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By CAM LUCADOU-WELLS

A PROPOSED three-storey apartment building in one of Dandenong’s most history-laden residential streets has been knocked back by a planning tribunal.
The nine-metre high building at 3 Macpherson Street would tower over the predominantly one and two-storey homes and gardens in an “attractive and intact streetscape”, according to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal member Geoffrey Rundell.
But it wasn’t concerns for neighbourhood character that caused him to reject a planning permit on 11 March.
The proposal was well within the constraints of a residential growth zone, which allows for four-storey buildings up to 13.5 metres tall and encourages substantial housing change.
“The purposes of the zone deliberately do not refer to respecting or preserving the prevailing neighbourhood character,” Member Rundell said.
“I am satisfied that a three-storey building is appropriate on this site.”
Member Rundell rejected the proposal’s flawed design, which more reflected a concern for “yield” than good amenity.
He agreed with Greater Dandenong Council, which originally rejected the plan, that the proposal didn’t present a “high quality, well-designed facade” to Macpherson Street.
The proposal didn’t have a suitable landscaping plan, the building’s front and side elevations were “unacceptable”, and its south elevation was “imposing and bland form that would detract from the streetscape”, Member Rundell stated..
“Having to screen all rooms facing south is excessive and symptomatic of a poor design response.”
He stated a greater use of setbacks, horizontal louvres and 25 per cent transparent screening could limit views to the south.
“I think better solutions can be found through improved design, including fewer dwellings,” he said.
Red Gum Ward councillor Matthew Kirwan said the case highlighted the need for the council’s Amendment C182, which would put Macpherson Street and a ring of Dandenong streets in a more conservative zone.
“This street, in particular, has a number of historic properties such as ‘The Ranges’,” he said.
VCAT did not consider the amendment because at this stage it wasn’t a “seriously entertained proposal”.
It had yet to be assessed by Planning Panels Victoria and Planning Minister Richard Wynne.
Cr Kirwan estimated there was an “eight-month window” for the developer to re-apply for a permit before the amendment would protect the site.

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