Category Archives: C87 – Neighbourhood Character

C87 REVISITED – NEIGHBOURHOOD CHARACTER

GERA is disappointed with the entire C87 amendment process. It’s content,  it’s ramifications, and it’s failure to take due recognition of community wishes. The C87 amendment was discussed at the last Council Meeting (1st May, 2012 – Minutes – Section 9.1).

Background 

This Amendment sought to implement what is described as “new” prescriptive planning tools of the Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) and the Design Development Overlay (DDO)* to some of the previously defined Significant Character Areas (SCA)*.

* For an explanation of the NCO, DDO and SCA, please refer to GERA’s earlier posting (17th February, 2012), under the Topic of  “C87 – Neighbourhood Character”.  Please also note that the NCO and DDO are not “new” prescriptive planning tools – in 2002 when Council sought to introduce SCA’s as a planning scheme reference policy, the Independent Planning Panel recommended use of the prescriptive NCO and DDO rather than the loosely worded SCA guidelines.  In 2008 another Independent Planning Panel re-affirmed the use of NCO’s and DDO’s rather than the SCA guidelines.

The C87 amendment sought to

  • exclude 4 previously defined SCA’s due to “mixed and extensive overbuilding”
  • 11 of the original SCA’s are to remain, however, 3 of them are to be split as their “different architectural styles warrant separate/different controls”.   In the case of  Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent the connecting streets will be excluded as  “new developments undertaken in these adjoining streets have lowered the significance of those areas”.
  • Include 3 streets not previously identified as SCA’s but which are now recognised as “having a relatively intact streetscape with many of the original buildings remaining and well preserved  …  where later overbuilding has occurred, these have generally been respectful of the established neighbourhood character”

* Again, for details there areas please refer to GERA’s earlier posting (17th February, 2012).

In total Council received 59 submissions commenting on Amendment C87 –

  • 17 residents residing in the SCAs supported the amendment
  • 15 residents residing in the SCAs did not support the amendment
  • 27 submitters objected because “their property or neighbourhood is not part of Amendment C87, and they think it should”  …  These residents “put strong arguments why the amendment should have encompassed their properties”.

With regards these 27 submissions, the Administrative Officers Report states This category of submissions request changes which go beyond the scope of this amendment in the form it was exhibited to the community. Any property that was not included as part of the exhibited amendment cannot now be included in this amendment. 

The suggested way forward for this category of submitters is to encourage them to put their views to the independent panel. The panel may, through their reported recommendations to Council, come to the view that some properties, not currently part of the amendment, are nonetheless worthy of NCO or DDO protection. It would then be open to Council to consider a new amendment process to include these properties”.

GERA’s Comments

GERA is extremely concerned by the officers “suggested way forward”.  These concerns are:

  1. If the Council considers the submitters requested changes to be “beyond the scope of this amendment” then the Independent Planning Panel (who will review the amendment under the guidelines contained Council’s  C87 Explanatory Note) “may”  (i.e. likely) adopt the same view as Council.
  2. The councillors unanimous resolution was that Council Supports the Amendment as exhibited, at the panel hearing subject to the following changes” (which were the exclusion of a Poath Road, Murrumbeena property and the reclassification of Normanby Road, Caulfield North as a minimal change area).  How is it that, as a result of the community consultation process,  properties which were not included cannot now be included yet properties which were included can now be excluded.
  3. The Council Meeting Minutes state that “The consultants who undertook the review of Neighbourhood Character were asked to comment on the submissions to assess if any changes to NCO boundaries/areas could be justified. Attachment 2 to this report lists submitters’ addresses, the issues raised by each submitter and provides an officer comment on each submission and recommended changes to the exhibited amendment (if any)”.  In line with open, transparent and accountable governance, GERA believes the full consultants comments should be included in the minutes – “an officer comment on each submission” is insufficient and residents have the right to view the comments submitted by the consultants (particularly as it impacts their property). 
  4. GERA does not support the comment that if the Independent Planning Panel recommends inclusion of properties not currently included in the amendment that “it would then be open to Council to consider a new amendment process to include these properties”.   Commencing  a new amendment process to include these properties is not dependent on a recommendation from the Independent Planning Panel, Council could proceed with a new amendment if it chose to.   GERA supports submitters who wish to lobby Council for a new amendment process. 
  5. GERA is concerned that the Planisphere Report may not have been as comprehensive as it may have been.  The Planisphere Report includes the following comments:
    • Section 1.2 Methodology – “The level of significance for each area with significant neighbourhood character was undertaken by way of two surveys – a framework survey of the entire municipality and then a detailed survey of all SCAs – and subsequent comparative analysis”
    • Section 1.2.1 – Framework Survey
      • “ The methodology for the framework survey included a windshield survey of random residential streets throughout the entire municipality
      • A preliminary survey and assessment was also undertaken of the fifteen SCAs listed in the Minimal Change Area Policy of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme (Clause 22.08), as well as potential areas of significant neighbourhood character recommended by Council”.
    • Section 1.2.2 – Detailed Survey

