Media Releases 2012

Another major win at VCAT for Yarra community

10 August 2012

Heritage-HousesYarra Council has scored its third major victory at VCAT this year, with the planning tribunal rejecting a proposal for a 14-storey development in Richmond.

The tribunal agreed with Council that the height and bulk of the proposed development in Stewart Street was inappropriate in a heritage precinct.

The latest VCAT decision comes after the tribunal’s decision in February to reject a 17-storey development in Abbotsford. In May, the tribunal agreed with Council that an eight storey development in Punt Road was too “tall and bulky” and ordered the removal of two storeys.

Yarra Mayor Cr Geoff Barbour said Council’s strong advocacy – which has involved Council engaging lawyers to argue its position at all three VCAT hearings - was making a difference.

He said local resident objectors were also arguing their concerns well at VCAT, contributing towards the excellent outcomes.

“While it takes a lot of effort to argue a case successfully at VCAT, the effort is all worth it when it protects our local neighbourhood character,” Cr Barbour said.

He said more than 140 people had objected to the Stewart Street proposal, which was the subject of an eight-day VCAT hearing in May.

In their decision released yesterday, VCAT members Rachel Naylor and Ann Keddie said the proposal was “not in keeping with the character and appearance of adjacent buildings and the heritage place”.

“In a precinct characterised by 2-6 storey early 20th century buildings with contemporary additions above and set back, the design incorporates a saw tooth façade to the north, a curved wall to the north west, a column to the west, various setbacks to the south and a largely flat façade to Margaret Street,” the tribunal noted.

“It is the combination of this fractured design typology with the material selection, setbacks and height which results in this proposal’s unacceptability in this location.”

The tribunal members noted that the Yarra Planning Scheme specifically identifies the need to provide protection of the “heritage skyline” and protection from the “visual intrusion” of built form within heritage areas.

“We are of the opinion new development in this small heritage precinct between Stewart and Tanner Streets should respond to the existing building form, character and heritage value of this area, and provide for a built form transition to lower scale development to the north on Richmond Hill. This proposal fails in these regards,” the tribunal members concluded.

Cr Barbour said the three recent VCAT decisions were reassuring at a time when many major redevelopments were being proposed in Yarra.

“I’m pleased that in these instances VCAT has given weight to issues to do with protecting the character of our neighbourhoods,” he said.

Here is the doc format VCAT decision regarding 5 & 9-13 Stewart Street, Richmond (174.00 KB).

For media enquiries about this issue, please contact:
Ainslie Gowan
Coordinator - Communications
9205 5177 / 0400 933 700   

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