Monthly Archives: February 2012

Will Council Listen?

At the recently well attended Community Plan Consultations the Mayor, Cr. Jamie Hyams, made a point of emphasising the importance of the Community Plan.  This Plan represents the community’s views and aspirations for Glen Eira’s future growth and development.  As such, it provides the framework for the Council Plan which outlines the means/actions Council will undertake to ensure that residents’ aspirations are achieved.

Cr. Hyams outlined the views expressed by residents at the last Community Plan Consultations (2008) and showed how Council had listened and incorporated those views in the resulting Council Plan.   To illustrate how well Council listened to residents, the example of Open Space was used. The Glen Eira Municipality has long been recognised as having the least available open space in the Melbourne Metropolitan area  (VEAC – Metropolitan Melbourne Investigation – Discussion Paper, page 185)  – as housing density grows, Glen Eira’s open space per capita continues to fall.

As per Cr. Hyams, Glen Eira Council heard the “more Open Space” and used the below points to outline what Council had achieved.  Theses actions, together with comments from GERA, are as follows:

 1.      Dog off leash area distance from play ground decreased from 50m to 20m.

GERA questions how moving a “virtual” boundary in existing parkland achieves “more open space” or improved open space.

 2.      Council and the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) entered an agreement in which the MRC will undertake landscaping for the centre of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve (estimated cost $1.8m).

 When Queen Victoria agreed to the creation of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve (1885), the reserve was set aside for three equal uses – that of racecourse, public park and public recreation area.  While there may be some disagreement (thorough bred racing activities vs. public access) about some of the reserves access restrictions, the centre of the racecourse has always been a public park and recreation reserve.  Therefore the centre of the racecourse has always been legally regarded as open space. The proposed ‘development’ of the centre does not in fact add any additional open space to the city and its residents.

 Over the years (including recent years) Council has done little to ensure that the centre of the racecourse has been maintained for its intended purpose.  Indeed, the area in the centre of the racecourse has been whittled away (taken by training tracks and facilities) and much neglected.

 That the MRC has now seen fit to do something about landscaping the centre is related to Council’s approval of the MRC’s proposed development of the nearby MRC freehold land (between Station Street and Normanby Road, Caulfield North).    Housing an expected 2,500, this development, without increased open space will cause Glen Eira’s per capita open space ratio to fall further.   GERA does not believe that Council’s inclusion of landscaping the centre of the racecourse can be seen as an ‘achievement’ which expands on already existing open space.

 3.  Purchase of two house lots which jutted into Packer Park and their incorporation into parkland.  (112 & 118 Oakleigh Road, Carnegie – cost $1.92m)

 While GERA applauds this purchase, GERA is aware that Council’s original proposal to acquire the properties provided for funding the purchase by selling the former Packer Park Bowling Green (2743 sq m) for multi-unit development.  Fortunately, as a result of resident outcries and adverse publicity, Council dropped the proposed Bowling Green sale and  converted it to parkland. (Leader, 18th August, 2009).

GERA is aware also that Council is not charging multi-unit developers the full  Public Open Space Contribution/Levy.  This Contribution is capped, by the State Government, at 5% of land value (payable at the time of subdivision into separate property titles or strata titles).  This levy is to provide Councils with funding (from developers) for the acquisition of new parkland and improvements to existing parklands.

 Unlike other Councils (e.g. Port Phillip – 5% across the board since 2011, Manningham – 5% since 2006), the Glen Eira Open Space Contribution/Levy, (DPCD – Glen Eira Planning Scheme) established in 2006, is summarised as follows

  • The number of lots in the subdivision capable of containing a dwelling.

