Council green lights Hawker St development

Liam Durkin

A MOTION to develop four dwellings at 11 Hawker Street, Moe was carried at the most recent Latrobe City council meeting.
Under the proposal, three of the units will be double-storey, with units one to three comprising two bedrooms and unit four containing three.
The proposal has drawn the ire of some residents, who don’t believe double-storey units fit the neighbourhood character of the area.
Following advertising of the application, 41 objections were received. Council Planning Officers provided a response to the concerns, resulting in five objections being withdrawn.
The meeting heard from Hawker Street resident Amanda Ball, who has led a campaign against the proposal, and had previously stated the majority of residents’ preference was for two single-storey units with double car parking.
“Our town has its own unique character and to enhance that we need to promote growth, but we also need to respect the existing neighbours and yet contribute to the function, safety and liveability of the community,” she said.
“The fact that this build will actually sit just over half-a-metre from the footpath beggars belief when the setback of most properties in the street is between seven and 11 metres – we will be able to touch the porch as we walk past.
“This proposed new building mass on this site will be a monstrosity and clearly stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
“Within the proposal there is no architectural consistency or coherency with the area and certainly does not respect the existing or preferred character.”
The motion was moved by Councillor Brad Law, who acknowledged the residents’ reservations, but said ultimately the development presented an opportunity for the community to expand.
“It is going to be difficult for some people who have had one house next door to automatically have two, three or four dwellings next door, I agree it is not going to be perfect for some people, but we need people to advance our community and take on the responsibility of building new assets in the town now that creates a better environment for kids and our future,” he said. “I fully applaud this development and think it should go ahead.”
Cr Law referenced the Live Work Latrobe land use policy, and believed the development was within the framework that was established to make the most of Latrobe City built and natural assets to create jobs, ensure housing meets the needs of community and enable new investment opportunities.
“I think in developing our Live Work Latrobe document our planning team has spent the best part of four years, along with councillors, in consultation to come up with a document that reflects the growing needs of our community moving forward,” he said,
“The critical part about this whole thing is that we’ve built a document to try and be fair to everybody across the board, and it can happen in any town at any point in time, there are some laws and they are black and they are white as what you can do and what you can’t do.
“Under the proposal at present, this development is in the area that it can just go ahead and I fully support it, because that is what we have come up with over these last few years, is to create an area where there is no grey area.
“From that point of view, as long as they meet all building requirements, there is a lot of them on that planning permit, as long as they meet all those conditions and satisfy all that, I think this is a good development.”
The motion was seconded by Cr Darren Howe and voted in favour of by Cr Law, Cr Howe, Cr Tracie Lund, Cr Dan Clancey and Cr Kellie
Cr Graeme Middlemiss voted against, while Cr Dale Harriman, Cr Melissa Ferguson and Mayor Sharon Gibson abstained.
Speaking against the proposal, Cr Middlemiss said he sympathised with the residents affected.
“I’m not quite convinced Live Work Latrobe hit the mark,” he said.
“I know it was built around existing government policies to try and get us the best outcome against an existing government policy and all residential planning, we are very, very limited by government policies, but what we’re starting to get back is a large section of our community in the areas affected does not appear to want to accept Live Work Latrobe’s ideas.
“We’ve just heard some very strong objection from the people who live in this area they don’t want what we have imposed by Live Work Latrobe.
“We had a case in Traralgon about two meetings ago, again the neighbours said ‘well that’s okay under Live Work Latrobe, but we don’t like what’s happening in our neighbourhood’ this is very hard for councillors to sit back and take the attitude ‘well that’s the planning scheme bad luck, move on, nothing to see here’.
“There is something to see here and I don’t think we’ve carried our community through yet. I think there may be more work required yet.
“I’m starting to develop reservations about Live Work Latrobe – I don’t think it was strong enough.”
The meeting also heard from E2E Growth Consultants director Sudhanshu (Ashu) Goel, the company charged with overseeing the project.
Mr Goel refuted claims the setback would be of close proximity to the footpath, and said all avenues of community consultation had been exhausted.
“I do want to emphasise these are quality townhouses that are planned to be built by a local builder without cutting corners,” he said.
“The development is planned in accordance with councils planning scheme and also complies to Clause 55 of the Planning Act.”
The application could still be appealed at VCAT, however any such appeal could well prove futile given all building requirements appear to have been met.