Tag Archives: Glen Eira City Council

Caulfield South – Planning Conference Abandoned

A remarkable turn of events at last night’s (2/7/2018) Planning Conference for a development at 2 Pearce Street, South Caulfield*.   Before the standard preliminaries were completed, the South Caulfield Action Group (SCAG) and residents requested and voted to abandon the Planning Conference  with  Council agreeing to re-start the planning permit approval process.**

The major sticking point being that just prior (hours) before the Conference commenced, SCAG learnt that amended development plans had been submitted to Council (29/6/2018) and residents had not been advised of either the amended plans or their content.  Consequently, SCAG and residents objections would be based on plans that were no longer applicable.

Cr. Hyams (the Conference Chair), after advising that the changes were not considered significant, asked the Planning Officer to outline the changes.  The changes being

  • The basement car park had previously “protruded” (no specifics provided) into the garden area due to an interpretation of the Planning Minister ‘s garden area requirements by the developer. Clarification had been sought  from the  Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and resulted in changes that removed the protrusion.
  • Since the area is subject to an SBO, Melbourne Water had requested an increase in building height of 300mm/30 cm to elevate the ground floor level for flood mitigation purposes. Despite this height increase, the building height remained below the maximum height limit (11m) for the General Residential Zone (GRZ).

Summarised residents comments are

  • that the area, originally developed for workers cottages, is typified by lot sizes of 750 sqm resulting in approx. a metre separating individual dwellings.  The proposed changes could have implications for more properties than those immediately abutting the development.
  • residents had, in a short time, undertaken a very steep planning learning curve to come to grips with both the GE’s planning scheme and the plans presented. They should be given sufficient time to review the changes and assess their implications – to ask them to do so based on the scant information presented  was to ask them to make a compromise they should not be asked to make.
  • Given that the planning permit application was lodged with Council 25/01/2018, their request for time to review and assess the implications of both changes (drainage and already significant overshadowing on adjoining properties) was in accordance with the Local Government Act 1989 (Part 1 a – Local Government Charter, Section 3c – e & g) and reasonable .

GERA congratulates SCAG and residents for their well presented arguments and maintaining an amicable meeting.   We also congratulate Council for acceding to the residents request.

As an aside, after the decision to abandon the Conference had been made, discussions continued.   SCAG members,  commented that very few of the approx. 300 local residents they had contacted were aware that in 2013 their area had been zoned GRZ1 or GRZ2 (ie. suitable for 3 storey multi-unit developments).    This discussion between the residents and Cr. Hyams will be the topic of a subsequent post.

The South Caulfield Action Group (SCAG) can be contacted via email:  scag.sthcaulfield.action.group@gmail.com

 

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Footnotes:

*3 stories, comprising 5 dwellings above basement car parking and waiver of visitor car parking.  Lot size is 750 sqm and the lot is subject to a Special Building Overlay (SBO – area prone to storm water overflow and flooding)

**  Since the development is not considered to be “major”, the 60 day time Council decision time line is not applicable, hence, Council can “re-start” the approval process.

Caulfield South Activity Centre – Community Gathering 27/06/2018

 

IMPORTANT MEETING

7 pm tomorrow, Wednesday 27/6

The South Caulfield Action Group (SCAG) have invited our State MP, Mr David Southwick, together with our Camden Ward Councillors,  Joel Silver and Dan Sztrajt, to hear our stories. They need to understand why we signed the petition.

Now is the time for our voices to be heard. We need to demonstrate that there are many people concerned about the future of Caulfield South Neighbourhood Centre.

For further information and meeting details please email:  scag.sthcaulfield.action.group@gmail.com

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GERA was recently contacted by residents opposing a 3 storey (5 dwellings above basement car parking) development proposal in Pearce Street, Caulfield South.  However, as they “dug deeper” the residents not only learnt a lot about GE’s Planning inadequacies but also became increasingly concerned about

  • the lack of residents awareness of planning issues,
  • Caulfield South’s current and future development proposals and
  • possible upgrading of the Caulfield South Activity Centre from being a Neighbourhood (“lesser”) Centre to that of an Emerging Major Activity Centre.  SCAG feedback indicates that planning officers believe the upgrade has already occurred.

