GERA has just received the below email from the BHCA Group challenging Council’s proposed representation at next month’s VCAT Hearing. The BHCA Group is the residents group opposing the proposed development of a high rise Retirement Village at Kooyong Road, Caulfield South – the development site is surrounded by the Neighbourhood Residential Zone with a 2 storey height.
“Previous statements from councillors and planning department representatives have offered confidence that the Development, as revised, would be strongly resisted and defended by council. …. It is with alarm that BHCA Group has learned the City of Glen Eira is not appointing a barrister. Nor is it presenting planning evidence, instead addressing matters by way of submission.”
We agree with the BHCA Group that Council’s proposed submission falls short of past promises and we note that it is in line with residents’ long standing and increasingly vocal criticisms of the quality of Council representation at VCAT.
The Bethlehem Hospital Community Action Group can be contacted by email at email@example.com
Dear Cr Delahunty (Mayor), Cr Silver, Cr Sztrajt, Cr Esakoff, Cr Davey, Cr Athanasopoulos, Cr Hyams, Cr Magee and Cr Taylor
Re: Calvary Healthcare Bethlehem Hospital Application GE/PP-29481/2016
To date, the Bethlehem Hospital Community Action Group (BHCA Group) has been reassured that the council possesses a similar strength of objection to the Bethlehem Hospital Redevelopment (the Development) as the local, affected residents.
Previous statements from councillors and planning department representatives have offered confidence that the Development, as revised, would be strongly resisted and defended by council. The draft permit conditions tabled by council at the VCAT compulsory conference and the early assurances that the City of Glen Eira would steadfastly defend the integrity of its planning scheme by appointing counsel and expertise provided affected residents with the impression that their elected representatives were listening and would act to oppose an irrevocable affront to the unique neighbourhood character.
Unfortunately, this confidence has been misplaced.
It is with alarm that BHCA Group has learned the City of Glen Eira is not appointing a barrister. Nor is it presenting planning evidence, instead addressing matters by way of submission. While this approach may be sufficient for the routine or typical VCAT planning or development related matters, for a VCAT determination, which goes to the heart of the integrity of City of Glen Eira planning scheme, it is not, sufficient or adequate.
The developers, Calvary Health Care, have engaged a high quality and experienced QC, instructed by legal, planning, urban design, traffic, landscape and related experts. They all have a motivation to successfully argue that the planning scheme does not apply to the Development and hence, they can flout the planning regulations and destroy the neighbourhood character with impunity.
BHCA Group strongly believes that this VCAT hearing commencing on 20 November 2017 is a test case for the integrity of the planning scheme for developments of this type. Issue of a permit, in the form proposed or substantially similar would represent a highly undesirable precedent that will propagate throughout the City of Glen Eira and other regions.
BHCA Group, with the full appreciation of the distinction between the arguments and representations of local residents and those of the City of Glen Eira, recognises that it must advocate on behalf of affected local residents. BHCA Group has obtained funding from local residents to engage its own barristers, planning and other experts to argue its case. BHCA Group reasonably expected that its efforts would complement those of the City of Glen Eira’s.
We therefore call upon the council, representing the residents of the City of Glen Eira, to move a motion to instruct the planning department and its legal counsel to appoint a senior barrister with suitable planning experience, planning expertise, whether it be from within the City of Glen Eira’s planning department or externally appointed, to complement and coordinate the urban design and parking experts that are currently contemplated.
As has been previously communicated, BHCA Group remains committed to work with the City of Glen Eira to coordinate our defence and objection to this inappropriate and objectionable Development.
on behalf of