Thursday, October 11, 2012

community battle continues

Community outrage continues as word gets out about VCAT approving a 24hr McDonalds for Tecoma. The passion and energy of the community to continue to fight this decision does not surprise me. It is characteristic of the people of the Dandenong Ranges. Our connection to place is deep seated and our sense of community strong. The community are not going to take this lying down.

So far there’s two online petitions going

In an act of reclaiming the space, the community have organised Reclaim Tecoma from McDonalds – Community Garden planting, you can find out more on facebook.

The tribunal decision makes for disappointing reading (you can read a copy here). When I read the 56 pages, it seemed I was at a different hearing to the Tribunal Members. They have paid scant regard to the 320 written objections to VCAT or to the 30 community submitters at the hearing.

The residents live and breathe Tecoma, they know what it’s like to traverse Burwood Highway, they understand the character of the area, their intrinsic understanding of place has been utterly ignored.

There’s been no recognition of the built form issues, we’ll still be getting a boxy, blocky, bulky building out of character with the Tecoma Village. The traffic issues raised fell on deaf ears as tribunal members accepted that a McDonalds would only generate 1 extra car in the Burwood Hwy traffic queue and the issue of ‘rat running’ through local streets has been disregarded all together. The context of the Tecoma township has not been taken into account at all, highlighting the bluntness of the planning scheme when interpreted in it’s most basic form.

Reading the permit conditions makes for gloomy reading. In terms of built form the only concessions were tokenistic with the roof now to be a subdued and non-reflective material and colour, the ‘blades’ on the north and the canopy to be muted tones, a timber treatment on the blank wall to the west and the use of local stone for the vertical column (blade signage) rather than stacked stone out the front. The canopy along Burwood Highway is to be reduced to a width on no more than 3m and be painted in subdued brown, green or ochre colour(s).

As a concession to residences to the west a 2.7m high transparent timber screen has been included to mimimise the visability of the Customer Ordering Devices. The bicycle parking will now need to be separated in an enclosure under the building not stuck up the back of the loading dock where they were in the original plans.

Minor tinkering with signage includes the deletion of the flagpoles and banner, one thank you sign, a small wall sign at the front and either the deletion of another thankyou sign or welcome sign and the replacement of a wall sign that was 3.87m x .45m with one that measures .93m x .77m. The enormous 5.25m wide sign at the rear has not been changed through permit conditions, however will be required to be turned off between 10pm and 7am.

In terms of the landscaping, the planter boxes to the front are to be reduced in extent and height. If the Liquid Ambar gets removed a suitable replacement native tree is to be planted, the trees originally planned to line the drive through, White Cedars, are to be replaced with a species of tall slender native canopy trees.

Lighting will need to achieve the recommendations of the “Dark Surrounds Residential Areas” (part of Aust Standards 4282-1997) for the dwellings at 85,87 and 89 Sandells Rd and baffling required to limit views to external lighting in the car park and drive through for residential areas to the north and west of the site.

The permit conditions include a clause on the preparation of a Litter Management Plan which among other things means the McDonalds will need signage within the restaurant and adjacent to the drive through food collection booths advising patrons that they are within the scenic Dandenongs and encouraging patrons to not litter public areas and road side reserves. They’ll also be required to conduct a litter patrol each day that the premises are open for trading to the public within a 200 metre radius of the site to collect and dispose of any litter emanating from the site. 

Deliveries can’t take place between the hours of 10pm and 7am, a small concession to nearby residential areas.

Another permit condition includes the construction of left and right turning lanes in Sandells Rd which will see the centre line of Sandells Rd moved closer to the angled carparking near DVD Destination therefore narrowing the northbound lane of Sandells Rd. This will create a very interesting dynamic when someone is pulled up to turn right into Burwood Hwy from Sandells Rd and a bus turns right from McNicol, on to Burwood Hwy and attempts to turn left into Sandells Rd as submissions provided to the Tribunal indicate that a narrowed Sandells Rd means buses will have to cross the centre line to make the turn and if there’s a car waiting to turn right into Burwood Hwy, the bus wont be able to make the turn.

Pedestrians will now have a marked crossing point at the rear of the building and the conditions require details of pedestrian safety measures in the northbound aisle of the carriageway to Burwood Hwy adjacent to the loading bay (this is the ‘entry’ way from Burwood Hwy). There’s also conditions that are subject to the consent of adjacent landowners that there be details of the provision, cost and maintenance of car parking and traffic management measures including speed control devices, directional signage, car parking information and restrictions including any signs designating car parking areas for particular premises between identified times. This is to cover off on McDonalds traffic management, car parking and signage on other people’s land but those landowners must consent if it’s to happen.

The conditions provide the framework of how the plans and construction are undertaken. It’s sobering to see so few concessions to community or councillor concerns. But rest assured I will stand united with the community in what is the third round of this battle.

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At 6:39 PM, Blogger Sue said...

This is just so disappointing ... and very angering.

At 7:38 PM, Blogger voluptuous vegan said...

Hi Samantha,

Given the scant regard for public submissions are the council lawyers looking at this decision and the possibilty of a Supreme Court appeal? Can their views on this please be made public to the ratepayers?

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

VCAT noted the high number of objections but claim they cannot take this into account. They only assess if it fits the guidelines of the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme. Because the site is zoned Business 1 it appears there is nothing the community or council can do to stop it as the development fits the requirements of business zone 1.

Is this correct Samantha? Was it an impossible fight from the start? Who create the planning zones? Council?
Your sincerely Paul & Megan

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

To Voluptous Vegan - Council Lawyers are reviewing the VCAT decision, waiting to hear back what they say.

To Paul & Megan - the planning zones came about when the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme came to be (back in amalgamations), however I think that the site would have been zoned commercial in Shire of Sherbrooke days as well.

The commissioners developed the PS but it had to be signed off by the Minister for Planning.

Cheers all, Samantha


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