VCAT rejects 'crowded' Merrivale housing proposal

A PROPOSED housing development in Merrivale was “too intense” for the neighbourhood, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has ruled.

The application for six single-storey dwellings on six allotments off Kennedy Street had been earlier rejected by Warrnambool City Council last October after it deferred the issue from December 2012.

It sparked  18 objections.

The council decided the development would be contrary to the character of the neighbourhood and would  adversely affect the  amenity of neighbours. It also considered the development would generate adverse parking and safety issues.

 Project applicant Richard Greene challenged the council’s decision and put his case to tribunal member Geoff Rundell that the development would provide greater housing choice and affordability,  would comfortably fit into the neighbourhood and would provide acceptable amenity to neighbours and future residents. 

He denied  it would   cause traffic, parking or safety problems for its neighbours.

While Mr Rundell agreed that the proposed development was consistent with planning policy objectives for more diverse and affordable housing in established suburbs, he ruled it was unsuitable for the neighbourhood where there were generally large dwellings set in a spacious context.

“I consider that while the development would contribute to a more compact Warrnambool and greater housing diversity and affordability, it fails to comfortably fit into its context,” he said. 

“It would be unduly robust and intense for this neighbourhood.

“It does not benefit from a close proximity to public transport, an activity centre, an employment centre or services to justify an unduly intensive development.”

He noted setbacks at the front and sides of the  proposed blocks were less than those on nearby properties, the number of crossovers, an excessive number of driveways and inadequate parking.

However, Mr Rundell provided an option for the project to be altered and resubmitted.

“I am satisfied that a multiple-dwelling development would be acceptable on this site, but it should comprise more space around the dwellings, greater setbacks to its front and side boundaries, fewer crossovers and greater opportunities for landscaping to the public realm,” he said.

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