A few days ago regarding we wrote about the development application for apartments at 55 Lower Heidelberg Rd where Council failed to make a decision in the time allowed. The application falls outside the guidelines in the new structure plan and threatens to create a precedent in the area. This would undermine the hard work Council and the community have put in to creating the new structure plan. This application has now gone to VCAT for a ruling. Council has provided the response below to that particular application.
"On Monday 17 December Council will consider the revised version of the Ivanhoe Structure Plan.
When a 5-storey proposal – eventually reduced to 4 storeys - was first received on 55 Lower Heidelberg Road, Council had no approved guidelines developed on the Lower Ivanhoe precinct with which to judge the application.
At that time such a position was still under development through the structure planning process. Had Banyule Council made a decision within the statutory timeframe of 60 days to prevent the applicant's appeal to VCAT, it would have been forced to make such a decision within the existing State and local planning policy framework. That framework effectively encourages higher density development. A development of 4 storeys or more would have been assessed against the State's Guidelines for Higher Density Residential Development which provides far less guidance, prescription and restraint in relation to overall heights, setbacks and the provision of landscaping compared with the revised version of the Ivanhoe Structure Plan.
If Council adopts the Structure Plan on Monday night, Council will be able to present to VCAT a clearer position established through the revised Structure Plan that guides development more clearly around height, set backs and landscaping. In short, if Council adopts the revised Structure Plan, its position at VCAT on the 55 Lower Heidelberg Road application will be presented more strongly and take clearer direction from the guidelines in the Structure Plan. "
Save Ivanhoe's response:
We thank Council for clarifying its position and making this response available to the community .
However whilst the status of the decision making process is acknowledged, given the Council's commitment to the structure plan, the site and knowing the community's wishes , it would not appear unreasonable that over the 9 month period Council would ensure community expectations and it's intentions for this area within the structure plan were well understood and an acceptable outcome negotiated rather than not make a decision.
We look forward to Council's strong advocacy at VCAT in ensuring the development will meet the structure plan guidelines and community expectations.