DROUIN // COUNCILLORS have unanimously rejected a plan to develop 27 dwellings on 1.436 hectare block.
First published in the 11 September 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy for free from retailers across Baw Baw.
The 61 Monica Drive development was referred to councillors after 12 objections from the general public were received. Planning officers recommended councillors refuse the development plan despite it being in a zone which allows high density development.
“The site is suitably located and zoned for unit development, however, given the fall of the land, the density proposed is not considered appropriate as the intensity of cut and fill required to accommodate the units will create overshadowing issues,” a report to councillors said.
“If the number of units were to be reduced, a more acceptable outcome may be able to be achieved and a unit development could possibly proceed at the site.
“The proposal is considered to be inconsistent with the decision guidelines of the general residential zone [and] several state planning policies.”
A spokesperson for the developer told councillors at Wednesday’s meeting a Continued Page 2*From Page 1 precedent had been set at VCAT to allow such developments and the council officers’ advice that the development be refused had been a surprise.
“In our mind the development is clearly appropriate and reasonable,” the spokesperson said.
“Up until May this year negotiations suggested [the development was acceptable], but by the time the notice of motion was printed it seems that changed somewhat.
“The proposal has a very good chance of being upheld [at VCAT], and we calmly ask the council to see that project as what it is: suitable for the area and planning scheme.
“We have sought advice from two VCAT experts. We are unwilling to reduce the number of dwellings tonight having been through a 14 month planning process.”
Objectors to the motion who also spoke at the meeting did not agree the development was suited to the site.
“The parcel of land is relatively small and somewhat unique. It’s steeply sloping, borders Whisky Creek wetland, borders significant eucalyptus trees,” one objecting neighbour said.
“The opportunity exists to design something special that accommodates these features… and can be something the developer is proud of. The design at present is not that.”
“Are the land pressures in Drouin really such that development like this is required?”
Several objectors raised similar concerns, as well as concerns about the safety of having only one entrance to the estate, parking availability and increased road traffic which they had not expected when buying properties in the area in recent years.
“I don’t think it’s fair on the people who have bought there to have a quiet retirement life to be impacted by so much traffic and people,” one objector said.
Several objectors raised concerns about the future impact the development could have on the retention of the large gum trees.
The developer also spoke to councillors at the meeting. He said there was a need for affordable housing in Drouin and the small lots would help address that.
“I say let’s approve it so we can build cost effective housing in Drouin,” he said.
Questioned by Warragul ward councillor Mikaela Power, the developer confirmed he lived in Pakenham. Asked if he understood the Drouin community he replied “I have various other projects in Drouin.”
All councillors voted in opposition to the development, with the only exception being Debbie Brown who was unable to vote on the motion due to a conflict of interest.
“There are a number of dwellings being fitted on a site that is quite steeply sloping,” Cr Power said on moving the motion to reject the development.
“Managing the slope and actually having a liveable space… is a really important thing.
“This is trying to wedge in a range of houses onto a site that is quite difficult to deal with.”
Drouin ward councillor Tricia Jones seconded the motion.
“The over-development of the site [and] its one in and out access are of concern,” Cr Jones said.
“I am on the record as being concerned about terraced properties. I’m also concerned about deterioration of walls and footings, we’ve already seen this in Drouin in the past.”
“It’s unsympathetic to Drouin’s natural beauty and is not acceptable as a built form.”
Mount Worth ward’s Murray Cook added: “residents want to maintain the rural aspect of the community and I see such an over-development of the site not doing that.”
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