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Council questions appeal rights call

17 Sep 2013

By Sean Rogasch

The City of Melbourne has been left questioning its decision to forgo third party appeal rights as part of Amendment C171, as debate rages over the proposed high-rise tower at 54-56 Clarke St.

The council took the original 240-metre proposal to VCAT, after Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved it in February this year. While the case was being heard the Amendment was applied, so the developer, BBK Architects, has lodged an almost identical proposal, knowing it could not be appealed if Minister Guy approved it again.

The council has again opposed the tower, but is left concerned that it can only hope Minister Guy will heed its reasoning.

While losing third party appeal rights is standard when land is rezoned as capital city zone, the council has previously applied for a concession in the City North Structure Plan, to allow an appeal process.

In the council meeting discussing the Clarke St proposal, councillor and deputy planning chair Stephen Mayne suggested the council could have done the same in Southbank.

“Now that was something we originally requested when we put up C171, possibly we may now regret it,” Cr Mayne said, adding: “We certainly made a last minute change in the City North Structure plan to hang on to the appeal rights, I guess in part because we were a little concerned with seeing these sorts of proposals come through the door.”

Cr Mayne clarified his comments later in the week, telling Southbank Local News: “It’s a tricky one, but it’s concerning because we have a Minister (Minister Guy) with an unprecedented appetite for height.”

“It’s only a regret in the context of the current minister,” he added.

CoM’s planning chair, Cr Ken Ong, explained the situation at the council meeting.

“With the C171 Amendment being approved by the Minister and gazette it basically means we have no third party rights to this one but, because it’s been sent to us for comments by the Minister, our comments remain unchanged,” Cr Ong said.

He later told Southbank Local News that Southbank would be far worse off without Amendment C171 as it puts the structures for appropriate planning into place.

“The rest of C171 is very clear on height restrictions, setback requirements and separation,” Cr Ong explained, adding: “Without C171 Southbank would be worse off because we’d be fighting every step of the way, without any clear guidelines. We needed those guidelines to be clear and, with C171 in place, they are.”

Cr Ong also outlined the fact that no one had brought the issue of third party appeal rights forward when discussions and negotiations over Amendment C171 were taking place.

“Third party appeal rights were never required by any stakeholders, who were more interested in height restrictions, setbacks and separation.”

The Clarke St proposal is looming as one of the early tests for Amendment C171.

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