Friday, March 13, 2009

report from the round table – mar 10

Report from the round table is my regular report back from the council meeting, this week:

Shower opens at Mission Impossible
It was great to report back to council that I had the very great pleasure of officially opening a shower at Mission Impossible on Tuesday night. I had funded the installation of the shower from my ward fund (see
blog entry) as a way to assist homeless and disadvantaged people in the Dandenong Ranges.

I saw it as a practical on the ground way to help people in need with a very basic but critical need. Mission Impossible were delighted with the installation (and the hot water service!) and the ribbon was cut to the cheer and applause of those who came along to celebrate the occasion.

The Tecoma Supermarket Application
At this meeting council were considering the application for the development of a supermarket in Tecoma. Although the application is before VCAT council still has to determine a position on the application to present to VCAT.

Shire planners had recommended a refusal of the application, I was very supportive of their recommendation and moved a motion to refuse the application. In summing up I started by telling my fellow councillors about the character of Tecoma. It is a town that has great hills character, it’s built form is low scale and one of it’s hallmarks is its canopy of trees and open space.

Tecoma is a town of around 2,000 people, it has little capacity for growth, something reconfirmed in the Shire’s housing strategy consultations.

Even though it is council’s role to determine the application on planning grounds I thought it was important to highlight the groundswell of community objection to the application. Council had received 531 objections and 16 petitions against the supermarket in comparison to 4 letters of support.

The application was to build a monolithic monstrosity, a building 11 metres high with minimal setbacks, the tiniest of landscaping and 3 storeys high at the rear. Its interface with the neighbours is atrocious. I referred councillors to attachment 9 of our council papers which shows how much the direct neighbour on Sandells Road would be overshadowed by this giant of a building. Not only the direct neighbours would be affected, but the majority of the Tecoma community would be looking at the back of an ugly 3 storey concrete block.

Traffic is a key concern. Burwood Highway carries much more than just local traffic, if you are coming or going from Emerald, Monbulk or Belgrave you will be using Burwood Highway and it is important to bear in mind it is a single lane road already very busy servicing the local Tecoma Primary School, PreSchool, Pathology Centre, Church and Strip Shopping Centre.

Traffic engineers for the applicant had calculated that the supermarket would add 3,348 additional traffic movements a day, given the difficulties traversing Burwood Highway now, an extra 3,348 cars would be a nightmare.

The application requires 211 parking spaces, even though the report refers to changes to the provisions, these changes are only proposed, not current law so the application must be measured against the current planning scheme. The application only provides for 130 car parking spaces, the applicant is asking for a car parking dispensation of 81 spaces, this will lead to parking chaos in Tecoma.

It is an overdevelopment of the site, it’s a building that provides a three storey blank concrete wall to the majority of the population of Tecoma. It has significant amenity issues; traffic, noise and visual bulk to name a few.

We want the hills to stay the hills and with that I urged councillors to support my motion to refuse the application.

I am very pleased to report that council voted unanimously to refuse the application.

The application will now be heard at VCAT who will make the final decision on the supermarket. So far a date for the VCAT hearing hasn’t been set, but watch this space for more information.


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