“A detailed street-by-street survey was undertaken of the 15 SCAs listed in the Planning Scheme, as well as an additional twenty-two streets that showed potentially significant neighbourhood character attributes”.

GERA believes it would have been appropriate to ask for residents input prior to commissioning the Planisphere Report.  This would not need to be an expensive or time consuming process (eg. a notice requesting community input on Council’s website and in the Glen Eira News) and would have been in line with Council’s claim of encouraging community participation.

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Amendment C87 – Neighbourhood Character Areas – Past and Present

Following on from our previous post on Planning Scheme Amendment C87 – Neighbourhood Character Areas, the following presents the history and an outline of this amendment. But first some definitions are required. 

Definitions 

Neighbourhood character is the qualitative interplay of built form, vegetation and topographic characteristics, in both the private and public domains,  that make one place different from another.  The general attributes of private and public (street) realms (i.e. the building form and layout of the different areas; their overall streetscape qualities; the vegetation and landscape quality and the era of development) are all considered.

Significant Character Areas (SCA) – are those areas where the Neighbourhood Character is deemed to exhibit a particular quality that sets them apart from surrounding residential areas.  In the Glen Eira context, developmental controls are in the form of non-prescriptive guidelines, primarily aimed at restricting multiple dwelling development within the SCA boundaries.

Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) –  The purpose of the NCO is to protect and encourage the preferred character of areas as the pressures for redevelopment continues to increase. It introduces a greater level of control in relation to the fundamental neighbourhood character by prescribing considerations of building height, form and setbacks, as well as more detailed issues such as building removal, material selection and vegetation removal.

Design and Development Overlay (DDO) – The purpose of the DDO is to identify areas which are affected by specific requirements relating to the design and built form of new development.  In the Glen Eira context, it will also protect the streetscape by prescribing consideration of front and/or side fencing in areas of Significant Neighbourhood Character by prescribing fence heights, style, materials and colour.

Past

The current Planning Scheme Amendment C87 – Significant Character Areas (SCA) has it’s origins way back 2002.  Over the past decade council has had opportunities to adopt more the prescriptive NCO, as recommended by two independent State Government appointed Planning Panels rather than continue with the SCA guidelines.

Each amendment divided residents and raised contentious issues. Each time council rejected the Planning Panel recommendations. Now ten years later when development has become rampant throughout the municipality and all areas are “endangered” Council is revisiting something that could/should have been  decided in 2002.

Present 

The commencement of the introduction of NCOs  is raised in Council Minutes 1st September, 2009  – Section 8.8, Part 4 Overview states  “An NCO protects all buildings/dwellings and development through the need for a planning permit. … The Minister will not approve Amendment C56 which sought to only control multi dwellings.”   Amendment C87  is the next step in introducing the Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) and the Design and Development Overlay (DDO).

