C87 REVISITED – NEIGHBOURHOOD CHARACTER

GERA is disappointed with the entire C87 amendment process. It’s content,  it’s ramifications, and it’s failure to take due recognition of community wishes. The C87 amendment was discussed at the last Council Meeting (1st May, 2012 – Minutes – Section 9.1).

Background 

This Amendment sought to implement what is described as “new” prescriptive planning tools of the Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) and the Design Development Overlay (DDO)* to some of the previously defined Significant Character Areas (SCA)*.

* For an explanation of the NCO, DDO and SCA, please refer to GERA’s earlier posting (17th February, 2012), under the Topic of  “C87 – Neighbourhood Character”.  Please also note that the NCO and DDO are not “new” prescriptive planning tools – in 2002 when Council sought to introduce SCA’s as a planning scheme reference policy, the Independent Planning Panel recommended use of the prescriptive NCO and DDO rather than the loosely worded SCA guidelines.  In 2008 another Independent Planning Panel re-affirmed the use of NCO’s and DDO’s rather than the SCA guidelines.

The C87 amendment sought to

  • exclude 4 previously defined SCA’s due to “mixed and extensive overbuilding”
  • 11 of the original SCA’s are to remain, however, 3 of them are to be split as their “different architectural styles warrant separate/different controls”.   In the case of  Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent the connecting streets will be excluded as  “new developments undertaken in these adjoining streets have lowered the significance of those areas”.
  • Include 3 streets not previously identified as SCA’s but which are now recognised as “having a relatively intact streetscape with many of the original buildings remaining and well preserved  …  where later overbuilding has occurred, these have generally been respectful of the established neighbourhood character”

* Again, for details there areas please refer to GERA’s earlier posting (17th February, 2012).

In total Council received 59 submissions commenting on Amendment C87 –

  • 17 residents residing in the SCAs supported the amendment
  • 15 residents residing in the SCAs did not support the amendment
  • 27 submitters objected because “their property or neighbourhood is not part of Amendment C87, and they think it should”  …  These residents “put strong arguments why the amendment should have encompassed their properties”.

With regards these 27 submissions, the Administrative Officers Report states This category of submissions request changes which go beyond the scope of this amendment in the form it was exhibited to the community. Any property that was not included as part of the exhibited amendment cannot now be included in this amendment. 

The suggested way forward for this category of submitters is to encourage them to put their views to the independent panel. The panel may, through their reported recommendations to Council, come to the view that some properties, not currently part of the amendment, are nonetheless worthy of NCO or DDO protection. It would then be open to Council to consider a new amendment process to include these properties”.

GERA’s Comments

GERA is extremely concerned by the officers “suggested way forward”.  These concerns are:

  1. If the Council considers the submitters requested changes to be “beyond the scope of this amendment” then the Independent Planning Panel (who will review the amendment under the guidelines contained Council’s  C87 Explanatory Note) “may”  (i.e. likely) adopt the same view as Council.
  2. The councillors unanimous resolution was that Council Supports the Amendment as exhibited, at the panel hearing subject to the following changes” (which were the exclusion of a Poath Road, Murrumbeena property and the reclassification of Normanby Road, Caulfield North as a minimal change area).  How is it that, as a result of the community consultation process,  properties which were not included cannot now be included yet properties which were included can now be excluded.
  3. The Council Meeting Minutes state that “The consultants who undertook the review of Neighbourhood Character were asked to comment on the submissions to assess if any changes to NCO boundaries/areas could be justified. Attachment 2 to this report lists submitters’ addresses, the issues raised by each submitter and provides an officer comment on each submission and recommended changes to the exhibited amendment (if any)”.  In line with open, transparent and accountable governance, GERA believes the full consultants comments should be included in the minutes – “an officer comment on each submission” is insufficient and residents have the right to view the comments submitted by the consultants (particularly as it impacts their property). 
  4. GERA does not support the comment that if the Independent Planning Panel recommends inclusion of properties not currently included in the amendment that “it would then be open to Council to consider a new amendment process to include these properties”.   Commencing  a new amendment process to include these properties is not dependent on a recommendation from the Independent Planning Panel, Council could proceed with a new amendment if it chose to.   GERA supports submitters who wish to lobby Council for a new amendment process. 
  5. GERA is concerned that the Planisphere Report may not have been as comprehensive as it may have been.  The Planisphere Report includes the following comments:
    • Section 1.2 Methodology – “The level of significance for each area with significant neighbourhood character was undertaken by way of two surveys – a framework survey of the entire municipality and then a detailed survey of all SCAs – and subsequent comparative analysis”
    • Section 1.2.1 – Framework Survey
      • “ The methodology for the framework survey included a windshield survey of random residential streets throughout the entire municipality
      • A preliminary survey and assessment was also undertaken of the fifteen SCAs listed in the Minimal Change Area Policy of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme (Clause 22.08), as well as potential areas of significant neighbourhood character recommended by Council”.
    • Section 1.2.2 – Detailed Survey

“A detailed street-by-street survey was undertaken of the 15 SCAs listed in the Planning Scheme, as well as an additional twenty-two streets that showed potentially significant neighbourhood character attributes”.

GERA believes it would have been appropriate to ask for residents input prior to commissioning the Planisphere Report.  This would not need to be an expensive or time consuming process (eg. a notice requesting community input on Council’s website and in the Glen Eira News) and would have been in line with Council’s claim of encouraging community participation.

Advertisements

Comments are closed.