Engineering and Planning Disaster for the Domain

The City of Melbourne Engineering Services and Planning continue to demonstrate their incometance.

VCAT had overturned the City Council refusal to grant a planning permit to 157-159 Domain Road

Domain Road retail precinct is supposed to service tegh need of the local residential community yet it is under pressure by developers who which to push out local retail and establish restaurants. night clubs and cafes.   The proposed development on Domain Road, where the former post office and news agent were located, is for three story building with cafe on the ground floor and two restaurants, one on each floor above the cafe, The proposed developed is expected to generate demand for over 160 car parking spots

Engineering Services Manager, Geoff Robinson, recommended that car parking provisions be waived for the development, A proposal that was overturned by the elected council,  There is barley a car park free in the area as it is, let alone the ability to meet demand imposed by the new development.  Surveys undertaken by residents on a Friday night showed their was 7 car parking spots available on Birwood Avenue  some 3-400 meters from the Domain site.

How Engineering Services came up with this recommendation is anyone’s guess.  The recommendation by Engineering Services to waive car parking influenced the VCAT determination.

Questions are being asked about the integrity of the City’s Engineering Services branch.

Adding to residents s the recent changes to teh Planning Scheme that re-classified the Domain Road precinct from Business one zone to Commercial one Zone.  Under the new Zone a licenced premises does not need a planning permit for its use. 

Geoff Lawler, Director of Planning was oblivious to the impact of the changes until questions were raised by residents.   It has been proven that the changes are having a negative impact as VCAT decision granting a planning was based on the new planning zone changes undermines the objectives of the Melbourne Planning Scheme.

The only saving grace is that the project as it stands is economically not viable.  The owner hoes to attract in excess of $800,000 per year in rent. Something that is highly unlikely to see a return for any investor   There are a number of conditions on the planning permit that impact on its use most notably the above ground restaurants can only sell alcohol between 5PM and 11,30PM

The maximum noise level as measured from the center of the external court and balconies can not be allowed to exceed 3Db nor will the be allowed to serve drinks on the footpath  no restaurant or cafe could remain viable under these conditions let alone command such a high rent.  The owner will without doubt be back seeking a review and remove of these constrictions. But this time they will  not be incumbered with issues of use and planning thanks to the State Governments planning scheme revisions and the failure of the City of Melbourne to object to the reclassification of this precinct to Commercial one zone.

Council Officers mislead public

Serious concern that that the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle and  City of Melbourne Director of Planning Geoff Lawler has mislead the public in response to proposed changes to Melbourne Planning Scheme to be introduced on July 1.

Mr Lawler who failed to present a written report outlining the effect of proposed changes to the planning scheme has compromised the City of Melbourne in the process.

Clause 22.12 of the Melbourne Planning scheme  preamble states

This policy applies to applications for gaming premises in the Mixed Use Zone, Public Use Zone, Public Park and Recreational Zone, Business Zones and Industrial Zones and Docklands Zone. It is noted that gaming premises are prohibited in the Residential 1 Zone

On July 1, Business Zones 1, 2 and 5 will be transferred to new Commercial 1 zone

Under the revised planing  scheme to be introduced on July 1as amended by the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, Gaming venues will not longer require a planning permit  in the new Commercial 1 zone and will becomes an “as of right use” opening up the possible proliferation of gaming venues adjacent to residential precincts. Gaming venues come under the definition of Retail premises as defined under the the Victorian Planning Scheme.

Self appointed anti gambling advocate and Deputy Chairman of the Melbourne City Councils planning portfolio were oblivious to the impact of the proposed changes.  Councillor Mayne had previously given an undertaking to review the matter and present a report in June but to date has failed to fulfill this undertaking.

When asked where and when a report on impact of the the proposed changes will be presented to Council Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle rejected to notion or suggestion that the Council had given an undertaking to table a written report. Director of Planning Geoff Lawler, sought to deflected criticism of the Council not being informed or advising the public of the impact of the proposed changes.

It is understood that this issue was discussed in an unreported closed session Councillor forum.

