Shire again OKs Port Campbell 'pole house'

Corangamite Shire has dismissed more complaints about the height of a house under construction in Port Campbell.
Corangamite Shire has dismissed more complaints about the height of a house under construction in Port Campbell.

CORANGAMITE Shire has dismissed more complaints about the height of a house under construction in Port Campbell, saying it was approved by the state’s top planning authority.

Work on the pole-design home, at 1 Hennessy Street, has raised the ire of the Port Campbell Community Group.

The group has consistently opposed the development on the town’s coastal headland, initially objecting to council and then taking its case to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which approved the house with additional permit conditions.

Community group secretary Marion Manifold, who owns a neighbouring house, also lodged an individual objection to the development.

In a statement on behalf of the community group this week, Dr Manifold said the council had destroyed much of the natural beauty of the significant landscape area by “ignoring planning policy and permit conditions”.

Dr Manifold claimed the height of the double-storey building “flagrantly contravenes” the shire’s planning overlay which aims to protect the town’s existing low-scale coastal character.

VCAT has already dealt with these concerns, admitting the building would be higher than nearby dwellings, including Dr Manifold’s, but saying it was “not unreasonable” and was “not a radical departure from other new forms that are positioned in exposed viewing locations”.

Under shire rules, new buildings should be designed to achieve view sharing but Dr Manifold said the dwelling “intrudes upon and blots out public views from many angles including on the headland’s walking track”.

“The building overlooks the historic Beacon Steps and spoils the privacy and enjoyment of the walking trail,” she said.

The group is also worried about the home’s impact on a colony of endangered southern brown bandicoots that breed on the site.

While VCAT found the development was unlikely to have a significant impact on the bandicoot community, it ordered a fence be erected to protect areas of vegetation inhabited by the animals.

Dr Manifold said some of the vegetation had since been removed, but the council refused to act.

“A bandicoot specialist also wrote to council about the destruction of protected habitat but council seems to have ignored his concerns.”

The group said it appeared the council was also failing to uphold other permit conditions relating to geotechnical investigation, wind loadings and the need for the building to provide its own bushfire prevention.

The shire said the group had made numerous allegations about the developer not complying with planning permit conditions.

“Council officers have investigated these complaints and consider there is no justifiable basis for enforcement action,” a spokesman told The Standard. 

“The dwelling under construction is in accordance with VCAT requirements,” he said. “A private building surveyor is responsible for structural and building matters at the site including ensuring building code compliance for wind loading and bushfire regulations.”


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