100+ concerned residents attended the Elsternwick Concept Plan Forum (21/8/2017) – standing room was well utilised. Unlike the previous forums where Councillor attendance was sparse, the three Camden Ward Councillors (Crs. Delahunty, Silver and Sztrajt) took advantage of the opportunity to hear from the residents first hand. Also attending was Cr. Anthanasopoulous (Rosstown) who attended all three (Bentleigh, Carnegie & Elsternwick) forums.
Whenever a series of Community Forums is held to a set format that does not respond to residents’ concerns as the series progresses, understandably resident frustration mounts as each Forum is held. Such was the case at this Forum, where once again the issues of scant information, inadequate justification for significant changes, lack of change analysis and any discussion of planning controls were raised. Of particular concern was the creation of a significant “Urban Renewal Area” with a maximum 12 storey height limit in a previously designated a 3 storey residential zone. Resident interjections during the formal presentation more than doubled the allotted presentation time – residents did not accept the justification of “we can’t locked down development therefore it has to go somewhere” nor did they accept the equivalent of “we don’t know” as a valid response to questions of heights, expected densities, government targets or planning controls to be applied.
The interjection period gleaned the following information (which GERA believes is also applicable to the earlier forums)
- Almost 4 years after the zone implementation, Council has accepted what residents have been consistently arguing, the GRZ2 (three storey) zoning is not providing the desired diversity of housing.
- Council has no control over employment opportunities provided in developments.
- Council “acquisition or designation” of the Urban Renewal Area and Strategic Sites provides greater control over site redevelopment, eg. sale of “airspace” could ensure retention/expansion of public car parking (possibly underground) in exchange for incremented height limits.
- That the next and final forum (October-November) will provide details on re-zonings and planning controls. Significant information (volume and detail wise) will be presented which residents will need to carefully consider.
- While the deadline for submissions re the Elsternwick Concept Plan is 3rd September late submissions will be received.
Issues raised during the round table discussions were
- General agreement that Concept Plan is an improvement on the inadequacies of the current planning scheme. However, scant and questionable information and limited change analysis for the overall activity centre, and in particular for the Urban Renewal Area, restricts residents ability to comment. As one resident summed up the presented documentation – without appropriate information and analysis “it’s wishing rather than planning”.
- Not only is information scant as per above, but information presented contains inaccuracies and does not reflect the life span of redevelopments that have occurred prior to the 2013 zone implementation.
- What justifications support the designated Urban Renewal Area and Strategic Sites and their maximum height limits (with community benefit URA = 12 stories, SS = 8 stories, without community benefit URA= 8, SS = 6).
- What is the definition of community benefit and their weighting (eg. which community benefit warrants an additional 2 stories vs. an additional 4 stories)
- Heritage and Neighbourhood Character – the proposed municipal wide review of heritage is long overdue (last undertaken in 1996) and needs to also include a review of Neighbourhood Character. Current Neighbourhood Character Areas are likely future heritage areas.
- Traffic and parking requirements are not discussed in the documents, yet these are current significant issues that will increase as development and planned pedestrianisation occurs.
- Current inadequate parking (Council car parks and on street) provisions adversely impacting traders. Need to
- enforce parking and loading bay requirements for developments.
- Maximise on street parking via painted parking lines and introduction of short stay parking times (15mins) near “drop in” retailers, eg. bakery, florist, drycleaner.
- Council car parks and/or their airspace should not be sold to fund future car park purchases.
- No analysis of traffic flows provided in Concept Plans. Vehicular traffic should be directed to main roads and away from residential streets.
- What can Council do to encourage
- Increased and appropriate employment opportunities for residents
- Encourage “specialty” retailing
- Ensure proposed diversity of housing as per the Concept Plan
- To provide for trees and landscaping, Garden Apartments below ground basement car parking should not exceed the above ground building footprint.
- No mention of acquisition or location of new parkland.
- The Library should not be moved.
- Development outstripping infrastructure and services resulting in decreased amenity in centre’s core and surrounding residential areas.
Having now attended all Concept Plan forums, GERA is becoming increasingly concerned about the limited data and detail provided so far. With only one more planned community consultation (October-November) we expect residents will either be swamped with information and limited time to assess or still lacking the data, justifications and analysis required to make an informed decision.
We urge residents to make a submission expressing their views re the Elsternwick Concept Plan. If required, take advantage of the acceptance of late submissions.