Tag Archives: Overdevelopment

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

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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.

 

 

Updated Structure Plans for Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick Published

Council has just published the Agenda for Tuesday’s (27/02) Council Meeting.

Included in the Agenda Items are Updated Structure Plans for Bentleigh, Carnegie and Elsternwick and also the Quality Design Guidelines which apply to these and future activity centre Structure Plans.

Although we have yet to review these documents in detail (look for subsequent posts), their publication represents a major milestone towards completion of the Structure Planning exercise ordered by the Planning Minister.

Based on GERA’s involvement in this exercise, we urge all residents to review and assess these documents as we believe the planning outcomes (eg. expanded boundaries, height increase, rezonings, urban renewal areas and strategic sites etc.) for these 3 centres are likely to flow down to the Glen Eira’s emerging major activity centres and lesser activity centers.

Source: Quality Design Guidelines – Documentation:  City of Glen Eira Analysis of housing consumption and opportunities 2017 (p 101)

 

We also encourage residents to attend the Council Meeting (if unable to attend,  view the meeting via Live Streaming).

 

 

WHERE IS OPTION 3 FOR THE ELSTERNWICK URBAN RENEWAL AREA?

GERA has been advised that Glen Eira Council has now developed and completed a third plan (Option 3) for the Elsternwick Urban Renewal Area.

For those not aware,  the  Elsternwick Urban Renewal Area is bounded by the Nepean Highway and the Sandringham railway line.   The proposal involves rezoning much of the area from 2 storey residential to 8-12 storey commercial/residential that

  • is serviced by a convoluted street network that is ill-equipped (limited through access, dead ends etc.) to service anticipated traffic movements  (vehicle, cyclist and pedestrian) or parking demand, and
  • is located away from the retail core of the Elsternwick Activity Centre,
  • lacks accessible open space
  • lacks any response to basic questions re retention of neighbourhood character or heritage, overshadowing, privacy, traffic management and parking provisions etc.

Options 1 (the original proposal) and 2 (prepared to address the concerns raised re Option 1) have been resoundingly criticised by residents (see above), hence option 3 was prepared.

Options source:  Elsternwick Draft Structure Plan

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 3 has yet to be released for residents review, residents requests for its early release have been denied.   Option 3 details are scheduled for release at noon on Friday (23/2/2018), as part of the Agenda papers for Tuesday’s (27/2/2018) Council Meeting where it will be voted on by Council.  Apparently Council has decided that, if Council’s Planning Officers are unable to achieve community consensus after two consultations (with limited Councillor attendance),  it is considered acceptable not to present a 3rd option (or any 3rd option details) to the community any earlier than Council’s self mandated ruling of 4.5 days prior to a scheduled Council decision (which in this case is Option 3).

 In our view, releasing Option 3 with only 4.5 day window (which includes Saturday and Sunday) in which

  • Residents can assess, question and pass on comments (individually to each Councillor and key Admin. Staff) re a proposal that will significantly adversely impact their amenity, and
  • Councillors and Council Planning Officers can duly assess residents’ feedback for possible inclusion in the final Elsternwick Urban Renewal Area Structure Plan

is not only inadequate but also contrary to the principles of open, transparent and representative government.  Principles which Council statements acknowledge and actively promote.
Given Council’s acknowledged poor consultative performance on the Elsternwick Urban Renewal Area, residents are simply not “buying” into comments that adequate consultation has occurred or that Option 3 addresses the residents’ concerns.  As they are the ones who have to live with the outcome of Council’s decision, they are demanding the opportunity to review and have their say.  It is their right.

The Elsternwick residents and GERA urges residents to email all Councillors and key Council Officers A.S.A.P.  Don’t forget to add your name, street address and telephone contact no.

“I ask that Council defer it’s decision on Elsternwick’s Urban Renewal Zone Option 3 until community consultation has occurred”.

We know it’s a royal pain in the proverbial to be constantly emailing Councillors and Officers (if you can only send one email – send it to the Mayor).  However, it is important and is necessary to ensure due consideration is given to resident input into Council’s current and future decision making processes.

Both GERA and Council encourage resident attendance at the Council Meeting (7.30 p.m. Tuesday, 20th February, 2018 at the Glen Eira Town Hall).

As always feel free to comment on this posting via GERA’s facebook page.