The South Caulfield Action Group’s formation has been highlighted by

  • lodging of a petition with Council for the implementation of a 2 storey height limit on small lots – 293 signatories and growing. A flyer depicting potential developments is attached.
  • Organizing the above meeting, to raise residents’ awareness of proposed planning changes and give the residents the opportunity to voice their views to those they have elected.
  • a determination to see residents views are duly considered with decisions that impact the South Caulfield Activity Centre are made.

Additional information prepared by SCAG

Comparative graphical presentation of ABS 2017-2018 Building Approvals – Glen Eira and other Metro Melbourne Councils.

GERA encourages residents to support this group and to attend the meeting.

 

Bethlehem Hospital – VCAT Final Determination

Below is an email received from the BHCA group, who mounted an extremely effective, community based campaign against the proposed re-development of the Calvary Healthcare Bethlehem Hospital site located in Kooyong Road,  South Caulfield.  During the course of their campaign, the original proposal for inclusion of a 19 storey tower was modified  to 10-11 stories.

As per the email, the just published VCAT decision has approved the modified proposal (ie. 10-11 stories) on the basis that “retirement villages are exempt from height limits”.   In this case, the surrounding residential areas is zoned  Neighbourhood Residential and has a 2 storey height limit.

As this VCAT decision  can be expected to have significant implications for future similar developments in Glen Eira and across Metro Melbourne,  it is disturbing to note the comment

“that had we relied solely on the promises of our elected councillors and allowed the Glen Eira City Council to prosecute our objections alone, it would have been a major folly”

 

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Hi All,

I am not usually in the habit of looking back, but as we have learned of VCAT’s decision, I remember that horrible sinking feeling that we all experienced when we learnt of Calvary’s proposed 19/20-storey tower.  While everyone recognised that the Bethlehem hospital site was ripe to be updated and improved, we all understood the deep impact that development on the scale proposed would have on the neighbourhood character and the direct effect on surrounding properties.

The community knew that this proposed development needed to be resisted.  It was with your support – moral, practical and financial, that we, as a community, forcefully expressed our objection in this administrative VCAT process against the high-powered team of barristers and experts engaged by Calvary.

The decision issued by VCAT has not stopped the redevelopment of the Bethlehem Hospital by Calvary.  It has, however, fundamentally reshaped it.  

VCAT has directed the Glen Eira City Council to issue a permit for the redevelopment of Bethlehem Hospital that is now 10/11 storeys.  The appearance of the buildings is more articulated with a finer grain exterior.  The retirement village, aged care and ancillary uses are now more evenly spread over the site.  The 90 place childcare centre has been abandoned.  The inadequacy of the car parking arrangements were acknowledged and the at-grade car park on the corner of Saturn Street and Kooyong Road reserved, as a condition of the permit, as a permanent carpark, serving to somewhat alleviate the pressure on the surrounding streets.

I hate to think what might have been the outcome of the VCAT process without the local community’s engagement of strong legal representation and expert witnesses.  Attending each day of the hearing demonstrated to me that this was the right approach and that our well-argued objection contributed to a revised development that is substantially reduced in scale.  It also confirmed to me that had we relied solely on the promises of our elected councillors and allowed the Glen Eira City Council to prosecute our objections alone, it would have been a major folly.

Significantly, and notwithstanding our expertly constructed legal arguments about the application of height limits on retirement villages, VCAT determined that retirement villages are exempt from height limits, setting a new legal precedent that I am sure will be adopted by other developers throughout the suburbs of Melbourne.  (Incidentally, it appears that VCAT’s decision has introduced an even bigger loophole to the planning regulations for applications made prior to the current act – time will tell what impact this has).

For those that wish to read the VCAT decision, it is attached.

As the spokesperson for the BHCA Group and the local community, and in what will be the last communication to the group, I would like to thank everyone for the energy, financial contributions and support to defend the character of our local streets and the amenity of our own properties.  I am firmly of the view that without it, we could not have achieved any amendment to the original scheme. 

