Tag Archives: Glen Eira Council

ELSTERNWICK – RESIDENTIAL DRUG REHABILITATION CENTRE

We’ve been asked by a group of concerned Elsternwick residents to draw the community’s attention to a retrospective planning permit application to operate a residential* Drug Rehabilitation Centre on the former Daily Planet Brothel site – 7-12 Horne Street, Elsternwick.

The site, recently acquired by a developer, has been let and is currently  operating as a residential drug rehabilitation centre.  Residents have advised that initially Council Officers felt (mistakenly in GERA’s view) that the site’s zoning of Commercial 1 did not require a planning permit for use as a residential drug rehabilitation centre.  However, the below significant issues, raised by residents since the centre commenced operating many months ago, has resulted in a Council “re-think”.  Hence the permit (Application No. GE/CP-32039/2018) now being sought for the already operating centre.

The residents, who are currently lobbying Councillors and seeking residents support, have clearly indicated to GERA that they are not objecting to an accredited drug rehabilitation centre operating at this location.  Rather they are

  • questioning and objecting to the adequacy of the centre’s current facilities and security provisions given the nature of the services offered
  • asking that the current permit application be rejected and current operations cease.
  • seeking assurances that, should a future similar permit application be received,  appropriate facilities and security provisions are provided and the due planning approval process is followed, prior to the commencement of operations.

For those interested in supporting the residents, please note that

  • a Planning Conference will be held on 22/10/2018 at 6.30 pm in the Town Hall Theatrette. Objections may be submitted at any time prior to the Conference
  • Council is scheduled to discuss and decide the application at the 7/11/2018 Ordinary Council Meeting.

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RESIDENT’S COMMENTS

  • There was no letterbox drop. Supposedly this meets planning regulations. We are disappointed by this and we believe the community is not fully aware of what is going on around them, but are not questioning this part of the Act.
  • Council are letting them operate without a permit and were allowed to continue to do so whilst they undertook the application process. Rules for some, different for others.
  • Some of our neighbours have been given a ‘tour’ of the facility when it opened its doors WITHOUT a permit many months ago, the general consensus was that residents who attended were greatly concerned with the lack of information provided on who the operators were, what credentials they had to run a facility like this, and what safety measures would be put in place for both surrounding and internal residents. Amongst the many aspects of the venues operations, we were informed:
    • The centre is an operational drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic.
    • Patients have moved in will live on site for up to 3 months (24/7).
    • The centre appears as a brothel and we question whether it is actually ‘habitable’.
    • They will accept anyone from heavy drug addicts (ice, heroine, MDMA, cocaine, etc) alcoholics, physiological problems to relationship issues. Such a range of conditions would require a very broad range of expert care.
    • Their application proposes 1-2 staff for every 6 patients.
    • Patients would be prescribed drugs whilst they are living on the premises and would be walking the local streets to collect these drugs themselves from the chemist.
    • Patients would be accessing the building from all possible entrances/exits (including the alley ways which access residential properties). They are free to come and go as they please.
    • No renovation work had happened inside as of June 2018, and we suspect this is still the case (directors mentioned lack of funds and no construction vehicles have been seen in the area since). It sill presents as the brothel once did (I am told and assume having never been in a brothel before). Soft furnishings still remain ( I understand they have acquired much of the furniture off the brothel), images of naked women adorned the walls, the bedrooms were kitted out with multiple beds and fully operational spa baths, mirrors etc. Not the type of environment we would have assumed would be conducive to rehabilitating patients?!
    • They have signed a 5 year lease. They implied the business had been set up by 3-4 individuals. They would not provide any clarity around who they were, what experience or qualifications (if any) they had. The ‘deal’ was proposed by one of the brothel staffers who ‘knew’ all the relevant parties and ‘set up the deal’ in his words. He still works there as of June 2018.  
    • Patients will pay $10k per month.
    • They could not clarify what security would be put in place. They said there were operational camera’s already installed however the only camera down the alleyway that accesses residential property has been seen disconnected and is facing a roof.
    • Residents and business owners have already noted windows have been smashed since the business opened and the number of ‘questionable characters’ hovering and walking the local streets and laneways has markedly increased with some residents experiencing disputes erupting from the premises that made them feel incredibly unsafe.
    • We understand that this type of establishment has very few rules/regulations around its operations.
    • Certain residents have been informed that this specific organisation is recruiting its patients from the outside the courts – offenders waiting for trial and wanting to seek bail must be enrolled into a centre like this one which will keep them out of jail.     

