Council Meeting 12 February

Passionfruit

Now updated with record of the meeting and decisions.

Firstly, a public service announcement. I have Shingles – which is no big deal, except it is annoying and avoidable. So my PSA is – if you can, see your GP and get the Shingles vaccination!

See some more information here: Shingles information It’s free if you are over 70 years old, but recommended for anyone over 50 who has had Chicken Pox.

Now for tonight’s Council meeting.

The agenda is brief – only six items and two confidential items.  I had been planning to ask a question, but people with Shingles are advised to stay away from anyone receiving treatment for cancer, so thought it best to ask a question by email and the CEO’s team very promptly responded.

My question: What plans does MVCC have for addressing the vacuum of strategic planning for the Racecourse Rd Activity Centre given the abandonment of the Structure Plan in 2013?

The response: Having regard to the vacuum of strategic planning for the Racecourse Rd Activity Centre, we are embarking on comprehensive Neighbourhood Plans for each of the 13 neighbourhoods as identified in MV2040. The intent at this stage is to commence with Airport West as a test case.

The neighbourhood plans will comprehensively review all existing planning controls, including zones, overlays and schedules, on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis. This will include a review of all height limits and built form controls to ensure the right framework is in place to deliver a healthy city that is fair, thriving, connected, green and beautiful.

We are still working this through with the DELWP and will be back in touch regarding progress once we have firmer direction.”

My interest in the lack of Structure Plan for Racecourse Rd is the problem it creates for planning proposals and objectors. The Flemington Association and half a dozen local residents will be opposing a 7 story, 66 room hotel proposal at 320-322 Racecourse Rd at VCAT from 6-8 March. The Neighbourhood Plan sounds like it will be some time away which makes planning decisions for this Activity Centre in Flemington difficult.

It  could be helpful if Council could make a statement about the Draft Structure Plan that could give it some clearer weight at VCAT in the interim.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 10.52.52 am

Draft Racecourse Rd Structure Plan, MVCC, 2012, p.10

Apologies: Cr Surace

Minutes confirmed. No questions.

Conflict of interest: Nope.

Presentations, petitions, joint letters, public questions: None

325 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds – Construction of a multi-storey building, a reduction in the car parking requirement

  • Located within the Moonee Ponds Activity Centre
  • Construction of an eight storey building containing a retail premises and 49 dwellings.
  • Mandatory height limit 26m; proposed height 25.89 metres to main building roof parapet (8 storeys), 29.15 metres to top of roof services enclosure
  • Car parking spaces and bicycle facilities provided at ground and basement levels. Required – 52 car spaces; Proposed – 46 car spaces
Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 10.16.36 am

Image from MVCC Council Agenda 12 February 2019, p.20. Link here. 

Council officers recommend approval of the proposal provided amended plans show the building height to be less than the mandatory 26m.

Cr Marshall moves the officer’s recommendations with four new conditions:

  • deletion of any structures above 26m – with the removal of roof-top terrace that breaches the 26m limit
  • redesign of retail at front level
  • improved landscaping
  • and one more that I missed.

Cr Sipek seconds. Cr Marshall has some reservations about the access point from Ascot Vale Rd. A previous 8 storey building was approved some time ago. She says concerns about over-looking and over-shadowing are addressed in the conditions, and that on balance it has a level of compliance that should be supported.

Cr Nation supports the motion with the extra conditions and says he agrees it is a reasonable development in the context. He concurs with the condition regarding compliance with mandatory heigh limits. He says there have been lost opportunities along Ascot Vale Rd with respect to retail frontage.

Cr Cusack declares he has no conflict of interest (he must have arrived late).

No others speak. Carried unanimously.

11 Ian Crescent, Airport West – Construction of ten dwellings

  • ten dwellings
  • maximum height of 9 metres (2-3 storeys);
  • 19 residential car spaces and 2 visitor car spaces.

Plans for 11 dwellings on this site were refused at VCAT in January 2018. Council officers had recommended approval of the 11 (or 12?) dwellings, but Councillors unanimously refused the permit, and this was affirmed at VCAT.

The question is whether the current plans respond to the concerns outlined in the VCAT decision. The 20 objectors don’t believe the concerns have been addressed.

Cr Byrne moves an alternative motion to refuse the permit on grounds of:

  • overdevelopment
  • traffic – and unsafe movements
  • parking
  • urban design – visual bulk

Cr Sipek seconds. Cr Byrne says the previous application was refused by VCAT on the basis of impact on other residential amenity, and neighbourhood character. She says the new proposal makes some improvements, but cannot be sufficiently conditioned to make it acceptable.

Cr Byrne says the parking arrangements do not make sense with dwelling 9 being separated from the parking space. She says the urban design does not provide workable private open space. “It just doesn’t work on this block of land.” “With such. narrow frontage … the traffic impacts for the street are unacceptable. At school time it will back up traffic all around the crescent.”

