Unit decision ‘curious’

State Member for Morwell Russell Northe has echoed community concerns over the approval of a 16-unit development in the bowl of a quiet Traralgon court, but it is unclear whether his government will respond in accordance.

Latrobe City Council is yet to hear from State Planning Minister Matthew Guy after it requested in late May he intervene and nullify the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision to allow the two-storey development to go ahead in McClure Court.

Mr Northe said he had spoken to the minister about the issue and council would “hopefully” receive a response in the next three weeks, although he could not be drawn on what that response was likely to be.

“Whilst in some sense it’s not appropriate for me to comment on each and every planning decision, I share the strong views and concerns expressed to me by the residents in this case,” Mr Northe said.

“From my own perspective, to approve a development of this magnitude in an existing precinct which has traditionally been low density and a substantial distance from the CBD, is quite a curious decision.”

A State Government nullification is the last hope for McClure Court residents who oppose the development but have chosen to avoid an expensive Supreme Court appeal.

Council made the request after criticising the decision-making of VCAT which it claimed was based on planning guidelines geared towards metropolitan Melbourne, not regional Victoria.

VCAT used the Melbourne 2030 planning policy to help shape its final ruling, despite admitting the document was “not directly relevant” to the McClure Court application.

Mr Northe said councils would soon have more power to prevent high-density development in certain areas.

From 1 July, new residential zones will come into effect and council will work with the State Government to prepare a new housing strategy.

“The new zones reflect where higher density residential development is encouraged or where the established character of residential areas can be protected from higher density development,” Latrobe City chief executive Paul Buckley said.

“Once the new zones are implemented into the Latrobe Planning Scheme it is anticipated that residents will have greater certainty about the future character of the areas in which they live.”