AGM AND PLANNING FORUM UPDATE

Our thanks to the 60 plus residents who, undaunted by the prospect of an AGM and the inclement weather, attended our recent (13/11) AGM and Planning Forum. Your attendance and, at times “lively”, participation made for a successful evening.

Our thanks also to our
independent moderator, Gerry McLoughlin (Architect and Urban Designer), who provided the metro Melbourne “big picture” for the zone implementation, and to
guest speaker, Ron Torres (Glen Eira’s Manager, Town Planning and Transport and one of the principals involved in the recent zone implementation) – Ron provided a good overview of Glen Eira’s residential zones* and readily responded to questions asked.

Unfortunately, although all Councillors praised the zone implementation and endorsed the implementation without community consultation, no Councillor attended the only Council presentation  to the community on the zones – Crs. Okotel and Lobo offered apologies.  As a member quipped during a “lively” moment, “this is why no Councillor is here”.

PRESENTATION

As previously mentioned, the presentation focused on the recently implemented residential zones and their height limits. The new zones and related schedules built on the previous Minimal Change/Housing Diversity Areas, by continuing to focus development in and around transport nodes and by enabling further definition of what can be built where.

Former Minimal Change Area

o Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) – Maximum 8 Metres (2 storeys)

Former Housing Diversity Areas

o General Residential Zone 1 (GRZ1) – Maximum 10.5 metres (3 storeys)
o General Residential Zone 2 (GRZ2) – Maximum 10.5 metres (3 storeys), increased rear setbacks
o Residential Growth Zone (RGZ) – Maximum 13.5 stories (4 storeys)
o Also mentioned, but not focussed on, were the

  • Commercial Zones (C1Z and C2Z) – no height limit, and the
  •  Mixed Use Zone (MUZ) – no height limit

In addition to the prescribed heights, Ron said that additional planning controls were provided via overlays (eg. Heritage, Neighbourhood Character etc.), Rescode (particularly side setback requirements) and Preferred Character statements/policies. For example, depending on the lot size, side set back requirements may provide an additional height control element by making the top floor too narrow to be feasible.

Ron also commented that the next 12 months will be a transition period with planning permits being evaluated or finalised under different rules. The Minimal Change/Housing Diversity Areas policies will be applicable to planning permit applications (both new and extended) submitted prior to 23rd August, 2013, while planning permit applications submitted post 23rd August, 2013, will be evaluated under the “new” Planning Zones.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

• Why was Glen Eira “first cab off the rank” in implementing the zones and why was there no community consultation?

Ron commented that the concept/s of the zones are not new to planning or planning officers and that the zones aligned with Glen Eira’s previous Minimal Change/Housing Diversity Areas. Therefore, Council requested the Minister to exempt the zone implementation from community consultation as the implemented zones were a direct conversion of the Minimal Change/Housing Diversity Areas and incorporated residents’ concerns.

• To what extent are the contents of the Zone Schedules mandatory on both VCAT and planning officers (who frequently “consider acceptable” discrepancies between a development proposal and the planning scheme)?

Ron commented that all contents of the zone and associated schedules are mandatory. As an example, the maximum of 2 dwellings per lot in the NRZ was not dependent on lot size – under the new zones the Alma Club (if on one title) would be restricted to two 2 storey dwellings. Ron also stated that Glen Eira Planning Officers are receiving complaints and criticism from developers for the 2 dwelling limitation.

• What consideration was given to traffic and parking issues in the residential zone implementation?

Ron commented that the residential zones are related to housing policies rather than traffic and parking management issues. However, by concentrating development in/around public transport routes and nodes (which have historically also become retail/commercial centres), use of public transport (rather than private vehicles) is encouraged. Council has separate policies re traffic and parking management, sustainable transport and active (pedestrian and cycling) transport.

• Why was the Alma Club, previously classified as Minimal Change, now zoned as a General Residential Zone (3 storeys with side setbacks) while the development proposal was subject to VCAT mediation.

Ron commented that this was a change made by the Minister and was not requested by Council.
The questioner then commented that the Minister’s interest in a “relatively” small parcel of land was particularly strange.

• Why doesn’t Glen Eira have structure plans? Structure plans provide a strategic justification for height controls, are generally accepted at VCAT and would have introduced height controls prior to the zone implementation.

Ron commented that structure plans are only applicable for targeted areas and were of limited use for larger overall areas (such as the NRZ). Structure planning requires extensive and expensive strategic work and are not binding on VCAT.

• Is basement car parking included in the height restrictions and if not is it a “way around” height restrictions?

Ron commented that height measurements are taken from ground level and therefore do not include below ground car parking. Currently, provision of underground car parking is a design decision made by the developer. However, with the implementation of zone height limits, provision of underground car parking may increase as a means of maximizing development potential.

• Why has Glen Eira set a lower (25%) permeability requirement in the NRZ zone than other Councils?

Ron commented that the permeability requirement was based on Glen Eira’s demographics (aging population, children) and their need for solid surfaces.

Once again we thank all attendees, Gerry and Ron for an informative evening and their support.

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* The handout materials accompanying the presentation were the

• Map of the New Residential Zones
• Map of the previous Minimal Change/Housing Diversity policy areas
• New Residential zones and Mandatory Maximum Heights – A guide for the Community

These may be downloaded from Council’s website

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