MOYNE Shire councillors this week twice rejected the advice of the council’s planning officers to approve planning permits for two houses.
The councillors disregarded concerns that building on flood-prone land at 1/7 Ritchie Street in Port Fairy could endanger the lives of the occupants and approved an application to build a house on the site.
They also rejected a recommendation to refuse an application to build a house in a farming zone on Toolong Road, north of Port Fairy.
On the application to build a two-storey house on a vacant low-lying block in Ritchie Street, between Belfast Loch and the East Beach, both the council’s planning officers and those of the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (GHCMA) recommended the application be refused.
The advice was in response to new state policies that call for an increase of 0.2 metres in the prescribed flood levels above the one-in-100-year flood levels that were previously used for considering ‘in-fill’ development in close proximity to existing development.
The new state policies also require the council to consider a sea level rise of 0.8 of a metre this century for new developments to take into account possible coastal impacts linked to climate change.
Moyne Shire planning manager Michelle Grainger told the council’s recent meeting that the Ritchie Street application was the first time the GHCMA had recommended a planning permit be refused since the new rules were brought in last year.
Any decision on that site could set a standard for similar applications, the council’s planning officers said.
Cr Jim Doukas called for the application to be approved, saying in-fill blocks such as 1/7 Ritchie Street should be able to be built on.
Cr Colin Ryan said the proposed development was in a built-up area and other surrounding houses had been there a long time.
On the application to build a house on a 6.2-hectare lot on Toolong Road, the council’s planning officers said the development would remove productive agricultural land and undermine the farming zone.
The officers said the approval of any dwelling in farming zones gave rise to opportunities for conflict between residential and agricultural uses.
However, Cr Ralph Leutton moved the planning permit be granted, saying the development was a “niche” one.
Cr Colin Ryan supported Cr Leutton’s motion, saying the other side of Toolong Road to the proposed development was zoned Rural Living.
The land owner, Leanne Mitchell, told council the land would also be used for the breeding and training of Arabian horses. Improvements proposed for the site included training yards, horse arenas, a shed to be used for stables and small open shelters.