Council ready to fight

The decision on a controversial 711-lot development plan in Gisborne now falls to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after Macedon Ranges Shire Council failed to make a decision within a reasonable time-frame.
Councillors made one last effort to highlight concerns for the 39 Willowbank Road proposal at the ordinary meeting last week, which attracted a full gallery including many of the 166 objectors to the plan.
Planning director Angela Hughes said that at a compulsory VCAT conference in July, council’s starting position would be to refuse the permit, and that officers would seek the best possible outcome.
“VCAT may try to persuasively seek a compromise but we are all, as officers, very clear that ours is a very important role and it is not to compromise if we are not comfortable with the development,” she said.
“We are the responsible authority and, beyond that, we are representing 166 objectors who are not able to join as a party to the appeal.”
The development plan currently proposes 711 residential lots, a new government primary school, adjacent public open space and shared pathway network, within a 75.7ha area purchased by development company ID_Land last year.
Gisborne resident Ben Peck has previously stated the size of the development would “change the town forever and its infrastructure will not cope with the increased population and traffic”.
Concerns primarily surround lot sizes, increase in traffic and impact on local roads, impact on local infrastructure and how the proposal meets the character of the area in general.
Ms Hughes said the July conference would be an opportunity for negotiation and to “clarify and reduce the scope of concerns” for the project.
“It is not with the sole purpose of negotiating a development for this site…It allows council officers to be clear on what our defence strategy and position is,” she said.
“There are zero guarantees that the compulsory conference will result in a planning permit being issued.”

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