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Councillor and Key Planning Officers email addresses

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

DEVELOPMENT INROADS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD RESIDENTIAL ZONE (NRZ1) – PART 2

The Officer’s Reports for the Rigby and Newman Avenue proposed developments  (19/12/2017 Agenda – Items 9.2 and 9.3) recommend approval at the next Tuesday’s Council Meeting subject to conditions.  The conditions listed are basically those agreed to by the developer at the belated Planning Conference or the stock standard conditions.

We can expect a lot more of these applications for the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (a reported 80% of Glen Eira’s residents areas) as

  • any lot size over 700 sqm now is considered larger than conventional lots for the NRZ (as per the Officer’s Report) which
  • combined with VC110’s
    • removal of the mandatory 2 lot subdivision cap and the zone’s purpose of ”To limit opportunities for increased residential development” and
    • introduction of the 35% garden rule and
  • the use of basement car parking to increase dwelling yields and investment returns.

All open up huge development potential within the NRZ.  The NRZ  will now provide the diverse housing options the General Residential Zone (GRZ – 3 storey height limit) promised but failed to deliver.

If these two lots  (1,100 and 976.3 sqm to comprise 5 townhouses each with new lot sizes approx. 200 sqm)

  • that are distant from the services and facilities offered by (and used to justify the creation and proposed expansion of) activity centres.
  • can result in can result in a density increase that exceeds that originally predicted for the GRZ

then rocket science is not required to foresee the future of the many NRZ lots that exceed 700 sqm (or the 650 sqm as per VC110’s schedule for determining garden space requirements).   Adverse impacts expected will be reduced amenity, livability and sustainability in the zone previously identified as the “more sensitive residential areas”.

To support this we refer to an  article commenting on Amendment VC110 impacts (published by Maddocks  – legal planning law specialists,  frequently consulted by GE Council).

 “The change creates the potential for greater densities in the NRZ, while noting that development will be subject to the minimum garden area requirements in conjunction with maximum building heights and existing local controls.  Presumably, if the aim is to increase the number of new dwellings within the NRZ areas, those developers who have pleaded for greater intensity of development in the other residential zones and in activity centres to ‘compensate’ for the constraints of the NRZ, will now temper those pleas.”

GERA has is unable to predict how quickly development will occur in NRZ.  We do, however, note that

  • the “compensation” has started
  • Glen Elira’s current rate of building approvals is 2,000 pa. and
  • Glen Eira’s 2016/17 Annual Report now expects a 50:50 split between development in Activity Centres (high density areas) and the NRZ (formerly minimal change areas).

With regards the above article’s reference to “existing local controls”,  GERA has a major concern re Neighbourhood Character.  While it has huge significance in the assessing of, and the objecting to, planning permits, unlike Heritage it’s planning provisions are not well known to residents.

Briefly, the GE Planning Scheme Neighbourhood Character Provisions are

  • Overlays – widely accepted as being the most effective planning tool for defining and preserving neighbourhood character for specific areas. Relevant overlays are
    • Clause 43.5 Neighbourhood Character Overlays (NCO) – Glen Eira has 6 overlays .
    • Clause 43.02 Design and Development Overlays (DDO ) – Although, other Council often use DDO’s in conjunction with NCO’s, Glen Eira rarely does.
  • Policies – widely accepted as carrying less weight than Overlays. These policies include character statements for areas not covered by an NCOs.
    • Clause 22.7 Housing Diversity Policy
    • Clause 22.8 Minimal Change Area Policy

GERA strongly encourages readers to research and assess the character statement applicable for their location.  VC110 also removes the purpose of “To implement neighbourhood character policy and adopted neighbourhood character guidelines” presumably because they are now to be included in the zone schedule.  Contact Council with any proposed changes and request they be included/excluded.   Applications for a Planning Permit are assessed against the Planning Scheme that exists at the time permit was lodged – subsequent changes to the scheme receive little consideration.

