What is your ideal Councilor ?

With Manningham Council elections due in November, we all need to start thinking about what we want to see on offer…

Last time around I remember all councilors were against inappropriate developments, but it seems that some councillors have a very different opinion to us on that topic.

So obviously Planning and developments are a big  – Key – issue to us, but what is important to you ?

  • Planning  / development ?
  • Transport ?
  • Security ?
  • Child services ?
  • Senior services ?
  • Local Business and employment opportunities ?
  • ?

But please don’t ask for Fast Internet / NBN (as Cr Mayne was promoting last council meeting,) works for that in Doncaster are not due to start for three more years…

We’d love to hear your comments below. what you want and don’t want in a candidate…

Clarity & Certainty for all.

This question was posed to the Manningham Council at the April 2012 meeting – it has been taken on notice – we will have to wait and see how well it gets answered… It was Given to Teresa Dominik to answer, as she is now the official head of the Manningham Planning Dept. Teressa also had a lot to do with developing the C50, which led to the DD08, and is well versed on the current Residential strategy. However for some reason Mayor Gough instructed her to not try to fully answer as Teresa had just taken on the role…

 As Council is seeking to ensure that greater clarity and certainty is provided in the Residential Strategy’s future planning controls, I query the summary of recommendations for proposed Amendment to DD08 in April’s Manningham Matters.
In the Main Road sub-precinct you stipulate a maximum building height of 11 meters and bracket three storey.
 But for the sub-precinct A you stipulate 11 meters but bracket approximately three storeys.  Why do you use different wording?  What does approximately mean in ‘storeys’?
 However, even if the minimum mandatory lot size of 1800m2 is not met, a three-storey building can still be designed within 9 meters making it no different to the Main Road sub-precinct.
 Sub-precinct B refers to a two-storey development with a maximum mandatory height, however, a three storey building could still be designed within the mandatory maximum building height of 9 meters –  making it no different to sub-precinct A or the Main Road sub-precinct.
Can Council clarify how the proposed DD08 controls are giving a greater level of protection –  as promoted to Councillors and the community – in the February Council Meeting Agenda?  Why distinguish between land areas under and over 1800m2 or indeed between 9 or 11 meter height limits when it is entirely possible to incorporate the 3 storey building on any site be it Main Road, sub-precinct A or B.
Please clarify exactly how you have strengthened the distinctions between these precincts.
What  also concerns us is the portrayal of the Draft residential Strategy in this months Manningham Matters.
It was good that the council finally started including the Upside and Down-side in thier statements, in this case mentioning that three storey buildings could still be built on the smaller sites…  HOWEVER, it was not appropriate to put it under the heading of “Recommendations of the Draft Residential Strategy.”  The three storey on small blocks is a debated, contentious issue, that was & is  to be clarified. Definitely not a recommendation.  So please do spell out the best and worst for all to understand, but make sure any commentary is presented and highlighted as such. Lets not mislead residents into thinking that all is lost while we are still fighting that battle.

Can you Spot the difference in these regulations.

This comment came in today, I have heard the same line of thought from several people lately.

This ineffectiveness of the distinctions between lot sizes and zones is at the core of the problem with the current zoning rules.       I thought it worthy of having it’s own post, do you feel the same way?

Why does the residential strategy discern between land areas above or below 1800m2, or between maximum heights of 9 or 11 meters, when either are permitted three storeys, particularly in sub precinct A?

Why is Manningham Council now allowing developers to circumvent their own regulations by Continue reading Can you Spot the difference in these regulations. →

Can we PLEASE get a straight answer ?

I guess it is no surprise that it is hard to get a politician to directly answer the question you asked.

Of course there is an issue that is important to you, and you want he answer given clearly, and out in the open for all to hear.

But if you are the politician, councilor, or council authoritative figure in the firing line of that question, it seems any answer but the one asked is best returned !

This was evident and in full swing at the council meeting last night,  where crafty side steps, and smooth deflections were par for the course.

There are some suggestions below on how to combat these techniques, and we want your best ideas added too..

For those that do not know the Manningham councils conditions for public involvement they are limiting, and getting more so every meeting.

1. Verbal questions from the public can be asked in an early part of the meeting, but: Continue reading Can we PLEASE get a straight answer ? →

Curlew Court – Still no VCAT decision.

Well the latest on the Curlew Court / VCAT is

 Simon and Garfunkel’s 1964 folk rock hit, “The sound of silence”

 Still nothing at all.

It might be that they are struggling for an answer, hopefully the plans are weighing heavily on the member.

I have been meaning to look up VCAT and see if our Member Mr. Cimino is still taking cases or is “away”

 We have had no updates or correspondence since January 2012.

Interestingly at Manningham council last night, the 5-7 Curlew court development was twice used as the bench mark of over-development!

