Avoca Residential Development

Friday 01 September 2017, 8:58 AM

On the 22 August 2017, the Pyrenees Shire Council held a Special Council Meeting to determine a planning permit application for a Retirement Village (Independent Living Community) and 131-lot subdivision at 232 High Street, Avoca.

The Council Meeting was held in Avoca to enable better access for residents and interested parties, and around 60 members of the public attended and demonstrated their interest in the development.

The Mayor Ron Eason opened the meeting and then declared a conflict of interest in the matter as the owner of the newsagency in Avoca. In accordance with the Local Government Act and the Councillor Code of Conduct, Councillor Eason was unable to participate in the discussion or decision on the matter and left the meeting.

Council has a role as the “Responsible Authority” under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to administer the Pyrenees Planning Scheme. Council is required to follow due planning process in accordance with the Act, and to consider the development application in accordance with the provisions of the Scheme. The rules that govern planning in Victoria are set down by the state government, and Council’s performance in this space is the subject of reporting to the state and for the public record. Council decisions are also subject of review at the Victorian and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT).

The process requires that appropriate notice be given to affected parties, and in response to the notice four objections were received. In addition, a petition was received in support of the development containing 77 signatures. It also requires that relevant referral authorities be notified, and in this instance responses were received from authorities including the CFA, SP Ausnet, Powercore, Central Highlands Water and Vic Roads providing no objection to the development subject to certain conditions applying in some cases should Council decide to issue a permit.

In assessing the application, council officers were required to consider a range of matters including the issues raised by the submitters and the referral authorities, as well as the state and local planning policies in the planning scheme.

The initial application sought approval for the development of 131 dwellings and the 135 lot subdivision of land with a combination of 2BR and 3BR houses; however this was formally amended by the applicant to 129 dwellings and 131 lots with an increased number of 3BR houses. 

The amended application proposed that the development and subdivision be delivered over 6 stages and comprised the necessary infrastructure to service a residential community designed for 55 plus age group.

While the applicant’s intent is to provide restrictive covenants on the lots to reflect an over 55s “gated” community, Council’s planning role provides little capacity for it to enforce this, and the age restriction was not a relevant planning matter for Council in making its decision.

The Council officer report in the agenda to the council meeting discussed the key planning matters including dwelling diversity, site coverage, neighbourhood character, environmental design, open space as well as issues raised by objectors such as traffic, waste and emergency access. A copy of the officer’s assessment can be found in the Council Meeting Agenda section of Council’s website.

The density of the development which proposed 75 percent of allotments of between 251 and 350 square metres in area was considered to be inconsistent with the Pyrenees Planning Scheme. The officer’s assessment of the planning application concluded that the proposed development should be refused because it failed to meet several requirements of the planning scheme.

Council however acknowledged that the site offers an ideal opportunity for an appropriate residential development given its proximity to the town centre, the lack of constraints on the site and its residential zoning.

Having regard to all the information available to it, Council decided to approve a planning permit for a modified development. This decision was based on:

  • The fact that the original application did not meet the requirements of the Pyrenees Planning Scheme, including the relevant requirements of the State and Local Planning Policies and ResCode provisions.
  • The community’s desire to see economic growth in Avoca
  • Legal advice that indicated Council could seek to modify the development – to reduce the density of development – through conditions on a permit.

Council will issue a Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit for a modified development that can comply with state and local policy.

The applicant or any of the objectors may seek to appeal Council’s decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Should there be no appeal lodged within 21 days of the issue of the Notice of Decision (in the case of objectors) or within 60 days (in the case of the applicant), then the permit for the modified development will be issued.

     
Page last updated: 8:58 AM, 01 September 2017
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