2 lots – not listed

 3 lots – 2%

4 lots – 2.5%

5 lots – 3%

6 or more lots – 3.5%

             Location increments are

  • If the site is in McKinnon, East Brighton, Ormond or Bentleigh – 0%
  • If the site is in Carnegie, Murrumbeena or East Bentleigh – 0.25%
  • If the site is in Caulfield, Caulfield North, Caulfield South, Caulfield East, Glen Huntly, Elsternwick or St Kilda East – 0.5%

 Council’s 2010-2011 Annual Report – Financials, page 146, show Open Space Contributions for 2011 as being $1.630m and 2010 $1.664m.  Conservatively, GERA estimates that had Council charged the full 5% this revenue would have doubled.

 By not changing the Open Space Contribution/Levy to 5% in 2006 and 2008, (which is a zero cost option), Council failed to listen to residents “more open space” and the result is higher profits to multi-unit developers and increased parkland acquisition and maintenance costs to ratepayers.  The cumulative lost revenue (effectively a ratepayer subsidy to developers) is mind-boggling.

 Clearly Cr. Hyams list of  ‘achievements’ needs to be seriously questioned when it comes to open space and what progress this council has made in actually ‘listening’ to residents.

The big question is will they listen any better in 2012?

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Amendment C87 – Neighbourhood Character Areas – Past and Present

Following on from our previous post on Planning Scheme Amendment C87 – Neighbourhood Character Areas, the following presents the history and an outline of this amendment. But first some definitions are required. 

Definitions 

Neighbourhood character is the qualitative interplay of built form, vegetation and topographic characteristics, in both the private and public domains,  that make one place different from another.  The general attributes of private and public (street) realms (i.e. the building form and layout of the different areas; their overall streetscape qualities; the vegetation and landscape quality and the era of development) are all considered.

Significant Character Areas (SCA) – are those areas where the Neighbourhood Character is deemed to exhibit a particular quality that sets them apart from surrounding residential areas.  In the Glen Eira context, developmental controls are in the form of non-prescriptive guidelines, primarily aimed at restricting multiple dwelling development within the SCA boundaries.

Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) –  The purpose of the NCO is to protect and encourage the preferred character of areas as the pressures for redevelopment continues to increase. It introduces a greater level of control in relation to the fundamental neighbourhood character by prescribing considerations of building height, form and setbacks, as well as more detailed issues such as building removal, material selection and vegetation removal.

Design and Development Overlay (DDO) – The purpose of the DDO is to identify areas which are affected by specific requirements relating to the design and built form of new development.  In the Glen Eira context, it will also protect the streetscape by prescribing consideration of front and/or side fencing in areas of Significant Neighbourhood Character by prescribing fence heights, style, materials and colour.

Past

The current Planning Scheme Amendment C87 – Significant Character Areas (SCA) has it’s origins way back 2002.  Over the past decade council has had opportunities to adopt more the prescriptive NCO, as recommended by two independent State Government appointed Planning Panels rather than continue with the SCA guidelines.

Each amendment divided residents and raised contentious issues. Each time council rejected the Planning Panel recommendations. Now ten years later when development has become rampant throughout the municipality and all areas are “endangered” Council is revisiting something that could/should have been  decided in 2002.

Present 

The commencement of the introduction of NCOs  is raised in Council Minutes 1st September, 2009  – Section 8.8, Part 4 Overview states  “An NCO protects all buildings/dwellings and development through the need for a planning permit. … The Minister will not approve Amendment C56 which sought to only control multi dwellings.”   Amendment C87  is the next step in introducing the Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) and the Design and Development Overlay (DDO).

Unfortunately, the SCA’s have not fared very well over the past 10 years – the current Planisphere Report (entitled C87 – Final Report) and Appendix B (use the Planisphere Report link – entitled C87 – Appendix B – Areas of Significant Neighbourhood Character ) indicates

  •  The four SCA’s to be removed, while still retaining some “fine examples” of their original dwelling stock, have experienced “modern overbuilding that has seen substantial change to its architecture styles and building forms. The range of development, with its mixed base and extensive overbuilding leave a neighbourhood character that is not consistent or distinct from surrounding residential areas”.

