Demolition deadline for servo

The owner of an unfinished service station and shop at the gateway to Traralgon South wants the opportunity to complete the building, citing changed circumstances.

However, Latrobe City Council says it has the power to demolish the building and still plans to do so.

A 30-year saga of appeals and extensions since the original application to build the shop in 1984, was due to come to an end last Monday.

That was the deadline, ordered by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in April, by which the owner of the property must demolish the building.

But the property-owner lodged a further application to VCAT just before the deadline.

Ralph Brown told The Express he now had the funds and a builder to finish the project, saying he was confident it could be completed in about eight months.

“All I want to do is finish the work I set out to do,” Mr Brown said.

“I don’t want to fight the shire.

“I don’t like any of this, I just want to get on with my work.”

Mr Brown said planning issues and appeals to VCAT early in the project’s life left him with no money, which then caused delays, but he said his circumstances had changed.

In its April enforcement order, VCAT stated although there were various explanations as to the reasons for the delay, and “some of the reasons were and have been understandable”, the delays had extended “far beyond what is reasonable in the circumstances”.

In September, Latrobe City Council sought to reinforce the VCAT decision, voting that if the owner did not carry out the demolition order, council would demolish the building itself and charge Mr Brown for the cost.

VCAT last week confirmed it had received a further application relating to the case, made under section 121 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, which enables the tribunal to cancel or amend an enforcement order.

Latrobe City’s general manager of city development, Phil Stone said council was unsure whether VCAT would accept this request, but it was VCAT’s jurisdiction

and the tribunal had the power to vary its enforcement order under the Act.

However, he said, an application to VCAT did not “stay” council’s power under the Act to carry out the enforcement order.

“Council will be writing to Mr Brown communicating that it has the power to, and will carry out, the enforcement order on or after 21 December 2015 to allow time for VCAT to consider the application,” Mr Stone said.

He said council would also write to VCAT asking it to consider the matter urgently

“If VCAT decides to consider the application, council will strongly resist a variation to the enforcement order,” Mr Stone said.

Local resident Jeff Graham said he hoped VCAT stood by its previous ruling.