Wednesday, March 24, 2010

keeping to the strategic direction

report from the roundtable – 23 mar
The Shire has spent many years consulting around our Housing Strategy, a document that details the appropriate places for increased housing densities in the Shire. The strategy was recently endorsed by council and is currently before the Minister for Planning. Two applications at this week’s meeting sought to challenge the strategic direction of the shire.

The first application, in Lilydale, sought to put 3 dwellings on a 1036m2 block with vehement opposition from residents in the surrounding area. Lilydale has been designated as a Major Activity Centre, it is one of the regions in the shire where increased densities are supported and in the case of this application the block falls within a ‘consolidation precinct’, where densities or 300 to 400 m2 are encouraged.

In this case the density was 1:345m2 and located 1.3kms from the Lilydale railway station and the services and retail that Lilydale has to offer. It is a prime location for this type of development and council has to ensure it upholds the strategic direction of the shire. Councillors voted to approve the application.

Conversely the other application sought to re-subdivide two blocks of land in Mt Evelyn in a low density residential zone. Should it have been approved this would have created lot sizes of 705m2 and 2,239m2.

The shire has spent countless hours (years) consulting around our Housing Strategy, and we cannot ignore that as the whim takes us. The decisions we make today are attached to the land in perpetuity and the granting of a smaller lot size in a low density residential area creates a precedent that would be hard to justify.

Further to that this application is in the Foothills area of the Dandenongs, an important area because of the vegetation and low density character of the region. The motion to approve the re-subdivision was lost and a refusal was supported by the majority of councillors.

One of the most important roles of council is decision making about land use, we must be true to our communities and continue to uphold the strategies that we have taken years to consult on, to do anything less is to fail to uphold community aspirations for how they want their shire shaped.

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