Recordings of the City of Melbourne Future Melbourne Committee held on May 14 and June 4

Extract of Minutes FMC held on May 14
 
Anthony van der Craats, resident, asked the Committee a question in relation to the Minister for Planning’s recently announced changes to the Victorian Planning Scheme, which resulted in the abolition of Business 1 Zones and when will the City of Melbourne be undertaking a review of the schemes? (00:01:30 to 00:02:55 Recording of meeting)

In response to the question raised by Mr van der Craats, the Director City Planning and Infrastructure, Geoff Lawler advised that it is very early days as the rezoning has just been announced. He is currently beginning to understand the process and will bring the information to Councillors once it is fully known.  (00:02:56 to 00:03:40 Recording of meeting)

In response to a question raised by Anthony van der Craats, the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle advised that as per the previous discussion regarding the zoning changes at the beginning of the meeting the matter will be brought before Council, but cannot guarantee it will be at the June Council meeting.

Given the 1 July 2013 deadline the Council will be pressing to make sure this is as expeditious as possible  (01:06:30 to 01:08:04 Recording of meeting)

Blind Faith: Council accepts verbal assurance that new planning regime will not adversely effect residential amenity

Chair of Governance and Deputy Chair of Planning, Stephen Mayne reneges on previous undertaking for the City of Melbourne to provide a comprehensive report on the impact of the State Government’s proposed new planning zones which comes into affect on July 1.

Under the proposed new planning regime all ‘Business zones” will be transferred into a new comprehensive ‘anything goes” “Commercial 1” zone which includes an “as of right use” (No planning permit required) for a tavern and gaming venue.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Stephen Mayne and other Councillors accepted in blind faith a verbal undertaking given by the Director of Planning, Geoff Lawler, in closed session of council that existing “overlays” in Melbourne’s planning scheme would protect and prevent the establishment of taverns and gaming venues that adversely affect adjoining residential precincts. 

(Clause 22.12 of the City of Melbourne Planning Scheme outlines “Policy” in relation to Gaming venues  and Clause 22.22 which outlines “Policy” in relation to Licensed premises which both reference Business Zones which are being phased out on July 1)

Geoff Lawler in response to requests for a written report reassured the council and public gallery that “developments such as the one proposed for 157 Domain Rd South Yarra and the establishment of a restaurant/tavern last month would not proceed under the new Planning zone provisions”

Mr Lawler failed to outline exactly which overlays and in what way they would protect the residential amenity of South Yarra.

Clause 22.12 and 22.2 are policy guidelines that apply to the consideration of any new Planing permit application. Under the new Commercial 1 zone a planning permit is no longer required for a licensed Food and Beverage premises such as a Tavern, Gaming venue or Nightclub

If, as is feared, a new application is made after July 1 for a change of use and the developer seeks to exercise his new “As right of use” and reinstates a request for a tavern and it later shown that the advice given by Mr Lawler was false then we can expect calls for both Robert Doyle and Councillor Mayne, along with Geoff Lawler, having mislead the public to resign.

Prudence is the best policy not complacency

A verbal nod and a wink is not satisfactory and fails to instill confidence in the City Council administration of planning.

The onus still lies with the City Council and it’s administration to provide a written assessment outlining in detail which provisions of the Melbourne planning scheme Mr Lawler is relying on when giving his advice.

Any Councillor that is prepared to accept verbal advice should also put their job on line.

New Commercial 1 zone to replace Business 1, 2 zones

34.01 COMMERCIAL 1 ZONE

Shown on the planning scheme map as B1Z, B2Z, B5Z or C1Z.
Purpose
To implement the State Planning Policy Framework and the Local Planning Policy
Framework, including the Municipal Strategic Statement and local planning policies.
To create vibrant mixed use commercial centres for retail, office, business, entertainment and community uses.
To provide for residential uses at densities complementary
to the role and scale of the commercial centre.
34.01-1 Table of uses
Section 1 – Permit not required

  • Retail premises (other than Shop)
  • Shop (other than Adult sex bookshop)

The defination of retail premises includes:

  • Food and drink premises
  • Gambling premises
  • Landscape gardening supplies
  • Manufacturing sales
  • Market
  • Motor vehicle, boat, or caravan sales
  • Postal agency
  • Primary produce
  • sales
  • Shop
  • Trade supplies

The defination of Food and drink premises includes:

Convenience restaurant

Hotel
Restaurant
Take away food premises
Tavern

Previously Business 1 zone (To be phased out on July 1) listed under

34.01  BUSINESS 1 ZONE

34.01-1 Section 1 – Permit not required

Food and drink premises (other than Hotel, Restaurant and Tavern)

34.01-2 Section 2 – Permit required

Retail premises (other than Betting agency, Food and drink premises, Postal agency, Shop, and Trade supplies)

Tavern