… this proposed development was not as bad as the one at proposed at Curlew court….

It seems the 5-7 Curlew court proposal is the new bench mark in bad development for Manningham.


Manningham Residential Strategy Moves to the next Level.

Well last night the councilors voted on the res strategy to move into the review period, where we all get to help them with the details and nitty gritty – and please make sure you do….

We all did a lot of work over the last month, reviewing, suggesting changes, and so on. Thanks to all that helped, our input was well received, and some of it even written into the recommendations that were voted through.

It’s not enough though. the councilors need to hear loud and clear that we want certainty and protection.

 I am appreciative, that we managed to get some change included, although it was not as much, or as clear, as I had hoped.

Lydia Wilson approached me and explained to me what had been passed, (as I had arrived late.) I told her I thought it was a good step in the right direction. Now that I have had time to review what was missed, I think it worthy of elaboration.

[ Segway : I met with with Teresa Dominic ( acting Planning Director,)  and Lydia Wilson (CEO,) last Thursday to discuss our submission to the council & councilors the Tuesday Prior. At that meeting, Teresa was explaining to me how the regulations couldn’t be so descriptive / tight because last time they tried (2005), the State Gov over-ruled and removed it all. At this point Lydia instructed Teresa to be specific, remove the ambiguity, and have that fight with the State Gov, to support the residents…  Hooray   So lets make sure it goes that way.

The specific item we were using as the example at the time was the inclusion of a “2 storey limit” on sites under 1800 m2, rather than just a height limit of 9 meters.

( Above 1800m2 was stated as “3 storeys & 10/11 meters, so you should be able to include both storey limit and height limit on sites below 1800m2.)    End of Segway]

Back to the council meeting and the Adjustments to the Draft residential Strategy…

WEAK Statements – I might be misreading their intent, but then that just proves they are ambiguous…

Several of the changes incorporated seemed to just allow the Planning dept to explain their wants, rather than accommodate residents’ views.

1 a) Section 3 Strategic Framework

At a broader level provide a clearer explanation as to the range of housing types that constitute diverse housing….

(D) Endorse the development of a communication Plan that focuses on explaining current trends ….

Wrong Focus- We are pushing for: Tell the residents what zones they are in, and the impact, and warning them about development proposals. This sounds more like explaining the reasons why Planning dept are promoting growth. We do want explanations, detailing what the regulations allow, not why we should accept them.


GOOD Inclusions       In particular the following statements were good & an improvement.

1(c) Include a new section titled ‘Definitions’ to explain the different dwelling types and other planning definitions to give greater clarity to outcomes being sought

2a) Municipal Strategic Statement – Clause 21.05 Residential

Clause 21.05 is to be further reviewed to ensure that the language clearly explains the distinction between the built form outcomes sought between the different sub-precincts, especially with respect to the intent of tightening the current DDO8 controls.

2b) Schedule 8 to the Design and Development Overlay – DDO8

The use of enforcing mandatory controls to achieve certainty within sub-precinct A for maximum building height and minimum lot size and within sub-precinct B for maximum building height, with the aim of providing greater distinction between the built form outcomes sought between the different sub-precincts. In addition, review the objectives and strategies to reinforce the intent of the built form outcomes and ensure greater certainty and removing ambiguity. This is especially for situations when mandatory lot size requirements cannot be achieved.

 But why hide the removal of Ambiguity in amongst all of that? It applies to the whole document.

 Also this does not put any suggested boundaries on the outcome, only that it should be clarified. It could be a good outcome, but it could be too late when we find out.

 For Example: We would like to see something directing that small sites in DD08 Precinct A, and all of Precinct B can only have 2 storey buildings, & 9 meters high. Not just say it should be explained.

 As such, we all need to request the Planning Dept. have another, clearer, try at removing ambiguity. Such an important step should stand alone and be strong.


Another unfortunate situation was that of our three Koonung councilors, none were able to vote or present on this topic: Cr Reid – had to leave as he was sick. Cr Villareal – has asked for a leave of absence. Cr Yang – has declared a conflict of interest in this area, and cannot be involved in the DD08 & Res Strategy.

Check the full recordings and minutes at the council web site Manningham Council Meetings & minutes



More development- a reality that’s already here ?

This good article was sent to us this week, I recommend you also follow the link as it shows what the State planning Minister is pushing through this July, ( see also “Code Assess“,) and highlights how important it is that we get our local planning rules clear, and free of discretion and other loose planning terms.

Please come to the Next council Meeting, make sure they  know residents want the Planning Clear & Strong – We don’t want to go to VCAT, and neither does the Council.        Be There  – Tuesday March 27th  – 7pm Manningham Council Building.


