Servo to VCAT
by Emma Carinci
6th July 2015
WARRANDYTE residents are furious the final decision regarding the development of a 24-hour service station at 1-5 Yarra Street has been taken to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
A $1.5 million proposal was submit- ted by the applicant in April last year from site owner Platinum King Management Pty Ltd to develop a 250m/sq petrol station and convenience store accommodating six fuel pumps and 13 car parking spaces. Despite attracting a reported 69 objections, the proposal was neither accepted nor rejected by Manningham City Council.
The Diary understands the applicant has taken the matter directly to VCAT and is appealing for the proposal to be approved.
Manningham City Council informed the Diary just before going to print that a full council report would be available on July 16 and the matter would be addressed at a council meeting on July 28 outlining council’s position of not supporting the application.
In strong dialogue on social media pages in the past 12 months – and in particular last week on the Warrandyte Business & Community Network page – there have been mixed views for and against the service station being built at the site. Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) member Doug Seymour said it was surprising the community was not made aware of the decisions from Manningham council since objections were lodged 14 months ago.
“This is a complex issue and it is possible that council has not made a determination and therefore the applicant has lodged this application for review and decision. It would be helpful to all parties to know where council now stands on this issue,” Mr Seymour says.
Manningham council CEO Joe Carbone said objectors would be advised of council’s position on the application shortly. That position will then be advocated for at VCAT.
Only last week objectors to the proposal opened a letter in their mail to find that their objections to Manningham council had not been successful and the decision was to be finalised by VCAT at a hearing on October 29.
The letter, sent by the solicitor representing the applicant, stated July 10 (this Friday) would be the “closing date for objectors and referral authorities to lodge a statement of grounds with VCAT”.
Discussion on social media has been divided since the information was released. However, there are many concerns if the development goes ahead, including the environmental impact, compromising the character of Warrandyte, disturbance to residents, and safety concerns in the event of bushfires.
The development would require the removal of vegetation and six yellow box trees, as outlined in the initial proposal.
North Warrandyte resident Annie Watkins believes it is vital the environment in Warrandyte be protected at any cost.
“When you have a substantial and unique environment like Warrandyte, you have got to do what you can to preserve it,” she says. Ms Watkins is also concerned that, if approved, the proposal will set a potentially dangerous precedent.
“If we allow the service station, what else will be allowed to go up in Warrandyte?”
“We need to be a little more responsible as a society to recognise what’s valuable. We want to keep true to the essence of Warrandyte,” Ms Watkins says.
Other objectors believe a petrol station next to Andersons Creek is illogical particularly when the creek is prone to flooding which would allow pollutants and litter to enter the creek.
With the proposed development being next door to the Warrandyte Reserve Pavilion, others are concerned people’s safety will be com- promised in a bushfire emergency. According to the CFA, the reserve is the place of last resort for Warrandyte residents in the event of all other bushfire plans failing.
The disturbance caused by the construction of the petrol station is also a major concern. The WCA lodged an amended objection reit- erating the reasons why they object to the proposal, including the dif- ficulty at access and exit points at the Heidelberg Road / Harris Gully Road roundabout and the vague details relating to signage, lighting and hours of operation.
The impact on the character of Warrandyte is creating a lot of controversy. Resident Tricia Barrett believes the design of the building, along with the large bright advertising and signage, lighting and unnatural noise would affect all residents, especially those within close proximity to the site and visitors to Warrandyte.
“It is not within the character of Warrandyte and we don’t need it or want it.”
Nonetheless, not everyone is opposed to the petrol station. On social media some residents believe there is sufficient demand for it to be built, and consider the Yarra Street site to be a perfect location and a welcome alternative to the Warrandyte South petrol station.
Resident Elaine Raphael says while a 24-hour “monstrosity” is unnecessary, a petrol station in keeping with Warrandyte’s surroundings would be ideal.
Other concerned parties are asking the protestors to consider non-residents. Sheya Atherton points out that many commuters pass through Warrandyte for many reasons and having a petrol station in that spot would be convenient.
“Each community is made up of its locals and those that come into the suburb and there is as much of a positive and negative component to that,” Ms Atherton says.
In her objection to council, Ms Barrett expressed her belief that a petrol station at the proposed site is simply unnecessary.
“We (residents) are happy with nearest petrol availability in Warrandyte South, Fitzsimons Lane roundabout, and Reynolds Road – these facilities service Warrandyte residents adequately already.”
The Diary has been told that while a lot of the concern is stemming from the location and the imposing nature of the proposed petrol station, the prospect of a fast food or retail association being attached to the site is equally disconcerting with fears that would impact on local food and beverage businesses.
VCAT will hold a practice hearing on July 17 before the official hearing on October 29. The objectors are working together with the WCA before lodging their objections at the practice hearing.