Press Release the RAiD 3051 response to VCAT finding in favour of Woolworths

R.A.I.D. 3051 Media Release – 21 May 2013

RAID@3051 was stunned by the VCAT decision released late on Friday, May 17 2013 in which VCAT upheld the Minister for Planning’s decision to grant a permit for the North Melbourne Woolworths development, subject only to minor variations. Whilst RAID@3051 acknowledges that the Woolworths development comes at a time when North Melbourne and the Melbourne Planning Scheme are undergoing significant change, RAID@3051 had hoped that VCAT would give some consideration to the concerns expressed by the community and Council.

Instead, VCAT has dismissed outright RAID (and Council’s) major concerns as to incompatibility of height with the Arden-Macaulay Structure Plan, stating that “on many levels this proposal will ‘lead the way’ in terms of the urban renewal that is sought in this precinct, in a manner that achieves a high level of architectural merit and urban design outcomes… We find that the overwhelming opportunity that this site presents to achieve a substantial intensification of development in a location which is extremely well serviced, must be given greater weight than any desire to achieve a development that respects the existing scale of development in the surrounding neighbourhood (refer paragraphs 23 and 14: P2313 2012 Melbourne CC v Minister for Planning (md mp 170513).

RAID is astounded that the Tribunal members praised the Woolworths proposal, given the obvious short comings identified by the community. This decision has trashed good urban design principles and the years of work by Council in developing the Arden-Macaulay Structure Plan – a plan which would have established a 30 year vision for the sustainable growth of the area and which is yet to be implemented into the Melbourne Planning Scheme. VCAT completely ignored RAID@3051’s and Council’s main submission and the clear direction set out in Amendment C162 (and recommended by the Planning Panel) that until the objectives and strategies of approved structure plans are approved and implemented via a planning scheme amendment, the existing local policies for the area will apply. Although, the Tribunal conceded that the development did not comply with the existing local policies.

VCAT’s decision represents a planning outcome which is inconsistent with the strategic direction, policies and controls currently being implemented by Council. More importantly, it undermines the strategic planning process and usurps the power of Council, its panels, submitters and the Minister to plan for the Arden-Macaulay area. There must be no doubt that VCAT’s decision sets a disastrous precedent for planning in the City of Melbourne and more particularly in North Melbourne, and that it has further shaken the community’s faith in the planning processes in this state and in VCAT itself.

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This decision opens the gate for the Arden Macaulay precinct to become the new Docklands, an area now universally considered to have serious shortcomings. Whilst the Planning Minister seems determined to repeat the failures of Docklands and ignore its lessons about how NOT to effect urban renewal, RAID@3051 is determined that these mistakes will not be repeated.

RAID@3051 has advice that the decision of VCAT failed to take into account relevant considerations and that the decision can and should be appealed to the Supreme Court. RAID@3051 will be lobbying the Lord Mayor and the Melbourne City Council to pursue an appeal, which we believe would be successful. Any appeal must be lodged within 10 days of the decision issued by VCAT on 17 May 2013.

For further comment or follow up questions please contact Peter Hogg of RAID on telephone 0400 784 779.

Peter Hogg

Chair RAID@3051

VCAT approve the Woolworths Development in its entirety, shame, shame, shame.

RAID email update 48 – sent Monday, May 20, 2013

Dear Neighbours – the wait is over!  VCAT released its decision on Friday, May 17, 2013 to approve the Woolworths development with no substantive changes to the features important to our community – the towers remain with no reduction in height; liquor availability conditions and sales are unchanged and the impact of the development on the community – transport, parking, traffic – was not considered to be significant.  The 50 page decision is attached.

The decision was spectacularly effusive in terms of applauding the development in advising that (bolded emphasis added):

On many levels this proposal will ‘lead the way’ in terms of the urban renewal that is sought in this precinct, in a manner that achieves a high level of architectural merit and urban design outcomes. (Paragraph 23)

AND

We find that the overwhelming opportunity that this site presents to achieve a substantial intensification of development in a location which is extremely well serviced, must be given greater weight than any desire to achieve a development that respects the existing scale of development in the surrounding neighbourhood. (Paragraph 14)

The community view and voice was comprehensively disregarded with the evidence of the ‘experts’ directing the decision.  The RAID planning group met last night and we feel strongly that this decision needs to be challenged. Action agreed on behalf of RAID includes: further legal advice, discussion with MCC, and media releases to ensure that the broader community is aware of this outcome.

We have a photo opportunity tomorrow, Tuesday, 21 May at 3.30pm on the corner of Vaughan Terrace and Canning Street.  Bring along your NO WOOLWORTHS TOWERS posters.   

Please let your neighbours know of the outcome.  We will keep you posted on developments via email updates and the website.  Please let us know if you have any ideas for raising awareness and challenging this decision.

Regards

Tess Demediuk

on behalf of RAID @ 3051 Inc.

 

Autumn RAiD3051 Update

Dear Neighbours – this update provides advice regarding a further delay in the availability of the VCAT outcome which was originally expected by the end of March and then, as per advice in the last email update on March 23, by mid April.  The issue holding up a decision relates to a covenant on one of the properties comprising the review site. This requires application to Melbourne City Council by the applicant – Fabcot/Woolworths.

What has happened: An Interim Order was issued on March 12 by the VCAT Chair and Member hearing the case giving the applicant and MCC “some time to deal with the restriction on the title” which VCAT considers must be addressed prior to the issue of a Final Order.  The two parties were requested to advise on the status of the restriction by April 12.  In a letter to VCAT dated April 11 the applicant requested additional time therefore the Mention Hearing scheduled for Friday, April 12 did not occur.

RAID’s response: Jane Good of Brand Partners, our neighbour and legal advisor, who has supported our case at VCAT on receiving this advice questioning procedural grounds referencing Section 85(1) of the Planning and Environment Act and proposed that, as the hearing has concluded, VCAT is required to make a decision.  Given that there remains a covenant on part of the site then the permit cannot be granted.

VCAT response: Recently a response has been received from VCAT which disagrees with RAID’s position on procedural grounds.  This further VCAT Interim Order advises that the “hearing is not concluded and may, at the Tribunal’s discretion be reconvened, either at the Tribunal’s instigation or at the request of any party.  We therefore are not persuaded by RAID’s submission on this procedural matter, and do not agree that we are now bound to direct that a permit must not be granted”.

Implications for a final VCAT decision: VCAT has deemed it appropriate to allow additional time to resolve the removal of the covenant and has set May 17, 2013 as the date for another Administrative Mention.  Given this the earliest we can expect the VCAT final decision is now mid-late May.

Regards

Tess Demediuk

on behalf of RAID @ 3051 Inc