Tag Archives: Community Consultation. Community Participation

PETITION – REQUEST FOR ZONE IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW

In conjunction with GERA, the various residents groups emerging across the municipality are joining together and organising a petition to Council as follows

“Request GE Council to review its current planning scheme (incl a public consultation process as part of that review) & seek amendments to the planning scheme as a result of that review.”

To sign the petition

  • Electronically, Glen Eira Petition – Change.org  or
  • Manually, email geresidents@hotmail.com and a copy will be forwarded to you.   Return completed petitions to:  GERA, P.O. Box 212, Elsternwick 3185

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This petition arises from Council’s August, 2013 Planning Zone Implementation, which  the then Mayor (Jamie Hyams) described as being ”the biggest single planning change in Glen Eira’s history” 

  • yet was undertaken without any community consultation (“extensive” consultation having occurred 3 years prior, i.e. 2010), and
  • was retrospectively approved by all current Glen Eira Councillors on 13/8/2013 (with gazettal, ie. legal enactment, expected on 15/8/2013). Glen Eira’s official Zone Implementation media release is dated 5/8/2013.

Under the Planning and Environment Act, 1987, all Councils are required to review their Planning Scheme every 4 years.   While it may be argued Glen Eira’s zone implementation constituted a review, that review did not involve the community.

Four years on from the last Planning Scheme review that involved community consultation and 12 months on from the zone implementation, there is broad and growing dissatisfaction with Glen Eira’s zone implementation.   GERA believes that the petition’s request for a planning scheme review, which includes community consultation is

GERA, therefore, both supports the petition and urges residents to also support the petition.

 

NEIGHBOURHOOD RESIDENTIAL ZONES – CERTAINTY?

Readers may or may not be aware of the spike in multi-unit, 3 & 4 storey planning applications in the areas designated as growth zones* (ie. former Housing Diversity Areas).   GERA’s previous postings (“Enough is Enough” Part 1 and Part 2) highlighted residents’ concerns re developments in Mavho and Loranne Streets in Bentleigh.   GERA is now receiving requests for objection preparation assistance from growth zone residents in all suburbs within the municipality. In all cases the development is seeking the maximum building envelope allowable (i.e. height, site coverage) with little regard for neighbourhood character.   Growth zone residents are becoming increasingly vocal in their criticisms of Council’s zone implementation (lack of consultation and information) and Councillors’ responses to their concerns related to specific planning permit applications.

Compared to the outcry occurring in the growth zones, the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (ie. NRZ1 – the former Minimal Change Areas or Residential 1 zone) has remained relatively quiet. However, that may change as NRZ residents begin to question the “certainty” and “protection” included in the Media Releases issued by the State Government’s Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) and Glen Eira Council

  • Minister for Planning – 5/8/2013

“The Neighborhood Residential Zone will apply to nearly 80% of residential zoned land in the City of Glen Eira. These areas will be protected from apartment and unit style development with a maximum of only two homes permitted per lot with a two storey (eight metre) height limit.”

  • Glen Eira Council – 5/8/2013

“In the Neighbourhood Residential Zone, in addition to the new maximum 2 storey height limit, neighbourhood character will be further protected by a limit of not more than two dwellings per lot, site coverage limited to 50%, porous area to be at least 25%, private open space to be at least 60 square metres and a rear set back of at least 4 metres. This will allow more room for canopy trees and less run off into storm water.”

 Both media releases omitted to mention the impact of subdivision although that impact was known to both parties prior to zone implementation. As per the following notes of meetings between the DPCD and Council

  • April, 2013 (Glen Eira Council Director of Planning Akehurst named, other GEC attendees names redacted) – “subdivision may be a work around in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone to allow more than 2 dwellings on a lot”
  • July 2013 – (Glen Eira Council Attendees – CEO Newton, Director of Planning Akehurst and then Mayor Jamie Hyams) – “Council believe that subdivision prior to unit development is the way around the maximum 2 dwelling within the NRZ”.

Use of subdivision is a legitimate and accepted means of dividing a one lot into 2 or more smaller lots for purposes of sale or development. While residents of middle ring suburbs may be accustomed to subdivision occurring post construction (ie. creation of strata tiles for multi-unit, multi-storey developments), it may also occur prior to construction (eg. for financing or other purposes) to increase a lots dwelling yield.

To achieve the levels of “certainty” and “protection” outlined in the Media Releases, Glen Eira’s zone implementation should have not only included height limits and the maximum no. of dwellings per lot in the mandatory zone definition but also minimum lot size.   Many other Councils have specified a minimum lot size or a minimum lot size range (eg. 250 – 400 sqm).   However, rather than specifying a minimum lot size Glen Eira has retained the previously existing criteria – if a lot size is larger than average (average determined as being the average lot size of the immediate surrounding properties). While this may have been effective in past, is expected to become much less effective in the future as more and more “immediate surrounding properties” are subdivided.   The Financial Review recently (5/9/2014) published an article entitled “Property Strategy: Subdivide and Conquer” on this issue.