We appreciate the history of this site has been an interesting one but are seriously concerned with the type of clientele this facility is attracting and the lack of transparency and professionalism shown by the staff/operators.

 We would like the community to be aware of what is occurring at the ‘Daily Wellness Centre’

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UPDATE – 15/10/2018

One of our facebook readers has added the below link to our page.  It’s a 2016 Four Corners program on the private rehabilitation industry in Australia – the reader comments that very little has changed since the program aired.

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/rehab-inc.-promo/7827128

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Footnote:

Residential = estimated duration of stays 2 – 12 weeks

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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.

Caulfield South Activity Centre – Community Gathering 27/06/2018

 

IMPORTANT MEETING

7 pm tomorrow, Wednesday 27/6

The South Caulfield Action Group (SCAG) have invited our State MP, Mr David Southwick, together with our Camden Ward Councillors,  Joel Silver and Dan Sztrajt, to hear our stories. They need to understand why we signed the petition.

Now is the time for our voices to be heard. We need to demonstrate that there are many people concerned about the future of Caulfield South Neighbourhood Centre.

For further information and meeting details please email:  scag.sthcaulfield.action.group@gmail.com

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GERA was recently contacted by residents opposing a 3 storey (5 dwellings above basement car parking) development proposal in Pearce Street, Caulfield South.  However, as they “dug deeper” the residents not only learnt a lot about GE’s Planning inadequacies but also became increasingly concerned about

  • the lack of residents awareness of planning issues,
  • Caulfield South’s current and future development proposals and
  • possible upgrading of the Caulfield South Activity Centre from being a Neighbourhood (“lesser”) Centre to that of an Emerging Major Activity Centre.  SCAG feedback indicates that planning officers believe the upgrade has already occurred.

The South Caulfield Action Group’s formation has been highlighted by

  • lodging of a petition with Council for the implementation of a 2 storey height limit on small lots – 293 signatories and growing. A flyer depicting potential developments is attached.
  • Organizing the above meeting, to raise residents’ awareness of proposed planning changes and give the residents the opportunity to voice their views to those they have elected.
  • a determination to see residents views are duly considered with decisions that impact the South Caulfield Activity Centre are made.

Additional information prepared by SCAG

Comparative graphical presentation of ABS 2017-2018 Building Approvals – Glen Eira and other Metro Melbourne Councils.

GERA encourages residents to support this group and to attend the meeting.

 

Caulfield Station Precinct* Structure Planning – Community Workshop

“The Victorian Planning Authority is leading the preparation of a structure plan for the Caulfield Station Precinct, in partnership with Glen Eira City Council, Stonnington City Council, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Transport for Victoria (TfV).

 You are invited to share your thoughts and ideas about how to best shape the future of this place for the community by attending a Community Visioning Workshop.

The purpose of this workshop is to inform the community of the planning process and to seek views and input into the future of the area.

 Registrations are essential.   Light refreshments will be provided.”

Date: Wednesday 20 June 2018
Time: 6.30 – 9.00pm
Location: Monash University Caulfield, Ground Floor, Building H, Room H116 (Caulfield Campus Map)

GERA strongly urges both Glen Eira and Stonnington residents and recreational/sporting groups and clubs to attend this workshop  to get an understanding of what is being proposed and an awareness of it’s potential “flow on” impacts for surrounding areas.

We also encourage completing the VPA online survey.   

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This the first opportunity for the community input into the development of Structure Plans for the 122 ha Caulfield Station Precinct* and its surrounding areas since the VPA was appointed to lead the planning exercise in August, 2017.  At that time the VPA advised that

“Several key activities attract workers, residents and visitors to the area including Monash University’s Caulfield campus, Caulfield Racecourse, Glen Eira College, retail outlets, parks and recreational areas. The structure plan will promote transit-orientated development and identify opportunities for growth in employment, education, housing and associated activities. We will also work with the Melbourne Racing Club and our government partners to seek to unlock future shared recreational use of racecourse land.”

