Townhouse opposition defeated

Eleven townhouses have been approved by VCAT for the leafy Athol Lodge site.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

VCAT has approved 11 townhouses to replace a former nursing home building despite Greater Dandenong Council’s opposition.

The double-storey dwellings – a mix of two and three bedroom units – were proposed at the former Aaron Lodge on a leafy 1528-square metre block at the corner of Power and Caroline streets in Dandenong.

Greater Dandenong had argued that the proposal was not in keeping with the ‘incremental change’ zone introduced in 2017.

In 2017, the neighbourhood was rezoned from residential growth to an ‘incremental change’ General Residential Zone 1.

The zone encourages medium density houses up to two storeys tall with landscaping, canopy trees and limited parking.

The zone change aimed to preserve the “distinctive and intact” neighbourhood character, and encourage higher-density housing nearer to Dandenong’s major activity centre.

However, proponent Borris Power Pty Ltd argued that VCAT should also consider the neighbourhood’s existing character including three-storey buildings built in the past.

VCAT member Judith Perlstein said the large corner site was “clearly suitable for medium density development”.

Ms Perlstein also took into account that the neighbourhood included GRZ 3 zoning on the opposite side of Power Street, which allowed up to three storeys.

“I find that this proposal is for a well designed, medium density, infill double-storey townhouse development that is site responsive and respects the existing neighbourhood character.

“It has carefully considered setbacks, private open space and canopy trees and landscaping as well as its impact on neighbouring properties, and will contribute to the landscape character of the area.”

She noted that the applicant Borris Power Pty Ltd had added private open space, so its garden area met the 35 per cent planning scheme requirement.

The 7.4 metre buildings were below the 11-metre mandatory height limit.