Controversial development approved

(Tom Rumble/Unsplash)

Hannah Hammoud

A development comprising 10 double storey dwellings on Selwyn Street, Albion, has been approved by council, despite two previous applications for the site being knocked back.

During a recent council meeting, councillor Virginia Tachos took issue with the site’s history and questioned council officers on their recommendation to approve the application.

“I am definitely not against development. I think that if anything, we need more housing stock, but we also need to seek balance in the way that housing stock is developed in Brimbank,” she said.

The site is located on the south-western corner of Selwyn Street and Delmont Street in Albion. Two previous applications were submitted to council in 2018 and 2020. Both both proposals sought the construction of nine double storey dwellings and a reduction in the standard car parking requirement.

The applications were both refused from council and the refusals were upheld by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on appeal.

In council’s VCAT report from 2021, it was noted that council said the proposal for nine dwellings was an “uncomfortable fit” for the site. It went on to add that the proposal is of an intensity and layout which is “unacceptable” and is “asking too much of the site” because it is too tightly packed and an overdevelopment.

“If we are now adding to the intensity and increasing it [from nine] to 10 double storey properties, then won’t that exacerbate the overdevelopment by squeezing in even more bulk in what is quite a busy surrounding interface?” Cr Tachos asked.

A council officer’s report cited design changes to the application had enabled it to be approved. The report outlined when assessing the merits of a planning application for multiple dwellings council does not focus upon the number of dwellings but instead the acceptability of the design.

“If the design response is acceptable, so too are the number of dwellings within the design,“ the report stated.

Cr Tachos’ attempt to raise an alternate motion to reconsider council’s recommendation was lost as Crs Ranka Rasic, Jae Papalia, Sam David, Thuy Dang, Sarah Branton, Bruce Lancashire, and Victoria Borg voted in favour of approving the planning application.