Kind regards

on behalf of BHCAGroup Steering Group

Calvary Final VCAT Determination

NEW MAYOR – 2017-18

Congratulations to Cr. Anthony (Tony) Athanasopoulos on last night’s  election as Mayor of Glen Eira 2017 – 18.  Tony has long been an active supporter of numerous community groups and is an established trader and resident of Carnegie.

First elected to Council in October, 2016, his election as Mayor is well deserved recognition for his outstanding Councillor performance over the past 12 months.  A performance that shows a growing understanding of planning issues and always a willingness to listen and question (ourselves included).

We are looking forward to the next 12 months and “agreeing to disagree” over some (not all) issues.

Well done Tony!!!!

BETHLEHEM HOSPITAL – IT CONTINUES

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 bhcagroup@gmail.com

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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. 

Kelvin Cope

on behalf of

BHCAGroup

UPDATE – EAST VILLAGE (VIRGINIA PARK) DRAFT STRUCTURE PLAN MEETING

The below update to the EAST VILLAGE DRAFT STRUCTURE PLAN has be forwarded to us by a concerned resident.

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A community consultation session was held to discuss the Concept Plan for East Village on 27th July, 2017.

The Forum was well attended by residents and chaired by Aiden Mullen (Manager, City Futures).

Significantly two of the major bodies (ie. the Education Department and Vic Roads) did not send reps, so many questions about a possible school and traffic and parking management went unanswered.

Once again residents were asked to respond to a plan with very little detail.  The one handout missing from the handout pack was the one that provided the most detail in respect of height and density.  Two of the major factors residents continue to voice their concerns about.

The major points to come out of the Forum were

  • The Education Department is investigating the need for additional educational facilities in the area. No “answer” as yet.  The developers would be prepared to sell the land to the Department/Government.  This would be in the vicinity of 1 hectare.  If not a school, then possibly a “community centre”.  We assume that this would involve Council either purchasing the land or accepting land in lieu of the open space levy.
  • The possibility of a commercial car parking venture on the site
  • The areas currently zone Commercial 1 (C1Z) would remain. The rest of the site would be rezoned to Mixed Use (MUZ).
  • The project life is up to 15 years.
  • No solution to traffic, apart from advocating for care share, more traffic lights and buses to run through the site.
  • The developers have been in constant contact with Council’s various departments.
  • Now 24 hectares (doubled in size) – how many apartments, residents and cars does this mean?

All in all it practically impossible to comment on what will eventuate given the lack of detail on just about everything.

One particular concern regarding the areas surrounding this site was a boundary never before seen or referred to by Council.

Is this the area targeted by Council for re-zoning?

Border:  McKinnon Road, Deakin Street, Mackie Street, North Road, Brett Street, Dalny Road, Hunter Street, East Boundary and Tucker Roads.

Action:

Having heard what is intended for Bentleigh at the Thursday, 10th August Concept Plan Forum, regarding height limits and rezoning, residents are urged to contact Aiden Mullent, Nick Staikos – MLA Bentleigh and all Councillors  contact Nick Staikos – MLA Bentleigh, all Councillors and to get assurance that these areas are not targeted for re-zoning by Council. (Contact Details)

If your house is in this area be alert and get informed.

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SAVE McKINNON VILLAGE – COUNCIL DECISION – AMENDMENT C143

On Tuesday 25/07/2017 GERA advised readers of Council’s decision

  • to re-zone 88-100 McKinnon Road, McKinnon from Industrial to the General Residential Zone, Schedule 2 (GRZ2) and
  • not to apply the residents requested Design and Development (DDO) and Neighbourhood Character (NCO) Overlays to the sizeable site. (refer earlier posting – What the Residents Want)

This decision was passed unanimously.   After listening to the decision rationale presented by Councillors and the Director of Planning, residents, “battered and dismayed” by a poorly handled amendment process (refer earlier posting – Planning and Governance), are now also “reeling”.  They are seriously questioning Councillors understanding of planning issues and the relevance of overlay concepts being presented in the current of major activity centre review to significant developments in the yet to be reviewed Neighbourhood Activity centres.