Please note the Planisphere Report suggests reclassifying all SCA’s removed as Housing Diversity Areas (i.e. high density areas), however, the C87 Explanatory Report (use the above Planisphere Report link – entitled C87 – Explanatory Report) suggests these areas may be reclassified as minimal change areas or housing diversity areas.  Since the C87 documentation is not clear on the reclassification issue, impacted residents are urged to contact Council for clarification. 

  • The original 11 SCA’s  identified as exhibiting highly significant neighbourhood character due to the relative intactness of the original dwellings and the consistency of its key character elements are now described as “where building alterations” or “modern infill development is evident, it is generally respectful” and the areas remain distinct from surrounding residential areas.  “Non contributory properties” will be excluded from the NCO in some areas.

Again impacted residents are urged to carefully review C87 documentation, particularly the Council provided NCO and DDO overlay maps, (use the above Planisphere Report link – to access the relevant NCO and DDO maps) and contact Council if clarification is needed. 

Please note that three of the original SCA’s have been split, as streets within the area are considered to have different architectural styles and therefore warrant separate/different controls.  The areas split are

    • Downshire Road Area and St. James Parade Area, Elsternwick
    • Exhibition and Field Streets, McKinnon
    • Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent, Caulfield East – The streets connecting Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent will be removed from SCA classification as “new developments undertaken in these adjoining streets have lowered the significance of those areas and did not warrant  protection”. 

Please also note that one side of Craigavad Street is to be excluded from McPherson Avenue, Carnegie, SCA.   This one side of Craigavad Street has a “lower degree of consistency than the other streets of the area. Most original dwellings in Craigavad Street have imposing second storey additions, and other sites support non-contributory buildings”. 

  • The three new SCA’s (Murrray Street, Prentice Street, Kambea Grove) are generally described as having a relatively intact streetscape with many of the original buildings remaining and well preserved.  While “later overbuilding has occurred, these have generally been respectful of the established neighbourhood character” and the areas are distinct from surrounding residential areas.

Please note that not all properties in any of these 3 streets will be included in the NCO – in each street “non-contributory buildings” are to be excluded.  Again impacted residents are urged to carefully review C87 documentation, particularly the Council provided NCO and DDO overlay maps (use the above Planisphere Report link – to access the relevant NCO and DDO maps), and contact Council if clarification is needed. 

Given, the 10 years that it’s taken for Council to act on the NCO recommendation, it will be interesting to see how quickly/slowly Glen Eira Council acts on the Planisphere recommendations (and presumably the forthcoming C87 Planning Panel recommendations) for Heritage Overlay controls on

  • The Highway, East Bentleigh
  • Queens Avenue, Caulfield East
  • Derby Crescent, Caulfield East
  • St. James Parade, Elsternwick
  • Downshire Road, Elsternwick
  • Oakdene Crescent, Murrumbeena
  • Murray Street, Elsternwick
  • Prentice Street, Elsternwick
  • Kambea Grove, Caulfield North

GESAC – Let’s have some real transparency.

From day one, the Pools Steering Committee (which oversees the Glen Eira Sport and Aquatic Centre – at $50+m it is the largest capital works project ever undertaken by Council) has been deservedly criticised for scant reporting.  Typically, the only information available to residents on the progress of GESAC has been the headings only reports/minutes of the Pools Steering Committee.  GERA believes it is time this changed.

The following is an outline of information presented to residents re the delay in the GESAC opening:

