Flip gets council in the zone

By Casey Neill

“It was the one and only, absolutely correct decision.”
Silvia Mastrogiovanni said the 10 April Greater Dandenong Council decision to approve four double-storey homes in Wedge Street, Dandenong, was “mind-boggling”.
The Dandenong Community Association spokeswoman applauded councillors’ resolution to reverse it at the Monday 24 April meeting.
“What I can’t get over is that amendment C182 was passed unanimously,” she said.
“I can’t believe some councillors have swapped camp so quickly.
“Over 500 residents wanted this amendment signed and asked for it.”
The C182 Planning Scheme Amendment Ms Mastrogiovanni referred to is awaiting Planning Minister approval to make it law.
The Wedge Street site would then change from residential growth zone to the more subdued general residential zone.
Council officers said the amendment “must be taken into consideration when assessing the application”.
But Councillor Matthew Kirwan said that the proposal didn’t even meet pre-C182 planning conditions.
On Monday 24 April he successfully moved, six votes to three, that the council go back to the drawing board with the application.
Councillors then passed, eight votes to one, the original recommendation from council officers, which was to refuse the application.
Cr Sean O’Reilly moved the refusal at the 10 April meeting and lost four votes to seven.
Cr Tim Dark then put forward an alternative that he said improved the project and it succeeded, six votes to five.
Arguing his rescission motion on 24 April, Cr Kirwan said Cr Dark’s alternative created new problems.
“By increasing the width of the driveway we were reducing the width of the living areas by almost two metres!” he said.
“No one’s arguing this isn’t a good site for townhouse development.
“It’s a good site for townhouse development that does meet our planning scheme.”
In opposition, Cr Dark said the council refused an application for a three-storey, 14-apartment complex in Wedge Street and VCAT approved it on appeal.
“Two doors down something that’s even worse is permitted,” he said.
He said he’d received phone calls from people accusing him of being “worse than Hitler” for supporting the application.
Cr O’Reilly said the applicant should “go back to the drawing board, look at our planning code and resubmit a new application”.
“The applicant does not want to reduce the number of units,” he said.
“This would fix all the issues.”
He said the proposal failed 20 of the council’s minimum planning criteria.
“What does minimum mean?” he said.
“If it’s only meeting 73 of the 93 it’s below minimum.
“Cr Dark did not defend one technical aspect of the application at all.
“We understand the need for housing.
“If you do it in the wrong way you can end up with lots of problems down the track.”