In addition, to the known subdivision issue, Council’s implementation of the zones overlooked the implications for large lots (a.k.a “super lots”, lots equal to or greater than 2000 sqm).   To overcome this oversight, in December, 2013, Councillors unanimously approved preparation of Planning Scheme Amendment C115  for large lots within the Neighbourhood Residential Zone. This amendment would have introduced a minimum lot size of 400 sqm for the 104 properties** within the NRZ that are greater than 2000 sqm. (Some of these lots are 8000 sqm). As stated in the report recommending preparation of the C115 Amendment, the amendment was proposed in response to pressures from developers and the realization that rather than subdivide, the developers preferred to seek spot Ministerial intervention to re-zone the super lots to General Residential Zone (3 storey, multi-unit developments). Such an intervention having been achieved by the developer of the Alma Club (7,100 sqm) which Council acknowledges as not noticed prior to the zone implementation.

To avoid spot interventions (ie. retain a level of “certainty” and “protection”) and thus ensure large lot developments in keeping with the Neighbourhood Residential Zone, GERA supported preparation of Amendment C115.   GERA believed the introduction of minimum lots sizes

  • was a reasonable solution to Council failing to recognise the 2 dwelling per lot issue for large lots prior to zone implementation. GERA doubts any resident would agree that “super lots” should be constrained to the 2 dwelling ruling.
  • may set a minimum lot size precedent for the NRZ which would be applied to all subdivisions in that zone. Within the NRZ there are many, many existing lots in the 800 – 1999 sqm range that are may be subdivided to increase their dwelling yield.

Since Amendment C115 has not been submitted for community consultation, a public question on it’s progress was asked at the 12/08/2013 Council Meeting

  • Question

In December last year, Council resolved to seek Ministerial approval to exhibit Amendment C115. Why has there been no reference to this in Council’s Quarterly Reports and what is the current position of this Amendment?”

  • Response

Amendment C115 concerns large lots (greater than 2,000m2) located within the Neighbourhood Residential Zone. The aim of the amendment is to increase the number of dwellings beyond 2 which would be the maximum number for a large lot zoned Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ). Council cannot exhibit the amendment until authorisation is obtained from the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure (Minister).

 Authorisation has to date not been forthcoming on the basis that each large lot should have a stipulation as to how many dwellings will be allowed. This approach is not supported by Council officers as it would prejudge a dwelling yield in the absence of a specific development plan.”

 The above response, indicates that

  • The authorisation to prepare Amendment C115 for ministerial approval to submit for consultation was undertaken without advice from the Minister. Council officers and the Minister disagree on the solution and the Amendment has stalled. No advice was given on the pro’s and con’s of either solution.
  • Council’s preferred approach is for the developer to prepare a subdivision plan for each of the “super lots” as and when development is imminent.
  • Subdivision prior to development remains a “way around the maximum 2 dwelling within the NRZ” regardless of the size of the lot.

At the last Council Meeting (02/09/2014)  a subdivision plan, combined with building envelopes, was approved for the “super lot” located at 487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena (3,142 sqm).

Readers may remember that GERA lobbied Council,  in December, 2012, to acquire this a cleared lot, adjacent to the existing the Riley Reserve, which would have substantially increased (60%) Riley Reserve and increased Glen Eira’s very limited parkland.

487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeenaa

Unfortunately, although a unique opportunity, Council did not acquire the property either in 2012 when it was sold to a developer ($2.7m) or in 2013, when it was on-sold for development (amount unknown). A previously VCAT issued planning permit for the site (“three (3) storey apartment building containing 28 dwellings above basement parking”) had lapsed prior to the 2012 sale and a “new” planning permit application had not been submitted prior the 2013 sale.

As previously mentioned, at it’s last meeting (02/09/2014) Council approved a planning permit application (No. GE/PP-26552/2014) for 487 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena. The permit comprised

  • A 7 lot subdivision of the site and
  • Planning approval of “building envelopes” (i.e. high level plans) for 7 two storey residences (one per subdivided lot).

The Officer’s Report reports the application “yields a density of approximately 1 dwelling per 448 square metres of site area”. However, residents should not confuse density yield with lot sizes. The density yield of 448 sqm is the result of a dividing the total lot size (given in the Report as 3138 sqm) with the number of dwellings. The actual lot sizes are much smaller than the density yield.

The lot sizes are

  • Lot 1 is 304 square metres
  • Lots 2-7 (inclusive) range in size from 199 square metres to 238 square metres

 487 Neerim Road Subdivision Plan Boundaries0001

The lots design (their location around the site perimeters abutting residential properties and the railway line) and their sizes being in line with the “constraints presented by the site”.  The constraints being the provision of pedestrian and vehicular access to the lots (to and from Neerim Road) and “significant trees located on the site”. Both the access to/from Neerim Road and the significant trees will be considered as located on “common property”

The Officers Report states that “The application is not a development application for multi-dwellings. The subdivision includes building envelopes for seven (7) future double storey dwellings”.   However, GERA is struggling to see why a subdivision plan for 7 lots and 7 building envelopes (which define building heights, foot prints and setbacks) should not be considered as a development application for multi-unit dwellings.  Residents future rights to lodge objections as more detailed plans become available may be curtailed (as with the Caulfield Village Development) because building heights, footprints and setbacks have already been approved.