Before outlining comments made by Councillors during the McKinnon Village agenda item, it’s worth mentioning that

  • Glen Eira’s current Planning Scheme review was directed by the Minister for Planning. Council’s requested extension for an exemption from  community consultation  was replaced with a requirement for Council to undertake a review of it’s planning scheme.  The review goal being to bring the GE’s Planning Scheme into line with contemporary planning principles, concepts and tools (eg. structure planning and overlays).
  • The major impact of the 2013 Zone Implementation was the introduction of height controls for 3 of the residential zones. Other  aspects of development (eg. built form, siting, neighbourhood characteristics, parking etc) largely remained unchanged in existing policies and strategies.  Included in the Zone Implementation was a discussion paper which recognised that Council’s policies and strategies were not effective.

Council Discussion 

The McKinnon Village discussion came immediately after Council’s discussion and unanimous adoption of Council’s “Activity Centre, Housing and Local Employment Strategy” which is applicable to Glen Eira’s 18 Activity Centres (including the McKinnon Neighbourhood Activity Centre- NAC).  Comments and praise for the work undertaken and presented Strategy, included

  • Council is embarking on a journey of how the Municipality will look and feel in the future
  • the strategy seeks a new direction, builds a stronger community
  • the strategy sets up the framework for all future activity centre development

Despite the above Strategy including vision statements of

  • for the GRZ (“Family Town houses are noted as the highest focus development type in residential areas of neighbourhood centres” – page 9) and
  • a specific vision statement for development of the McKinnon Village NAC (“That McKinnon will be an accessible centre with a strong village feel, which recognises and celebrates its heritage, art and local history” – page 16)

when it came to the re-zoning of 88-100 McKinnon discussion comments inexplicably reverted to the current planning scheme and it’s provisions.   No mention was made of strategy, how best to achieve these visions (as per the Concept Plans) nor was any mention made of the impact a site of this size (3,691 sqm) and location (extreme western edge of the activity centre) could have on achieving on these visions. 

Summarised Councillor comments (followed by residents comments) included

  • Re-zoning for residential development is better than re- development as industrial –  possibly, however, no proposal was put forward for redevelopment as an industrial site – the pro’s and con’s are unknown.
  • The resident requests for a DDO and NCO are not necessary. Existing controls in the Planning Scheme and ResCode are sufficient to preserve and protect neighbourhood amenity and character. Council’s existing Activity Centre and Housing Diversity Strategies do not include statements on Neighbourhood Character other than to say it is “emerging”.  The Concept Plan documentation recommends the use of overlays to describe preferred character, development scale, design requirements and setbacks.
  • The GRZ is working, the additional controls of DDO and NCO are not required. The stated intention of the GRZ is to provide  “diversity of housing that is consistent with existing neighbourhood character.”   Neither diversity of housing type (ie. townhouse vs. multi-unit dwellings or single, couple, family accommodations) is  occurring nor are features consistent with existing neighbourhood character being incorporated.  The zone is not working, why not capitalise on that work undertaken for the major activity centres by applying it to proximate Neighbourhood Centres when re-zoning opportunities arise, particularly when those with sensitive interfaces/issues.
  • The appropriate time to discuss built form is during the planning permit approval process when the proposed built form is shown in detailed plans. Since no planning permit application has been received, it is not appropriate to discuss them at the proposed Amendment stage. The Planning Scheme basically defines what can be built where –  the zones provide the height and overlays are the appropriate tool to set the built form design and characteristic requirements for specific locations (refer earlier reference to Concept Plan documentation).  The inclusion of overlays ensures
    • requirements are defined upfront and are incorporated in a planning permit application
    • the achievement of desired outcomes and streamlines the permit approval process.
  • Arguments presented to codify protections and requirements in a DDO and NCO are strong and they should be there, however, they are costly, risky and would involve restarting the process all over again. On balance I trust our planning experts.   Acknowledgement of strong arguments outweighed by
    • Costly – expenditure of residents funds to ensure planning scheme contains appropriate controls (eg. overlays that are in line with the zone’s intention, the newly approved strategy and the community’s views) is  fundamental to Council’s role as the Local Planning Authority.
    • Risky – no detailed explanation was provided.  Comments of  overlays being “not  binding” left residents wondering.
      • The original application included a DDO that addressed the significant built form issue of height limits
      • Interim DDOs have been applied to the Carnegie and Bentleigh Activity Centres
      • DDO’s are recommended, by an independent consultant, in the Concept Plans.
    • Restarting/delaying the process – no explanation was provided as to why a restart would be required. Residents also do not believe that avoiding further delay justifies excluding the proposed of overlays.  They also point to 3 months attributable to Council’s decision to request Planning Panel review.
  • Council’s consultative process had been beyond the legal requirements … the next step in the process is to forward the amendment to the Minister for approval.   Council consulted with residents on the initial MUZ and DDO proposal – a consultation that was later described as “testing the waters”.   Council’s proposal to rezone site as GRZ2 was not discussed with residents prior to the Council Meeting of 21/3/2017.  At this same meeting Council’s decision to abandon the MUZ and DDO was, by virtue of the inclusion of referral to a Planning Panel, meant that the MUZ and DDO remained on the table for Panel’s review and that residents only consultation on GRZ2 was with the Panel and not Council – Panel Hearing rules restricted questioning of presenters to Panel Members.  Residents were also made, that Council had been advised by the Minister’s Office, that since GRZ2 was considered a more restrictive rezoning, further community consultation was not required.

