Kitchens in firing line

Eddie Russell

Developer Frank Days is racing against time to keep the kitchenettes from his Melton rooming house from being ripped out.

The amenities need to be removed by early June.

The property, which houses nine people, has been deemed non-compliant with Melton council’s planning scheme following a 2022 Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision about a similar property in Brimbank.

VCAT ruled that the development was technically not a rooming house because the tribunal member considered the rooms to be “self-contained apartments” rather than rooms.

Mr Days said the decision is leading to inconsistent council compliance across Melbourne.

“Every council is approaching it differently. Some are saying you can keep a sink, some are saying you can keep a hot plate, others are saying you can have it all,” he said.

“We’ve submitted plans to other councils and they’ve given them the seal of approval.”

Melton council city growth and development manager Blake de Alencar Angus said council had to act in accordance with the planning scheme.

“In line with state legislation and VCAT determinations, enforcement action will be taken if the property is not brought into compliance.”

Mr Days said the council has been helpful during the process.

“They’ve been nothing but willing to assist us in getting these approved, but at the end of the day, they’re … just enforcing the rules. Change needs to come from state level.” he said.

However, a state government spokesperson said it was a matter for council.

Melton MP Steve McGhie met with Mr Days last Thursday to inspect the property.

Mr Days said during the visit, Mr McGhie spoke to an emotional tenant.

“She was pretty much in tears … she has certain health issues that make it very difficult for her to share a kitchen with eight other people. Another tenant, who has become wheelchair bound, is going to have issues with it as well,” he said.

Mr Days was confident change could be achieved moving forward.

“If we get it in front of the right people … they’ll agree that this is the right way to proceed,” he said.

But for now, he will not be committing to any new projects in the area.

“We’ve invested $6 million in Melton over the last two years and we won’t be throwing good money after this.”