Unfortunately, the SCA’s have not fared very well over the past 10 years – the current Planisphere Report (entitled C87 – Final Report) and Appendix B (use the Planisphere Report link – entitled C87 – Appendix B – Areas of Significant Neighbourhood Character ) indicates

  •  The four SCA’s to be removed, while still retaining some “fine examples” of their original dwelling stock, have experienced “modern overbuilding that has seen substantial change to its architecture styles and building forms. The range of development, with its mixed base and extensive overbuilding leave a neighbourhood character that is not consistent or distinct from surrounding residential areas”.

Please note the Planisphere Report suggests reclassifying all SCA’s removed as Housing Diversity Areas (i.e. high density areas), however, the C87 Explanatory Report (use the above Planisphere Report link – entitled C87 – Explanatory Report) suggests these areas may be reclassified as minimal change areas or housing diversity areas.  Since the C87 documentation is not clear on the reclassification issue, impacted residents are urged to contact Council for clarification. 

  • The original 11 SCA’s  identified as exhibiting highly significant neighbourhood character due to the relative intactness of the original dwellings and the consistency of its key character elements are now described as “where building alterations” or “modern infill development is evident, it is generally respectful” and the areas remain distinct from surrounding residential areas.  “Non contributory properties” will be excluded from the NCO in some areas.

Again impacted residents are urged to carefully review C87 documentation, particularly the Council provided NCO and DDO overlay maps, (use the above Planisphere Report link – to access the relevant NCO and DDO maps) and contact Council if clarification is needed. 

Please note that three of the original SCA’s have been split, as streets within the area are considered to have different architectural styles and therefore warrant separate/different controls.  The areas split are

    • Downshire Road Area and St. James Parade Area, Elsternwick
    • Exhibition and Field Streets, McKinnon
    • Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent, Caulfield East – The streets connecting Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent will be removed from SCA classification as “new developments undertaken in these adjoining streets have lowered the significance of those areas and did not warrant  protection”. 

Please also note that one side of Craigavad Street is to be excluded from McPherson Avenue, Carnegie, SCA.   This one side of Craigavad Street has a “lower degree of consistency than the other streets of the area. Most original dwellings in Craigavad Street have imposing second storey additions, and other sites support non-contributory buildings”. 

  • The three new SCA’s (Murrray Street, Prentice Street, Kambea Grove) are generally described as having a relatively intact streetscape with many of the original buildings remaining and well preserved.  While “later overbuilding has occurred, these have generally been respectful of the established neighbourhood character” and the areas are distinct from surrounding residential areas.

Please note that not all properties in any of these 3 streets will be included in the NCO – in each street “non-contributory buildings” are to be excluded.  Again impacted residents are urged to carefully review C87 documentation, particularly the Council provided NCO and DDO overlay maps (use the above Planisphere Report link – to access the relevant NCO and DDO maps), and contact Council if clarification is needed. 

Given, the 10 years that it’s taken for Council to act on the NCO recommendation, it will be interesting to see how quickly/slowly Glen Eira Council acts on the Planisphere recommendations (and presumably the forthcoming C87 Planning Panel recommendations) for Heritage Overlay controls on

  • The Highway, East Bentleigh
  • Queens Avenue, Caulfield East
  • Derby Crescent, Caulfield East
  • St. James Parade, Elsternwick
  • Downshire Road, Elsternwick
  • Oakdene Crescent, Murrumbeena
  • Murray Street, Elsternwick
  • Prentice Street, Elsternwick
  • Kambea Grove, Caulfield North

Amendment C87 – What it really means

The latest edition of the Leader (31/1/2012) includes a notification of a Planning Scheme Amendment C87 – Neighbourhood Character.  Amendment C87 changes the Planning Scheme protection of neighbourhood character by replacing the previous Significant Character Area (SCA) designation with the new designations of Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) and Design and Development Overlay (DDO).

In preparing the C87 Amendment, Council commissioned Planisphere to undertake a study of the municipality to

  • Review/assess the level of significance of  the 15 Significant Character Areas that are currently nominated in the Glen Eira Planning Scheme.
  • Identify other areas within the municipality that could also warrant designation as Significant Character Areas.

