Woodend win-win – Neighbours back developer’s new plans

Objectors to a proposed housing development in Woodend have become its biggest supporters in a rare turn of events.
Thompson Builders’ Ian Thompson scrapped his original plans for 16 townhouses at 27 Corinella Road after residents convinced the developer to go back to square one on the project.
“I have done all I can to involve the residents of Corinella Road. In return they have encouraged me to take my development to a new level of good design and sustainable housing,” Mr Thompson said.
The Woodend local risked losing the support of council officers, gained in March last year, when he sought to change the plans: reducing the number of houses to 13, introducing varied road setbacks, and changes to the streetscape.
Objector Jane Monk said the original design exhibited “negative attributes” such as poor layout, little landscaping opportunity and “cookie-cutter style housing that could be from anywhere”.
She said residents were now in full support of the development and appealed to councillors for their support at Macedon Ranges’ ordinary meeting last week.
“We would say that the objectors, with council sanction, have positively participated in an amazing transformation of this proposal… and it would be very disappointing to find our efforts ignored,” Ms Monk said.
It’s a case rarely heard in council chambers, and councillors were left to go against director of planning and environment Angela Hughes’ reservations about minor reduced housing setbacks.
Mayor Jennifer Anderson said councillors were torn between backing the new plans that went against officer recommendation and supporting a proposal the community had worked hard with the developer to achieve.
“I struggled with the idea of the setbacks,” Cr Anderson said, defending Ms Hughes’ stance.
Calibre Consulting’s Fiona Slechten said the development was the product of a process rarely seen: where a developer works directly with the community to achieve a neighbourhood design.
“Often you will have a situation where things are tweaked here and there to appease people. This a complete redesign. It should be applauded,” Ms Slechten said.
As for fears the development would set a precedent, Ms Slechten said the site – within its own environment, abutting railway land – and other developments would have different setback requirements.
Ms Monk said the new proposal would offer options for for locals to downsize with passive solar opportunities and north-facing living spaces. She said it also stayed true to ideals of infill development before expanding the town’s outer boundaries.
“It would send a bad message to future applicants to come this far and then find a full stop. This should be a chance for council to celebrate – not chastise,” Ms Monk said.
“We believe this project would set a new bar of well-designed sustainable and liveable dwellings.”
Cr Henry Bleeck was the only councillor to vote against the proposal.

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