NEARBY residents are appalled by the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal go ahead for 10 apartments with basement carpark to be built at 17 Williams Road, Mornington.
The VCAT ruling overturned Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s knockback of Kencole Holdings’ bid for the mix of two and three-bedroom apartments, and removal of all vegetation on the double block.
In refusing a permit, the council cited concerns with the size of the proposed building over neighbouring properties and streetscape – exacerbated by its high-set position on a corner.
Officers described plans for the “large two-storey apartment complex as an inappropriate response to the surrounding residential context”. They said it would “significantly challenge the character of the area and would result in a built form outcome that is inconsistent with the future direction of the Mornington township”.
The Williams Road area is earmarked for the council’s Neighbourhood Residential Zone which sets minimum 300 square metre lot sizes: the total area of number 17 is 1003 square metres, meaning the building of 10 apartments is “at odds” with this direction.
Galling to opponents including the 17-member Williams Road Group is that they believe solid grounds for refusal are contained in the council’s C219 Housing and Settlement Strategy, adopted in December 2017 and sent to Planning Minister Richard Wynne for review in February 2018.
However, there has been no rush to approve it: After a wait of 13 months it was passed to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in March, which then sought more information from the shire.
Requests to Mr Wynne over the past 16 months by former mayors Crs Bev Colomb and Bryan Payne and current mayor Cr David Gill about the status of the planning document, and reasons for the delay, remain unanswered.
The Williams Road Group paid town planners $10,000 to present their case at VCAT and are now coming to terms with their loss.
Devastated organiser Allen Pennell, who lives next door to the proposed development, said the group was “disappointed with the council for encouraging us to go to VCAT and spend our money knowing the case was impossible to win”.
“We took up the fight but, in the end, all we had to rely on was that the proposed development was out of context with the area. It was a losing battle from the start.”
Neighbour Heather Morris said the appeal was very possibly “a landmark case which would set a precedent” for future inappropriate development.
Appealing for help to Flinders MP Greg Hunt she wrote: “Having the C219 strategy on the table with Planning Minister Wynne for so long is causing extreme planning damage.
“It merely [has the status of] a policy document readily challenged by developers at VCAT until it is ratified by the planning minister.
“There are similar over-developments currently pending in our electorate, hence tremendously passionate feelings here by large numbers of local residents with the grey area of C219 being the catalyst.”
Mr Hunt wrote to Mr Wynne asking about the status of C219 and was told a decision would be made “in due course”.