City accused of planning inconsistencies

February 18, 2021 BY

Head of the community association Mercedes Drummond has called out the City for "inconsistencies" in determining planning applications. Photo: GEORGIA HOLLOWAY

THE City of Greater Geelong has been accused of planning inconsistency, following its decision to knock back a development in Drysdale’s Oakden Road.

However, the city says this rejection should not be directly compared with the approval of Amendment C363, which also applies to Drysdale.

The city’s planning committee rejected the application for a 34-lot subdivision proposed on 5-17 Oakden Road.

Following the result, Drysdale Clifton Springs and Curlewis Association president Mercedes Drummond said “the way the city applies statutory planning criteria is dependent on the applicant”.

The Oakden Road development received 50 objections from the community, while Amendment C363 received 64.
Amendment C363, approved by the city, will rezone 28 rural living properties along Central Road to allow for 550 residential dwellings.

“The decision to reject the application is significant because almost all of the grounds given for its rejection also apply to planning Amendment C363,” Ms Drummond said.

“Raising this issue isn’t just resurrecting the objections to C363, which is awaiting a decision by the Planning Minister.

“Instead, it is showing that the council assesses planning applications inconsistently, giving current and future applicants no confidence in the assessment process.”

The city stated the Oakden Road development insufficiently responded to a number of clauses concerning safety, integration of native vegetation and urban landscape as well as failing to address issues of accessibility and sustainability.

“Amendment C363 will result in the loss of 1,000 trees and associated native habitat; its ‘offsets’ and open spaces are nowhere near sufficient to replace this loss,” Ms Drummond said.

“Much of the objection to Amendment C363 was that it would destroy the underlying natural landscape, significant vegetation and a green belt that the community values very highly.”

In 2019 the Bellarine Penninsula was declared a Distinctive Area and Landscape by the state government.

The coming Statement of Planning and Policy will aim to balance growth with the preservation of character across featuring townships – something Ms Drummond believed the Central Road development would put at risk.

“The high-density residential accommodation is in stark contrast to the precinct’s existing pattern of larger lots and semi-rural living,” she said.

“Its 550 dwellings and projected 1,000 cars driving past the neighbouring primary school and day-care centre will be neither safe nor attractive.

“The block sizes will preclude housing diversity and its lack of water management and lack of space for tree canopies render it unsustainable.”

The city’s director of planning, design and development Gareth Smith said it was hard to compare the two developments at this stage.

“While Oakden and Amendment C363 both relate to infill residential developments in Drysdale they are at different stages of the planning process. Broth proposals are treated on their individual merits.”

He said several technical reports were prepared to support the rezoning of Amendment C363.

“Many of the subdivision design concerns, such as lot sizes and tree removal will be addressed when Development Plans and subdivision permits are submitted in the future, subject to Ministerial approval of Amendment C363.”

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