Height concerns over retirement plan

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THE size of a proposed retirement village at Somerville is concerning nearby residents and a Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor.

The development, at 16 Graf Rd, Somerville, is for a 223-bed facility of between two and three storeys in 11 separate buildings.

The shire advertised the notice of application last week and it is expected to go before council next month.

Objectors claim the proposal is not in keeping with the character of the town; that its height will be visually overpowering and that infrastructure, such as roads and drainage, will not be able to cope with the extra demand.

Cr Lynn Bowden said she was “concerned about the height of the proposal” and that she “was taking steps to ensure consideration of the proposal comes before the full council and not just the officers”.

The three storey buildings are proposed on the highest parts of the 3.2 hectare site, which has a 105 metre frontage to Graf Rd and 109 metres to Eramosa Rd. It is on the western edge of the town’s commercial activity centre.

“Somerville’s nature is a single-storey rural town,” Cr Bowden said. “There’s very little multi-storey development here and, while we may need another retirement village, it has got to fit in with the town’s character.”

She said other retirement villages on the peninsula were all single storey. “If you put three storeys here then all of downtown can go to three storeys – and how many rural towns have three storey buildings?. It’s not a major activity.”

Cr Bowden said the height of some of the buildings and their elevation would make them higher than the Centro shopping centre. “They’ll overlook the whole town.”      

The shire’s sustainable environment director Stephen Chappel said the shire would accept objections until the application was put to the council for a vote.

“The proposal has been publicly advertised with signs at the site and we will welcome submissions until the council meeting,” he said.

The centrepiece of the complex is heritage-listed homestead Seaton Carew, which would be refurbished and extended to include a hairdresser and florist, administration and medical facilities and a community area.

There would be 117 one bedroom and study units and 106 two bedroom units and parking for 279 cars.

The development would be built in five stages “in line with market demand”.

Applicant CBG Architects said the site “could be defined as a strategic redevelopment site as defined in the shire planning scheme”.

It said the retirement village proposal “represents an appropriate development outcome for the site” supported by Clause 16 of the state planning policy framework.

Objectors Robert and Lynette Cleary, of Pembroke Drive, Somerville, in a letter to The News said the height and bulk of the units would be “visually overpowering”.

“This is something that the whole community needs to be aware of,” they stated.  “Also there has not been enough time allowed from receiving notice by mail to share collected information [with other residents] and to discuss implications on the effect it will have on our lifestyle and privacy for the Pembroke Drive and Sandown Court residents.

“Would you like to have this type of development overlooking your property?”

The couple said they were “happy for a retirement village – but three storeys is a much higher density than currently in town.

“It is inappropriate for a rural town. Many of the proposed buildings are on the highest elevation of the land [10 metres] and will dominate the surrounding landscape. It will also set a precedent for future out-of-character submissions and is a gross invasion of privacy to adjoining properties.”

First published in the Western Port News – 19 May 2015

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