NO MORE FROGMORE

RIP Frogmore T

We regret to inform readers that at last Tuesday’s (9/6/2015) Council Meeting, Councillor’s resolved to withdraw/abandon heritage protection for Frogmore via the planning scheme amendment process (ie. heritage overlay).

Thus, Frogmore’s future will now be inappropriately determined by a planning permit approval process which does not consider heritage unless that heritage has been previously recognised via a heritage overlay.

The Age – 11/6/2015

National Trust 10/6/2015

Historic Home to face the wrecking ball – 11/6/2015 – Magic1278 (linked added 16/6/2015).

Glen Eira Leader – articled added 16/6/2015.

Leader on Frogmore Decision T

GERA believes that the resolution to halt the amendment process

  • does not give appropriate consideration to the heritage retention values shown by the significant community support for the preservation of Frogmore.
  • does not recognise that the Planning Scheme Amendment process is the appropriate  heritage recognition process
  • has disregarded current expert heritage advice without sound reasons
  • has not provided adequate strategic justification for withdrawing/abandoning the amendments

AMENDMENT C136  and C137 BACKGROUND

These amendments were initiated by residents (ie. a petition comprising approximately 1,000 signatures) in December, 2014, and resulted in a Council decision to commission an Independent Local Heritage Assessment of Frogmore.  Council defined the Assessment’s terms of reference.

On 3/2/2015, based on the findings and recommendation of that Independent Local Heritage Assessment, Council initiated amendments C136 (Interim Protection) and C137 (Heritage Overlay, ie. permanent protection).

 “Frogmore is significant to the locality of Carnegie and Murrumbeena and City of Glen Eira and should be conserved as one of the cultural assets of the city.  …  Frogmore House should be included in the schedule to heritage over lay clause 43.01 by the Glen Eira Planning Scheme”.

 The above 2015 Frogmore Independent Heritage Assessment (a.k.a. Graeme Butler Report) recommendation was based on a detailed analysis of

  • Frogmore’s heritage merits (historic, architecture, rarity and associations) in its own right, and
  • in comparison with Glen Eira’s identified historic building stock

and measured the analysis results against the assessment criteria

  • applicable to Glen Eira’s 1996-2003 Municipal Heritage Survey and
  • Heritage Victoria’s current heritage criteria, assessed within the context of the Glen Eira municipality (5 of 8 criteria satisfied, only 1 is required to be met)

 The National Trust supports the findings and recommendation of the 2015 Frogmore Independent Local Heritage Assessment.

 On 9/6/2015, although nothing has occurred that would alter the 2015 Frogmore Local Heritage Assessment findings or recommendation, the resolution not to proceed to a hearing before an Independent Planning Panel was made, based on a casting vote.  In the absence of 3  Councillors which included the Mayor and Deputy Mayor (apologies from the Mayor and Deputy Mayor Delahunty and Cr. Esakoff declaring conflicts of interest which had arisen since their participation in the 3/2/2015 resolution to commence the protection process), the immediate past Mayor (Cr. Pilling) took the chair and the casting vote.   The voting was 4 to 3.

Voting for withdrawal/abandon – Crs. Hyams, Lipshutz and Pilling (2 votes)

Voting to continue the amendment process – Crs. Sounness, Okotel and Lobo.

 DISREGARDING ACCREDITED EXPERT ADVICE

  • The 2015 Frogmore Independent Heritage Advisor’s Local Assessment should supersede the 1996-2003 Glen Eira Municipal Heritage Survey, which excluded Frogmore from a local heritage overlay.   However, support for the withdrawal/abandoning of the Amendments C136 and C137, is reliant upon the 1996-2003 Heritage Survey.  A survey which contradicts the findings and recommendation of the 2015 Independent Heritage assessment.
  • The need to consider Frogmore in the context of the municipality (9/6/2015 Officer’s Report) does not justify abandoning the planning scheme amendments. Nor does it recognise that the detailed 2015 Frogmore Heritage Assessment was undertaken at the Local Level.
  • Asserting that the 2015 Frogmore Local Assessment recommended protection “because” of associations (refer Officers Report – 9/6/2015) “downplays” the 2015 Local Heritage Assessment’s recommendation that is based on a detailed assessment of Frogmore’s historic significance, architectural merit, rarity and associations.
  • Inappropriately referencing Heritage Victoria’s March, 2015 Assessment (which did not recommend State Level Protection), “blurs the line” between State and Local Assessments. When a State Assessment recommends State Level Protection, local level protection automatically follows. Conversely, the absence of State Level protection does not, and should not, impact recognition of significance at the Local Level.
  • The 1996-2003 decision not to include Frogmore in a heritage overlay was based on
    • Frogmore not being located in an “identified heritage area” – this is not a current heritage assessment criteria and arguably a stand-alone location enhances, rather than diminishes, heritage value.
    • Addition of extensions (1960’s – 1990’s) surrounding the building – Amendment C137 does not apply to these extensions which are described as being “superficial” in the 2015 Frogmore Local Assessment
    • Obscured street visibility (due to extensions) – not a heritage assessment criteria and able to be addressed during re-development.
    • Non original modifications – the 2015 Frogmore Local Assessment did not find these modifications significant.
  • Does not adequately consider the National Trust’s recommendation to preserve Frogmore via the applying a local heritage overlay.

