Thursday, December 16, 2010

protecting what's precious - planning in the dandenongs

report from the roundtable - 14 dec

This week's council meeting had to consider an application for an Open Billabong Garden and Foot Massage in Sassafras.

After numerous questions to the applicant, particularly around the operation of a souvenir shop shown on the plans it became apparent that this application was about more than an open garden and at the heart of the issue was the creep of commercial activities into residential areas of the Dandenongs.

I seconded a motion to refuse the application, in speaking to the motion I talked about the importance of very careful planning for the Dandenongs in relation to protecting the amenity of residents and also retaining the charm of our hills villages for tourists. It is important that commercial activities are contained within townships in the Dandenongs and our strategic policies reinforce this view.

The significant landscape overlay covering the region is explicit "the protection of the diverse landscape elements of this area would be compromised by further intensification of residential development, the spread of commercial land uses outside established town centres".

The application sought to remove many exotic trees and shrubs, impacting on the neighbourhood character of the area. Rhododendrons, Camelias, Birch and Maples are beautiful and part of the character of this region of Sassafras and residents and visitors alike admire their beauty. Our planning policies are that low density single dwelling residential use is the primary function of the region.

In relation to Commerical Development our policy is to "Protect surrounding residential and rural and green wedge areas from adverse visual and amenity impacts of business encroachment".

In relation to Tourism our policy is to "encourage tourist facilities in town centres" whilst our policy for Tourism in Green Wedge areas states "Preferred sites for commercial and other non residential uses in the Green Wedge A zone have direct access to a sealed road, and be clustered within or adjoining an established commerical area".

We don't want to see commerical creep beyond our townships, we want to keep what's precious about the Dandenongs for residents and for tourists.

The majority of councillors voted in favour of the motion with only one councillor voting against the refusal.

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