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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
* 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.
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.