Cr Sipek speaks with his microphone off so can’t be heard … “I think when this sub-division originally happened, our forefathers never thought of putting ten dwellings on this land.” “There’s only two visitor car parks in that whole complex.” “I think if there were more parking spots this might have been a more palatable application.”

Cr Lawrence says it is a huge block of land – 2600m2. “It would be an acceptable development by its size. Do we consider different standards of what would be considered bulk for different areas of the municipality.” (Well yes – because planning is all a bout context and what is appropriate and reasonable in the context. Neighbourhood character is contextual and differentiated.)

Cr Byrne says she doesn’t want more visitor car parks, rather she would prefer to see fewer dwellings. (But then housing … how do we balance more and affordable housing in well serviced areas with these planning concerns?) “It definitely doesn’t fit into neighbourhood character in Airport West.”

Carried unanimously.

Audit Committee Chairman’s Report – 2017/18

The Audit Committee report is pretty important, but also very brief. Hard to know if there are any underlying issues from this brief statement. It’s reported that the internal and external audits by VAGO have not found any substantial issues or concerns.

Cr Sipek moves the officer’s recommendation. Cr Cusack seconds. Cr Sipek says it is self-explanatory. Cr Cusack says the report is comprehensive and there is mention of a few issues (listed as brief bullet points). 

Carried unanimously.

Financial Performance Report December 2018

There’s a note in this report about the DriveLink program that had a funding issue at the last budget. The officers are recommending Council make up the $45,000 shortfall to July 2019 given they have only managed to secure $15K to date through public and private grants.

Cr Lawrence moves the officer’s recommendation. Cr Sipek seconds. no questions. Cr Lawrence mentions increases in Council’s income in open space contribution as well as fees and grants. Cr Lawrence says Council needs to be wary of the forward estimates.

Cr Gauci Maurici gives a quick wrap of the financial figures. Cr Cusack says “we are doing very well right now, but is entering into a significant capital works program … that has a cost associated with it” and the performance report may not look quite as good in the future. But he says the capital works are needed, and that advocacy work to secure grants from other levels of government has been valuable.

Carried unanimously.

Waste collector permits for private waste and recycling collections

This proposal is about requiring private waste collectors for large developments to obtain a permit from Council for the collection of waste. This will only apply to the Moonee Ponds Activity Centre in the first instance. I’m not clear from the officer’s report how Council will manage the waste collection operations to minimise inconvenience on the streets, and ensure responsible collection and disposal of waste, but this is the overall intent.

Cr Marshall moves that:

  1. Council requires permits … etc
  2. Request CEO to implement online applications
  3. ?? Other areas?
  4. Amends waste management guidelines in Local Law
  5. Report back in 12 months re implementation

Cr Marshall says Council needs to be sure it has the power to implement the system. She says she wants to be really clear about why this is being done: that being the collection of data. “I would hope that ultimately what might come out of this is efficiencies … and efficiencies”. “When we have enforcement powers, have an ability to regulate what the trucks are doing.”

Cr Lawrence supports the motion. He says the increase in truck movements – smells and traffic interruptions – require some control. “It will only make things  better.”

Carried unanimously.

Proposed disposal of 344 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds

Years ago, MVCC acquired this site to construct a through route from Ascot Vale Rd to Mt Alexander Road. However, the inability to purchase the adjacent dwelling (a long and complicated story) meant a much smaller thoroughfare was constructed instead.

Council has since resolved to sell this site and has relocated the tenants to the Flemington Community Centre.

Of additional interest in the report is the note that Council recently purchased 605-625 Mt Alexander Rd for open space.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 10.49.39 am

Cr Marshall moves that Council not dispose of the property and consider alternative uses for the site. Cr Cusack seconds.

Cr Marshall says the statutory process for selling the site was commenced some time ago, but was then put on hold. But she says it is premature to see the site ahead of the revised guidelines for Moonee Ponds. She says Council should not be selling a site in the MP Activity centre. “You know if we sell this site it will be developed for apartments. … If we end up deciding this will be a site that could be developed for social housing” this could be exciting, she says. “Let’s see if it can be sued for a whole range of uses.”

Cr Cusack says this should not be about balancing the books. “Council might end up spending a lot more money” in the future. “Its opportunities in its future life might be quite extraordinary.” “Moonee Ponds is going to have a huge explosion of people in a short space of time.” “Why not take this opportunity … to make some considered decisions based on community demand.”

Carried unanimously.

Confidential Reports

  • Tender Evaluation for the award of the Contract to construct Woodlands Park Stormwater Harvesting Works
  • 280-282 Pascoe Vale Road, Essendon – Construction of a multi-storey building comprising multiple dwellings

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