ROSEBUD residents have won the first step in their battle against a multi-unit development, with Mornington Peninsula Shire reversing plans to support the proposal when it goes to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in August.
At last Monday’s meeting, residents pleaded with councillors to reverse their support for the application, arguing that traffic congestion would make the area unsafe and higher density would be out of character and lead to costly environmental problems.
The 12,141 square metre site at 46-469 Waterfall Gully Rd, at the junction of Bayview Av, has had a long planning history, with the shire originally issuing a planning permit for a 60-unit retirement village and community centre in 2010.
However the land was subsequently sold and a new application was lodged last year for a 31 dwelling development and associated 31 lot subdivision.
The application will be heard at VACT on 30 August due to the council’s failure to make a decision within the required 60 days due to residents’ concerns and time-consuming investigations into vegetation removal.
Despite nine objections and a 20-signature petition, council officers recommended council support the proposal at VCAT because of population growth, “demand for housing” on the peninsula and the “diversity” of housing the development would bring to Rosebud. The proposal includes a mix of single-storey, two, three and four-bedroom houses on blocks averaging 391 square metres.
But that decision was overturned on Monday after residents convinced councillors to “make a stand” against inappropriate development.
Resident Carol Hudson told council that narrow Bayview Av was already “under pressure” and potentially another 120 vehicles entering and exiting the development would present safety problems for pedestrians.
Bayview Rd resident Trevor Bartle delivered an eloquent and impassioned plea in front of the packed council chamber, and told councillors he felt the council was all about “profit” rather than amenity, and that residents were “not being listened to”.
“It might comply with all the laws, but it’s still dangerous,” he said.
Mr Bartle said school students walking in Bayview Av – including his disabled son, who has just started to independently walk to the bus – would be in danger due to the increased traffic flow, with vehicles already unable to easily manoeuvre in and out of the one-way street.
A visibly shaken Dawn Jenson told the council the development would create other safety issues.
“God forbid there was ever a fire, how could anyone get out? They wouldn’t have a hope in hell of getting out,” she said.
“It’s [the development] just not feasible.”
Rodney Gittard suggested the council was opening itself for future flood mitigation costs, while Mr Bartle raised concerns about potential environmental risks to the water catchment area opposite.
Cr Antonella Celi said developers were constantly squeezing as many [properties] as they could onto sites and that the plans provided were “a minimalist approach”, with much more detail needed before a decision could be made.
She said higher density developments have to be “in the right place, and this isn’t the right place”.
“We need to make a stand as a council,” she said.
In an odd rebuttal of Cr Celi’s concerns about the lack of detail in the proposal and the increased density, a council officer told the meeting the housing development strategy was “yet to commence”, and there was little the council could do to address neighbourhood character concerns.
Cr Anne Shaw said the proposal needed “a total redesign” to provide for one access into the development and a separate access point out.
“That time has gone, we didn’t ask for more information, we failed and we [now] have to afford VCAT our decision,” Cr Tim Wood said.
“We will look stuck in clay again; we need to make our decisions quickly.”
Cr David Gibb described the single-storey development as “appropriate” for the area and said developer should not be considered “a dirty word”. “We all live in houses and they were all built by developers.”
Councillors decided to advise VCAT that “had council had the opportunity, it would have refused the application” due to inconsistency with the Mornington Peninsula Planning Statement, vegetation removal and over development”.