ANOTHER Sorrento development proposal in the historic commercial precinct of the town has effectively been rejected by way of last-minute councillor changes.
It is almost certain to go to VCAT, where the planning tribunal recently overturned an earlier refusal by Mornington Peninsula Shire in the heritage Ocean Beach Rd.
Council is considering taking that tribunal decision on appeal to the Supreme Court. Such appeals can only be made on points of law. Nepean ward councillor Hugh Fraser and Red Hill ward councillor Tim Wood are both experienced lawyers.
In the current application, council planners recommended approval of the mixed use building as presented to them. But councillors voted for significant changes, including to the view of the building from Ocean Beach Rd.
The applicant, Kato Group, sought to develop a mixed use building comprising seven apartments, two retail shops and a medical centre with two practitioners. A reduction in car parking requirements was also sought.
The main changes councillors approved were to push back the glass entrance to one of the shops and to delete the top apartment, which meansmaking “appropriate changes” to the roof.
The application drew three objections, including one from Dr Ursula De Jong, a local expert on Sorrento heritage and an architectural historian who, in her words, “teaches the next generation of architects” at Deakin University.
She told councillors Sorrento was an historic coastal town whose natural and cultural heritage values had made it a major tourist destination.
“Why push the envelope of the development of Sorrento at the scale and density demonstrated by the proposal,” Dr De Jong said.
“A reminder that many years ago the Shire of Flinders suggested that it was important to put in place a policy that allowed Sorrento to age graciously.”
Opposing the changes to the developer’s plans, Cr Anne Shaw Shaw said it was not fair to make such substantial alterations at such a late stage. It was planning on the run, she said – “not a good idea, not smart”.