Residents celebrate after VCAT refuses 8 storey residential tower

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The news arrived in a simple email from the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal, but in no time, computer screens and phones across the Junction were lighting up with the wonderful news that its concerned residents had scored a huge victory against an appropriate developer.

Proposed Building

In its ruling, VCAT advised it had refused a permit for an eight storey, high rise, high density residential tower proposed for a low rise site at 35-37 Wellington St, St Kilda.

The VCAT decision took full account of major concerns of the more than 100 objectors, as well as Port Phillip Council’s planner, Matt Spencer, who at the mid February public hearing showed clearly that the building was far too tall, would cause parking chaos and destroy the low-rise character of its surroundings.

In welcoming the VCAT decision against the development, Kaye O’Connor, spokeswoman for the Junction Area Action Group, a team of concerned neighbours who presented a raft of objections supporting those of the council at the VCAT hearing in February said: “This is an important win for the stakeholders who would have had to live with a bad decision if planning permission had been approved. Our residents’ group presented strong arguments that this development had inadequate parking, was disproportionately bulky, exceeded height restrictions, would reduce sunlight and airspace, create wind tunnels and cause parking and traffic chaos.”

“This decision’ added Ms O’Connor, “ was seen as the first major test for the new local St Kilda C62 planning scheme, that was handed down by the Planning Minister in June last year.”

News of the VCAT decision arrived in the same week as that of another proposed high-rise residential development at 61 Wellington St, St Kilda. That proposal was also rejected and its developers have since abandoned the project and put the property back on the market. This decision has delighted the more than seventy residents, as well as the Council, who for more than two years have resolutely objected to it.

The area covered by the Junction Area Action Group (known as JAAG) is less than one kilometre across and is an eclectic mix of period houses, low rise social housing, two to four storey apartments, as well as office buildings, St Michael’s School and two synagogues. It has more than 200 concerned residents and owners in the St Kilda Junction area bound by St Kilda Road, Alma Road, Chapel Street and Dandenong Road.

By Mike Sabey

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