I came across another interesting about development in Melbourne today which I wanted to share with you and other RAIDID supporters.
See – http://theage.domain.com.au/real-estate-news/the-future-is-here-20120316-1v9ki.html

Doncaster and other Manningham suburbs are fairly similar to Mt Waverley, Ringwood and Box Hill which are mentioned in this article as middle ring development target areas.
Although the Melbourne 2030 strategy may have been dumped in name, the development activities still go on even if there wasn’t much mainstream community support for it.

An important point which was raised at last Tuesday’s meeting with Councillor Reid was that Continue reading More development- a reality that’s already here ? →

Car Stackers Unsuitable For Residential and Incompatible With Manningham “Green Hill” Policy

Hepburn Rd in Doncaster has raised quite a raft of issues, one of the particularly poignant is the use of Car stackers to increase density. The efficient use of space has it’s merit, but read on to see the extent of the down side, hardly a worthy or workable balance. This has been sent to the Koonung Ward Councilors, asking for their assistance as the case goes to VCAT.


Dear Councillor, Continue reading Car Stackers Unsuitable For Residential and Incompatible With Manningham “Green Hill” Policy →

Code Assess to remove residents right to appeal developments

This has been discussed for a while, and now looks like it could go ahead as soon as  July !

All the more reason to tighten up the councils planning rules NOW.

Tell your MPs NO.


Planning reform blocks appeals         Jason Dowling                        The AGE         March 15, 2012

A DRAMATIC overhaul to the state’s planning system will soon mean residents will not be notified of thousands of new development proposals or be able to object to them.

The government says the new planning system to be introduced in State Parliament by July will cut red tape, reduce waiting times and free up council resources for complex planning issues.

Under the changes – one of the biggest overhauls of the state’s planning laws in a decade – councils and communities will define what development is allowed in their area, including height and density, and then applications matching the definition will be fast-tracked through the planning system.

Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the new system would reduce community consultation in planning decisions.

”Communities will be locked out and watch helplessly as historical buildings and tree-lined streets are attacked by [Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s] wrecking ball and replaced by high-rise skyscrapers,” he said.

The new planning system is expected to apply to more than one in five development applications and will require them to be processed within 10 working days with no notification or appeal rights for neighbours.

The system, called ”code assess”, will initially be used by local councils for processing low-level planning issues such as extensions and dual occupancy developments.

But the system is also intended for key development areas across Melbourne – Box Hill, Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Footscray, Frankston, and Ringwood – to process development applications that could include apartment towers of more than 20 storeys.

Mr Guy said the new system would add ”certainty and clarity” to planning.

He said guidelines for development set by councils and communities would be mandatory and developers would only be able to appeal a council’s decision if it was inconsistent with the area’s new planning code.

”It will determine what can be built and where,” he said.

Bill McArthur, president of the Municipal Association of Victoria, said the planning system needed improvement but warned, ”clear policy and objective criteria must be agreed with the community before removing public notice and third party appeal rights”.

”Until this happens, councils will remain concerned about including some single dwellings, extensions and multi-units in a fast-track process,” he said.

Mary Drost, from community group Planning Backlash, said councils and the community should set the rules for development in their areas and developers should not be able to appeal the decisions under the new accelerated planning process. ”If it’s out – it’s out,” she said.

Victoria’s building and development industry has long advocated for an accelerated planning application system. The Property Council’s Victorian executive director, Jennifer Cunich, said changes to planning laws would help economic growth.

Gil King, of the Housing Industry Association, said developments that met existing planning guidelines were chewing up council time and resources in a drawn-out approval process.

”This will actually make it clearer, if it meets the requirements it will be approved much more quickly, it will streamline the whole process.”

Draft Res Strategy Meeting for Koonung – Cr Reid got the message

It was great to see Cr Reid understood our points when we highlighted the loose wording in the draft residential strategy. Several Manningham resident groups were represented at last nights meeting, a lot was discussed, some focus was decided upon, all good.

We made it clear there are some good sections in the Draft residential strategy, that are destroyed by single word.  “SHOULD”.

Now everyone knows that if you are going to make a rule, and make it legally enforceable, then words like “MUST”, “Maximum”, “MINIMUM”, & “Limited to”, make it enforceable. Words like “SHOULD”, “PREFER”, “ENCOURAGE”, are a one way trip to the VCAT tribunal and unhappy residents.

The Council has stated they want to make this better,  to remove confusion for Council Planning Dept, Residents, and the VCAT Tribunal.

So lets set the limits in clear terms that can’t be twisted by any-one. and lets do it before it passes council, and is left to the Review Panel.

Cr LaVella, and Cr Mayne have also met with concerned residents, lets hope they too understood the residents concerns, and were willing to fight for them.

We need a big turn out at the next council meeting ( Tuesday 27th of  March – 7pm council building.) to remind the councilors that they are representing their voters, on that night.