VCAT to decide retirement village


THE developers of a proposed $47 million retirement village at Somerville – knocked back by the shire in June – are appealing to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The 223-unit development at 16 Graf Rd proposes 11 separate buildings over two and three storeys, with parking for 279 cars.

Lawyers acting for developer CBG Architects, of St Kilda, have applied for a Review of Refusal hearing, under the tribunal’s List of Major Cases, on 25 November. They are contesting the shire’s decision not to grant a planning permit under Section 77 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

Grounds of appeal claim the scale of the proposed development is compatible with the role and character of Somerville and its township, that its visual bulk is not detrimental to the amenity of the area and is consistent with the expectations of a residential zone, that it demonstrates a reasonable level of amenity for residents, that its density will not result in unreasonable and adverse impacts on adjacent dwellings, that additions, alterations and vegetation removal will not detract from the significance of heritage-listed homestead Seaton Carew, and that vehicle access is compliant with the planning scheme.   

The shire refused the application in June after objectors slammed it as not being in keeping with the character of the town, that its height would be visually overpowering, and that infrastructure, such as roads and drainage, would not be able to cope with the extra demand.

Cr Lynn Bowden said at the time she was “concerned about the height of the proposal” and 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 for 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 then. “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 centrepiece of the proposed complex is Seaton Carew, which would be refurbished and extended to include a hairdresser and florist, administration and medical facilities and a community area.

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

Applicant CBG Architects said in June 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.

First published in the Western Port News – 25 August 2015


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