By CASEY NEILL
DANDENONG streets earmarked for towering apartment blocks could get a double-storey cap if a council push is successful.
Greater Dandenong Council received 628 submissions to the Greater Dandenong Planning Scheme Amendment C182 – Residential Zones Review, most expressing concern about unit blocks in streets predominantly home to single-storey dwellings.
On Monday 22 February, councillors passed an alternate motion from councillor Matthew Kirwan to change their position on several residential pockets and send their recommendations to the Planning Minister.
He said the minister would then appoint a panel, hear submissions, and come back to the council with a decision on what should and shouldn’t be changed.
“We’re almost three-quarters of the way through the process, which has now gone on for about two-and-a-half years,” Cr Kirwan said.
He successfully argued two areas should be removed from the Residential Growth Zone, where three-storey to five-storey apartments are encouraged, and into the General Residential Zone, where two-storeys would be the norm.
“Residents in those areas, they didn’t think we were going far enough,” he said.
The pockets are within Herbert Street, Stud Road, David Street, Princes Highway and Day Street, and Birdwood Avenue, Jones Road and Hemmings Street.
Cr Kirwan said a three-storey apartment building in Wilma Avenue was a good example of what the council wanted to avoid with this change.
“It’s a long way from the CBD and completely out of place,” he said.
“I think apartments could be really positive for Dandenong.
“We’ve got two proposed apartment blocks in Thomas Street and I can’t wait for them to go ahead.
“This three-storey apartment building in Wilma Avenue … it’s a 25-minute walk from anything.”
But the council had no choice but to approve the application, he said.
“VCAT’s job is to police councils that don’t follow their own planning scheme,” he said.
“If we had knocked it back it would have been lost at VCAT because it is Residential Growth Zone.
“The important thing to do is change our planning scheme to give us the power.”
Cr Kirwan said the State Government was unlikely to support taking streets out of the Residential Growth Zone that were too close to the Dandenong Railway Station and the Dandenong CBD.
“None of these areas are particularly close to Dandenong Railway Station or the centre of the Dandenong CBD,” he said.
“If the State Government supports the C182 amendment and particularly also takes out these extra streets, they will actually achieve the State Government objectives of higher density in the centre of Dandenong even better.
“There will be an incentive to build apartments in the centre of Dandenong where retail will be stimulated and where community activity and nightlife will activate the centre.”
Cr Kirwan also successfully argued that residentially-zoned land fronting Princes Highway between David Street and Day Street should remain in the Residential Growth Zone but shift from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3.
“Schedule 1 is a discretionary four-storey limit. There’s the ability then to go to five storeys with individual applications,” he said.
“Schedule 3 is a three-storey limit.
“The council’s hoping that there is a mandatory limit.”