As previously mentioned GERA believes NRZ residents will soon be questioning

  • the levels of “certainty” and “protection” the zoning provides, particularly with regards the known subdivision issue,
  • a potential minimum lot size precedent being set by the 497 Neerim Road permit approval.   With a 200 sqm lot size, it is possible to design a 2 storey single residence that satisfies the NRZ1 requirements for private open space, set backs, permeable surfaces etc.   In terms of a “super lot”, vehicle and pedestrian access  provisions will primarily determine how many 200 sqm lots with 2 storey residences can be accommodated on the site.  In terms of a medium lot of, say, 1000 sqm, subdivision (even allowing for provision of vehicle and pedestrian access) may will yield 4 individual strata title 2 storey dwellings where one previously existed.+
  • their rights to object to developments when building heights, footprints and setbacks have previously been approved.   Regardless of what it is called (eg “Incorporated Plan” or a “Building Envelope”), if followed by a more detailed plans (eg. ”Development Plan”) as the objectors to the Caulfield Village/C60 Development Plans were informed

“It is important to note that submission comments regarding the building heights, building footprints and/or setbacks cannot be taken into consideration by Council. This is because these were determined during the Amendment C60 process and cannot be altered as part of the Development Plan Assessment”++

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Footnotes

* Growth Zones and Heights – refer are earlier post for brief details on permissible uses and detailed zone maps

RGZ                Residential Growth Zone – Height Limit 13.5m (4 stories)

GRZ                General Residential Zone – Height Limit 10.5m (3 stories)

 

** “Super lots” – The Officers Report did not include any details (eg. ownership, location, size) of the 104 “super lots”, nor did the Report indicate if Council was considering lodging a Parkland Acquisition Overlay on any or each of the properties.

Errata – 24/9/2014

+ and ++ = clarification added to initial posting as requested by residents

CAULFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY – Gone???

Conservatory

CONSERVATORY UPDATE – 25/5/2014

Last week’s Council Meeting (20/5/2014) saw some 35+ residents protest against Council’s decision  to demolish the conservatory and return it to open space. The decision (a 4 to 3 split decision) to remove the conservatory (Council Meeting 29/4/2014), came some 7 months after the previous unanimous decision to (24/9/2013) to restore and replant the landmark Conservatory.

The protest involved residents entering the Council Chamber towards the start of the meeting and chanting, for some 4-5 minutes “SAVE OUR CONSERVATORY”,  then departing.

As stated in our below posting, the 24/9/2013 decision to restore and replant  the conservatory, reflected the view, clearly and consistently, expressed by residents in 4 consultations over a 5 year period (a period in which Conservatory neglect continued).  The last consultation (July, 2013) being an extensive mail out and telephone survey in which residents were asked to rank the various alternative uses – the unambiguous survey results were

  • Most preferred option – restore and replant (49% of respondents)
  • Least preferred option – remove (50% of respondents)

The 20/5/2014 decision to remove is primarily based on Council’s estimated cost of restoring and replanting ($120K) being lower than the average cost ($297K) of structural restoration tenders received (an amount of questionable significance in terms of Council’s annual $73+m budget).   Re the removal decision – no community consultation occurred and no information was provided in support of Council’s $120K (restoration and replanting) cost estimate.   Additionally, the comment  “that if residents were aware of the cost when surveyed, the outcome would most likely have been different” (Leader Article 21/5/2014)  lacks foundation and does not acknowledge that, although residents requested cost estimates be provided for the various 2013 survey options presented, none were provided.

GERA maintains it’s view that Council’s decision to remove the conservatory is inconsistent with

  • Council’s goal of incorporating community input into its decision making process
  • The principles of good governance

 

INITIAL POSTING – 19/5/2014

The issue of what to do with the  Caulfield Park Conservatory (subject to a Heritage Overlay) has been raised 4 times in the past 4 years. Predominantly the options presented to the community have been restore, remove or convert to café.   Although, each time the community has voted for restore, the conservatory has remained neglected.

The last community consultation was held in July, 2013.   In addition to the usual Council consultation announcements (ie Council’s website, Glen Eira News and Local Media),  Council also undertook

o a 3200+ mail out of a pictured survey brochure, which requested residents rank the below alternative options in order of preference

Café – indoor/outdoor – capacity 50
 Café/Tearooms – indoor/outdoor – capacity 80-100
 Children’s garden/playspace, environmental education hub
 Community Rooms
 Native/sustainable garden
 Plant Nursery
 Recreational/exercise area
 Remove Conservatory and return to open space
 Retain the Conservatory, repair, restore and replant garden
 Other

o a telephone survey of 300 residents and
o promoted the survey in prominent locations within Caulfield Park.

Although residents, and the Friends of Caulfield Park, requested cost estimates be provided to enable residents to make informed decisions on the various options, none were provided.

The results of the returned surveys (24/9/2013 Council Meeting Minutes – Item 9.14) were

• the most preferred options

o the Conservatory to be repaired and restored, with its gardens replanted (49%)
o the second most preferred option being that the Conservatory be used for a native/sustainable garden (31%).

• the least preferred options

o remove the Conservatory and return the area to open space (50%)
o used as café/tearooms – with an indoor/outdoor seating capacity of 80-100 people (44%)

As a result, Council passed the following motion

That Council:
(a) Note feedback received during consultation process,
(b) Repair and restore the Conservatory and replant its gardens,
(c) Investigate options for community involvement in the restored
Conservatory.

