in 2015 – they generated resounding resident opposition.   These plans related only to the section of the above schematic labelled as the Gillon Group/Abacus Group (ie. 123,400 sqm/12.3 ha) and proposed a development that comprised

  • a large retail (ie. major supermarkets and Bunnings) component
  • a large (4,600 dwelling) “across the site” residential component and
  • a limited commercial (ie. employment opportunities) component.

These plans were rejected by Council in July, 2015, and the developer proposed to undertake a process of community consultation to ensure that the current and future needs of the community were provided for, prior to submitting amended development plans.

The current/amended Concept Plans (June 2016) are the result of that community consultation,  with those results to be applied to what has become a much larger site – now a joint development between 3 major developers (Gillon Group, Abacus and Make Property Group).  The site is now 202,400 sqm (20.2 ha) vs the 2015 site of 123,400 sqm (12.3 ha)

These East Village Concept Plans are being strongly criticized by residents as being little more than a “public relations exercise” designed to assure Council that the proposed development is supported by residents.    However, residents advise that, aside from an increase in the size of the site and the absence of any quantitative information, they see little change to the plans rejected by Council almost a year ago.  Residents are withholding their support/comments until more substantive plans, which quantitatively show how the community’s needs are to be incorporated in the development, are released.

Below is a  resident’s review of Concept Plans

“Having read the document I have concerns that this is just a PR exercise to convince councillors that this time they have the public on side.

The mere fact that it has been renamed the “East Village” worried me from the get go. The term conjures up shops, businesses and housing before any sod has been turned or any plans are prepared. It is meant to soften the attitude of both residents and council. I fear that this has happened during the recent phases.

In my view nothing has changed – the proposals still concentrate on providing a revamped business park with multiple housing. But they do not mention the number of dwellings this time or any specific business type – such as specialty shops or convenience grocery shopping. Their terminology of “Establish Retail Development” is hiding their real intent. Reading each plan gives the reader a sense of ease that low to medium housing will be provided around the fringe. But reading further the proposal is to still have housing throughout the entire complex. If the frightening thought of the previous proposal of 4,600 dwellings was a real one, then this current, expanded proposal has the capacity to possibly add another 2,000.

Besides what the hell is low and medium density in terms of the number of houses and people in real terms.  Just two terms used to soften the understanding of real numbers in my view.

It’s the same directions as the previous stuff, only lager.  And although Gillon and Co. have not specifically stated anything about it in regard to further directions to North Rd except to say Incremental Change To Existing ServicesI can imagine that Business and Housing will eventually be proposed to complete this “False Activity Centre” or “False Urban Village” that is being conceived and born from this confused location of Commercial Zones.

The traffic generated from this larger concept will be much worse than the previous proposal along with parking issues already noted of concern. While an additional intersection at North Road is merely mentioned as a possible outlet, in reality it will not give a great deal of relief, in my opinion, because the local road leading to North Road from the site is small in width and will not allow a significant traffic flow to warrant a decision not to use the two East Boundary Road locations. So parking and traffic issues will be increased along with over saturation of housing. Nothing is changed.

Whilst there is mention of tree a lined East boundary Road and the main Internal Roads along with some minor key new public open space, I don’t believe that the thought of profit over amenity is at the forefront of this developer’s mind. It’s an attempt once again to show that they have listened and provided for something that the masses wanted. With all due respect to those seeking the inclusion of a school, I for one do not wish a school to be located on the site. I understand all the reasons why folks would think a new school is needed. Schools generate traffic during two peak times and this will add to the traffic problems on East boundary Road along with parking. As a resident of East Boundary Road I admit I am totally selfish with my view on this one.

As a resident of Glen Eira I am really concerned about the future of this proposal and the attitude of the council (both officers and councillors) on it.”

No doubt, the East Village development (which dwarfs the Caulfield Village development) will remain a highly contentious issue (both the short and long term) as the planning approval process continues.   And no doubt we’ll continue to update readers on progress.

East Village Background

The following is a brief outline of the planning processes that have occurred with regards the current development proposal.

2011 – Planning Scheme Amendment C75 approved by Council 15/3/2011

  • Only applicable to above schematic “Gillon Group/Abacus” (123,400 sqm, 12.3 ha) section
  • Rezoned site from Industrial to Business
  • Applied Development Plan Overlay that
    • Defined building heights and building footprints
    • Building heights rise from
      • 2-4 stories at the periphery to
      • 5-6 stories in the middle ring to
      • 7-10 stories in the core
    • Restricted future 3rd Party objector rights (ie. future objections to heights and building footprints not permitted)

Labelled Plan T

2013 – July Planning Zone Implementation

  • Zoning Changed from
    • Business 1 to Commercial Zone 1 (retail, commercial and residential uses permitted)
    • Business 3 to Commercial Zone 2 (retail and commercial uses permitted – no residential usage)
    • No zoning change to Make or Abacus properties

Current Planning Zones

2015 – Planning Scheme Amendment C126  – Council Meeting Minutes 21/7/2015

  • Proposed rezoning of Commercial Zone 2 (retail and commercial uses only) to Commercial Zone 1 (retail, commercial and residential uses permitted). No change to Industrial Zones (Make Property Group and Abacus).
  • Development plan included provision of 4,600+ dwellings, large retail outlets (e.g supermarkets, Bunnings), limited office/commercial usage.
  • Significant objections from residents and local traders
    • Council presentation of Planning Scheme Amendment C126 information to residents strongly criticized – presented as a simple commercial zone change without indicating the potential impact of the residential component (ie. C2Z – no residential usage vs.  C1Z – residential usage permitted).
    • Proposal is an overdevelopment of land without any strategic justification
    • Expansion of retail and residences ( 4,600+) diminishes office and commercial usage and therefore limits employment opportunities.
    • Landlocked site with inadequate public transport (bus only) and restricted site vehicles access (already congested East Boundary Road only) .
    • Adverse impacts on local businesses and flawed retail impact assessment
    • Inadequate provision of open space and other services
    • Adverse impact on traffic congestion and parking  within the development, on East Boundary Road and surrounding residential streets.  VicRoads concerned that the wider area is not being looked at holistically to ensure safety and efficiency of the road network;
  • Council abandoned Planning Scheme Amendment C126

2016 06 – East Village Concept Plan

  • Site size increased from 12.3 ha to 20.2 ha
  • Concept Plans released – no details on proposed
    • building heights or footprints in the “Make Property Group” (4.3 ha)  or “Abacus” (3.6 ha) sections or
    • usages (commercial/retail/residential) across larger site
  • In the absence of qualitative information, many questions remain unanswered.

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