How much does it cost ratepayers to go through a practice day hearing, then a compulsory conference and then a 2 day full hearing (classified as ‘major case hearing’) at VCAT – only to lose? Could the loss have been avoided?

We believe it certainly could have if:

  • Council had not sat on its backside for 15 years and instead worked to amend its planning scheme
  • If representation at VCAT was based on sound argument and ‘evidence’
  • If council’s and especially councillors’ solution to every application was not to merely lop off a storey or two and reduce the number of dwellings
  • If there was ‘cohesion’ between the traffic department, the planning department and councillors

The case involved an application for a 5 storey development at 9 Royal Avenue, Glen Huntly. Councillors in their wisdom granted a permit for 4 storeys, 16 units and a reduction in both visitor and shop parking. At VCAT, following all the above ‘conferences’ between developer and council, the developer won. He got his 5 storeys and most of the conditions imposed by council were tossed out! This of course means that councillors’ record remains intact! Every single time that we know of, when councillors have reduced the height and the matter has ended up at VCAT, the developer has won. They simply do not learn! The solution has never been to reduce height. The answer has always been to amend the planning scheme – to introduce controls that have some punch. For this pro-development council, such actions are anathema. Residents then literally pay the cost in both monetary terms and in the destruction of residential amenity.

For those interested in reading the decision it is available at –

Apart from the usual commentary such as no height limit constraints, no overlays, no structure plans, etc. the member also made these important comments that go to the heart of council’s ‘quality’ in defending its position at VCAT.

I understand the provision of one or two visitor parking spaces rather than three spaces was supported by the Council’s professional planning and traffic engineering officers…..I am satisfied the provision of one visitor parking space is acceptable

clause 52.06 does not specify the dimensions of car stacker spaces……If the Council considers that a width of 2.6 metres is necessary, it should present expert traffic evidence and examples to support this proposition;   The Hercules car stacker system has been on the market for a decade and if the dimensions are unworkable, it would be known in the industry and probably would have been remedied by this time;

There is no statutory basis for the Council’s insistence on the wider dimension

Glen Huntly is included in Plan Melbourne’s vision as a Major Activity Centre – despite the fact that council has always treated it as a ‘neighbourhood centre’. Yet, we are still waiting for any comment on council’s plans for this suburb. In the meantime, developers will continue to have a field day it seems!