STRATEGIC JUSTIFICATION

  • Given the 2015 Frogmore Independent Heritage Advisor’s Local Assessment findings and recommendation, Glen Eira Council’s decision not to proceed with local heritage protection for Frogmore is inconsistent with the

– purpose and objectives of the Glen Eira’s Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS – Clause 21.10) and

– Glen Eira’s Planning Scheme (GEPS – Clause 41.01 – Purpose) and

– objectives of planning for Victoria, as identified by the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

The supporters of these amendments (C136 and C137) agree with the objectives and purposes of these documents and have consistently argued that good planning should result in an outcome that would retain Frogmore for current and future residents without preventing redevelopment (Aged Care or other permitted use), albeit a “scaled back” development. The protection of heritage values is a valid planning consideration in planning decisions.

  • The site is a large site (8,000 sqm, of which approximately 1,000 sqm accommodates Frogmore House and its significant vegetation identified in the 2015 Frogmore Local Heritage Assessment) that presents a unique opportunity for a good planning outcome that caters for multiple community usages, ie. preservation of heritage and redevelopment as an Aged Care Facility that is consistent with and encouraged by the above documents.

Abandoning Amendment C137 will not put in place orderly planning controls that conserve and enhance buildings identified as significant while also providing for sympathetic redevelopment that balances the present and future interests and needs of Glen Eira’s residents.

  • The suggestion that planning issues (particularly those related to heritage issues on large lots) are more appropriately addressed during the planning permit approval process (Officer’s Reports 3/2/2015 and 9/6/2015) is inconsistent with the above documents and will result in ad hoc, piecemeal decisions. The planning permit process only considers planning controls that are in place – no heritage controls = no Frogmore.

Abandoning Amendment C137 will not provide an appropriate forum to consider Frogmore’s heritage.

  • It is extremely difficult to see “The Minister for Planning has, to date, not responded to Council’s request of 4 February 2015 to place interim heritage control over the land” as a justification to withdraw/abandon the amendments.

Additional comments

  • No plans for the proposed redevelopment have been lodged with Council and, contrary to Officer’s Reports (3/2/2015 & 9/6/2015), the site has yet to be acquired by the potential developer. The sales agreement is conditional upon obtaining planning approval.
  • Net Community Benefit (NCB) – refer 9/6/2015 Officer’s Report (Section 6 Public Notice – Objectors), is frequently mentioned yet rarely documented or quantified. Recent discussions determine its value as being 120 beds.
    • No detailed professional analysis substantiating this determination (that NCB = 120 beds) has been presented.  The potential developer’s optimal proposed development comprises a 120 bed facility and the loss of Frogmore. Despite the 2015 Frogmore Local Heritage Assessment, this NCB determination clearly assigns a zero value to heritage.
    • Neither the Officer’s Report (9/6/2015) or Councillor discussion refer to the proposed developer’s planning conference comment that while their analysis indicated that a 60 bed facility was viable and would enable Frogmore to be retained, the developer was not interested in a lesser development and would prefer to look for an alternative site
  • That the potential developer had acted in good faith, undertaken due diligence and incurred significant costs in identifying the property as suitable and plan preparation (Officer’s Report’s 3/2/2015 & 9/6/2015 and Councillor discussion). While this is a regrettable situation, it is however, not a strategic justification for abandoning the heritage protection process.
  • That by abandoning the heritage overlay process, the potential developer avoids lengthy delays in site redevelopment. This is not a strategic justificiation for abandoning the heritage protection process.

It sets a dangerous precedent if unsubstantiated Net Community Benefit, “good faith”, costs incurred by the developer and the avoidance of developmental delays are deemed to provide sufficient justification for abandoning the planning scheme amendments. The protection of heritage values is a valid planning consideration in planning decisions.

In conclusion,

  • we re-iterate our earlier comments that Glen Eira Council has not addressed key planning issues and disregarded accredited heritage advice. The end result being a decision to withdraw/abandon planning scheme amendments C136 and C137 that is without adequate strategic justification and denies all stakeholders access to the appropriate due planning scheme amendment process, and

– reviews the 2015 Local Heritage Assessment and the withdraw/abandon justifications

– decides an appropriate course of action ie. either deny Council’s application to withdraw or abandon Amendments C136 & C137 or use Ministerial Direction to ensure that an appropriate heritage recognition process is undertaken.

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