Council has yet to consult with residents on the General Residential Zone and consultation is unlikely to occur. While satisfying the planning laws consultation requirements, resident believe it falls short of the representative and consultative obligations outlined in the Local Government Act and Council’s proclamations of being representative and actively encouraging community engagement. 

  • Council apologised for initial communications which lacked transparency and showed a need for improvement. Overall it was a good process and resident participation showed that the process worked.   Residents were thanked for their participation and encouraged to continue to engage with Council.  Hence the earlier comments that residents are now reeling and questioning.

 End Result – The Residents View 

Throughout the 9 months of communications with Council, the overall feeling amongst residents is one of dissatisfaction.  Dissatisfaction with Council’s

  • performance as the Local Planning Authority
  • performance as a consultative and representative Local Authority and
  • non transparent selection of available options within the Planning Law.

While GERA has shown, and will show,  support for Council initiatives and community engagements,  GERA does so on a case by case basis.  In this case GERA’s assessment agrees with that of  the resident’s.

 

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Process Timeline

  • 19/9/2016 – Council decision to prepare Amendment
  • 14/11/2016 – Amendment Exhibited. The developer initiated proposal  related to rezoning industrial land to an inappropriate zone (MUZ) and an inappropriate DDO height limit (4 stories).  The proposal included misleading statements and was inconsistent with both the Planning Scheme and contemporary planning concepts.  180+ planning objections were lodged – over 90% requesting that the amendment be abandoned and residents be allowed input into the rezoning decision.
  • 23/2/17 – Planning Conference attended by 30+ objectors arguing for abandonment of the proposal and input into the re-zoning decision.
  • 21/3/2017 – Council voted to abandon the amendment, endorse the General Residential Zoning and refer to Planning Panel. Residents were not advised of the alternate zoning proposal, and although aware of the implications of referral to a Panel, no Councillor mentioned them.  The implications being
    • The abandoned proposal remained on the table for Panel Review, and
    • Since GRZ rezoning was seen as “more restrictive” there was no legal requirement to undertake community consultation before applying the zoning.
  • 25/5/2017 Planning Panel Hearing – 11 attendees). Initial MUZ and DDO amendment inappropriately described “testing the waters” and Council endorsed the GRZ rezoning.
  • 20/6/17 Planning Panel Report and recommendation for GRZ2 rezoning made available to residents.
  • 25/7/2017Council Decision