The City of Boroondara has again opposed amended plans for a residential development in Markham Avenue Ashburton by the Victorian Government agency, Places Victoria.

The process being used by the Minister for Planning and Places Victoria for the housing project embodies all those things which cause the community to mistrust government, according to the Council.

“There are few more serious breaches of faith in a democracy than governments lacking transparency and using extreme powers to force through a decision at the expense of the community,” Cr Phillip Healey, Mayor of Boroondara said.

“Minister Richard Wynne has asked Boroondara Council to provide comment on plans which are incomplete,” he said.

“And then he is asking us to test them against planning requirements that he is not prepared to make available.

“Our repeated requests for more information and more time have fallen on deaf ears. Clearly the Minister is simply stonewalling,” Cr Healey said.

The development plans lodged with Council include 27 failures to comply with the Boroondara Planning Scheme, 30 failures to provide adequate information and 56 failures to comply with the Minister’s own newly released guidelines for new apartments.

“Having taken planning control away from Council and making himself the responsible planning authority, he has the power to require Places Victoria to address these failures but has chosen to sit and do nothing.

“These failures are compounded by the Minister’s refusal to allow the community to have the usual rights which apply in any other planning process. The community is barred from their normal notification processes or to an independent appeal process.

“Places Victoria has been allowed to undertake a sham consultation process where, by their own admission they are only ‘informing’ the community. They have shown no willingness to consider changes to the most critical driver of the development’s impact - the number of units being built.”

Councillor Healey said that the amended plans that Council received following Places Victoria’s community engagement period, have not addressed the significant concerns raised by Council and the community.

“In the amended plans, Places Victoria claims it has increased boundary setbacks between the site and the adjoining park and improved the landscape design. These statements are all incorrect,” Cr Healey said.

“The facts are that the increased setbacks will be occupied by large elevated decking structures and modifications made to the landscape design will jeopardise the health of established canopy trees purported to be retained.

“Furthermore, the reduction of private apartments from 190 to 188 is farcical. The fact remains that cramming 250 dwellings on what used to be a 56-unit development is ludicrous. It will cause traffic nightmares and will destroy our much loved neighbourhood character.

“Six and seven storey buildings in an area where existing detached homes are a maximum of two storeys is completely unnecessary and driven by an entirely false construct.

“It saddens us that, at a time when there is a great need for more public housing, including the net loss of public housing within Boroondara, the Victorian Government is not taking this opportunity to increase the number of public housing units. Instead it is trying to mislead the community by applying flawed costing to inflate the number of private dwellings to be built to pay for the cost of building public housing.

“Council remains strongly opposed to the proposed development. We urge the Victorian Government to come to its senses. Minister, please do not to allow this monstrosity to proceed,” Cr Healey said.

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