VCAT knocks back Highton townhouse plan

November 26, 2021 BY

In its decision, VCAT says the development at 2 Morven Court (behind the fence) needed to clearly transition between public and non-public space. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

THE Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has backed the City of Greater Geelong’s rejection of a 27-townhouse development in Highton, stating it did not respond to the neighbourhood and landscape character of the area, among other grounds.

Arc Townhomes originally applied to build a 32-dwelling subdivision at 2 Morven Court.

The city did not make a decision about the proposal within the statutory period and Arc Townhomes applied to VCAT on those grounds, modifying its proposal by reducing the number of townhouses to 27 and retaining four extra trees on the site.

In its submission to VCAT, the city said it would have not granted a permit on several grounds, including that the application:

  • Is not responsive or respectful of the established character of the area
  • Does not sufficiently address environmentally sustainable design policy of the planning scheme as it relates to Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)
  • Does not provide accessways and car parking that appropriately meet provisions of clause 52.06, 55 and 56 of the planning scheme, and
  • Does not constitute orderly planning for the area, particularly due to the function and relationship of the proposed access to Morven Court.

In their ruling, handed down earlier this month, VCAT members Alison Glynn and Kate Partenio said the development failed to meet several standards in clause 56 and the street network objectives.

“The design relies solely on a series of cul de sacs and fails to provide an appropriate cul de sac termination for the existing street.

“It is not a satisfactory outcome to require large trucks including the council garbage truck to reverse into and out of Morven Court or to push the impact of not accommodating large trucks in the existing street onto the existing residents.”

Under clause 55, the VCAT members said the reliance on the whole development to be established as common property placed a heavy reliance on a future owners corporation to manage what would be a quasi-public road system.

“The plans do not clearly delineate where the public interface ends, given that Morven Court does not terminate as a public road. The use of naming the communal property as ‘Morven Court’ on the plans confuses this.

“The development, if it is to be communal, not public space, needs to clearly transition between public and non-public space.”

Ms Glynn and Ms Partenio said the application “failed to respect and respond to the neighbourhood and landscape character of the area, most notably in the design response across the north-west part of the site, where we find slope and landscape character has been inadequately addressed”.

“This is further exacerbated by the failure to incorporate WSUD features into the landscaping that is provided.”

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