By Danielle Kutchel
A proposed housing complex to address homelessness and low home-ownership rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been voted down by councillors.
In the council meeting on Tuesday 10 March, councillors voted 9-1 to reject the proposal in its current form.
The proposal would have seen the block at 27 Wilma Avenue Dandenong developed into 10 dwellings with a reduction in car parking requirements.
The complex would be owned and managed by Aboriginal Housing Victoria, a not-for-profit which provides affordable housing options for low-income Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.
The council officers’ report, tabled in the meeting had recommended that the council grant a permit for the development, subject to 23 conditions.
Thirty-three objections and one letter of support were received from the public in relation to the application.
None of the objections came from adjoining or surrounding land.
Issues raised in the objections included overdevelopment, car parking inadequacies, concerns about management of landscape, site cleaning, rubbish and maintenance, and accessibility.
During the councillors’ debate, Cr Matthew Kirwan said the proposal was incompliant in nine ways with the General Residential Zone Schedule 1, including not meeting the preferred two-storey maximum building height, not meeting the preferred housing type of medium density townhouses, and failing to provide adequate onsite car parking.
He noted the unusually high number of objections and called on the developer to “follow the rules just like anyone else”.
Now that it has been rejected, the developer has the opportunity to revise the plans in line with the councillors’ concerns, or take the application to VCAT.
The only councillor to vote in support of the development was Cr Angela Long.
She told the Journal that she supported the development due to a chronic lack of social housing in Greater Dandenong – not just for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders community, with which she has worked for 35 years, but also for the population more widely.
“This was a golden opportunity for more social housing,” she said.
“There are concerns, but the site is close to public transport, a primary school, kinder and a shopping centre.
“I believe that social housing is a priority in our city.”
She believes that if the developer changed the plans to a two-storey development, the proposal might go through.
“I would encourage them, if they’re not going to VCAT, to rejig the site and come back,” she said.