At the last Council Meeting 29/4/2014  (Council Meeting Minutes – Item 9.8), the Caulfield Park Conservatory was raised once again. The Officers Report presented states that the Council Budget provided $120k for restoration of the conservatory and the average of the tenders received for the restoration of the conservatory was $297K.   The explanation for this cost over run was that in “The process of preparing the tender specification and the tender process itself identified additional issues”*, which we believe are predominantly structural and brings into question the costing exercise undertaken to determine the budgeted $120K.

The options presented at the last Council meeting (29/4/2014) were

“Options include, but are not limited to:

a. select a tender for the restoration of the conservatory and accept the significantly increased cost;
b. remove the conservatory and return the area to open space including new plantings of exotic species – estimated cost $75k;
c. remove the conservatory and amphitheatre and return both areas to open space including new plantings of exotic species –estimated cost $140k;
d. undertake consultation on alternative proposals;
e. other action as directed.”

The motion passed by Council (Moved by Cr. Lipshutz, Seconded by Cr. Delahunty) was

“That Council remove the conservatory and amphitheatre and return both
areas to open space including new plantings with exotic species with an
estimated cost of $140,000”.

Voting for the motion – Crs. Delahunty, Esakoff, Lipshutz and Pilling
Voting against the motion – Crs. Lobo, Magee, Sounness.

Following on from the recent well-publicized and highly contentious removal of trees from Caulfield Park, the Friends of Caulfield Park are understandably aggrieved at Council’s decision to overturn (within 7 months) the 24/9/2013 decision to restore and replant – a unanimous decision that was based on extensive community consultation. The split decision to overturn was made without any community consultation and on a questionable budget estimate.

GERA supports the Friends of Caulfield Park in their objection to the decision to demolish the conservatory and their request for Council to reverse their decision to demolish the Conservatory.   The decision to demolish the conservatory is

  • contrary to the repeatedly expressed wishes of the community,
  • contrary to Council’s frequent claims incorporating community input into its decision making process
  • contrary to the principles of good governance (GERA 2011 Governance Posting).  Such principles do not support overturning a previous decision, that was based on an extensive community consultation, due to an underestimated budgeted amount.

 

For those interested, we also highlight that Council’s DRAFT 2014 Community Engagement Strategy has been published and is available for community consultation (submissions to be lodged 21/5/2014). We encourage all residents to review and make a submission. As per this Draft Strategy,

“Community engagement is about enabling the community and other interested parties to be informed and invited to contribute to Council services, events, strategic plans, issues and projects. Engagement strengthens the community by involving citizens in the democratic process and providing them with opportunities to express their points of view. Participation in civic life is recognised as being central to good health, developing strong and supportive networks and creating a positive community spirit.

By engaging with the community, Council acknowledges the right of citizens to have their say and get involved with local issues that affect them, their family and their community. It also enables Council to meet the needs of the community by ensuring that planning and decision making is based on an understanding of the needs and aspirations of community members”.

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* Additional issues identified during the tender process

• A significant area of the roof structure was found to be supported by the
windows.
• New lintels and steel columns would be required to support the roof.
• Much of the polycarbonate roof sheeting, windows and doors need to be
replaced.
• Existing steel trusses also need structural reinforcement.

C60 / CAULFIELD VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT – OVERVIEW

GERA has received a number of emails from residents asking for information on the C60 / Caulfield Village Development – where is it, what is it and what’s the C60 planning approval history.  In response, this posting focuses on providing an overview of the original proposal and current Incorporated Plan and the governance issues that arise from Council’s C60/Caulfield Village approval process.

Subsequent posts will discuss the current Development Plan.

PLANNING BACKGROUND

The C60/Caulfield Village Development is located within what is known as the Phoenix Precinct which was designated as a Priority Development Zone (Major Activity Centre) in the 2002 Planning Scheme Review and that also identified the Housing Diversity/Minimal Change Areas across the Glen Eira Municipality.

The Phoenix Precinct includes two major sites separated by the divisive railway line. Road connectivity within the precincts is limited (Smith Street and Queens Avenue underpasses) and pedestrian unfriendly. Pedestrian connectivity is provided by the Caulfield Station pedestrian only underpass.

Pheonix Precinct

The two sites are:

Monash University – in the western precinct. The Monash site is bounded by Dandenong Road, Derby Road (part), Sir John Monash Drive and the Campus Green of Monash University Caulfield Campus.

The proposed Monash University development (originally comprising several 23 storey buildings) was delayed due to reduced government funding (arising from the GFC) and the withdrawal of the development partner/manager/contractor (Equiset), Current reports indicate that the development will comprise the addition of 10 to 12 storey buildings across the campus area. The addition of 2 storeys (currently a work in progress) to an existing Dandenong Road building, indicates that some expansion is already occurring.

The MRC C60 / Caulfield Village Development, now known as the “Caulfield Mixed Use Area” in the Planning Scheme. This is MRC freehold land south of the railway line and north of the Caulfield Race Course Reserve and is generally bordered by Station Street, Kambrook Road, Balaclava Road, and Normanby Road.

