A new application for a 16 storey mixed use development has come in for Egan Street, Carnegie. This is the second time the developer is asking for this height. The first application was refused by council in December 2014 and VCAT affirmed Council’s decision in October 2015. What should be noted about this VCAT refusal is that 16 storeys was considered acceptable by VCAT given Council’s planning scheme (ie – ‘As I have indicated in this decision, there are many aspects of the proposal that I do support, including its overall height.’) What stymied this first application was ‘internal amenity’ (apartments without natural light, some of miniscule size – 41 square metres, and whether or not there would be ‘equitable’ opportunities for potential development for buildings alongside this project. It should also be noted that this site is listed as being in Precinct 1 of the Carnegie Urban Village. Tough luck that this feature of the planning scheme lapsed in 2007!!!!!! The following paragraph from the decision sums it up nicely –

Whilst the State and Local Planning Policy Frameworks encourages the development of higher density housing on this site, the planning scheme does not contain specific design guidance usually provided within planning schemes for locations such as the Carnegie Urban Village. A Design and Development Overlay has not been applied to the site, and there is no guidance as to the expected height of buildings within Precinct 1.

This is clearly another example of council sitting on its hands until it is too late. Yes, there is now a planning scheme review. However, the chances of amendments being introduced in time to limit height and design and then being applied retrospectively is zero in our view. Then there is of course, the other option of the developer going immediately to VCAT if council does not come up with a decision in the required 60 days.

The take-home message from all of this is that unless the current planning scheme review achieves major reform and that includes much, much more than simply slapping on a height limit for commercial sites, then inappropriate development will continue.