  • The 20 September, 2011, Council Minutes includes the Pools Steering Committee Report of 8th September (Section 8.a.iii).  For the first time the Pools Steering Committee Report (Section C.ii) mentions “Update on Liquidated Damages”.  No details beyond these  4 words were provided.  The verbage (not included in the minutes, which accompanied the report presentation) of Cr. Lipshutz (Head of the Pools Steering Committee) emphasised that GESAC would open as scheduled in December, 2011 and that Council Staff were “on top of the work”.
  • At the 22 October, 2011, Council Meeting Minutes, GESAC is not mentioned.
  • The 2 November Council Meeting Minutes includes (Section 8.i) the Pools Steering Committee Report of 5 October, 2011.  This report is again headings only and no mention is made of Liquidated Damages.  And again the verbage (not included in the minutes, which accompanied the report presentation) had Cr. Lipshutz stating that  GESAC was on schedule for a December opening.
  • The 22 November Council Meeting Minutes include (section 8.a.i) the Pools Steering Committee Minutes of 3 November, 2011.   The minutes include an outline of progress, a delay in the opening date and estimated $1m liquidated damages.  Again not recorded in Council Minutes, the verbage that accompanied the presentation of  the Steering Commitee Minutes, included Cr. Lipshutz stating that comprehensive details would be provided to Council at the December Council Meeting.
  • The 13 December Council Meeting Minutes include (Section 8.a.iv) the Pools Steering Committee Minutes of 1st December, 2011.  These minutes include “further delays to the Gym and Stadium”.  A delay in the opening date was belatedly and officially announced, however, no anticipated opening date was given other than “after the end of January”.  No details, beyond that included in the Steering Committee Minutes, were provided.  The inclusion of a statement that the next meeting of the Pools Steering Committee will be “depending on the progress of the work, the Chair agreed to call the next meeting for some time in January”,  does not indicate a high management priority. 

Since the December Meeting Council has provided little information on GESAC despite an article and letters appearing in the local Leader newspaper  (17 January, 2011 – which mentioned a March opening) and resident/member dissatisfaction being recorded on the GESAC website (which doesn’t have a construction update beyond October, 2011).

At last night’s Council Meeting (the first for 2012 – 7 February) GESAC was only mentioned in relation to the negative impact the GESAC lost revenue had on the financial results in December (-$0.5m).  Even though GESAC construction resumed on 16 January, no update on progress or the cause of the delay and no anticipated opening date was given.

GERA genuinely hopes that Council’s belief in the financial and social success of GESAC comes to fruition.  However, given the magnitude of the GESAC project and it’s potential impact on Glen Eira finances, GERA is extremely concerned at the lack of information being provided.  This lack of information is not in line with Council’s claims of open, transparent, accountable governance*.  Surely, Glen Eira residents and GESAC members deserve more than silence.

* Refer to our original posting on Governance and what constitutes good governance – our apologies but you will need to click on “Governance” in the topics section (right hand side of the screen) and scroll to first posting shown – it is entited “Governance”

Amendment C87 – What it really means

The latest edition of the Leader (31/1/2012) includes a notification of a Planning Scheme Amendment C87 – Neighbourhood Character.  Amendment C87 changes the Planning Scheme protection of neighbourhood character by replacing the previous Significant Character Area (SCA) designation with the new designations of Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) and Design and Development Overlay (DDO).

In preparing the C87 Amendment, Council commissioned Planisphere to undertake a study of the municipality to

  • Review/assess the level of significance of  the 15 Significant Character Areas that are currently nominated in the Glen Eira Planning Scheme.
  • Identify other areas within the municipality that could also warrant designation as Significant Character Areas.

The Planisphere Final Report, March 2011,  recommends changes to the existing SCA’s

  • some areas are increased (eg. Oakdene Crescent Area expanded to include part of Blackwood Street) while others are decreased (e.g. Queens Avenue/Derby Crescent to be split into two with connecting streets removed from SCA).
  • the removal of 4 SCA’s which are to be reclassified as Housing Diversity Areas (i.e. high density housing areas) – bypassing the Minimal Change Area classification
    • Urandaline Grove, Caulfield
    • Normanby Road/Park Crescent, North Caulfield.  Area includes Kambrook Road between Balaclava and Normanby Roads.
    • Hawthorn Road Tramway Estate, South Caulfield
    • Ulpurina Road, Ormond
  • the inclusion of 3 new areas.
    • Murray Street, Elsternwick
    • Prentice Street, Elsternwick
    • Kambea Grove, Caulfield North

A summary of the Planisphere Report (pages 25-26) is presented below.  Appendix B, which includes maps, area character descriptions and lists characteristic elements for each area, is a separate document to the Report and should also be reviewed.  Appendix B is available via the same link as the Planisphere Final Report.