Residents should note that

  • except for the asphalted triangle* of land at the Caulfield Station end, which is currently used for Glasshouse Tabaret and Monash University car parking, the C60 site was not crown land.  The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve (which comprises the majority of the Racecourse site) is crown land designated as having three separate yet equal purposes: racecourse, public park and public recreation area. It is this designation that gives rise to the frequent, contentious Centre of the Racecourse Reserve issues – the principal argument being that the racecourse purpose is well served but the public park and public recreation purposes are not.
  • the development proposed is named “Caulfield Village”. Planning Scheme Amendment C60 was introduced to rezone the actual site within the Phoenix Precinct to a Priority Development Zone and the “Caulfield Village” development to proceed. Hence the two, frequently interchangeable, terms.

C60 / CAULFIELD VILLAGE PROPOSAL

Both the current development plan and original proposal divide the site into 3 precincts with the precincts being developed in stages. To improve access within the site, a new road “The Boulevard” (connecting the Smith Street Underpass to Station Street) will be constructed, Smith Street will be reconfigured (restricted access near the underpass) and Station Street angled parking will be replaced with parallel parking.

Caulfield Mixed Use Area Precinct Plan

Initially the three precincts were broadly outlined as

Residential Precinct – Contemporary style buildings up to 2 stories on street fronts, rising to 4 set back stories towards the higher density Mixed Use Precinct. Estimated no. of dwellings was between 270-320 with limited information on setbacks and no details on dwelling types (ie. no. of bedrooms or, townhouse vs multi-unit highrise)
Mixed Use Precinct – Contemporary style buildings up to 3 stories on street fronts, rising to 5 set back stories towards the higher density Smith Street Precinct. Estimated no. of dwellings was 340, with no information on set backs and no details on no of bedrooms. The apartments were to be located above 7,550 sqm of retail and commercial space (no detail given on retail/commercial split).
Smith Street Precinct – 3 contemporary style high rise buildings, to include

o an up to a 10 storey building comprising 2,500 sqm retail and service space and 180 dwellings,
o a 12 storey building offering short stay accommodation and 219 residential units and
o a 15 storey building across from Caulfield Station which comprised 5,000 sqm of retail space on lower levels and 20,000 sqm of commercial/office space.

As per the Residential and Mixed Use Precincts limited information on setbacks was provided and no details were provided on apartment types (eg. no. of bedrooms).

In summary, as per the  Community Engagement Report in Council Minutes 17th December, 2013,

“Caulfield Village is a large-scale development project located to the north of the Caulfield Racecourse on free hold land. Upon completion in the next ten to fifteen years, Caulfield Village will contain 1200 dwellings (ranging from apartments to short-stay accommodation), 15000 sqm of retail floor space (including a supermarket) and 20,000 sqm of commercial office space”.

Promotional material for the development described it as “a village centre and walkable neighbourhood, where you can live, work, shop and relax”.

CONSULTATION AND DECISION

Residents, involved in the C60 consultations and aware of Councils decision making process, have raised a number of issues related to governance and the principles of good governance (refer GERA’s 8/12/2011 Governance posting)  throughout the consultation process.

Racecourse Special Committee

For various reasons, Council appointed a four member (Crs. Esakoff, Hyams, Lipshutz and Pilling) Racecourse Special Committee which, together with CEO Andrew Newton, was to oversee and conduct negotiations with the MRC and implement the community consultation process. CEO Newton and Cr. Esakoff were appointed as the chief negotiators. The Racecourse Special Committee recommended approval of the C60 Amendment and Incorporated Plan. This approval recommendation was presented to, and ratified by, Council on the 28th April, 2011.

As a result of this ratification the Minister for Planning (rather than Council) become responsible for all future planning decisions related to the Caulfield Village and residents third party objection rights were removed.

While GERA has no knowledge of any Racecourse Special Committee reports presented to Councillors at Meetings of Assembly (ie. in-camera briefing sessions), residents have advised that no such reports (or report summaries) were presented to any open Council Meeting and residents/objectors were not kept advised on an ongoing basis.

• Community Consultation Process

As per the above 17th December, 2013 Minutes, Council undertook a number of community consultations

• 8th February, 2010 – Planning Conference. Estimated attendance estimated at 50+.
• May, 2010 – 6 day Independent Planning Panel Hearing
• 4th April, 2011 – Planning Conference. Estimated attendance 150+.

At each consultation residents’ objections included (amongst many others)
• Development out of character with the surrounding area (predominantly single storey Victorian/Edwardian
• Inadequate traffic and parking analysis which focussed on traffic within the development itself and on the sections of the main roads that were “in the vicinity of the site”. No analysis was undertaken on the impact on surrounding residential streets or Neerim Road or Queens Avenue.
• Inadequate consideration given to displaced parking in Smith Street, Station Street and ‘the triangle’ on weekdays or during Racecourse events (be they special, eg Spring Racing Carnival or the Caravan and Camping Show or standard race days). Displaced parking arising not only from road configurations but also by the introduction of time restricted parking within the development not considered.
• Impact of development on surrounding limited open space (Caulfield Park and use of the Centre of the Racecourse Reserve as a car park)
• No consideration given to the impact of the Monash University development on the C60 development or surrounding residential areas.

