Monday, August 13, 2012

mcdonalds appeal - day 6

The community has continued
to be passionate about this
Day 6 of the hearing started at 2:15pm, in deference to Wilf Wharton’s funeral to allow community members to attend without having to make a decision between being at the tribunal or the funeral. I certainly thank the tribunal for their sensitivity and understanding.

First up some preliminary matters with Ms Mimi Marcus (for Yarra Ranges council) around the planning application for 1525 Burwood Hwy (Saffron Cottage), a locality plan showing where objectors are located (for some reason McDonalds seem to think our objectors aren’t local) and a schedule of signage, indicating that the signage application for approval equals 47.7 sq mtrs, clearly exceeding that allowed as of right.

Next Mr Townshend SC for McDonalds reported that in the context of two additional days of hearing with reflection of the number of submissions and the hope to have a resultant well crafted permit condition, the applicant was working on a revised permit conditions (with tracked changes) for consideration around the lighting to represent a more dynamic light management plan with a short memo to explain the detail of the proposal.

Member Carew asked for the information to be ready by 24 Aug as it is quite complex for residents.

Member Rundell suggested to community members there today that they look at the permit conditions and make comments and include as part of the right of reply.

At 2:31 Ms Porter (for McDonalds) introduced Landscape Architect, Mr Atkinson from Urbis. Mr Atkinson went through the detail of how he came to develop the landscape plan, taking into the account the design objectives, visiting the site taking note of the context and broader surrounding area. On his inspection he made a number of changes to the original landscape plan submitted with the planning application.

Those changes include change of plants along the car park boundary, particularly in the garden bed which had been widened. He talked about the planting along the residential interface which includes Blackwoods intended to grow up above the acoustic fence to a height of 8mt. He went on to talk about plantings in the garden beds, near the disabled car park and in the planter boxes, the materials used on the building, suggesting that the stacked stone was in character within Yarra Ranges. He also said that the veranda blends with the character of the existing streetscape and the flat roof was pleasing as it continued to feature hills to the north.

Ms Mimi Marcus was the first to cross examine Mr Atkinson around the species selected and their fire resistance, she also raised questions around a eucalyptus on a neighbouring private property.

Anne Elizabeth, community submitter, was next to cross examine Mr Atkinson. She raised issues around the existing Liquidamber suggesting that putting a path and seating under the tree had inherent dangers due to the size of seed pods dropped by this species and encouraging pedestrians more so than what occurs on site now. Mr Atkinson said that these were issues to be considered as part of the maintenance program for the site.

Anne went on to query the use of White Cedars along the driveway, also known for their prolific seed pods. Mr Atkinson explained that these were a subspecies that produce less seeds, however confirmed that they do produce seeds. When the issue of pedestrian safety was raised by Anne, Mr Atkinson said he doesn’t expect many people to be walking through this area, however did concede that people would be walking through (the drive through is also the access to car parking), he once again reiterated that the seed pods were an issue to be taken up as part of the maintenance program.

Anne raised issues around the use of Convolvulus, a member of the bindweed family, Mr Atkinson said it was a cultivar for use in planter boxes and garden beds and concluded it was a very safe weed, drought resistant and very hardy. Anne suggested that the use of Convolvulus send a message to people that it’s alright to plant this species, a known weed in Yarra Ranges, Mr Atkinson accepted what she was saying and said it could be easily modified on the plan but stands by it not being an environmental weed.

Anne asked if the plants in the EVC Mountain Grey Damp Forest had been incorporated into the design. Mr Atkinson said the Lightwoods (Acacia) and Yellow Box (Eucalyptus) were included in the EVC, but he also drew upon the McDonalds Landscaping Guidelines to inform the plan.

Anne raised issues around the White Cedar becoming a problem along local waterways, of most concern the nearby Monbulk Creek, however Mr Atkinson did not agree they were a threat and read a brief explanation of the habit of the species out of the Metropolitan Trees Handbook. Anne went on to ask if Mr Atkinson understood the environmental sensitivity of the Yarra Ranges which is greater than metropolitan Melbourne, Mr Atkinson said he had approached the plan that way.

Community submitter, Roz Yeung, also raised a query around the use of Chinese Star Jasmine, Mr Atkinson said the plan was suggested planting at a concept phase.

After the cross examination the Tribunal Members raised a number of issues around the landscape plan.

Member Carew asked about the Liquidambar and pedestrian access to the area, the acoustic fence treatment proposed for 1535 Burwood Highway (on land outside of the proposal – at DVD Destination) where Mr Atkinson confirmed there was consent from the owner to build the fence, the landscape buffers, the ability to relocate the weeping birch (outside Saffron Cottage) and a range of other questions.

Member Rundell also asked questions around the Liquidambar, whether the climbers would need netting or support to grow along the fence line, how many years before the trees would be an effective screen to the site, irrigation and the use of water tanks, the dependence on a good maintenance scheme, the ability of the drive through planting to grow to its full potential, whether landscape bonds were an appropriate mechanism to get effective outcomes, finishing his questions by saying landscaping was a very important part of this development.

Ms Porter (for McDonalds) then continued her re-examination and asked about the width of landscape planting and how it interfaces with neighbouring properties and also made mention of the large outstand to the rear which includes a Eucalyptus Melliodora (Yellow Box).

After the examination was over Mr Townshend SC suggested we were on a reasonably tight leash and should not proceed beyond what we’d agreed. He invited tribunal members to visit other stores and said at a corporate level an internal set of guidelines were in use. Mr Townshend SC went on to say the corporate application to landscaping was driven by a desire to use less water, so there’s an internal return. The plans are over a span of 30 – 40 years and take on a generic quality and with that tabled a set of McDonalds Landscape Guidelines for the tribunal’s consideration.

The day ended with Ms Marcus reporting back that it was council’s view that no permit was required for the fence under Clause 53.

The day ended a little earlier at around 4pm.

The hearing will continue on Monday 3rd September and has been listed for two days (3 and 4 Sept). Next up, traffic experts and if it sticks to what was first intended it will be Mr Hunt from Cardno.

I’ll keep you posted.

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