Game over: Lend Lease 466. Community 0.

590 orrong road armadale

She’s been waiting two years for this.

After more than two years of battle the war is lost. The VCAT members who heard the case are fully in favour of the plan and have barely requested a compromise, allowing for 466 dwellings.  They feel it will benefit the community and even write of how pleasant a place it will be to live in. What does this mean? Well in the words of the VCAT email we received;

THE EFFECT OF THIS DECISION

This decision is final and binding unless it is set aside by the Supreme Court, or the order is corrected, revoked or varied under the provisions of s. 119 or 120 of the VCAT Act 1998. In coming to its decision the Tribunal has made a finding on the issues before it. It has no power to review or reconsider or alter this finding once the decision is published. Therefore, it is inappropriate for the Tribunal to enter into correspondence with parties as to the issues presented before it and the merits of the decision. An appeal to the Supreme Court must be lodged within 28 days of this decision. The Tribunal is unable to enter into correspondence in relation to issues. Here is the document: VCAT Finding 

Having spent weeks in at VCAT dissecting the plan we can assure you it is worse than we ever fully understood. Lend Lease and co must be thrilled. We will have more to say about this in days to come but we want you to be the first to know: the people lost and the corporation won. The finding is 67 depressing pages long here are some noteworthy paragraphs:

45            The Council is best placed to express values, needs and aspirations on behalf of its community. We have, of course, carefully considered the Council’s refusal and its submissions in this proceeding. The structure of the scheme is that Council may identify relevant values, needs and aspirations in local policies and provisions. It is relevant that Council’s vision statement identifies the land as a redevelopment opportunity and has included an urban design policy (to which we will refer shortly) and has not included a preferred built form outcome for the land.

58            The Council and residents invited us to accept that, although residential development in the immediate vicinity of the land was one and two-storey built form, the existing largely five-storey office building on the land defined the built form character of the surrounding area. They submitted that only a development with a five-storey maximum height would reflect and complement that character. In doing so, they fall into the error of adopting replication, in the sense of replicating existing development of the land and not surrounding development.

256            The land has been identified by the Council as a large development site since 1997. However, the Council was not able to adopt a policy or establish in the scheme a preferred built form outcome for the land before the Applicants began preparing their proposals.

257            Although the Council consulted the local community, the policy it ultimately adopted was unresolved such that the Council was unable to follow it when deciding the permit application. The proposed amendment to the scheme to introduce a preferred built form outcome while considering this permit application is belated and too inchoate to be given significant weight at this time.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jordan Green on July 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Perhaps I am missing a legal subtlety here but, to me the greatest evidence of the fundamental structural flaws of VCAT is expressed in paragraph 38:

    “38 We are exercising an administrative review power. It must be exercised in accordance with law. We must not have regard to irrelevant considerations. The extent of resident opposition per se is one of these.”

    We are irrelevant!!

    Together with the examples above and many others in the judgement the message from the tribunal is clear. Neither the members of the tribunal nor the policy makers who created the context for the legal operation of the tribunal have any desire to give any weight to the views of the citizens/tax payers/rate payers/residents.

    We may have lost the battle fighting in the system but, only because the system is designed to prevent us from being considered. At the very least we should make public the blatant structural corruption of the system and the minister’s explicit complicity in promoting the interests of the applicant – there is no other way to interpret the long delays from his office, the decisions and timing of those decisions that he has made, or the evidence of the impact of his behaviours as set out in the tribunal judgement. We will not win this battle in the courts and we probably cannot afford that fight but, we can most certainly let the media have a heyday at calling the Baillieu government to account for this travesty.

    Reply

    • Posted by Martin Thomson on July 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      The descision is refereing to residents being irrelevent in terms of sheer numbers only i.e. 600 objections were recioved so they cant be worng. In this case, they were.
      If residents had valid grounds which were based on the current planning act then ofcourse they would be relevant.

      It is not the fault of the Minister or VCAT but the fault of the actual Planning Act for which the purpose is to facilitate development rather than impede. If its purpose was to impede then nothing would be built due to NIMBY attitudes which are rampant in Melbourne.

      Personally I am happy with the descision, the site is resonably isolated from existing dwellings (i.e. overlooking and shadowing), located close to public transport, and is reasonbly developed under existing conditions. Perfect location for urban infill and in so many ways superior to just pushing the city bondaries outwards.

      Welcome to the 21st century. If you dont like the urban environment (Melbourne is a city remember) then move to the country.

      Thankyou and god bless.

      Reply

      • We like the urban environment – that’s why we live here. Do you?

        Being a city doesn’t excuse overdevelopment.

        It is not a choice between everything or nothing. We were always seeking a compromise. We never sought zero development.

        We know the plan intimately – we daresay more intimately than you. Talk to us in eight years when the developer has had its way, taken its profit and left us to deal with the consequences.

        And as for NIMBY’s – thank God someone cares enough to give up their time and energy to fight corporations and government.

  2. Posted by Jordan Green on July 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Martin, are you a Lend Lease shareholder, employee, or otherwise beneficiary of this development project?

    Are you a local resident?

    Will you suffer the inconvenience and disruption for the next eight years of construction works next door and the persistent loss of amenity, safety and comfort in the decades thereafter?

    I have been a resident here for over 40 years and I expect to be for 40 more. I will definitely suffer without compensation while Lend Lease rakes in its millions in profit.

    I don’t understand your point, you seem to be confirming that resident objections are irrelevant. As to the question of fault, an Act can not be at fault, it is merely the embodiment of the will of its authors or, as in this case, it’s stewards being the politicians and the Tribunal. Arguing that a bad law created by others excuses the incumbents is the same as saying “I was only following orders” but, worse in this case because those people have been entrusted with and paid by us to look after our interests. A task at which they have most clearly failed!

    The purpose of the Act would seem, as you point out, to be to facilitate development rather than to facilitate responsible development in balance with the interests of the whole community. Indeed the judgement makes it clear that the interests of the local community that must bear the impact of the development are irrelevant and we must take one on the chin so that people living somewhere else in the State can benefit in some way that is never explained. It is clear how we will suffer but, the Tribunal never makes it clear how others will benefit.

    You are certainly free to have your view but, as Hootville pointed out, the resident objections were not to development, merely to the scale and design of the development. Responsible development that accommodates and balances the needs of all parties is certainly the right approach and, in my experience, such an approach has been fully endorsed and the core thrust of the Orrong Group and community response.

    As to the general rudeness of your remarks, in particular the second last paragraph, it is simply unnecessary.

    Reply

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