The initial information and input session focuses on the four core activity centre components and their connectivity within the precinct. The significant planning and development implications for Glen Eira (south of Dandenong Road) and Stonnington’s (north of Dandenong Road) surrounding commercial/residential areas and proximate activity centres are to be included in subsequent consultations.   Recent multi storey multi unit developments, along the northern side of Dandenong Road, indicate the development potential of the areas surrounding the precinct.

Briefly, the four core components of the Caulfield Station Precinct are

Caulfield Village

A major residential, retail and commercial development located between the Racecourse and the Rail Line. Currently under construction, it comprises

Worth noting is the redevelopment potential (multi-storey multi units) of MRC freehold land located along Kambrook/Booran Roads (shown on the above map as Horse Training and Stabling).  This potential was flagged during the Strategic Land Management consultations conducted by the former Reserve Trustees in 2015.  The current status of redevelopment plans is not known.

Monash University – Caulfield Campus

Unfortunately, 10 months into the Structure Planning  process,  little is known of the current redevelopment plans.  As an indicative guide, some years ago redevelopment included

  • an expansion from 10,000 Effective Fulltime Students (EFS) to 25,000 EFS.
  • Construction of a series of high rise buildings to provide educational and administrative facilities with some retail facilities at ground level.
  • Off campus multi storey student accommodation in close proximity to the Caulfield Campus

Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve

The Racecourse comprises 54 ha, of the 122 ha now designated the  Caulfield Station Precinct, and offers a significant open space opportunity for Glen Eira (which has the least per capita open space/parkland in Metro Melbourne, coming in at less than half the Metro average) and Stonnington (which has the 2nd least).  Both the size and location of this crown land make it suitable to service the recreational (passive and active) needs of the volumes (ie. residents, students, workers and patrons) expected to access the Precinct, as well as the needs of the increasing residents of the surrounding areas.   Striking an equitable balance between public recreational usage and racing usage has long been a contentious issue and recently resulted in changes to management of the land that have yet to come into effect.

Caulfield Station

While GERA is not aware of plans to redevelop the heritage listed Caulfield Station, we believe its redevelopment (presumably as a rail/tram/bus interchange) will be required to service the public transport needs of those accessing the Precinct.   When/if redevelopment occurs, it should include the “place making” historic Station and heritage listed buildings in Derby Road.

Connectivity of Core Components

Currently, the connectivity of the above core components is poor.  It is restricted by the extremely divisive railway line and a fragmented road network.   While access between Caulfield Village, the Racecourse and the Station is basically “across the street”,  accessing Monash from these locations is restricted to 3 underpasses ie. Queen Avenue, Caulfield Station and Station Street.    Free movement flows (predominantly pedestrian, with some vehicular movement for the provision of goods and services) within the Precinct is essential to enable synergetic development of precinct facilities (eg. auditoriums, open space and car parking)  and ensure the long term viability of a cohesive activity centre.

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Footnote:

*Caulfield Station Precinct – is the previous Priority Development Zone, known as the Phoenix Precinct (ie. Caulfield Village and Monash University Caulfield Campus) expanded to include the Caulfield Racecourse & Recreation Reserve, Glen Eira College and Glen Huntly Park.

 

Bethlehem Hospital – VCAT Final Determination

Below is an email received from the BHCA group, who mounted an extremely effective, community based campaign against the proposed re-development of the Calvary Healthcare Bethlehem Hospital site located in Kooyong Road,  South Caulfield.  During the course of their campaign, the original proposal for inclusion of a 19 storey tower was modified  to 10-11 stories.

As per the email, the just published VCAT decision has approved the modified proposal (ie. 10-11 stories) on the basis that “retirement villages are exempt from height limits”.   In this case, the surrounding residential areas is zoned  Neighbourhood Residential and has a 2 storey height limit.

