Adding insult to injury, the final decision on Penang Street has now been brought down. The earlier VCAT order required the developer to submit amended plans for his three storey and 24 units proposal. This has now been done. The result is a reduction of two units (site in above image should now be read as 22 dwellings).

What is very disturbing in this final judgement is the position taken by council and Melbourne Water on potential flooding risks. We quote from the judgement –

The Potential for Overland Flow

  1. In light of the residents’ submissions about water flowing through this site in 2011, we expressed concern in our Interim Order as to whether the basement may be impacted by flooding and whether the ground floor apartments and associated paved courtyards may be subject to overland flow from the south. So, our Interim Order required the amended plans to be considered by Melbourne Water and the Council’s drainage engineering section.
  2. The Council’s Infrastructure Assets Manager has approved a flood level report that states there is no flood level or flood velocity applicable to this site. The report also states that the site “is not subject to flooding from the local Council drainage system based on flood level that has a probability of occurrence of 1% in any one year.”
  3. Council’s Engineering Assets Department and Melbourne Water both advise that flooding is expected in the Penang Street road reserve directly adjacent to this site. The Council states the basement ramp should be designed to avoid flooding. Melbourne Water advises the road reserve flood level is 30.56m AHD (Australian Height Datum) and the northeast corner of the site has a surveyed surface level of 30.46m AHD, so the basement is vulnerable to flooding. Melbourne Water has requested a permit condition that the entry/exit driveway to the basement car park must incorporate a flood proof apex of a minimum of 30.86m AHD, i.e. 300mm above the applicable flood level. The amended plans incorporate this apex. Melbourne Water also points out that finished floor levels of the ground floor of the building are higher than its minimum requirement of 300mm above the applicable flood level.
  4. None of the other parties have made any further submissions about this.
  5. Whilst we are cognisant of the residents’ submissions and photographs tendered about the overland flow, the view of the Council is that this site is not affected by a probable 1% in any one year occurrence of flooding from the local Council drainage system; and the view of Melbourne Water is the northeast corner of the site is below the applicable flood level for the Penang Street road reserve. The amended design addresses the potential for flooding of the basement in a manner that is acceptable to Melbourne Water. For these reasons, we are now satisfied that the implications associated with the potential for overland flow have been fully considered by the relevant authorities. In absence of any further submissions or evidence regarding the flooding potential of this site, we must give weight to the views of the relevant authorities. As such, there is insufficient reason to refuse this proposal on the basis of this issue.