Residents have also advised that at both the February, 2010 Planning Conference and the May, 2010 Independent Planning Panel Hearing, all documentation and expert witness reports (including Councils traffic and parking analysis) related to the development comprising 1200 dwellings and 35,000 sqm retail/commercial space as per the 2008 Caulfield Village Incorporated Plan.  The relevance of the 2008 Incorporated Plan to the Independent Planning Panel Hearing is confirmed in the March, 2010 Department of Planning and Community Development letter, which advises objectors of the panels appointment.

While a potential increase in building heights, dwellings numbers and retail/commercial space was mentioned at the Independent Planning Panel Hearing little or no detail was provided on the potential increases and no expert witness documentation was presented that supported the potential increases.  Independent Planning Panel Report, 2010.

At the 4th April, 2011, Planning Conference (Chaired by Cr. Lipshutz and attended by Cr. Pilling, Hyams, Esakoff) the MRC made a brief verbal presentation (with the aid of a scaled model) outlining the height increases. Reportedly, this was the first time residents were informed of the height increases and the provision of 2000 on site/off street parking spaces (a figure which basic Rescode rates indicates is inadequate for the estimated of 1200 dwellings and the number of employees and patrons required to ensure a viable 35,000 sqm of commercial and retail space).

No documentation was presented, either prior to, at or after the meeting, which related to the height increase, space usages or analysis of the impact of the development on the above key issues raised by residents/objectors.

Approximately 3 weeks later, on 28th April, 2011, although neither the “amended” Incorporated Plan (with height increases) or the associated Section 173 Agreement** had been presented for community consultation Council ratified the Incorporated Plan.

As per Council’s Press Release (Glen Eira News – June 2011 – page 4) building height limits had been imposed and the originally proposed car parking requirements had been increased.  Details of the actual height limits and the car parking provisions were not given.

C60 Media Release0001

Heights were set in the ‘amended’ Incorporated Plan as

Residential Precinct – 2 storeys on street fronts, rising to 4-5 set back stories towards the higher density Mixed Use Precinct. Was 2 – 4 storeys
Mixed Use Precinct – 4-5 storeys, rising to 8 set back storeys towards the higher density Smith Street Precinct. Was 3 – 5 storeys
Smith Street Precinct – 4 storeys at street front, rising to 12 facing the new Boulevard, 4 storeys at street front, rising to 20 on the Normanby Road/Station Street/Smith Street Triangle. Was three buildings of 10, 12 and 15 storey building.

The Incorporated Plan now describes the 1200 dwellings, 15,000 sqm retail and the 20,000 commercial proposition as “a tested development scenario”.

Car Parking Requirements are not mentioned in the Incorporated Plan, however, Council’s response to a public question on 6th June, 2011 (6/6/2011 Council Meeting Minutes – Section 11), indicates that basic Res-Code on-site/off street parking requirements were applied to the development, ie

1 and 2 bedroom                             1 car space
3 bedrooms                                       2 car spaces
Residential visitors                       1 car space per 5 dwellings
Retail Premises                               2.18 car spaces per 100 sqm
Supermarket                                    5.5 car spaces per 100 sqm
Commercial                                      2 car spaces per 100 sqm

An estimate of the costs of implementing restricted parking in the local residential streets may be based on Council’s response to a public question on 14th August, 2012 (14/08/2012 Council Meeting Minutes – Section 11). The cost of manufacturing and installing parking restriction signage is less than $33.33 per sign – “the cost of six parking restriction signs manufactured and installed by Council’s depot was less than $200.”

GOVERNANCE

The above outline gives rise to a multitude of governance issues (refer GERA posting 8/12/2011 “Governance”) and indicates that the principles of “good governance” were not applied during the above consultation process.

Residents involved in the above consultation process dispute Council’s claims that it undertook “a rigourous community consultation and amendment process” that showed “respect” and that “the community’s involvement in ‘helping shape the future of the area’ has occurred”. “Good governance” and genuine community consultation requires the disclosure of information and an informed community.

GERA is not questioning the legality of the Council’s C60/Caulfield Village decision making processes. However, GERA believes that it is appropriate to question how well Council, within the bounds of legality, represented the community it serves both within the local and broader community context.  This precept is fundamental to the role and functioning of Local Government.

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Footnotes
* The Triangle was the subject of a contentious land swap  agreement between the State Government and the MRC/Trustees.

** Broadly, a Section 173 Agreement is a legal agreement (under Section 173 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987) between the Local Authority (Council) and the owners of the land (the MRC in this instance). S173 agreements are generally used to reinforce planning controls and impose restrictions and conditions on titles.

Declaration
Please note GERA advises that a number of our members reside in the vicinity of the C60 / Caulfield Village Development – the number of these members is less than 0.5% of the 500 local residents that Council has identified, and contacted, as those most likely to be impacted by the development. That percentage falls further when the flow on impacts to the broader community is considered, ie. vehicular traffic is highly fluid, traffic congestion and parking constraints will result in alternative routes and parking options being sought within the municipality. Obviously GERA is concerned about impacts within the local area, however, the flow on impacts to the broader community is equally concerning.