As this VCAT decision  can be expected to have significant implications for future similar developments in Glen Eira and across Metro Melbourne,  it is disturbing to note the comment

“that had we relied solely on the promises of our elected councillors and allowed the Glen Eira City Council to prosecute our objections alone, it would have been a major folly”

 

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Hi All,

I am not usually in the habit of looking back, but as we have learned of VCAT’s decision, I remember that horrible sinking feeling that we all experienced when we learnt of Calvary’s proposed 19/20-storey tower.  While everyone recognised that the Bethlehem hospital site was ripe to be updated and improved, we all understood the deep impact that development on the scale proposed would have on the neighbourhood character and the direct effect on surrounding properties.

The community knew that this proposed development needed to be resisted.  It was with your support – moral, practical and financial, that we, as a community, forcefully expressed our objection in this administrative VCAT process against the high-powered team of barristers and experts engaged by Calvary.

The decision issued by VCAT has not stopped the redevelopment of the Bethlehem Hospital by Calvary.  It has, however, fundamentally reshaped it.  

VCAT has directed the Glen Eira City Council to issue a permit for the redevelopment of Bethlehem Hospital that is now 10/11 storeys.  The appearance of the buildings is more articulated with a finer grain exterior.  The retirement village, aged care and ancillary uses are now more evenly spread over the site.  The 90 place childcare centre has been abandoned.  The inadequacy of the car parking arrangements were acknowledged and the at-grade car park on the corner of Saturn Street and Kooyong Road reserved, as a condition of the permit, as a permanent carpark, serving to somewhat alleviate the pressure on the surrounding streets.

I hate to think what might have been the outcome of the VCAT process without the local community’s engagement of strong legal representation and expert witnesses.  Attending each day of the hearing demonstrated to me that this was the right approach and that our well-argued objection contributed to a revised development that is substantially reduced in scale.  It also confirmed to me that had we relied solely on the promises of our elected councillors and allowed the Glen Eira City Council to prosecute our objections alone, it would have been a major folly.

Significantly, and notwithstanding our expertly constructed legal arguments about the application of height limits on retirement villages, VCAT determined that retirement villages are exempt from height limits, setting a new legal precedent that I am sure will be adopted by other developers throughout the suburbs of Melbourne.  (Incidentally, it appears that VCAT’s decision has introduced an even bigger loophole to the planning regulations for applications made prior to the current act – time will tell what impact this has).

For those that wish to read the VCAT decision, it is attached.

As the spokesperson for the BHCA Group and the local community, and in what will be the last communication to the group, I would like to thank everyone for the energy, financial contributions and support to defend the character of our local streets and the amenity of our own properties.  I am firmly of the view that without it, we could not have achieved any amendment to the original scheme. 

Kind regards

on behalf of BHCAGroup Steering Group

Calvary Final VCAT Determination

REQUEST TO DEFER THE PROPOSED 27/2/2018 STRUCTURE PLAN (Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick) DECISION

Since Council’s early (ie. 1 day) release of the above Structure Plans to be submitted, for approval, to the 27/02/2018 Ordinary Council Meeting, GERA and residents have struggled with reviewing the volume of information released (approx. 500 pages of Agenda Items and 14 support documents) within an extremely tight timeframe. (5.5 days  vs. a planned 4.5 days).

Clearly, despite the magnitude of the proposed changes and claiming a real improvement to past substandard consultative practices, Council’s message is that residents’ complaints to the contrary,

  • that Officer’s have taken residents’ concerns into account in the Final Version of the Structure Plans for Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick and Quality Design Guidelines and
  • that sufficient information has been presented to residents in a timely, readily accessible and understandable manner.

Additionally, feedback received by residents and GERA indicates that these is little point in residents undertaking or presenting any analysis as the Councillors are going to approve.

Given the recent granting of 12 month time extension for the completion for the development of Structure Plans for Glen Eira’s 3 major activity centres we believe that Council should defer making any decision on these plans at this stage.  Hence GERA has emailed to Council (all Councillors and Key Administrators) the following:

GERA believes that

  • Council should defer voting on the Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick Structure Plans and Quality Design Guidelines included as Agenda Items 9.1 – 9.5 for the 27/2/2018 Ordinary Council Meeting.
  • The “Deferral Time Period” should that deemed sufficient to enable residents to provide informed feedback on the Structure Plans and for Council Officers to review and assess that feedback before a Council decision is made.

