Townhouse plan didn’t scrub up

The State Government plans to build a townhouse estate on the former Coomoora Road campus.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong Council has knocked back an “extremely intense” townhouse estate on a former Keysborough College campus, with a councillor declaring “you can’t polish a turd”.

However, according to some, the council squandered hope of mitigating Development Victoria’s overlay plan for the 4.4-hectare site at 15-29 Coomoora Road, Springvale South.

DV – the State Government’s developer arm – has not specified how many dwellings on the site.

It’s also unknown what it plans for 11 “land-only” lots on the northern and western boundaries.

Councillors rejected Cr Matthew Kirwan’s alternate motion to delete a proposed dwelling and create eight more metres of communal open space.

He also sought to put design controls on the vacant “land only” lots.

“I think my alternate motion reflected a pragmatic response,” Cr Kirwan said.

“So that there was safer and more useable open space, and restrictions on development of vacant sites.

“Now I fear Development Victoria will go straight to VCAT and we will end up with something worse.”

Cr Kirwan said the alternate was not ideal. But it was a significant improvement that Development Victoria might “grudgingly accept” or that the council could win at VCAT.

The council received 20 public submissions against the proposal, one in favour

Neighbours opposed the plan due to issues such as overdevelopment, lack of private open space, insufficient setbacks and parking, and traffic congestion.

Cr Tim Dark, in opposition, said he’d been inundated with concerns about the “very dense development” in a quiet suburban area.

“I understand where Cr Kirwan is coming from, but at the end of the day you can’t polish a turd.

“They are cramming a hell of a lot on this site.”

Development Victoria had “one of the worst track records for development” in Dandenong, Cr Dark said.

He cited the Meridian and 3175 Metro estates as the “worst projects I’ve ever seen”.

Cr Brown noted an existing house next to the estate’s access point on Northgate Drive and Teddy Crescent would be bounded by roads on three sides.

“It’s unfair for the Victorian Government to sacrifice the interests of long-established residents in Northgate Drive … for this extremely intense development.”

Cr O’Reilly said most of the points by Crs Dark and Brown were true but “we need a bit of a reality check”.

“The Victorian Government is our big brother and with this application, the council is the pint-sized sibling.

“We can rant about it in the chamber but hitting the Government with a wet lettuce leaf won’t change much.”

Voting down the plan would give the council no chance in mitigating the project, Cr O’Reilly said.

“It might look good and might be making a bit of a statement but at the end of the day, we have to play the cards that we’re dealt.”

City planning acting director Brett Jackson said if the council didn’t make a decision, DV could “at any time” seek a declaration from VCAT on the plan.

Cr Brown foreshadowed a motion next year to explore the feasibility of removing the Teddy Crescent access to the estate.