We are NOT Melbourne – VCAT agrees

Contentious plans for Macedon Ranges’ first apartment living have been thwarted at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The proposal for 22 Calthorpe Street, Gisborne, comprised 10 townhouses, one dwelling and 18 apartments, but has been heavily criticised for no consideration of context.

Handing down his judgement last week, VCAT member Bill Sibonis described the development as “dominant” and “austere, almost institutional”.

“The apartment building, as designed, is not an acceptable response to its context. It is too large and has bulky appearance and an overall robust presentation which sits awkwardly in the low-scale, semi-rural surrounds,” he said.

Mr Sibonis stated, “the absence of a suitably detailed landscape plan is a significant omission”.

The verdict was similar to council’s rejection of the proposal back in February and again on similar grounds in July.

Leading the charge in the case against the developer, Gisborne’s Wendy Black said serious objectors were prepared to invest in professional representation at VCAT.

“Those of us most concerned were prepared to put our money where our mouth was. We were prepared to support our position,” she said.

“I am pleased for the community that a precedent has not been set.”

Ms Black said the prospect of a development on the site was almost inevitable but community and character could not be ignored, a position supported by fellow objector Fiona Corke.

Ms Corke said the ruling would give councillors “confidence to say ‘no’ to bad and inappropriate developments”.

Mr Sibonis said “if an apartment development is to be contemplated, it needs to be of a more tailored siting and design in order to satisfactorily respond to the site and its context”.

Residents have proven time and time again they are serious about conserving the Macedon Ranges’ unique offerings against inappropriate development.

Another case of residents taking action into their own hands was seen in the fight against a petrol station development at the gateway to Woodend.

*Published: Midland Express, October 24, 2017.