This would be in line with the Minister’s direction that states “Council needs to exercise it’s responsibilities under the Act and review and strengthen it’s scheme in consultation with the community”.

  • Council should remove from Officer’s Report Recommendation – Point 3 the wording “in accordance with Section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987”. This removal is to apply to all Structure Plans and Quality Design Guidelines presented to Council – currently or in the future.

As you should be aware, Planning Amendments are the mechanisms for changing the Planning Scheme.  As such, Planning Amendments are the planning tools that will ensure future developments comply with the desired outcomes of both the Structure Plans and Quality Design Guidelines.  To invoke Section 20(4)

– Is to deny residents input into the decisions making processes related to the preparation of the planning amendments and restrict community comments to the “end product” i.e. a planning amendment that has already received “Exhibit” ministerial approval. Council has a well established track record of refusing residents requests for changes to amendments approved for Exhibition (ie. community consultation)

– Does not align with the principles of good consultation or Council’s proclaimed goal of improving community consultation practices.

A question asked at all community consultations related to the Structure Plans residents have asked “what are planning tools (eg. overlays, zones etc.) are you proposing to incorporate into the planning scheme to ensure that these desired outcomes are achieved” and the answer has always been “we don’t know”.    Residents understand the significance of Section 20(4) and find it’s application totally unacceptable – a hard lesson learnt from the 2013 Zone Implementation

Feel free forward  a copy (or an amended copy) of this email to Councillors  – just made sure you include your name, street address and telephone/mobile contact details.

Councillor and Key Planning Officers email addresses are

MDelahunty@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

JSilver@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

DSztrajt@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

NTaylor@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

JMagee@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

Deputy Mayor – JHyams@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

Mayor – TAthanasopoulos@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

MEsakoff@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

CDavey@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

RMcKenzie@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

cityfutures@gleneira.vic.gov.au;

RTorres@gleneira.vic.gov.au

 

 

HOT PRESS –

Just received from the Elsternwick residents

Glen Eira Council will vote on the Elsternwick, Bentleigh & Carnegie structure plans on Tuesday night from 7.30pm at the Glen Eira Town Hall.

Elsternwick residents will be WEARING BLACK to signify the massive overshadowing of the proposed 12 storey highrise city in Elsternwick.

If you are opposed to the highrise elements in any of these plans, you may like to join the Elsternwick residents and wear BLACK on the night to show your support.

ELSTERNWICK URBAN RENEWAL AREA – Option 3 Revisited

Following our recent (20/2/18) posting “Where is Option 3 for the Elsternwick Urban Renewal Area?”, GERA was contacted by Council.   Councillors had been advised by the Planning Officers that Option 3 did not exist and that Council was receiving numerous emails, asking for Option 3, which Council was unable to respond to as there was nothing to provide.

It appears semantics have entered the picture – various alternate terms (eg. Iteration 3, Version 3, Agenda Item, not one or the other) have been used by Council when communicating with residents requesting updated EURA information.   On the other hand, the residents have retained the terminology (ie. option) included in the Draft Structure Plan for Elsternwick.

The Officers Report, related to Agenda Item 9.3 – Elsternwick Structure Plan, discusses the Elsternwick Urban Renewal Area (p. 6-8)

  • Officers have undertaken a significant review of the urban renewal area in order to address the various issues raised by the community….”
  • “Officers have therefore undertaken a comprehensive update to the urban renewal section …..”
  • “Officers consider that the new plans ….”

We leave it up to readers to decide

  • If what looks like a duck, walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck is in fact a duck, and
  • How the Duck Test results align with the concepts of good community engagement and open, transparent, accountable and representative government, and
  • If Council should defer making a decision on Tuesday to give residents time to review and provide feedback (for all three centres) on the deluge of information provided.

Below are the schematics of Elsternwick Urban Renewal Area which, if available, would have appeared in our previous posting as Option 3.

We also advise that a change.org petition, opposing high-rise development in Elsternwick, has been initiated by the residents.  Feel free to read and sign if you wish.