Erratum – 23/2/2014.  The listing of Crs. appointed to the Racecourse Special Committee inadvertently omitted Cr. Pilling.  This has now been corrected.

THE “REAL” 2013 INCREASE IN OPEN SPACE

Those of you who have been following our previous posts on the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy will be aware that GERA has been requesting details of the strategy’s reported 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) increase in Glen Eira’s Open Space from that reported in the 1998 Strategy.  GERA’s initial (3/12/2014) and follow-up requests do not stem from a desire to  “nitpick” but rather a belief that the practice of “good governance” (and its principles of openness, transparency and accountability) requires advising the community when a change of definitions has occurred and providing an analysis of the impact of the definitional changes when presenting documents to the community.  The significance of Glen Eira’s well documented lack of open space* and the community’s long held and well expressed governance concerns adds emphasis to this requirement in this instance.

GERA received the requested details (ie. the 1998 Open Space Strategy’s Working Paper C – Public Open Space Inventory and Inventory of Buildings within Open Space Areas last Friday (7/2/2014) and has undertaken Council’s recommended D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) comparison/reconciliation.

The comparison/reconciliation results are very disconcerting due to the disparity of the results;  area differences are recorded for most parks (whatever the size) and those differences are often contrary to expectations.  The statement that “From these definitions it can be deduced that the 1998 strategy did not include Council leased facilities such as tennis courts, bowls clubs and croquet, etc.”  indicates a reasonable expectation of area increases in those parks with such facilities and a zero area change to  those parks without such facilities.  Yet surprisingly, and inexplicably, this is not necessarily the case.  For example, Bailey Reserve records an area decrease of 1.37 ha or 13,700 sqm, Duncan McKinnon Reserve records an area decrease of 0.27 ha or 2,700 sqm, and the Glen Rigney Memorial Reserve has doubled in area – 1998 0.03 ha or 300 sqm to 0.06 or 600 sqm in 2013.  There are numerous other such discrepancies. 

Such unexplained anomalies raise many questions re the detailed knowledge and management of Glen Eira’s extremely valuable open space assets and the validity of the data presented in both strategies.  While doubts may be readily cast on of the 1998 Strategy,  doing so legitimately raises additional questions related to the time elapsed (16 years) to identify the 1998 “errors” and the validity of park master plans (all based on the 1998 strategy and which Council indicates are strictly adhered to, eg. the recent controversial Caulfield Park tree removal).

With reference to our earlier posting querying the 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) increase, please note the following results recorded in GERA’s comparative analysis of the 1998 and 2013 surveys

  • Mallanbool Reserve (2.21 ha or 22,100 sqm) was not included in the 1998 survey and is a valid addition to Glen Eira’s open space in the 2013 Strategy.
  • Even without detailed data,  a rough calculation that factors into the 11.9 ha (119,000 sqm) increase
    • the unexplained reduction in the Bailey (1.37 ha) and Duncan McKinnon Reserves (0.27) and East Boundary Road Reserve (2.46 ha), and
    • the addition of Mallanbool Reserve (2.21 ha), Booran Road Reservoir (1.7 ha) and Packer Park (1.99 ha**).

indicates that most of the net 11.9 ha increase is attributable to “definitional change” and  highlights the governance aspect raised above.

It also highlights GERA’s comment, included in our  submission to the 2013 Draft Open Space Strategy  that Council’s exclusion of the Centre of the Caulfield Racecourse on the grounds of “restricted public access” is fundamentally flawed when the “definitional change” allows for the inclusion of leased facilities that cumulatively approach the Centre in size yet have more restrictions to public access than does the Centre.

**  the reported increase in Packer Park (1.99 ha, 19,900 sqm) includes the purchase of two house lots and the previously leased bowls club that Council proposed to sell to raise funding for the purchase and rehabilitation of the 2 house lots.  Generously assuming that the house lots comprised 0.4 ha (4,000 sqm), the remaining 1.5 ha (10,500 sqm) of the 1.99 ha increase constituted Council owned and leased land and as such is considered to be a definitional change.  Under the revised definition of open space, had the  Bowls Club remained it would have been included in the 2013 Strategy.  Council’s rehabilitation works changed public accessibility rather than the area’s definition status.

Packer Park labelled picture T

GERA believes that, as mentioned in our previous posting, in the 16 years since 1998 little has been achieved with regards to increasing Glen Eira open space and that which has been achieved has been primarily the result of government grants and which have not been augmented by Council actively seeking purchasing opportunities.  In the past 16 years, open space acquisitions (ie. “real” rather than definitional) have been limited to the

  • Mallanbool Reserve (2.21 ha, 22,100 sqm) – Crown land (State), management rights granted to Council
  • Booran Road Reservoir (1.73 ha, 17,300 sqm) – Crown land (State), management rights granted to Council in 2010 – rehabilitation works scheduled to commence in 2015/2016.
  • 2 Packer Park house lots of unknown area (assumed to be 0.4 ha or 4000 sqm – refer above) purchased in 2011 ($1.911m).

