Caulfield South – Planning Conference Abandoned

A remarkable turn of events at last night’s (2/7/2018) Planning Conference for a development at 2 Pearce Street, South Caulfield*.   Before the standard preliminaries were completed, the South Caulfield Action Group (SCAG) and residents requested and voted to abandon the Planning Conference  with  Council agreeing to re-start the planning permit approval process.**

The major sticking point being that just prior (hours) before the Conference commenced, SCAG learnt that amended development plans had been submitted to Council (29/6/2018) and residents had not been advised of either the amended plans or their content.  Consequently, SCAG and residents objections would be based on plans that were no longer applicable.

Cr. Hyams (the Conference Chair), after advising that the changes were not considered significant, asked the Planning Officer to outline the changes.  The changes being

  • The basement car park had previously “protruded” (no specifics provided) into the garden area due to an interpretation of the Planning Minister ‘s garden area requirements by the developer. Clarification had been sought  from the  Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and resulted in changes that removed the protrusion.
  • Since the area is subject to an SBO, Melbourne Water had requested an increase in building height of 300mm/30 cm to elevate the ground floor level for flood mitigation purposes. Despite this height increase, the building height remained below the maximum height limit (11m) for the General Residential Zone (GRZ).

Summarised residents comments are

  • that the area, originally developed for workers cottages, is typified by lot sizes of 750 sqm resulting in approx. a metre separating individual dwellings.  The proposed changes could have implications for more properties than those immediately abutting the development.
  • residents had, in a short time, undertaken a very steep planning learning curve to come to grips with both the GE’s planning scheme and the plans presented. They should be given sufficient time to review the changes and assess their implications – to ask them to do so based on the scant information presented  was to ask them to make a compromise they should not be asked to make.
  • Given that the planning permit application was lodged with Council 25/01/2018, their request for time to review and assess the implications of both changes (drainage and already significant overshadowing on adjoining properties) was in accordance with the Local Government Act 1989 (Part 1 a – Local Government Charter, Section 3c – e & g) and reasonable .

GERA congratulates SCAG and residents for their well presented arguments and maintaining an amicable meeting.   We also congratulate Council for acceding to the residents request.

As an aside, after the decision to abandon the Conference had been made, discussions continued.   SCAG members,  commented that very few of the approx. 300 local residents they had contacted were aware that in 2013 their area had been zoned GRZ1 or GRZ2 (ie. suitable for 3 storey multi-unit developments).    This discussion between the residents and Cr. Hyams will be the topic of a subsequent post.

The South Caulfield Action Group (SCAG) can be contacted via email:  scag.sthcaulfield.action.group@gmail.com

 

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Footnotes:

*3 stories, comprising 5 dwellings above basement car parking and waiver of visitor car parking.  Lot size is 750 sqm and the lot is subject to a Special Building Overlay (SBO – area prone to storm water overflow and flooding)

**  Since the development is not considered to be “major”, the 60 day time Council decision time line is not applicable, hence, Council can “re-start” the approval process.

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