RESIDENTS opposed to 281 retirement units being built at Bittern have voiced their concerns to planners at Mornington Peninsula Shire.
About 40 residents have objected to Steller Lifestyles’ application to build the units on the eastern side of Frankston-Flinders Rd.
During a meeting at the shire’s Hastings offices on Thursday 11 May the residents listed their main concerns as being the development’s high density and its effect on the area’s “village feel and neighbourhood character”.
An earlier public meeting attended by 80 residents at the Bittern hall, called by Cr Kate Roper, sought to clarify the scope of the proposal after council knocked back a plan by the same developer for 440 retirement units on Frankston-Flinders Rd between Stony Point and Woolleys roads.
“People wanted to know what was going on,” Cr Roper said. “They wanted clarification on how such a high density could be allowed.”
This proposal was then whittled down to 281 units and lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) which has called a mediation hearing for Tuesday 6 June.
Residents say a development of that size would cause traffic issues exacerbated by drivers having only one entry-and-exit point onto Woolleys Rd, which is also used as a school drop off and pick up point.
Environmental concerns include the removal of native trees and loss of habitat for fauna on the site at the south-west corner of “The Triangle” whose northern tip is the intersection of Stony Point and Frankston-Flinders roads. The area is zoned low density residential.
“If this proposal is approved by VCAT, who knows what will happen to the rest of our farm and bush triangle, given that deposits have already been paid to buy the northern part which was part of the original submission,” Bittern resident Allan Winning said.
Building has already begun on 209 retirement units on the western side of Frankston-Flinders Rd by a different developer. The site has a low density buffer around it.
Mr Winning said a “loophole” in the zoning allowed developers to put high density residential units in low-density areas as part of a retirement village, because it is not classed as a subdivision.
Shire senior planner Krystal Blizzard said in a report on the original development that it was “rather an anomaly that a retirement village consisting of 440 dwellings can be considered simply because they are retained on a single title, while in terms of development impact, a retirement village has the same – if not greater – impact than a standard residential subdivision”.
Mr Winning said: “It’s just the same parcel of land, but with lots and lots of dwellings, with the one owner – Steller.
“The developer is promoting this as affordable retirement accommodation. However, many affected residents are seeing it as a caravan park without wheels.
“Questions need to be asked of a development for the elderly that is 30 minutes away from the nearest hospital when ambulance services are already stretched. Many residents are concerned about a substantial increase in population in an area with only three roads, especially considering the traffic problems caused when residents tried to leave during the bushfires of early 2015-16.
“To add to these concerns, parents picking up their children from Woolleys Rd park on side streets due to the road being so narrow, yet the developer has not stated any intention to widen, channel or curb this road.
“Council stated that they do not support the development, therefore they also have no intention of widening the road on the developer’s behalf.”
Mr Winning said residents had formed an action group to stop the development.