Calcutta is here... in Bentleigh!

Calcutta is here... in Bentleigh!
Mark BaljakJanuary 15, 2016

This is as much an article about the reactions of residents located within areas earmarked for higher density living, as it is the robust shift that areas of BENTLEIGH is currently subject to in terms of higher density living.

The article heading references the very capable Glen Eira Debates blog which casts a comprehensive net of higher density development within City of Glen Eira, albeit in a generally negative context.

The multiple references to suburbs within Glen Eira morphing into 'Caltutta' or Kolkata in the new vernacular, is due to the rise in medium density apartment developments throughout the municipality. Emotions aside, the correlation between Calcutta and BENTLEIGH, Carnegie or Caulfield is an over exaggeration in the extreme; in 2014 Glen Eira maintained a density of 3,725 people per square kilometer while Kolkata held a density of 24,000 people per square kilometer.

Nonetheless, it's understandable that not every person will welcome higher density outcomes in their neck of the woods, but well, the people must go somewhere!

Calcutta is here... in Bentleigh!
Kolkata and Glen Eira: a tenuous analogy

While Kolkata may be a stretch, Glen Eira was indeed the big mover in the Project Database over the course of 2015. Upwards of 35 residential projects were added during the calendar year; a combination of increased development and enhanced planning application detection.

As per most of Melbourne municipalities, Glen Eira is experiencing growth in apartment projects, although Glen Eira projects tend to average 4-5 storeys.

Bent Street is the prime example within Glen Eira of intense redevelopment. A typical suburban street adjacent to a BENTLEIGH Railway Station and the retail/services of Centre Road, many Bent Street detached dwellings have been cast aside for apartment developments. The question becomes: If not Bent Street, then where? It does seem the ideal location for higher density living.

Clearly there remains some resentment to medium density apartment development, as evidenced by Glen Eira Debates. Yet looking at the issue of adding higher density in appropriate areas in a rational manner and Bent Street is a premier example of appropriate higher density development around an activity node.

A handful of owners on Bent Street looked to be in agreement, selling their combined properties to a residential developer in a high profile outcome.

Calcutta is here... in Bentleigh!
Bent Street is firmly on the development radar

This combined site at 14-18 Bent Street went on to become Rita Apartments which is now under construction with builder Xerri set to deliver 50 plus dwellings on what was previously 3.

Rita BENTLEIGH is joined by XV Apartments at 15 Bent Street, The BENTLEIGH at 23 Bent Street and Leigh at 22 Bent Street which are either at marketing or construction. Further projects at 10-12 and 11-13 Bent Street have also been approved, totalling approximately 215 apartments with a further project at 20 Bent Street yet to reach a planning outcome.

While 215 dwellings covering a handful of suburban blocks is a meteoric jump in density for Bent Street, is it completely beyond expectations? No building exceeds four levels and Council have ensured all projects meet their planning expectations. It does in fact come across as an excellent case study where density is confined to a specific and appropriate pocket of the suburb.

While Bent Street is the epicentre, adjoining and adjacent streets are also subject to apartment development. Loranne and Mahvo Street will jointly add 70 apartments at the hand of local developer Steller while Vickery Street is subject to two applications that would add a further 57 dwellings.

Calcutta is here... in Bentleigh!
Leigh, Rita and The BENTLEIGH are representative of the size and scale of local apartment projects

Could a person rationally argue that Bent Street's transformation and that of other Glen Eira pockets such as Centre Road or Carnegie's Neerim Road are completely beyond rational expectations?

Mass overdevelopment in certain eyes is structured growth in others. On the face of it, Glen Eira is not so much turning into 'Calcutta', but more so keeping pace with the rest of… Melbourne.

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak was a co-founder of He passed away on Thursday 8th of November 2018 after a battle with cancer. He was 37. Mark was a keen traveller, having visited all six permanently-inhabited continents and had a love of craft beer. One of his biggest passions was observing the change that has occurred in Melbourne over the past two decades. In that time he built an enormous library of photos, all taken by him, which tracked the progress of construction on building sites from across metropolitan Melbourne.

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