 Following the release of the Officers Report, residents objecting to these development applications have forwarded a response to all Councillors.   This response challenges many matters raised in the Officer’s Report.  Again, the objectors intention in publishing the report is to assist residents objecting to similar inappropriate developments in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone – Residents Response to Officers Report

DEVELOPMENT INROADS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD RESIDENTIAL ZONE (NRZ1) – former Minimal Change Areas

At next Tuesday’s (19/12) Ordinary Council Meeting, two unrelated planning permit applications are scheduled to be presented to Council.  These applications relate to properties in the Carnegie Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ1)  which feature maximized townhouse dwelling yield (density)  via the combination of basement car parking (vehicle access and garaging below ground increases ground level development space) and the Ministerial removal of the 2 lot subdivision limit (Amendment VC110).  Given that the NRZ1 ( a.k.a. “the most protected residential zone”) covers a reported 70-80%  Glen Eira, approval of these applications sets a precedent for future “more intensive development” that is incompatible with the intent of the NRZ  and is more compatible with the activity centre growth zones (without providing proximity to services and transport).

The zones intent being

  • Neighbourhood Residential Zone – maintenance of the existing character of predominantly single and double storey residential in  garden settings on tree lined streets. A GERA comment – Garden settings includes mature vegetation.  Mature trees and basement car parking are not a good mix.
  • Growth Zones (Residential Growth Zone – RGZ, 4 stories and General Residential Zone – GRZ, 3 stories) – moderate to medium density developments offering good access to services and transport and diversity of housing types.

GERA believes these developments are the “thin edge of the wedge” for future development of Glen Eira’s Neighbourhood Residential Zone.  We note in that, in the Planning Section of Glen Eira’s Annual Report 2016-2017 Council’s performance measure for evaluating the success of the strategy for providing diverse housing types has become 50% of new dwellings in the activity centres (and ipso facto 50% NRZ).  This contrasts with previous years when the split was 70:30.  Given the proposed expansion of activity centres and proposed housing mix within the centres, we call upon Council to  provide the justification for this change.

Planning Scheme Amendment VC110 – March, 2017

For the Neighbourhood Residential Zone 1 (prior to the 2013 Zone Implementation, known as the Minimal Change Area) Amendment VC110 makes the following significant changes

  • Maximum building height increase from 8 to 9 metres with a new 2 storey height limit. Provisions allowing for slight height increases due to land slope or flooding remain.
  • Removal of the maximum 2 dwellings per lot subdivision rule
  • Implementation of a mandatory “garden” area requirement that varies according size of the lot to be subdivided. In terms of the above Carnegie applications (with lot sizes of  1103 and 973.6 sqm.), the “garden” requirement is 35%  and is being met by the strip of land between the lot boundary and the underground basement car park.  The northern side, front and rear “strips” will be divided up as private open space for the town houses while the southern side strip will be common ground providing garden areas and pedestrian access to townhouses.

Example – Rigby Avenue Basement and Garden Space (click to enlarge)

 Carnegie Planning Permit Applications

 Details and Plans available ex Councils Website – Advertised Planning Permits

 Location 

The sites proximity to amenities are typical of most of the NRZ

  • Bus – 150 m
  • Carnegie Activity Centre and Train – 1.6km
  • Ormond Activity Centre and Train – 1.6km
  • McKinnon Primary School – 1.6 km

Both Rigby and Newman Avenue are narrow congested streets and already experience high on street parking demand (due to older townhouse  developments and waiving of parking requirements (14) within the Koornang/Leila Roads convenience store area.)

Specific Issues

GERA agrees with, and supports, the residents objecting to these developments.  Not only do the developments substantially adversely impact their amenity (traffic, parking, overshadowing and, overlooking – internal living areas and private open space), they are also at odds with Council’s Planning Scheme and Policies, Quality Design Guidelines and the intention of the NRZ.

A comprehensive summary of the grounds for the objection, tailored to the 3 Rigby Avenue application and pertinent to the Newman Avenue application, has been prepared and provided by the objectors.  Their intention is to assist residents objecting to similar inappropriate developments in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone.

As previously mentioned, these 2 permit applications will be discussed at next Tuesday’s Council Meeting (19/12).  This Meeting’s Agenda, which will include the Officer’s Recommendation on these applications, will be published late tomorrow (Friday, 15/12).    Although what the recommendation will be is not currently known (hopefully, it will be in line with residents objections and the intent of  the NRZ), the Council discussion on these 2 application will be interesting and provide insight into Council’s intentions for the future development of the NRZ.   NRZ resident attendance at the meeting should be worthwhile.

BTW – For those unable to attend, this meeting is currently scheduled to be the first Council Meeting to be live streamed. Look for a Council announcement providing the necessary details to access the live streaming.

As usual, please feel free to add your comments on the Glen Eira Residents Association Facebook page.