PROPOSED McKINNON MIXED USE ZONE – PLANNING CONFERENCE REPORT

Proposal: 

Planning Scheme Amendment (C143) to re-zone a 3671sqm site currently zoned for Industrial Use  to a Mixed Use Zone – Schedule 1 and implement a Design and Development Overlay – Schedule 6 (DDO6) to apply a 4 storey height limit and rear setbacks requirements for the site.  The site is located on the south and western edge of McKinnon Village Neighbourhood Centre on the corner of Wheatley and McKinnon Roads

For those interested, background on this Amendment and proposed DDO is available in our previous posting Save McKinnon Village.

Planning Conference Details

  • Date:     23/02/2017
  • Chair:    Cr. Jamie Hyams, with Jacqui Brasher, Principal Strategic Planner, in attendance.
  • Properties Notified:   90
  • Submissions Rec’d:  182, 5 in support and 177 objecting

Officer’s Recommendation:   To be presented to Council 21/3/2017

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The planning conference proved to be a marathon event lasting almost 4 hours with the approx. 30 attendees raising strong objections to the proposal itself and equally strong criticisms of Council for  presenting residents with the developer’s proposed zoning, heights and setbacks,  without Council (the responsible Local Planning Authority) presenting to residents any analysis of available options.  Their overwhelming opinion was that the presented proposal was unacceptable and should be rejected by Council.  Council should consult with community to obtain their input on the most appropriate zoning, height and setbacks for the site.

Before outlining the major objections raised at the Planning Conference readers should note the following “supplementary” issues raised and discussed

  • Attendance Requirements – Council advised that the change in attendance requirements (i.e. pre-registration) and the police presence at the Conference, were precautionary measures undertaken in response to the developer (a well known local resident) receiving threatening and intimidating letters re the development proposal. Fortunately, nothing untoward occurred and many of the objectors, prefaced their opposition to the proposal, with well wishes for the developer as he embarked on his next endeavour.
  • Generally, when it comes to planning matters, there are two types of community consultations. These being amendments to the planning scheme and an application for a planning permit.
  • Amendments – basically the Planning Scheme defines what (ie. physical parameters) can be built where and the nature of the uses (ie. businesses) that are allowed in the various locations. The current proposal  fits into this category and, it is at this stage that community involvement is emphasized – it’s when the parameters are set for building heights, footprints and setbacks etc.  Although Ministerial approval is required before an amendment is effected (formal term = gazetted), Council as the Local Planning Authority is responsible for preparing and substantiating the proposed amendment – provided appropriate documentation is presented, Ministerial Approval is generally given.  VCAT has no involvement in this approval process.
  • Planning Permit Applications are the next level down from the Planning Scheme Amendments – these are applications (which include detailed building plans) to develop a site in accordance with the parameters/clauses incorporated in the Planning Scheme (ie. predefined maximum heights, building footprints and set backs etc). VCAT is the arbiter in this approval process.  With regards this current proposal, as the proposed Amendment and DDO is yet to be defined, detailed development plans are yet to be prepared.
  • Roadworks – Residents requested information on the proposed roadworks on the Cnr. Wheatley and McKinnon Roads (the tender notice appeared in the Age 21/1/2017). Since such roadworks would impact the traffic and parking conditions around the site, residents had sought (6/2/2017 & 20/2/2017), but had yet to receive information on the proposed roadworks.  The details of the roadworks provided by Cr. Hyams were that they involved raising the height of the current roundabout (to ensure motorists drove around, rather than across, the roundabout) and for associated road re-surfacing and kerb replacement.   No comment was made on the delay in passing this information on to residents.
  • Conference – As previously mentioned the Planning Conference was well conducted/facilitated. All attendees were given adequate opportunity to express their views (some more than once) on the proposal and their dissatisfaction with Council’s poor planning performance and the quality of information re the proposal that had presented to residents.

 OBJECTION ISSUES

 Mixed Use Zone (MUZ1)

  • Cr. Hyams confirmed that the proposed Mixed Use Zone, building heights and setback requirements originated with the developer, as is his right.
  • Residents argued that the creation of new Mixed Use Zone (MUZ) at this location is inappropriate due to:
    • Council’s Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) which includes the following
      • Clause 21:07Encourage the conversion of isolated pockets of industrially zoned land to residential where residential land use surrounds such sites”
      • Clause 21:07 – Zones & Overlays: zoning non-conforming industrial uses to match the predominant surrounding zone

Due to some planning quirk the Mixed Use Zone is classified as a residential zone even though the zones higher densities, various features and allowed uses are not aligned with the sites “predominant surrounding zone” (ie. GRZ1 and NRZ1).  Attendees were extremely critical of the level of analysis undertaken in selecting the MUZ for this location and commented that all justifications presented in support the creation of a new MUZ for this location either

. equally justified rezoning to one of the alternate “predominant” surrounding zones (GRZ or NRZ) or

. were unsubstantiated (eg. increased employment opportunities) or

.  did not consider the negative amenity impacts (significant noise, traffic volumes and parking demand) the MUZ’s allowed uses (shops, food and liquor premises that favoured businesses operating with trading hours) would have on the predominant surrounding residential zones

Please note that the maximum leasable floor area for MUZ allowed uses (ie. no planning permit required) is capped at 150 sqm.  However, Council advised that area can accommodate sit in/take out stores, cafes and restaurants.  Additionally, although not specifically mentioned, planning permit applications can be lodged to expand areas beyond the 150 sqm cap.

