Council fails to make a decision regarding development on a key site within the proposed structure plan, at 55 Lower Heidelberg Rd. This sends the application straight to VCAT for decision.
One of the first tests of Council’s commitment to the structure plan has been the planning application at 55 Lower Heidelberg Rd (the service station on the corner of Marshall St). This is in the Lower Ivanhoe ‘most change’ precinct. The design and size of the proposed building and the lack of set-backs and landscaping falls outside the guidelines in the structure plan and there are issues around resident and commercial parking.
However Council’s planning department failed to make a decision on the application within the required statutory timelines and so it has gone straight to VCAT for a decision.
It is perplexing to the local community that Council avoided making such a critical decision. As a result this situation challenges Council’s intentions and support for the revised structure plan and its guidelines as it has the real potential to set a precedent in undermining the plan. It threatens to undo all the planning effort and waste the huge amount of resources and expense Council invested in starting the planning process again and consulting with the community to ensure it delivers an appropriate development plan for the activity centre.
So it is over to you as part of the community to attend Monday’s meeting for question time at 7.30pm and to stand up and question Council as to why and how this was allowed to happen and how Council will argue at VCAT to not only support the guidelines in the proposed structure plan, but also the community, in which they have so heavily invested.
Should the community ignore this and not attend, then Council may rightly presume the structure plan is unimportant to the community and the precedent will be set for development to fall outside the proposed guidelines for which the community has fought so hard since August 2011 when it said “no” to what it considered inappropriate development.
It is critical that Council works to an identified early timeline in preparing its submission for the proposed planning scheme amendments and applying for interim planning controls to prevent such a situation occurring again. Council undertook to apply for these controls and the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, has said he will consider granting them. This needs to be done as soon as possible.
You can read Council's response here.