The Planisphere Final Report, March 2011,  recommends changes to the existing SCA’s

  • some areas are increased (eg. Oakdene Crescent Area expanded to include part of Blackwood Street) while others are decreased (e.g. Queens Avenue/Derby Crescent to be split into two with connecting streets removed from SCA).
  • the removal of 4 SCA’s which are to be reclassified as Housing Diversity Areas (i.e. high density housing areas) – bypassing the Minimal Change Area classification
    • Urandaline Grove, Caulfield
    • Normanby Road/Park Crescent, North Caulfield.  Area includes Kambrook Road between Balaclava and Normanby Roads.
    • Hawthorn Road Tramway Estate, South Caulfield
    • Ulpurina Road, Ormond
  • the inclusion of 3 new areas.
    • Murray Street, Elsternwick
    • Prentice Street, Elsternwick
    • Kambea Grove, Caulfield North

A summary of the Planisphere Report (pages 25-26) is presented below.  Appendix B, which includes maps, area character descriptions and lists characteristic elements for each area, is a separate document to the Report and should also be reviewed.  Appendix B is available via the same link as the Planisphere Final Report.

GERA will make subsequent postings commenting on the Planisphere Report.  However, given the significance of the proposed changes underpinning Amendment C87, this post is to advise residents of the changes so that residents can make whatever representations they consider appropriate to Councillors and Council.

Note:  GERA has highlighted, in red, the Report recommendations

Existing Significant Character Areas

  1. The Highway, Bentleigh

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, possible heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.

2.  Chestnut Street, Carnegie

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted. Remove properties at the northern end of the street from the area.

3.  McPherson Avenue Area, Carnegie

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted. Remove properties in Craigavad Street, and several properties in Munster Avenue and Grange Road from the area.

4.  Urandaline Grove, Caulfield

Area does not display greater degree of neighbourhood character significance to surrounding residential areas. No additional controls warranted.

5.  Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent, Caulfield East

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, possible heritage significance. Additional controls warranted. Separate Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent into two areas and remove connecting streets.

6.  Normanby Road/Park Crescent, Caulfield North

Area does not display greater degree of neighbourhood character significance to surrounding residential areas. No additional controls warranted

7.  Clarinda Street, Caulfield South

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted.

8.  Hawthorn Road Tramway Estate, Caulfield South

Area does not display greater degree of neighbourhood character significance to surrounding residential areas. No additional controls warranted. Subdivision layout may have heritage significance.

9.  St James Parade / Downshire Road, Elsternwick

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, possible heritage significance. Additional controls warranted. Separate into two areas of significant neighbourhood character. Extend Downshire Road area north to Stanley Street and Rowan Street. Extend St James Parade area to include interwar estate to the east (Nagle Ave, Clonard Ave, Duffy Ave, Elster Ave and Gogh St.)

10. Exhibition and Field Streets, McKinnon

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted. Separate into two significant areas of neighbourhood character.

11. Boyd Park Area, Murrumbeena

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted. Extend area to the south to include Neerim Road (between Hobart Road and Poath Road) and Riley Reserve

12. Lindsay Avenue, Murrumbeena

High degree of neighbourhood character significance.  Additional controls warranted.

13. Oakdene Crescent, Murrumbeena

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, possible heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.  Extend boundary to Blackwood Street.

14. Lydson Street, Murrumbeena

High degree of neighbourhood character significance. Additional controls warranted.

15. Ulupna Road, Ormond

Area does not display greater degree of neighbourhood character significance to surrounding residential areas. No additional controls warranted

Potential Areas of Significant Neighbourhood Character

16. Murray Street, Elsternwick

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, potential heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.

17. Prentice Street, Elsternwick

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, potential heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.

18. Kambea Grove, Caulfield North

High degree of neighbourhood character significance, potential C20th architectural heritage significance. Additional controls warranted.