MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has knocked back a proposed retirement village in Mount Eliza.
Plans for the proposed $160 million Beachleigh “retirement community” at 33 Jacksons Road, included 105 independent living units in 12 buildings.
Parts of existing buildings would have been demolished and vegetation – including 63 trees – removed.
The former Peninsula Health Mount Eliza Centre on 3.4 hectares dates back to the 1920s. At various times it was a children’s hospital and a geriatric hospital. Most of the buildings were demolished in 2019 but three remain – all with heritage value.
Melbourne-based developer Hengyi Pacific reportedly paid Peninsula Health $17.5 million for the site in 2019.
Hengyi general manager Simon Manley said the company would appeal the knockback at VCAT.
“I will note we had support from the mayor and a number of other members. However, it was clear that the committee … hadn’t spent the time to review and understand the proposal that we would expect for such a major application which, ultimately, provided the outcome as indicated,” he said.
He said, “keeping everyone happy is hard for any application for this site”.
Hengyi hosted an information session at Mount Eliza Community Hall in April before amending plans for a proposed bar and social lounge and altered the landscape plan. Other changes were made to the traffic layout and foreshore access.
The company proposed building nine one-bedroom, 41 two-bedroom, 47 three-bedroom, four four-bedroom apartments and seven two-bedroom single-storey terrace houses. The maximum height of the buildings was to be eight metres. The council received 56 objections against the application.
“As a new council we’re quickly getting used to making decisions on significant planning applications that take a great deal of time, an open mind and careful consideration,” said Cr Steve Holland, who successfully moved that the planning services committee refuse the application.
“In this instance, there were also more than 50 objections to consider.
“In judging the application on its merits – the scale, site context, local character, vegetation loss and other factors including heritage and traffic – council decided to refuse to grant a permit.”
The mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said the company had shown it was prepared to listen to residents, for example, by removing the cafe and reducing access to the foreshore.
Cr Sarah Race said the proposal offered a range of housing sizes and styles adding to the potential for a “vibrant mix” of age groups in the area. “We have an ageing population that needs affordable housing options allowing them to remain living in the area,” she said.
Cr Holland’s motion was to refuse the proposal on grounds including non-compliance with the built environment and heritage, distinctive areas and landscapes, urban and building design, neighbourhood character, and the area’s design and development overlay.
It said the design, scale and vegetation loss was an inappropriate response inconsistent with the context of the site and character of the area.
Also, that the proposal was seen as being detrimental to the character and scenic qualities of the coastline, and that it failed to conserve and enhance the area’s significance and breached heritage values.