  • Contrary to information contained in the Explanatory Note, the site is not “surrounded by residential and commercial uses” . It is a stand alone site on the boundary of McKinnon Village that is surrounded by residential zones only.
  • As previously mentioned the MUZ features lower requirements for permeability, landscaping, private open space and setback requirements than those of surrounding GRZ and NRZ zones.  Setback requirements and landscaping being “hot” issues as the location is prone to storm water flooding and providing the transition  from growth areas to the NRZ areas.
  • Located away from the Village core, the site lacks
    • Facilities (eg. parking, train station) and complementary businesses
    • The Commercial Zones “buffering” impact on noise levels impacting residential areas
    • Is not readily accessible to the majority of the centres residents
  • McKinnon Village currently has many vacant shops. The recently completed grade separation works had added more vacant shops and more will be added as already approved multi-unit developments are completed.  McKinnon doesn’t need additional shops, particularly shops located away from the village core.

Design and Development Overlay – DDO6

  • As the Mixed Use Zone has no height limits or set back requirements DDO6 defines a 4 storey (13.5-14.5m depending on land slope) height limit and rear setbacks for the site.
  • Height limits

The proposed height limit of 4 storey/14.5m

    •  is contrary to the designation of McKinnon Village as a Neighbourhood Centre and the 2013 Zone Implementation that implemented a 10.5m/3 storey height limit on residential zones within this neighbourhood centre and other such centres
    • Is inconsistent with the concept of scaling down building heights from the Village centre towards the Neighbourhood Residential Zone.
    • The site is subject to a special building overlay (SBO).  An SBO is related to requirements for storm water flooding treatments, it is not and should not be a justification for a height increase of an additional storey.
    • Like wise, describing a proposed building as a “Gateway” is not a justification for increased height that is inconsistent with the surrounding zones.
      • A “Gateway” is not specifically related to height, its a description that can also be applied to a building with architectural merit that fits within or enhances the character of the surrounding area
      • A Gateway building is more appropriately located on the Jasper Road (a main road) entrance to the village rather than that village’s boundary with the NRZ.
    • Will result in visual bulk, dominance and overshadowing. With regards visual bulk, residents highlighted the dominance of the only 4 storey building within Village (diagonally opposite the new train station) .  The dominance of this building when viewed from across the road or when approaching along McKinnon Road  indicates how dominant a 4 storey building, surrounded by 3 and 2 storey buildings, will be.
  • Inadequate Setback Provisions

The absence of above and below ground street-front, side and rear setbacks

    • restricts ground absorption of storm water runoff (a Special Building Overlay applies to the site).  Surrounding topography and  inadequate Council maintenance of drains within the Village frequently resulted in storm water flooding of the immediate and surrounding areas.
    • restricts on-site landscaping opportunities (eg mature vegetation) that would mitigate visual bulk and provide a positive amenity  impact for future residents.
  • In response to questioning on above ground side and street front setbacks the Developer’s Representative indicated that diagrams of proposed setbacks had been forwarded to Council. The diagrams, distributed to objectors the next day, are flagged as being indicative only – this combined with the absence of such setback requirements in DDO6 raises serious questions re the inclusion of side and street-front setbacks if the current proposal is accepted by Council.
  • Additionally, the Developer’s Representative was unable advise if side and street-front setbacks would be included at ground level or commence at a higher level.

 Traffic and Parking

 In addition to criticisms of Council’s failure to address the cumulative traffic and parking issues arising from increased development within McKinnon Village and flow on impacts arising from the Villages close proximity to the Ormond and Bentleigh centres, the following issues were raised

  • Already congested McKinnon Road is becoming even more congested (despite removal of the level crossing). The intersection with Wheatley Road (the only local road that links North and Centre Roads) is becoming increasingly dangerous.  The proposal would increase traffic volumes on both roads.
  • Wheatley Road services schools and significant redevelopments within the Ormond, McKinnong and Bentleigh centres.  The road is narrow and experiences high parking demand that requires regular “crossover pullovers” by current traffic.
  • On Street parking (on both McKinnon and Wheatley Roads) within the vicinity of the proposal is minimal (due to the roundabout slipways, bus stops and crossovers) and is simply incapable of providing for the extra demand that will generated by a Mixed Use Zone.
  • Proposed development vehicle access via a one-car width laneway accessed from Wheatley Road is inadequate.

Precedence

Following on from the above questioning of the proposed new MUZ and DDO height limit and setbacks, the issue of precedence was raised.   The approval of this proposal would set a significant and far reaching precedence for the whole of Glen Eira.  This precedent would be far more significant than the current of precedence used  justify incremental building heights (ie from 8 stories to 10 stories) within the various centres.  This precedent would justify

  • the creation of new MUZ higher density zones
    • on the edges of any neighbourhood centre rather than in the centres core and
    • in locations not accessed by main or arterial roads
  • negate the concept of scaling down building heights from the village core to NRZ

This precedent doesn’t currently exist,  don’t let it be created.

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Apologies for the length of this posting folks – it’s a challenge to summarize 4 hours – thanks for hanging in there.

As always, if you would like to make any comments or seek some clarification of issues raised, feel free to access GERA’s Facebook page

 

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