Friday, March 30, 2012

report back: maccas practice day hearing

Today I attended the Practice Day Hearing at VCAT, for the McDonalds, Tecoma appeal, to see what orders the tribunal would make in terms of how the appeal will run later this year.

The good news is that the community has been granted 3 days to present their case against McDonalds. This is a great result. Claire Ferres Miles spoke for the No Maccas in the Hills group and put forward a number of requests including asking the tribunal for 20 community members/groups to speak as well as 5 experts. Deputy President, Helen Gibson, granted the community their request and has set aside 3 days of the hearing for them.

The Deputy President has also set aside 2 days for McDonalds and 1 day for council to present, so in total six days have been set aside for the appeal hearing, which starts Monday 6 August.

No Maccas in the Hills asked for a number of things, including the more time for community to lodge their statement of grounds (objections) due to the timing of notification by McDonalds over the Christmas holiday period. Deputy President Gibson felt that their had been adequate notification and that the community had had good opportunity to participate.

No Maccas in the Hills also asked for the venue to be moved closer to home due to the high level of community interest. Deputy President Gibson said all hearings were conducted at 55 King Street, due to the recording facilities in place. She did say she would request a larger hearing room in the complex to accomodate community who wanted to attend in the public gallery.

In relation to the request for advance notice of scheduling speakers, No Maccas in the Hills were told it's up to the community to organise who's presenting when, so at least there'll be ample opportunity to coordinate people who need to take time off work or other duties to present the case on behalf of the community.

The request in relation to material being circulated to all 304 parties was declined as all information is available at the council offices. I'll also be making sure that the information is at council's Community Links in Upwey and Monbulk.

No Maccas in the Hills request for advance circulation of expert reports was also declined. Deputy President Gibson was not persuaded to change the timeframe (10 days is the prescribed timeframe) citing the unlikely submission of amended plans and doubt that the witness material is likely to depart from that already in the public arena. She felt the case wasn't unusual enough to warrant a change.

It's terrific to know that the community has been allocated ample time to present their case. Don't forget to mark 6 August to 13 August in your diary if you want to attend the appeal as a public onlooker, you can come for a day, a week, an hour, it would be great to see you there.

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