Townhouse plan gets green light

By Ewen McRae

Melton council has reluctantly approved a planning permit for 10 double-storey townhouses, despite concerns about neighbourhood character.

The application for the proposed development at 15 Joan Street, Melton, came before the council at its meeting last week. During discussions a number of councillors expressed concerns that an appeal would be lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if the permit was not approved.

The plan proposes to demolish an existing dwelling on the site and replace it with 10 double storey dwellings. It is almost identical to a development on the same street that was approved following an appeal to VCAT recently.

Councillor Kathy Majdlik said her main concern was having to fight the application at VCAT if a refusal of the permit was appealed.

“I do have concerns if we are to refuse this,” Cr Majdlik said.

“The previous ones that have been taken to VCAT have taken councillors time and energy to fight.

“I have concerns that it is an overdevelopment of the site, on the other hand, the ones that have gone to VCAT have been won [by developers]and been a cost to council.”

Councillor Sophie Ramsey said she was not happy with several VCAT decisions recently on council planning matters and wished to avoid a repeat on this planning application.

“I will vote for it, but I do it reluctantly,” Cr Ramsey said. “I don’t want to spend one more cent of our ratepayers dollars in fighting a lost cause, but I want it to be a development that is state of the art and presents really well.”

Councillor Steve Abboushi spoke in support of the application, saying it provided more housing options for the community.

“I am in support of the officers recommendations to grant a permit,” Cr Abboushi said. “It provides a variety of housing options for a community that is looking for variety, and we need to be able to provide that for our commuity to ease the pressure and financial burden on people who can’t get a house in today’s market.”

The application was approved five votes to four.