City votes against five-storey development

June 5, 2021 BY

A unanimous decision on 49 Newcombe Street in Portarlington was reached by the city at last week's meeting. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

THE City of Greater Geelong’s Planning Committee has recommended a refusal of permit for a five-storey development proposed for Portarlington’s main street.

The Committee last week recommended the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) refuse the building earmarked for the visually prominent site on 49 Newcombe Street.

A public notice about the proposal attracted 125 written objections with reference to the height and position of the development as well as its impact on the village’s character.

Planning Committee chair, Cr Kylie Grzybek said the community had been justifiably vocal in opposing the design.

“It is clear that the development wouldn’t fit with the seaside holiday village character of Portarlington, and in fact there is a real risk it would change the character of the town,” she said.

“Maximum residential building heights for this site are recommended to be two storeys, so this proposal is well above that and is simply too visually imposing – especially given its prominent location on the main street, where it would also be very visible from the foreshore and pier.”

The design included 13 apartments, two shops and a basement car park with the slope of the land creating the appearance of a three-storey building from Newcombe Street, and five storeys from the foreshore.

During a meeting in January with record attended, residents unanimously voted to recommend the city reject the plan.

At the time, the Portarlington Community Association president Geoff Fary said the 130 attendees believed the building failed to meet the city provisions.

The City of Greater Geelong’s Design Development Schedule 14 states buildings need to provide views of the coast and for buildings to be of an appropriate scale and design with respects to the architectural style of the street.

Overlays were previously put in place under Schedule 14 to ensure that “development occurred at an appropriate scale and character”.

Other concerns were lodged in regard to a reduction of on-street parking, increase in traffic and pedestrian safety as well as the location of waste disposal and the developer’s failure to create an environmentally sustainable design.

During the May 27 meeting the city’s Planning and Urban Design, Social Planning, and Waste teams all determined they would not support the proposal, as did the city’s heritage advisor, voting unanimously against the permit.

Mayor Stephanie Asher moved the motion recommending the refusal while referencing the impact on neighbouring buildings.

“The incongruous nature of the modern building next to a heritage-listed post office, the height on such a gentle slope and the bulk of the building are contrary to the low scale character of the township,” she said.

“While I appreciate that the applicant has made some compromises, ultimately the applicant has chosen to take the application to VCAT and I support the officers’ view to recommend refusal on multiple policy grounds.”

VCAT will hold a compulsory conference on June 23 ahead of a case hearing from August 30 to September 3, 2021.

Thank you for supporting local journalism!