GERA will make subsequent postings commenting on the Planisphere Report.  However, given the significance of the proposed changes underpinning Amendment C87, this post is to advise residents of the changes so that residents can make whatever representations they consider appropriate to Councillors and Council.

Note:  GERA has highlighted, in red, the Report recommendations

Existing Significant Character Areas

  1. The Highway, Bentleigh

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, possible heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.

2.  Chestnut Street, Carnegie

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted. Remove properties at the northern end of the street from the area.

3.  McPherson Avenue Area, Carnegie

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted. Remove properties in Craigavad Street, and several properties in Munster Avenue and Grange Road from the area.

4.  Urandaline Grove, Caulfield

Area does not display greater degree of neighbourhood character significance to surrounding residential areas. No additional controls warranted.

5.  Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent, Caulfield East

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, possible heritage significance. Additional controls warranted. Separate Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent into two areas and remove connecting streets.

6.  Normanby Road/Park Crescent, Caulfield North

Area does not display greater degree of neighbourhood character significance to surrounding residential areas. No additional controls warranted

7.  Clarinda Street, Caulfield South

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted.

8.  Hawthorn Road Tramway Estate, Caulfield South

Area does not display greater degree of neighbourhood character significance to surrounding residential areas. No additional controls warranted. Subdivision layout may have heritage significance.

9.  St James Parade / Downshire Road, Elsternwick

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, possible heritage significance. Additional controls warranted. Separate into two areas of significant neighbourhood character. Extend Downshire Road area north to Stanley Street and Rowan Street. Extend St James Parade area to include interwar estate to the east (Nagle Ave, Clonard Ave, Duffy Ave, Elster Ave and Gogh St.)

10. Exhibition and Field Streets, McKinnon

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted. Separate into two significant areas of neighbourhood character.

11. Boyd Park Area, Murrumbeena

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted. Extend area to the south to include Neerim Road (between Hobart Road and Poath Road) and Riley Reserve

12. Lindsay Avenue, Murrumbeena

High degree of neighbourhood character significance.  Additional controls warranted.

13. Oakdene Crescent, Murrumbeena

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, possible heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.  Extend boundary to Blackwood Street.

14. Lydson Street, Murrumbeena

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted.

15. Ulupna Road, Ormond

Area does not display greater degree of neighbourhood character significance to surrounding residential areas. No additional controls warranted

Potential Areas of Significant Neighbourhood Character

16. Murray Street, Elsternwick

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, potential heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.

17. Prentice Street, Elsternwick

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, potential heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.

18. Kambea Grove, Caulfield North

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, potential C20th architectural heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.

Volunteer Recognition Program

Each year Glen Eira Council honours the work of volunteers at a Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.  Council recognises that volunteers are an important part of the community and make a significant difference and invaluable contribution (estimated to be equivalent to $2m per year) to a wide variety of activities and organisations.  Without volunteers, many of these activities or organisations would not be available to the community.

Not for profit, community based organisations are invited to nominate volunteers to be recognised for their contribution of 500, 1,000 or 2,000 hours of service or for the special contribution category of 10 years or more of continuous voluntary service.

Nominations are to be submitted on the appropriate form for Council consideration.  Nominations close on Friday, 16th March, 2012.

Unfortunately Council’s website is confusing – search results under “Volunteers” yields a number of options, e.g,

  • “Recognise your volunteers” will access the 2011 volunteer program (information and forms)
  • “Volunteer Recognition Ceremony” will access the 2012 volunteer program (information and forms)

To avoid this confusion, and in support of this worthy program, click on this link –  Volunteer Recognition Ceremony – to access the 2012 program.

GERA wholeheartedly

  • supports the Volunteer Recognition Program and honouring volunteers
  • recognises the contribution volunteer services provide to the community
  • encourages residents to submit nominations in all categories