VCAT gives King's College OK for houses

TWENTY-TWO housing lots in north Warrnambool are a step closer to approval after King’s College won a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing against Warrnambool City Council.

In January last year, councillors supported an officer’s recommendation and unanimously voted against the school’s request to subdivide a parcel of land owned by the college.

But this week the council decision was overturned by VCAT, paving the way for 22 residential lots to be created off Booval Drive to the east of the school.

King’s College must now provide detailed construction plans to council and meet a thorough checklist of planning matters before the subdivision can go ahead.

In its findings, the tribunal noted that an anomaly in the zoning of the land — it was incorrectly zoned public use in 1999 instead of special use or residential — meant the land was not included in the creation of the council’s North East Growth Area Structure Plan.

“The (council) essentially submitted the absence of (the land’s) consideration within the strategic plan results in the proposal being inconsistent with that plan,” the VCAT findings report stated.

“However, (the council) acknowledges that subdivision of the land was permissible and that the underlining zone is in fact residential.”

Warrnambool City Council received 20 objections to the proposed subdivision, listing road safety, pedestrian safety, poor layout, small lot sizes, flood risk and drainage as issues, with then-councillor John Harris declaring “there could be up to an extra 240 cars a day” in the Booval Drive area. “Traffic evidence was provided ... and was not challenged by the (council),” the VCAT report stated.

“The evidence which was accepted held that the surrounding street network had sufficient capacity to accommodate the forecast increase in traffic and that the road within the proposal was more than adequate to service a subdivision.”

No council officers were available to comment but a statement was issued noting that “council determined to refuse the application after receiving 20 objections from residents concerning road safety, poor layout and impact to neighbourhood character”.

“Following hearings in September and November, VCAT has this week handed down its decision to overrule council’s decision and grant the planning permit,” the statement said.

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