MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is advertising an application to store light aircraft in a shed on land beside Tyabb airfield – even though the shed was built without a planning permit.
The decision to exhibit the planning scheme amendment follows a 2014 shire ruling that any decision on use of the site – 62 Stuart Rd, Tyabb – must wait until completion of the Tyabb Airfield Precinct Plan which is expected to begin in September.
Objectors claim the move gives the applicant, Peninsula Aero Club member Ken Ingersoll, “backdoor approval for the hangar in spite of the still-valid 2004 reasons for it not being there”.
Tyabb and District Ratepayers’ Group says the use of private land to store aircraft is “an incremental expansion of the airfield”.
The group says council has previously “walked away” from seeking a demolition order “for reasons it cannot satisfactorily explain”.
Group members Peter and Val Davis say there is still a VCAT order in force prohibiting use of the land for aircraft storage, which will lapse if the amendment is successful.
Mr Ingersoll did not respond to requests by The News for comment.
In 2011 Mr Ingersoll was ordered by Frankston Magistrates’ Court to pay a $10,000 “bond” for building the shed without a permit in 2010 and for storing 11 aircraft on the site. The Victorian Civil Administrative Authority (VCAT) also ordered Mr Ingersoll to cease using the land as an aircraft hangar and remove aircraft stored there.
The site specific planning scheme amendment now being proposed by the shire for the low density residential zone land was moved in April by former councillor Lynn Bowden and seconded by Cr David Garnock.
In a report to the council’s 11 April meeting strategic planning manager Allan Cowley said the proposal was to enable use of an “existing building” for private storage of equipment and aircraft by the landowner, despite him being unable to claim ancillary-use rights because he lives in Baxter.
He said approvals were “usually limited to people who occupy dwellings on the land” but that, “in this case, it is the [non-resident] landowner who wishes to take up this use and that’s why this amendment enables the relatively minor variation”.
Mr Cowley described the proposal “as a relatively minor change [in the context of the forthcoming precinct plan] that “can be considered on its own merits”.
He said it was “fair to say that we are going to put it on exhibition to see what the community’s reaction is and, if there’s a higher level of opposition, then council will again get the opportunity to consider it before it goes further”.
But objectors say the success of the amendment would over-ride any further action to demolish the illegal shed – flying in the face of previous shire litigation against it.
Mr Cowley said the shed’s “interim use” as a private hangar would not prejudice the precinct plan. He said he considered the amendment application “reasonable” as it would “enable comment by other parties”.
He told council the shed “was previously the subject of enforcement action regarding use of the building as a commercial hangar”.
Hearings for removing the shed had been deferred by VCAT pending broader consideration of issues relating to the airfield “and was no longer in force”.
Peter Davis said technical details in the advertisement related only to the planning scheme, giving no indication of the scope of, or reason for, the amendment.
“The amendment seeks to undo the work previously undertaken by the shire,” Mr Davis said. “And the councillors were not made aware of the true status of the VCAT orders on the shed [when being asked to approve the amendment].
“The shire planners determined in 2004 when refusing the original permit that the proposed use was a de facto expansion of the airfield allowing non-residents to store multiple aircraft on residential land.
“Subsequent events have proved that reasoning to be correct and nothing has changed.”
Mr Davis said that with work about to start on the precinct plan it was “premature and potentially prejudicial to facilitate an ad hoc request at this time”.
“There should be no amendment but, rather, the previous demolition action taken by the shire in VCAT … should be reinstated,” Mr Davis said.