No authority to help

A last-ditch community bid to prevent 16 units from being constructed in the bowl of a Traralgon court has failed, with the State Government revealing it will not intervene.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy told The Express he did not have the authority to overturn a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision to approve plans for the two-storey development in McClure Court.

It came after Latrobe City Council last month requested Mr Guy nullify the VCAT decision because of overwhelming community opposition to the proposal.

In confirming his position on the matter, Mr Guy took a public swipe at council, saying its tardiness contributed to the ultimate approval of the unpopular development.

Council lost its decision-making power over the development because it failed to vote on the planning permit application within 60 statutory days.

This enabled the developer to take the proposal straight to VCAT and left council to voice a belated objection to the development.

“I think that the proposal is not in keeping with the character of the court, however this is why it is very important councils make a determination on these in the timeframe they are given,” Mr Guy said.

A State Government intervention was the last hope for McClure Court residents who opposed the development, but had chosen to avoid an expensive Supreme Court appeal.

Resident Norm Butler said he was disappointed with the minister’s decision and defended council’s actions, saying objectors would have expected a VCAT appeal even if council had made a decision in the required timeframe.

Council said it extended the consideration period to allow the developer and objectors to resolve their differences and perhaps come to a compromise, which was standard practice.

Latrobe City chief executive Paul Buckley said council had received an initial proposal from the developer in September 2011 to construct 23 units over three lots in McClure Court and a number of community objections were subsequently lodged.

“On 4 November 2011 the applicant requested that council delay making a decision on the proposal whilst they considered the objections. This period of time was extended further when the applicant appointed a new consultant,” Mr Buckley said.

He said in late January 2012 there was a meeting between the developer, the objectors and council to discuss the proposal and the developer subsequently lodged an application for review with VCAT on 8 February.

“In mid 2012 council received notification that the applicants would be amending the proposal, however, these plans were only received in December 2012,” Mr Buckley said.