This limited achievement comes despite residents continually expressed open space long term goals, a rapidly rising population and Council statements recognising Glen Eira’s need for increased open space and promises of active acquisition (via purchase and government grants).  The 1998 strategy’s “suggested” expenditure of the developers open space contributions as 50% split between acquisition and existing park improvements has been ignored.  Aside from the Packer Park house lots, open space contribution ($12.8m for the period 2003/4 to 2011/12) has been spent on capital works in, or maintenance of, existing parkland.  This is an imbalance that needs to be rectified.

GERA re-iterates the points made in our 2013 Open Space Strategy Submission (insert link)

  • Increased frequency of Open Space Strategy reviews
  • Open Space Contributions to be held in reserve for the purchase and rehabilitation of the purchased additional parkland.
  • Regular reporting of open space contributions – revenue received and expenditures
  • Ensure that the current maximum open space contribution rate of 5% of unimproved land value to applied to all multi unit developments within Glen Eira as a priority.
  • Council should join with other Councils currently advocating to the State Government for higher open space contribution rates to apply to Commercial and Mixed Use Zones (currently exempt from open space contributions)

In addition GERA also advocates that, in line with good governance practices, Council advises the community when definitions change and provides an analysis of the impact the changes.

 ***********

Footnote:

* Glen Eira has the least per capita open space ratio in Metropolitan Melbourne which, at 1.4 ha per 1000 population, is approximately half of the average ratio for Metro Melbourne.

GESAC OPENING – 7 May, 2012

The following GESAC Opening announcement appeared on Council’s website today

GESAC Open Monday 7 May 2012

“GESAC will open to the community from 6am Monday 7 May 2012. The whole facility will be open. Details of programs and services are set out on the GESAC website

  “The certificate of occupancy was issued on Monday 30 April and the builder handed over the facility to Council on Wednesday 2 May. Council’s GESAC staff are to be congratulated on opening the facility within a few days of taking control of the site,” Chairman of the Pools Steering Committee Cr Michael Lipshutz said.

“For the first time, Glen Eira City Council will be offering all-year-round health and fitness facilities for the whole Community. GESAC will bring benefits to thousands of people for many years to come. Council would like to thank the Commonwealth and State Governments for their financial support for the project. Both Governments will be invited to take part in an official opening shortly,” Glen Eira Mayor Cr Jamie Hyams said.”

GESAC is offering a free trial of all of its facilities – you need to sign up for the free trial.

Membership Previews are available on Friday, 4 May, 2012 – 4-8 p.m. and Saturday, 5 May, 2012 – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

GERA welcomes the opening announcement and the benefits GESAC will bring to the community.

GESAC OPENING – DON’T GET TOO EXCITED

Last Friday (27/4), Council issued two items of interest to residents

1.  GESCA Announcement – the following appeared on the GESAC Facebook Page and the GESAC website:

“Council expects to be issued with a Certificate of Occupancy, covering the whole facility, at the start of the week of 30 April. This will be the first time that Council staff will have unrestricted access to GESAC as a whole.

GESAC staff will then complete the commissioning of the Centre to ensure that the plant is working properly, all safety requirements and in place and all of the health and recreational facilities are fully functional.

Details of the opening arrangements will be announced as soon as possible.”

While GERA welcomes the news that GESAC may be opening in the near future, given Council’s abject communication failure on the GESAC opening, GERA admits to scepticism when reading this announcement.

  • Despite practical completion/handover/Certificate of Occupancy being imminent (i.e. sometime next week) Council is still unable to provide a definite handover date.
  • In the past, Council has advised that after practical completion, extensive commissioning, outfitting and staff training would be required before the facility would be open to the public.  Hopefully, since Council has had partial access to the facility since January, some of this has already occurred.  However, no indication is given of commissioning, outfitting and staff training that has occurred and is yet to occur.  How much more informative would this announcement have been if a timeline to reach “fully functional” status had been included.

2.  The Agenda for the 1st May, 2012, Council Meeting has been posted on Council’s website.  Seriously frustrated residents, ratepayers and GESAC members will not be surprised to learn that, despite the above announcement, the entire GESAC facility barely rates a mention in the agenda.

The most significant mentions are

a)      In  Records of Assembly, 27th March and 3rd April 2012, GESAC appears as a heading.  Councillor Assemblies are informal, in camera meetings between by Councillor/s and Senior Administrators to enable Councillors to be briefed on administrative activities, project updates and issues etc.

b)      In the Financial Report for the period ending 31st March, 2012 – Item 9.10

i.            Capital Works Forecast Adjustments (page 2)

        • Leased asset (gym equipment) decrease 639K
        • GESAC Café Furniture and Fittings decrease 344K

In both cases, the decrease is due to accounting “reclassifications” – no money has actually been saved and no reason for the reclassification has been given.

                    ii.            Financial Performance (page 6) year to date shows

        • Loss of income expected from GESAC – $1.93m
        • GESAC consulting suite income loss 60K

As mentioned in previous posts, it is not possible determine the offsetting savings (if any) in expenditures resulting from GESAC not opening.

The significance of the GESAC facility and its potential to be a financial burden on ratepayers demands that Council live up to its promises of open, transparent and accountable governance (i.e. readily available and easily understandable informative information presented in a timely manner to the community by those accountable to the community).

This is the responsibility of all Councillors and once again this Council has failed.